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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Aperol

The Nightcap: 12 June

On The Nightcap this week we’ve got news of gin’s big 2019, why 2,000 weddings will be getting free Aperol Spritzes and Campari’s virtual reopening of three of the world’s…

On The Nightcap this week we’ve got news of gin’s big 2019, why 2,000 weddings will be getting free Aperol Spritzes and Campari’s virtual reopening of three of the world’s best bars.

It’s World Gin Day tomorrow, folks. We’ll be seeing in the global celebration of all things gin by making a host of cocktails like The Hanky Panky, The Clover Club and The Gimlet. Or we may end up just making some G&Ts, though, because it has just come to our attention that tomorrow is also International Axe Throwing Day and we’ll need to dedicate some time to this historical pasttime (how could that go wrong?). Then Sunday is somehow both Juggling Day (luckily not on the same day as International Axe Throwing Day, that could have got messy) and Cupcake Day. That’s a lot of daily celebrations to keep up with. We don’t know how we’re going to juggle them all. Might be an idea just to do a little light reading and catch up on what’s going in the world of booze. Yes, it’s time for. . . The Nightcap!

On the MoM blog this week we reminded you that Deals of the Day are back for the weekend before Kristy introduced Bathtub Gin 2020, a Master of Malt exclusive that we’ll donate £20.20 for every bottle sold to help those affected by Covid-19. For Annie, this week meant reporting on modern gin according to ye olde recipes and then provided handy instructions for how to add some sweetness to your serves, while Henry spoke to Logan Plant from Beavertown about beer, and yes, his famous dad, before asking a selection of people from Master of Malt and the wider Atom family what they will be buying their fathers for Father’s Day 2020. Adam then broke the news that Midleton Distillery had announced a new master distiller, Kevin O’Gorman, tried some particularly delicious Panamanian rum and a Cosmopolitan, which was our Cocktail of the Week. Just a reminder that you can still win a VIP trip to Tobermory Distillery.

We’d also love to give Susan Callander a virtual high-five because she’s the winner of last week’s virtual pub quiz! Once again thank you to all who entered. You can check out the answers to last Friday’s quiz below and this week’s edition of MoM pub quiz will be on our blog from 5pm as always. Get those drams poured and those thinking caps on!

The Nightcap

Record gin sales in 2019? Cheers to that!

UK toasts record gin sales in 2019 

If you’re looking to raise a glass to World Gin Day tomorrow, the chances are you’ve already got a bottle of delicious juniper-based goodness to hand, at least according to the WSTA’s latest insights (if you haven’t, go and treat yourself here). The organisation has reported that Brits bought a record-breaking 83 million bottles of gin last year worth over £2.6 billion, almost doubling in value in just two years from 42m bottles in 2016. The WSTA report details that gin sales have been rising since 2013 and that the biggest change in a single year was 2017 to 2018, as we went from buying 51m bottles to 73m, a 42% increase in volume. This trend, unsurprisingly, has led to a huge increase in distillers, from 152 in 2013 to 441 by 2019. The WSTA points to this increased interest in gin as being key in helping cocktail culture grow which in turn helps other branches of the great British distilling family like English and Welsh whisky. Perhaps most impressive of all is that the latest HMRC figures indicate that we exported £672 million worth British gin in 2019, taking total gin sales, at home and abroad, to over £3.2 billion. “Gin sales continued to grow throughout 2019 despite a number of predictions that the bubble will have to burst soon,” said Nightcap legend Miles Beale. “We knew that growth in the gin category would slow eventually, it was always inevitable given the incredible numbers we were seeing from 2016 onwards. We remain optimistic that British gin will continue to create a stir at home and abroad as our innovative distillers continue to produce new colours, creations and botanical masterpieces”. While we don’t know yet how Coronavirus pandemic will affect this, we do know even in lockdown, we still can’t get enough gin. It’s become Britain’s best-selling spirit across online platforms since March. Beale added that, provided spirit makers can survive the ongoing economic uncertainty, “it’s clear that gin’s success can be maintained at home and replicated abroad as our distillers look to export”. If you’d like to buy gin from an online retailer, might we be so bold to recommend… ourselves?

