Why has Taiwan bought 20,000 bottles of rum? Have Bono and the Edge found what they’re looking for? And can you cure a hangover? We ask the big questions in our first news round-up of the year. The Nightcap: 7 January 2022 has landed!
Hey folks, long time no see. We hope you had a lovely Christmas, a wonderful Chanukah, and a Happy New Year. We did too, thanks for asking, and are now looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. And what better way to do that than with a classic round-up of boozy news. Who’s ready to do some new year Nightcapping?
Since our last edition a fair amount has happened on the blog, so let’s run through it quickly. We made a list of our top ten favourite and most-read posts as well as our funniest stories from 2021. We also launched our famous Burns Night poetry competition and kicked off our Dry January coverage with a guide on how to do it the MoM way, as well as giving you a recipe for a delicious low-alcohol cocktail, some cracking options for which bottles to buy, and even a chance to win big. We also talked about terroir in rum, helped you find a new favourite dram, saw how New Zealand is getting on the whisky map, learned the story behind Fable whisky, and showed you which distilleries to keep an eye on in 2022.
Phew! Lots to catch up on. But for now let’s crack on with The Nightcap: 7 January edition!
Bono, the Edge, and Hozier invest in brewery
The Wicklow Wolf Craft Brewing Company has added some star power to its ranks. U2 stars Bono and the Edge, as well as fellow Irish musician Hozier, a part of a group of investors backing the craft brewery. Founded by Mountmellick native Quincey Fennelly and Simon Lynch in 2014, The Wicklow Wolf Craft Brewing Company has issued new shares for almost €2.4 million. Reports suggest Bono and the Edge put up €327,000 between them, and Wicklow native Hozier invested almost €110,000, while the largest investor was Zatrix Holdings, a company controlled by Mary Ann O’Brien, the founder of Irish chocolate maker Lily O’Brien’s. It’s not the first time the brewery has made headlines for big sums, with the company investing €4 million in a brewery in Newtown Mount Kennedy in 2019, the funding for which came from a €2 million equity raise. It’s good to see a company thriving in these difficult times, and hopefully Bono and the Edge have found what they’re looking for. We make no apologies.
Hangover cures don’t work, say scientists
On New Year’s Day, did you rub your aching head and reach for the ginseng? If so, we have bad news. According to the scientific journal Addiction (reported in UPI), there’s no evidence that so-called ‘hangover cures’ have any effect. Dr. Emmert Roberts and his team at King’s College London published a study based on over 20 trials of various products containing red ginseng, artichoke extract, prickly pear, and other popular hangover remedies. The doc commented: “Our study has found that evidence on these hangover remedies is of very low quality and there is a need to provide more rigorous assessment.” He continued: “For now, the surest way of preventing hangover symptoms is to abstain from alcohol or drink in moderation.” However, the study did not contain data on the effects of common painkillers like aspirin nor on that old standby, a can of ice-cold full fat Coca-Cola and a bacon sandwich. More research needed, we think.
Taiwan buys 20,000 bottles of Lithuania rum destined for China
Taiwan is sharing tips with the public on how to drink and cook with rum after it bought 20,400 bottles of Lithuanian rum bound for China. According to local media, Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp (TTL) purchased the rum after learning that it could be blocked from entering China. It comes after Lithuania established a de facto embassy in Taiwan using the name ‘Taiwan’ rather than ‘Chinese Taipei’, the name preferred by the Chinese government (yes it’s a bit complicated, well worth reading this on the China-Taiwan relationship). In retaliation, China downgraded diplomatic relations with Lithuania days after. The state-owned TTL said it had been notified by Taiwan’s finance minister and head of the Taiwanese Representative Office of Lithuania (great job title mate) Eric Huang that a batch of rum could be up for grabs, as past shipments of beer had been blocked. Taiwan’s National Development Council later said in a post on Facebook that the rum “could not pass through Chinese customs” and has urged locals to buy rum at the end of January when the shipment would be on sale. Recipes that have been shared include ones for a Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktail (classic), and rum-infused French toast (nice), steak (tell me more) and hot chocolate (all great ideas). Of course, we’ve got plenty of rum recipes ourselves if anyone wants any more inspiration.
Dewar’s will deliver a Caribbean Burns Night feast
Dewar’s has the perfect answer if you’re planning on celebrating Burns Night at home this year. The Scotch whisky brand has teamed up with creative consultant Mark Low, who also works with Mr Lyan Studio, and food delivery people All in a Box to deliver you a Burns Night supper with a twist. It’s not your standard haggis, neeps, and tatties fare, as it’s inspired by Dewar’s Caribbean Smooth so there’s a West Indian vibe about the whole thing. The box features haggis Scotch eggs, jerk chicken with neeps, tatties, and plantain mash, and an Irn-Bru-infused take on a Manhattan and a Cranachan-inspired Highball cocktail, all made with Caribbean Smooth, an eight-year-old Dewar’s finished in rum casks. It even comes with a special playlist, The Proclaimers covering Chaka Demus and Pliers, perhaps. Boxes cost £70 and you can order from 10 January (go here for more information) for an unforgettable Caribbean-infused Burns Night.
