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The bars of the future are already here

Curious about what the cocktail bars of the future might look like? No need to gaze into crystal balls – the clues are all around you. Here, we take a…

Curious about what the cocktail bars of the future might look like? No need to gaze into crystal balls – the clues are all around you. Here, we take a look at the progressive venues re-shaping the modern bar landscape in 2019 (and beyond)…

“In 1986, there was a little boy at his first job in the Grand Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich who saw his first serious bartender with a huge moustache, tie and white jacket,” recalls Klaus St Rainer. “The coolest person in the whole building. ‘That must be the best job in the world,’ I thought to myself. And I was right.”

Since St Rainer, the owner of Munich’s Goldene Bar, had his life-changing encounter all those years ago, the industry has transformed. The legendary barman – who recently joined Jim Meehan for a guest shift during Banks Rums’ Please Do Tell tour – credits Charles Schumann’s 1992 book American Bar for painting bartending as serious profession: paving the way for what he calls “the new golden age of cocktails”.

Klaus St Reynier

Klaus St Reynier thinking about the future

But despite the incredible technological advancements we’ve witnessed over the course of the last few decades – using a rotovap to extract delicate aroma compounds, for example – very little has actually changed behind the bar. The industry is a stickler for tradition, and there’s an argument, I suppose, that until now, very little has had to.

At its heart, “a bar is a place for people to gather and escape from their daily lives,” says Simone Sanna, bar manager at Lyan Cub in Hoxton. But while the bar’s most basic function hasn’t changed, the attitudes and expectations held by its guests and owners have. As a ‘sustainable drinks-led dining experience’ that approaches food and drink as a ‘united entity’, Cub is a shining example.

“Our main focus is to educate guests about what you can get from your surroundings and take them on a flavour journey,” explains Sanna. “We have all become more conscious of the environmental cost of what we consume, and the ethics behind ingredients will only become more and more important.”

A new project with similar ideals, called Tayēr and Elementary, will join Cub in Old Street this Spring. The brainchild of Monica Berg and Alex Kratena; the venue features two bar concepts and a creative workspace called Outthink that “will encourage collaboration beyond the culinary arts’.

In Elementary, the menu will be dictated by available produce and drinks will be served via a bar system created in collaboration with Oslo bar Taptails for efficient service, while Tayēr – derived from the Spanish word ‘Taller’, meaning workshop – will, like Cub, focus on what is inside the glass and on the plate.

Tayēr’s bar will be stocked not only with selection of products from wine and sake producers, breweries and distillers, but spirits, beer and soft drinks of Berg and Kratena’s own creation. But more interesting is its adaptable station, which has been designed so that ‘the equipment, tools and produce can be placed anywhere based on concept, season, ingredients or any other individual needs’.

Together Berg and Kratena spent more than three years developing the concept, re-evaluating the efficiency and functionality of each aspect of the traditional bar set-up to refine the experience for both the bartender and the guest.

“Several things could be done to make [bartending] more viable [as a] long term profession,” says Berg. “It’s a physical job, so some wear and tear is to be expected, but at the same time, making sure the designs are more ergonomically suitable would help immensely.

“Our stations for example, are higher than what’s been the norm, because much of the bar station design has not been updated for decades. People today are taller than generations before, so it makes sense that they also need higher stations.”

While experience has surely shaped Berg and Kratena’s approach to Tayēr and Elementary – “we have both been very fortunate to work with great people along the way,” Berg says – a love of being behind the bar is the “single most important part”. Making drinks is fun, she adds, but the reward really lies in the interaction with guests. The one aspect of the bar, after all, that can’t be reimagined.

Cha-Chunker Genuine Liquorette

Ch-ch-ch-cha Chunker (sung to the tune of Changes by David Bowie) from Genuine Liquorette

With that said, some venues are certainly playing with the parameters of the ‘bartender’ role. Take bar-slash-off-license hybrid Genuine Liquorette which opened in Fitzrovia last year. It may be headed up by some of the capital’s finest bartenders, but the concept puts the power firmly in the hands of its guests.

You can craft your own bottled cocktail from a host of ingredients usually tucked away behind the bar, dispense one of six ready-made cocktails on tap, invent your own Cha-Chunker – a can of soft drink with a hole cut into the top and a miniature spirit upended into it – or create a personalised drink choosing from spirits labelled by price per gram (the bottle is weighed before and after).

Is this, perhaps, what we should expect from tomorrow’s venues? For the most part, today’s bartenders expect there will be change – but not too much. And maybe robots. “There will be still a mix of everything: high quality classic bars, experimental bars, dive bars, hotel bars, pubs and maybe some robot bars with bionic drinks,” St Rainer reckons.

“I sincerely hope bars will continue to be a social meeting place where strangers, friends, locals and travellers all meet up and have fun,” adds Berg. When it comes to what’s inside the glass, drinks will continue to evolve and adapt; “if we maintain our supply chains, producers, farmers and makers and ingredients, we will continue to drink great cocktails in the future.”