The Nightcap

You’ll be able to take a seat at Rome’s fabulous Drink Kong

Campari reopens the World’s Best Bars online

Campari must have read our minds because the drinks giant has spent this week bringing back boozers. And not just any boozers. Three of the world’s best bars, all virtually reopened – and you are invited. On the list is Rome’s fabulous Drink Kong, Edinburgh’s sublime Panda & Sons and Dante in New York, which you might have heard of. Y’know, given it was the number one bar in the world in 2019. Each session let’s you take a virtual seat at the bar and spend time with the likes of Linden Pride (Dante), Patrick Pistolesi (Drink Kong) and Iain McPherson (Panda & Sons), who will show you how to mix classic cocktails such as the Negroni and Sbagliato, as well as some signature creations. Two pre-made Campari cocktails from the bars’ menus will even be delivered to guests’ homes ahead of the night, along with the ingredients to mix another cocktail alongside the bartender. A different bar will open each weekend, beginning with Dante (12-13 June), Drink Kong (18-20 June) then Panda & Sons (25-27 June) and guests will be able to choose from one of three slots – 6pm, 7.30pm or 9pm – each lasting an hour. There’s just an intimate eight places per slot and the experiences, including drinks, are priced at £20 per person. “The closure of bars across the UK has had a profound effect on the industry and the livelihoods of those working in it,” says Nick Williamson, marketing director at Campari UK, said: “There are also many of us who are missing the experience of going to our favourite venues to enjoy a drink with friends. Although we can’t, yet, open the doors in real life, this is the next best thing to being there”. If you want to secure your slot, click here

The Nightcap

Seriously fancy

The Kyoto Distillery opens luxurious brand home

This week the Kyoto Distillery, Japanese gin pioneers, opened its brand home called ‘The House of KI NO BI’. No this isn’t on Zoom, Instagram or Facebook, this is an actual real-life place that you can visit now, assuming you can get to Japan. It’s located, as you might have guessed, in the ancient city of Kyoto in a traditional machiya townhouse. Though much of the classic look has been preserved, as you can see from the photo, no expense has been spared in its refurbishment with interior design by Douglas Kakuda Croll (us neither, but apparently he’s really prestigious) using classic Japanese woodwork and fabrics. The house is divided into a series of rooms or ‘ma’. These include a bar offering cocktails, local beers and wines, a shop, an exhibition space, a gin museum and a tasting room, as well as a member’s only bar overlooking a Japanese garden. For the moment, the bar will have limited opening times. For more information visit the websiteWe reckon no trip to Japan will be complete without a visit to ‘The House of KI NO BI.’

The Nightcap

The distillery’s celebrating its 20th anniversary and recently added Siddiqui Rum to its award-winning portfolio

Penderyn lands former Diageo man Simon Roffe

The Welsh Whisky Company, also known as Penderyn Distillery, has landed quite the coup this week by appointing Simon Roffe as its new director of business development. Roffe brings almost 35 years of commercial and general management in the drinks industry to the table, having worked for Guinness, Diageo, the Fairtrade Foundation and Remy Cointreau. Most recently, Roffe played a key role in launching the travel retail business at Halewood Wines & Spirits, and in the spectacular rise of Whitley Neill Gin. “We are excited to work with someone as experienced and as specialised as Simon. We are all naturally looking forward to seeing where we can take Penderyn with his drive and experience in the months and years to come,” says Stephen Davies, chief executive for Penderyn Distillery. “It has been a whirlwind year for our distillery, and with whisky fans far and wide sampling our latest tastes and bottles, there really is no limit to our global progression. Simon has the insight and the passion to really push Penderyn to the next stage of our export plan. Our recent awards successes show that people all over the world are still thirsty for authentic Welsh whisky”. Roffe added that he was thrilled to be joining the Penderyn Distillery brand and that it is “already making huge leaps and bounds on the global spirits markets. They are a brand driven by enormous ambition. It’s exciting to be working with such an innovative team delivering success after success.”

The Nightcap

And you get a spritz, and you get a spritz… Everybody gets an Aperol spritz!