Alcohol-free off-licence comes to London
Can you imagine running down to the offie and finding out that they only have alcohol-free drinks? Surely a nightmare for some, but not for Laura Willoughby who is putting on a pop-up ‘off-license’ just off Regent Street in London with no alcoholic drinks whatsoever. Willoughby (MBE, no less) who runs Club Soda, an alcohol-free drinks site, commented: “More UK drinkers than ever are putting their health first by choosing low and no alcohol products. Substituting alcohol-free drinks for alcoholic ones is a tried-and-tested approach to cutting down or stopping drinking, and having good quality choices makes that easier.” Thankfully these days going without booze doesn’t mean going without flavour. There are over 70 brands on sale including Master of Malt favourites Everleaf and Lyre’s plus excellent zero and low ABV beers from Adnams, Big Drop, and Lucky Saint. So whether you’re doing Dry January, dry curious or just don’t drink alcohol, then head down to 59 Great Portland Street until 20 January. Deliciousness awaits.
Bacardi releases non-alc spirit Palette
If you’re looking for non-alcoholic deliciousness, Bacardi may have the answer. It has collaborated with bartenders in Amsterdam on two spirit substitutes made with all natural flavours called Palette Roots and Palette Bold. Master of botanicals Alessandro Garneri and his team put cutting-edge technology and three different methods to good use to extract flavour. Of the two varieties, Roots is more your white spirit imitation, made with juniper berries, ginger, and the essential oils of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, while Bold mimics an aged spirit using the likes of American oakwood and gentian root. At the moment it’s on-trade only, the brand will launch in bars and restaurants across London including Lyaness, L’Escargot, and Christopher’s. Suggested serves include the Pink Clove which combines Roots with grapefruit soda, lime juice, and tonic, finished with a grapefruit garnish, or Bold Rush, made with Bold, lemon juice, agave syrup, and mint. “We’re calling time on sweet, tasteless ‘mocktails’,” says Marine Rozenfeld, innovation development lead for Bacardi Europe, Australia & New Zealand. “With the launch of Palette coming hot on the heels of our new Martini Non-Alcoholic Aperitivo with its groundbreaking quality and taste, we are definitely taking mindful drinking to new heights.” Exciting stuff, and right in time for Dry January. That was probably deliberate.
Swift Soho shows off swanky new menu
Did you know that Swift Soho, the award-winning bar and home of the Irish Coffee I think about at least once a week, has just turned five years old? Well, it has, and to celebrate the news the bar has put together a brand new menu: Legends. Inspired by famous drinkers throughout history and their favourite tipples, including drinks industry icons such as Dick Bradsell and his daughter Bea, Peter Dorelli and Salvatore Calabrese, historic figures like Van Gogh and Hemingway, up to present-day celebrities including Snoop Dogg and Sir Ian McKellen. The menu includes 19 fun and elegant cocktails, with new innovations as well as some classic Swift serves, all illustrated by hospitality industry artist Dan Collins, who has drawn a portrait of each of the famous faces and their respective inspired cocktails. We had the opportunity to try a couple and, typically, Swift did not disappoint. There’s a smoky Highball made with Port Charlotte 10 Year Old called the Hummingbird that is so drinkable I’d like to install a tap of it in my flat, while the Pisco Sour-inspired Shanghaied is spectacular. Right now we desperately need to support the hospitality industry, so if you need an excuse we can think of worse ones than sampling the Legends menu. Now I really fancy an Irish Coffee…
And finally… monks expelled for drinking whisky at New Year
Three Buddhist monks were caught boozing at a temple in Thailand on New Year’s Day, claiming they were only drinking whisky to “deliver” the alcohol to ancestors. Police from the Mueang Kamphaengphet District Office at a temple in Kamphaengphet found the senior monks were violating the rules of monkhood after breathalyser tests confirmed suspicions. Local residents who had heard the monks drinking and partying tipped them off and the odour of alcohol was, according to the officers, very strong in the area when they entered the temple. Monk Arpat was the one who confessed, reportedly telling officials, “We don’t usually drink, only in festivals. We were drinking local rice whisky from local residents who wanted to give the spirits to their ancestors as a blessing. So we drank this whisky in order to deliver alcohol to those dead people. We were doing a good thing by blessing their ancestors and thought this would not violate the rules of being a monk.” As excuses go, it’s more creative than anything I’ve ever come up with. Unfortunately, it didn’t wash with the authorities and all three monks were expelled from the monkhood for breaking one of the major rules of conduct for Buddhist Monks in Thailand. If you think they’re bad, just wait till you see the amount of sherry Irish nuns put away at Christmas. Igniting the pudding is a high-risk endeavour.