But as ingredient choices shift according to our palate preferences and societal necessities, Sanna remains “truly convinced that people will still order a Dry Martini even if they’re on Mars”. A Martian Martini sounds good to us.

 

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The Nightcap: 1 March

Pinch, punch, the first of the month, March is here! Happy St. David’s Day if you’re celebrating, and happy weekend, too! But before you crack on with the festivities, we’ve…

Pinch, punch, the first of the month, March is here! Happy St. David’s Day if you’re celebrating, and happy weekend, too! But before you crack on with the festivities, we’ve got all the booze news stories you need from the week that was.

Spring has sprung! Birds are singing, the daffodils are out… and this week MoM HQ has been sweltering in temperatures most usually seen in July. We’ve cracked out the Highballs, the floral gins, the light mark rums, and we’ve had a lovely time (global warming concerns aside). But it’s not all been high-jinks – there have been news and features aplenty, too!

First up, our Annie met Jim Meehan, co-founder of Banks Rums, and she also checked out Muyu, a new Amazon-inspired liqueur for liquid luminaries Monica Berg, Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale. Then Henry shared an Ardbeg tasting sesh – he put his palate through its paces with Brendan McCarron, who looks after the maturing whisky stocks at both Glenmorangie and Ardbeg. But that wasn’t enough for Henry – he then limbered up his nose with The Balvenie’s Alwynne Gwilt. What a week!

But we’re not done yet. Adam travelled to London to get the lowdown on Glen Grant from superfan Jim Murray (yes, the Mr Murray), and Our Cocktail of the Week was the Elderflower Collins. Oh, and we investigated the most delicious gins on the globe following the announcement of the World Gin Awards 2019. And we revealed what this month’s Dram Club members will be discovering in their boxes! We are good to you.

But what else has happened in the world of booze? LOADS, that’s what. Don’t believe us? Just read on, my friend.

We can’t wait to see the transformed Bunnahabhain distillery

Bunnahabhain gets £10.5 million distillery revamp

Islay fans: we have big distillery news. Bunnahabhain, tucked away on the island’s north coast, is in the throes of a significant expansion project! The £10.5 million transformation, funded by parent company Distell International, will see the creation of a ‘brand home’ and visitor centre complete with a shop and café overlooking the stunning Sound of Islay. Also new will be a shiny filling store, while the production building and cottages will be restored, creating on-site holiday accommodation. A number of original distillery buildings will be also be revived, while others, notably old warehouses, will be removed to make room for the new buildings, and improve operational flow. Work is already underway, with an impressive 99% of materials removed already repurposed for use on-site. “The plans aim to make the navigation of the site much easier for the visitor and to, in simple terms, declutter it,” said Derek Scott, Distell’s brand director for malts. He continued: “As the most remote and northerly distillery on the island, our transformation will give those who have made the journey time to pause, forget about the rest of the world and enjoy the serene surroundings.” The visitor centre should be ready in time for the 2020 season – we can’t wait.

Hopefully things will begin to look up for the Gautier Cognac parent

La Martiniquaise owner to take over most of Marie Brizard

French drinks group Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits looks likely to be taken over by main shareholder COFEPP, hopefully concluding a troubled couple of years for the Gautier Cognac and Sobieski vodka parent. In a statement, the company said the French authorities had approved the COFEPP bid, as long as certain conditions are met. These include selling off Porto Pitters and Ticaz Tequila to meet competition concerns. It’s an interesting move for COFEPP, which already owns both La Martiniquaise and Bardinet (think: Glen Moray single malt Scotch, Label 5 blended Scotch, Saint James rum and Poliakov vodka). Could France be about to see a new super-power drinks group take shape?

One of Port Ellen’s oldest, and most exciting, releases.

Port Ellen releases a 39 year old single malt

In a move that will get Scotch whisky lovers salivating, Diageo has announced that it will release a 39 year old single malt from Port Ellen in April. This is one of the oldest ever releases from the distillery that closed in 1983 (but is scheduled to start distilling again in 2021). The new release is grandly called Port Ellen: Untold Stories The Spirit Safe, and is the first in a new series of releases called the Untold Stories Series. It has been matured in both American oak ex-bourbon and European oak ex-sherry refill casks. “This release has been selected from a small number of casks, it is very different to other Port Ellen releases,” said Tom Jones, global prestige brand ambassador. It’s being released at 50.9% ABV and only 1,500 bottles have been filled. As you’d expect from perhaps the most in-demand ghost distillery in the world, it’s expensive, weighing in at £4,500 (although something of a bargain compared with some recent Macallan bottlings…).