And finally… Aperol’s Aperitivo upgrade to 2,000 weddings

If your wedding has been postponed because of the dreaded C-word, you can rest easy knowing that a certain Italian aperitivo has got your back! Aperol is doing what it knows best and giving 2,000 weddings that were postponed at the fate of COVID-19 a free Aperol Spritz for each guest. This is the result of a competition that was initially launched back on Valentine’s Day (when you could go out for dinner and drinks, remember that?) for 500 couples, but then the year’s events unfolded and Aperol decided to grant the wishes of all 2,000 people who entered! Whether your special day is postponed to later in 2020 or in 2021, you can be sure that you’ll have a spritz in your hand and all of this will (hopefully) feel like a distant bad dream. Though if everyone is guaranteed a free spritz, perhaps you’d better bump up that guest list…

The Nightcap

Pub Quiz Answers

1) In ‘Pulp Fiction’, when Vincent Vega asks “You don’t put bourbon in or nothin’?” about Mia Wallace’s order, what drink is he talking about?

Answer: Milkshake

2) Which of these grape varieties is not allowed in ChâteauneufduPape

Answer: Grenache

3) What was Robert Louis Steveson’s favourite whisky? 

Answer: Talisker.

4) In which country does Château Musar make wine? 

Answer: Lebanon

5) Angostura bitters was invented in which modern-day country? 

Answer: Venezuela

6) What was Al Capone’s favourite cocktail? 

Answer: Southside

7) What is ordered “on the rocks with a twist” in the 1993 film ‘Groundhog Day’?

Answer: Sweet Vermouth

8) In ‘Ghostbusters II’ which wine do Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver drink when they have dinner in a fancy restaurant? 

Answer: Château Haut-Brion

9) Which fictional whisky does Gotham City’s Commissioner Loeb keep in his desk in ‘The Dark Knight’? 

Answer: Clyburn

10) Traditionally, how many ‘Men of Tain’ made Glenmorangie whisky? 

Answer: 16 

 

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Cocktail of the Week: The Pomme Spritz

How do you like them apples? A lot? Well, we’ve got the perfect cocktail for you, a refreshing blend of tonic water and the none-more-appley 30&40 Double Jus aperitif from…

How do you like them apples? A lot? Well, we’ve got the perfect cocktail for you, a refreshing blend of tonic water and the none-more-appley 30&40 Double Jus aperitif from France. 

30&40 is named after a card game, trente et quarante, that was popular in France before the war. It was played at the casinos of Deauville, when artists and aristocrats flocked to the playground of the Normandy coast, according to the brand’s co-founder Vincent Béjot. “It was the golden age for Normandy, it was also the golden age of the aperitif,” he said. 

Béjot, a Norman himself, was living in Paris and, he said, “drinking lots of Calvados.” He got two friends, Aymeric Dutheil and Thibault Patte, hooked on it too and the idea emerged to create an aperitif based on their favourite drink. They took pommeau, a Norman liqueur rather like Pineau des Charentes made with apple juice and brandy, and mixed it with Calvados, hence the name Double Jus. But they couldn’t get the recipe quite right: Béjot explained: “Too much Calvados, around 24/25 % ABV, made it taste too much like brandy. But when we put more pommeau in, it was too sweet and heavy like pommeau can be.” He didn’t want to take the easy way out of using neutral alcohol or sugar.

Left to right: Thibault Patte, Jean-François (fellow Norman distiller), Vincent Béjot, and Aymeric Dutheil (hidden)

They worked with a spirits specialist called Alexandre Vingtier to solve the problem. The answer was inspired by the Norman port of Le Havre, which rather like Leith in Scotland, used to be awash with old barrels from sherry, Port and rum, which Calvados producers would age their brandy in. So they experimented with adding rum to the recipe. According to Béjot, the flavour of rhum agricole was too overpowering but a tiny amount, about 2%, of five year old rum from Belize (very expensive, according to Béjot) rounded the whole thing out without adding sugar. In future, however, he’s looking to make Double Jus with all local products. 

An early supporter was Paris bar Le Syndicat, famous for only using French products. Béjot only had samples in plastic bottles at that stage but the bar placed an order for two cases. “I filled the two first cases in my room.Then I thought: ‘now we can get serious’”, he said. London bartenders too, quickly saw the potential: “Erik Lorincz when he was at the American Bar at the Savoy, Happiness Forgets and Three Sheets. They all supported us. That’s how we started.” The hobby had become a business. 

As well as making a delicious drink, the aim with 30&40 is to help the Calvados category which has been in decline in recent years (though there are signs that it is picking up) and to revive the great French tradition of the aperitif. Béjot explained: “In the 1920s, after the war, people were super happy to stop at a local bar or cafe and have a drink after work. The word aperitif comes from the Latin apero, to open.” Drinks like Dubonnet and Byrrh with their bitterness were designed to get you salivating.

It was also the time of the soda syphon. According to Béjot, the word spritz comes from Austrian tourists to Italy who ask for a ‘spritz’ of soda in their bitter aperitif drinks. A cocktail classic was born. 

Le Pomme Spritz

Sadly, the classic French aperitif declined in the 1960s due to changing drinking habits. Béjot explained: “Most of the brands died or were bought by big industrial groups whose main focus was to keep affordable products for existing clientele. Natural ingredients were replaced with artificial colouring and flavouring and ABV lowered for tax purposes.” 

He added: “For us the market is not super exciting. That’s why we decided to launch a product like Double Jus,” Béjot said, “Quite high ABV compared with some aperitifs, and all completely artisanal. Made only from apples grown in Normandy no flavours or colourant. You can tell when you try neat or over ice.”

There is still the tradition of going out for a pre-dinner drink in France even if people aren’t drinking French aperitifs. Instead, it’s usually wine, beer or, increasingly, Aperol, which has led to a Spritz revival. Béjot said “Whether in the UK or France, people are used to Aperol and want to try something else. This is just the right moment to try our product.”

And that’s the best way to drink 30&40, just with a spritz of soda or tonic water. It could be the drink of the summer, Now, anyone for cards?

50ml 30&40 Double Jus
150ml Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic (or any tonic water)

Add the ingredients to an ice- filled Highball glass, stir gently and garnish with a piece of lemon peel.

Double Jus is available from Master of Malt. Tonight, Wednesday 8 April at 5pm (BST), there’s a live tasting with Vincent Béjot @thelianacollection Instagram page. 

 

 

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New Arrival of the Week: Le Rebelle Aperitif

The most exciting product to land at MoM HQ this week is a lighter take on the aperitif that uses some of the techniques of the French perfumery industry in…

The most exciting product to land at MoM HQ this week is a lighter take on the aperitif that uses some of the techniques of the French perfumery industry in its production process. And it’s so pink.

The aperitif category has exploded in recent years with exciting brands including Kamm & Sons, big launches from big names like Martini Fiero, and even non-alcoholic versions such as Everleaf. One debut in particular has caught our eye, Rebelle Aperitif from Rebel Distillers. To learn more we spoke to one of the brains behind it, Matthew McGivern.

After a career with stints at Molson Coors, William Grant & Sons, the London Distillery Co. and, er, Durex, McGivern set up Rebellion Distillers in 2016. He’s been joined by distiller Toby Sims who has made spirits for Fortnum & Mason, Dodd’s Gin and Kew Gardens. The company works as a drinks consultancy as well as producing its own products like the genre-bending Rebel Rabbet range and now Rebelle Aperitif. McGivern filled me in on the idea behind it: “When I started the development of this product, I’ll be totally honest we took inspiration from Aperol and the Spritz and created a version we liked better. I really like the category, there are some great tasting liquids and it ticks a lot of the boxes which consumer trends suggest, whether that’s lower alcohol, photogenic for Instagram and to make sure it works in classic serves”, he said. All very canny, as we’ve noted before on the blog, pink sells.  

The other up-to-date thing about Rebelle Aperitif is lower sugar levels than certain big name aperitifs. “By using natural flavourings we’ve been able to develop a fantastic liquid and significantly reduce the sugar level”, McGivern told us. Getting the perfect balance wasn’t easy: “it was a challenge to get it right and used a lot of brainpower”, he said. The production process, inspired by French perfumiers, isn’t straightforward either: “we’re talking copper and vacuum distilling, multiple macerations and some natural flavourings which came from tastings with perfumers to get the balance”, he added.

So the big question is how to drink Rebelle Aperitif: well, the most obvious serve is the Spritz (mixed with sparkling wine and soda) but, according to Matt, “it makes a truly magnificent Negroni too.” He recommends using a juniper-forward gin and Noilly Prat rather than something sweet and Italian. We had a little advance taste and can confirm that Rebelle Aperitif is indeed much lighter, more delicate than some of the competition with cinnamon and floral notes but also plenty of that all important bitterness on the finish. It makes a great alternative to a G&T mixed with tonic water. And that tremendously vivid pink colour is sure to be a hit at infinity pools around Europe this summer (or what’s left of it). 

  

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The Nightcap: 18 April

Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday here for your friends at MoM Towers, so The Nightcap is coming to you a whole day early! Wait a minute. It’s not Friday. This…

Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday here for your friends at MoM Towers, so The Nightcap is coming to you a whole day early!

Wait a minute. It’s not Friday. This is an imposter Friday. A pseudo-Friday. A fake Friday. Does that mean that all the booze news in this edition of The Nightcap will be “fake news”? No, of course not! It’s simply just arriving in your eyes a day early as we won’t be here tomorrow due to the bank holiday. Expect to see us on the beach, surfboard and parasol in hand.

On the blog this week, Annie talked desert island drams with Joe Hall of Satan’s Whiskers, while Adam looked at sweet treats for Easter and imbibed some delicious English whisky for our New Arrival of the Week. Henry’s Cocktail of the Week was a Martiki, a delicious blend of the exotic and the classic. Kristy then looked at Pernod Ricard’s latest purchase, Malfy Gin and guest writer Nate Brown pondered why so many bars don’t serve good coffee.

Right. Let’s get on with the show!

The Nightcap

Look – it’s the ‘world’s first’ Scotch cross bun!

Now you can enjoy Scotch cross buns this Easter!

Reading this in London or New York? Then you are in for a right treat. Noted chef Rory Macdonald, off of NYC’s Patisserie Chanson has teamed up with The Dalmore to create a ‘world-first’ Scotch cross bun! “We’ve used a nutriglaze, which means the whisky is heated but not to the point where the alcohol evaporates,” Macdonald himself explained. “This means the buns aren’t whisky flavoured – it’s a pure whisky glaze – so these Scotch Cross buns are the real deal.” The whisky in question? Dalmore 12 Year Old. A spokesperson from Whyte & Mackay, which owns the Scotch brand, added: “When Patisserie Chanson came to us with the idea of elevating the humble hot cross bun, we knew that they would produce something really special.” Due to the booze content, you do have to be over 18 (21, we presume in New York) to enjoy them. They’re available in the cities from 19-21 April – baked goodies and Scotch? Count us in.

The Nightcap

An artist’s impression of a swanky new visitor centre

English Spirit plans a boozy visitor centre in Cornwall

Live in Cornwall or got it on your travel list? If English Spirit gets its way, there will soon be another essential stop for visitors to the county. The distillery has submitted plans for a swanky new visitor centre at Treguddick Manor in Launceston. The new space, which will open in Spring 2020 if the team gets the green light, will give guests an insight into spirits productions. Plans also include a café bar, an event space, and a shop. The idea is that other local businesses will get involved and showcase their wares. Most of the details are still under wraps, but we’re excited about this one!

The Nightcap

We’ve had a century of delicious Aperol!

Aperol celebrates 100 years of joy

1919 was a momentous year, World War One was over and the Barbieri brothers, Luigi and Silvio launched a new drink called Aperol at the Padua International Fair. The drink quickly became popular in the nearby city of Venice in the form of the Spritz Veneziano but it’s only in the last 10 years that the drink has gone truly global: according to Drinks International magazine the Aperol Spritz is the 9th bestselling cocktail in the world. To celebrate the anniversary, naturally Aperol has a few things up its sleeves (if drinks can be said to have sleeves). These include the not entirely grammatical Together We Joy global campaign featuring a video; limited edition bottles with labels based on works by Italian artists Lorenzo Mattotti; a graphic novel by Tito Faraci with illustrations by Sergio Gerasi; and a summer tour around the Med with DJ’s, pop-up bars and amphibious vehicles. Finally, there will be something called ‘Grazie Veneto’ where Aperol thanks the region where it was born with three artists, one from Italy, England and America, who will be creating artwork to be exhibited in the town square in Padua. In short, this summer’s colour will be orange.

The Nightcap

A selection from the new High Coast range

FMV brings High Coast Swedish whisky to UK

Fields, Morris & Verdin (Berry Bros’s wholesale arm) announced this week that makers of delicious Swedish whisky High Coast has been added to its extensive spirits portfolio. Which in layman’s terms means more delicious Swedish whisky, folks! One of a handful of Swedish distilleries to be founded in recent years, you might know the brand from its original name, Box Distillery, it was renamed High Coast after Compass Box raised concern. Fresh from its rebrand, High Coast has launched a range of whiskies to show off all aspects of what the distillery is capable of. The first whisky in the selection is Älv, a single malt whisky crafted from 100% unpeated malt and matured in bourbon casks for 6 years. There’s also Hav, a blend of 20% peated, 80% non-peated malt whisky aged initially in 40-litre virgin American, Hungarian and Swedish oak casks for 3-4 months before it was transferred into bourbon barrels for 3-6 years. Timmer is the only 100% peated malt whisky in the selection and was matured in bourbon casks for 5-6 years. The last drink in the range is Projekt 63, an experimental dram that was aged for 63 months in 63-litre first-fill bourbon casks on the 63rd parallel, 63 decimetres above ground. We’re looking into why it was named Projekt 63. Berg, a 100% unpeated single malt matured in bourbon casks for 2 years then finished in PX casks for another 2 years, will join the range from September 2019. Berry Bros & Rudd’s spirits buyer Doug McIvor commented on the news: “I have been following the emergence of High Coast over the past few years after tasting new make spirit from the distillery a while back. My thoughts on tasting the spirit back then were that this was a world-beating whisky for the future. Everything I’ve tasted from High Coast since then has confirmed this to be true.” They will be coming to MoM Towers, so get excited Swedish whisky fans!

The Nightcap

The scenic Smoke & Mirrors, which boasts a pretty good view we’d say…

Smoke & Mirrors presents new head bartender and menu

Singapore bar Smoke & Mirrors has certainly been busy this week. Not only has the rooftop establishment got a new head bartender, Jorge Conde, but it has also launched a cocktail menu, ‘Illusion of Flavours’. Conde previously worked in bars in Spain and London over the last fourteen years and has experience in graphic design, which has come in handy already in menu influenced by Dalí, Picasso and Van Gogh. ‘Illusion of Flavours’ is divided into six categories: Fizzy & Elegant, Sour & Neat, Long & Refreshing, Strong & Neat, Fruity & Punchy and Savoury & Umami, and features Conde’s first creation for Smoke & Mirrors, La Fumata Bianca, which means ‘the White Smoke.’ This is a twist on the Negroni, smoky agave-based raicilla replaces gin, gentian liqueur stands in for Campari and, a blend of Bianco and quinine vermouth takes the place of sweet vermouth in his debut drink. “For this menu, my goal was to reimagine classic cocktails, focusing on traditional flavour profiles and exploring new ways to create them,” says Conde, “I find that people often have preconceptions about how a drink will taste, and I wanted to challenge those expectations with our drinks. While the presentation may appear to be simple, the flavour profiles are quite complex and layered, evolving as you enjoy the drink. As you may expect from the name, there is more than meets the eye.” So if enjoying creative cocktails while taking in spectacular panoramic views of Singapore’s skyline sounds like your thing, you know what to do. And if it doesn’t, have a word with yourself for goodness sake.

The Nightcap

Founder Deano Moncrieffe has plenty of experience with agave spirits

New agave spirits bar Hacha opens in London

Fans of all things agave will be delighted to know that a specialist agave spirits bar (or ‘agaveria’) has opened on Kingsland Road, Dalston, London. Hacha, pronounced ‘acha’ and named after the axe used to cut agave pinas, was founded by Deano Moncrieffe, the luxury Tequila ambassador for Diageo Reserve who has worked on its Tequila and mezcal portfolio for over a decade. Moncrieffe’s bar will serve an evolving menu of 25 different Tequilas, mezcals and lesser-known agave spirits, including fine and rare bottles that would otherwise be hard to find in the UK. Each drink will be available to order individually or as part of a tasting flight, which will pair the chosen spirit with a flavour enhancer, for example, añejo Tequila and rum-soaked grilled pineapple. Of course, no good bar would be worth its salt without a good selection of cocktails, which Hacha has in abundance. The bar’s signature drink is the Mirror Margarita, which is served on tap from a striking glass piña on the bar. Latin-inspired small plates, decor and music also feature. Any new establishment that champions agave-based spirits in an innovative, accessible way sounds like a winner in our books.

The Nightcap

The delicious Anna Pavlova cocktail at Swingers

Swingers: where golf and cocktails meet

We swung on down to Swingers West End crazy golf club for a fabulous evening of cocktail tasting with the head bartender Leo Glé. We were treated to six outstanding cocktails, including three creations that are completely unique to Swingers, named Anna Pavlova, Put The Lime In The Coconut and Elderflower Spritz. When he presented us with Put The Lime In The Coconut, which marries Havana Especial, coconut syrup, lime, passionfruit, mint, Glé told us that if we closed our eyes it would be just like we were on a beach somewhere. Of course we obliged, and, of course, he was right! Then, there were three which threw a twist on a classic, including a tonka bean Espresso Martini, a Clover Club, and an XXX Martini, which was basically a Pornstar Martini with the nutty addition of frangelico. All of the cocktails were absolutely beautiful and outrageously delicious, so a huge thanks to the talented guys behind the bar at Swingers. Glé has been working with Swingers pretty much since the original site opened back in 2016, and it is an understatement to say that his creations are well above par. Unlike our golfing skills.

The Nightcap

Glen Moray master distiller Graham Coull and Scottish rugby star Jamie Ritchie enjoyed a dram

Glen Moray masterclass at Murrayfield

Last week Speyside distillery Glen Moray released a special rugby-inspired whisky called the Edinburgh Rugby Private Edition. Just 312 bottles of this 52.8% ABV whisky have been produced. Each will cost £100 with all profits going to a charity, Hearts and Balls, which raises money for injured rugby players. The whisky comes from a cask chosen by Scotland internationals, John Barclay (the captain, no less) and Damien Hoyland. And what better way could there be to launch this whisky than with a masterclass at the home of Scottish rugby, Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh. It was hosted on Friday 12 April by Glen Moray’s master distiller Graham Coull and Scottish international player, Jamie Ritchie, popped in for a wee dram.

The Nightcap

Cocktails with just two ingredients are all the rage at Artesian Bar now

Artesian Bar launches new minimalist cocktail menu

The Artesian Bar at the Langham Hotel in London has won more awards (including World’s Best Bar) than you can shake a stick at. We know because we’ve tried to shake a stick at all the awards and failed. It used to be famous for its elaborate cocktails but no longer because now at the Artesian less is more. A new minimalist menu has been created by bar manager Anna Sebastian and head bartender Remy Savage, who both joined the Artesian in 2017. The new menu which was introduced this week consists of a series of cocktails containing only two ingredients. And to make things even harder for themselves, these new cocktails aren’t exactly what you would call classic pairings: there’s Perrier Jouët Champagne and cream, Star of Bombay Gin with golden beetroot, and St Germain Elderflower Liqueur and red carrot. Elderflower and carrot? It all sounds a bit mad but if anyone can pull it off it’s this team. We’ll be visiting soon and will report back. Watch this space.

 

The Nightcap

A Brad Pitt-ed olive would go nicely with this. Right? Because… Oh never mind.

And finally… Waiter! There’s a George Clooney in my drink

How much do you like George Clooney? Do you think he’s a good actor but hasn’t done anything really great since Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? in 2000? Well, then you probably won’t be ordering a special new cocktail at Bassment bar in Chicago. This drink could not be any Cloonier: not only is it called The Clooney but it contains Clooney-brand Tequila, Casamigos Reposado, and a giant ice cube featuring the face of Clooney himself smiling up at you as if to say: ‘you really love me, don’t you?’. It’s part of a series of cocktails based on famous people including Beyoncé, Elton John and Adele. The other ingredients in The Clooney are Carpano Antica vermouth, crème de banana, vanilla bean simple syrup, honeyed apricot and smoked hickory. Actually, that sounds rather nice. I wonder if they’ll do one but with a Jeff Goldblum ice cube instead.

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New Arrival of the Week: Martini Fiero

Martini & Rossi have big plans for Martini Fiero, a new super fruity vermouth that the company hopes will be the drink of the summer. We take a closer look……

Martini & Rossi have big plans for Martini Fiero, a new super fruity vermouth that the company hopes will be the drink of the summer. We take a closer look…

The press bumf describes Fiero as “the biggest new product launch undertaken by Martini in years”. And there can be no doubt at the sizeable market Fiero is aimed at: Aperol drinkers. Those bright orange spritzes are so ubiquitous now it’s hard to remember that until 2009/10, Aperol had little presence outside Italy. I think like many Londoners I had my first taste of it at Polpo on Beak Street, which proved so influential when it opened in 2009. By 2014, the Aperol Spritz was everywhere from country pubs in Wiltshire to seaside towns in Spain. It was a stunning example of how to market a product.

Martini Fiero

Martini Fiero, looking very pretty

It’s easy to see the appeal because, though there is a certain amount of bitterness, with its sweet orangey taste and low alcohol (11% ABV), Aperol is almost Kia-Ora for grown-ups. Not that that’s a bad thing. I think it tastes particularly fine mixed with fizzy water and grapefruit juice. Aperol’s success has led to a vogue for spritzes. To my knowledge, however, there haven’t been any mainstream products aimed squarely at Aperol (though I did try a supermarket own-label version a couple of years ago which was pretty revolting). Until now…. 

Martini Fiero has been available on the continent for a couple of years now, but this month it is being officially released in Britain. It’s actually a very different product from Aperol. Though it doesn’t say so on the front label, it’s actually a vermouth, which means that it’s made from white wine rather than the neutral alcohol that goes into Aperol. It’s also higher in alcohol at 14.9% ABV. Martini informed us that it’s made from 100% natural flavours and colours, including orange and two types of wormwood (artemisia absinthium and artemisia pontica, for vermouth geeks).

Martini Fiero

“Go on, I dare you to ask for a beer”

So how does it taste? Rather delicious, I thought. It feels a lot less sugary than Campari or Aperol; the overwhelming flavour is of sweet oranges with some bitter orange peel notes at the end and a certain medicinal tang. You can also really taste the wine base. Perhaps it’s the  bright red colour, but it reminded me a bit of Panda cherryade which used to be sold at my local cinema in the 1980s (interestingly, the same local cinema has been poshed up and now sells Aperol Spritzes). I liked it mixed half and half with soda water, with grapefruit juice and soda, and it makes a cracking Gin and It. Martini recommends drinking Fiero with tonic water which worked beautifully, the bitterness in the tonic chiming with the subtle bitter notes in the vermouth (though I did add a splash of soda to lessen the sweetness).

Just as Campari lovers can be a bit sniffy about Aperol, I think some vermouth fans are going to turn their noses up at Fiero. The flavours are clean and simple, it doesn’t have the complexity of the Martini Riserva range or the power of the standard Martini Rosso (hard to beat in a Negroni). But, of course, it is not aimed at vermouth nuts. According to Martini, “Fiero & Tonic provides a younger adult audience with a refreshing new way to enjoy vermouth as part of the aperitivo occasion”. As a sweet, fruity drink with enough bite to keep it interesting, it’s the perfect uncomplicated drink for a summer’s day. Rather like another orangey Italian drink I could name.

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