Too much paperwork means less time to spend on wine

Spare a thought for wine inspectors set to ‘drown in paperwork’

Yep, more Brexit news, folks. The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has issued yet more warnings as part of its #NoToNoDeal campaign. The association is claiming that wine inspectors will be left ‘drowning in paperwork’ in the event of a no-deal Brexit, with red tape expected to result in 600,000 additional forms. The cost of all this extra admin? £70 million, according to WSTA stats. Why? Importers will need oodles more boxes to be ticked, from laboratory tests to potential tariffs. V1 forms – currently required for wines coming in from outside the EU – cost £20 per form, and must be filled in by hand. Best stock up on ink cartridges, as 55% of wine consumed in the UK comes from the EU. “The additional form filling and laboratory tests required for a no deal scenario will come as a real blow to exporters and importers alike,” said Miles Beale, WSTA chief exec. “Wine inspectors will find themselves drowning in paperwork and – unless they can double their workforce – wine consignments are going to be held up by unnecessary additional red tape. The reality is that if we leave the EU without a deal, wine businesses, big and small, will be facing a catalogue of extra costs which will ultimately be passed onto the British consumer.” But there’s no need to panic – by all accounts, importers are already stocking up. The wine should keep flowing.

Say hello to the wonderful Method and Madness Gin!

First release of Method and Madness Gin

Irish Distillers has unveiled Method and Madness Gin, the micro-distillery’s inaugural gin release! The bottling pays homage to the historic links to gin in Cork, while also pushing the modern boundaries of (g)innovation. The spirit was predominantly based around Irish Distillers’ pot still Cork Crimson Gin in 2005, which also took inspiration from traditional recipes dating back to 1798, found in a notebook kept in the distillery. It is distilled in ‘Mickey’s Belly’, Ireland’s oldest gin still, first commissioned at the site in 1958. The equipment is named after Michael Hurley, who was a distiller at Midleton for 45 years. Both he and the still came from Cork to Midleton, and so it was christened. The earthy citrus gin marries 16 botanicals, and Henry Donnelly, apprentice distiller, commented that to “combine the knowledge and tools of the past with the skills of the present to create a gin for the future has been a real honour”. The range is a fine use of Shakespeare’s iconic line, we’d say. Method and Madness gin is available in Ireland and global travel retail from March, and will be released globally from July.

Campbell Brown, who shouldn’t have any trouble finding a dram to toast this success

Double-win for Brown-Forman at the 2019 Icons of Whisky America Awards

What’s better than one award? Two awards, of course! The Brown-Forman Corporation will know all about that after Whisky Magazine has named the company Distiller of the Year and Juan Merizalde Carrillo of Old Forester Distilling Co. as Distillery Manager of the Year at the 2019 Icons of Whisky America Awards! Brown-Forman will now hope they can repeat the trick at Global Icons of Whisky presented in London this spring, where competition will come from contemporaries in Whisky Magazine’s other regions; Australia, India, Ireland, Rest of World and Scotland. “We are honoured to receive this award in recognition of our almost 150-year history as distillers and for our contributions and commitments to the spirits industry,” said Lawson Whiting, Brown-Forman CEO. “We continue to craft American whiskeys the best way we know how – with care, patience, and pride.” Campbell Brown, president of Old Forester added. “We are proud to celebrate Juan who is a great contributor to the success of Old Forester. Juan’s balance of technical expertise and passion for crafting great bourbon ensures that the Old Forester promise is as it has always been – to produce bourbon of the finest quality and utmost consistency.” Congratulations guys! I think a celebratory dram is in order…

 

Penderyn celebrates Welsh whisky ancestors on St David’s Day

Patriotic Penderyn has made a habit of honouring the patron saint of Wales with great whisky, and that’s not about to stop this year. The first distillery in Wales for 100 years has created a new Penderyn ‘Icons of Wales‘ single malt expression, the sixth edition in the series. Named Penderyn Royal Welsh Whisky as a nod to its distilling predecessors, the previous Welsh Whisky Company, it’s a peated whisky with a port wood finish that was bottled at 43% ABV. It was modelled on an original 19th century bottle that became the Royal Welsh Whisky after it received a royal warrant on 26 July 1895 (Queen Vic was obviously impressed on her 1891 visit). However, the company was wound up in 1903 after period of difficulty and little is now known about the original whisky. Adverts state that it was a five-year-old peated malt and, rather fancifully, was “the most wonderful whisky that ever drove the skeleton from the feast, or painted landscapes in the brain of man”. Little wonder bottles of Royal Welsh Whisky now sell for several thousand pounds! Stephen Davies, managing director of Penderyn, commented: “This is a great chance to celebrate Wales’ whisky heritage and the original Welsh Whisky company at Frongoch. Creating a global brand is a massive challenge, and we are proud to create award-winning whiskies which travel from Wales to the world, and this bottle pays homage to those early Welsh whisky pioneers.” Penderyn Royal Welsh Whisky is priced at £45 and sounds royally delicious – Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus, everyone!

Diageo just can’t get enough of this stuff!

Diageo gets taste for baijiu, wants more of Shui Jing Fang

Last year we reported that Diageo wanted in on the baijiu action, upping its stake in producer Shui Jing Fang from 39.7% to 60%. This week, the company confirmed it is after more, and has made an offer to increase its shareholding to 70%. And given baijiu’s popularity, it’s an interesting move. The Chinese white spirit is the most widely-consumed liquor in the world – and is the most valuable (yes, even beating whisky!). According to the 2018 Brand Finance Spirits 50 report, baijiu brand Moutai alone is worth a whopping US$21.2 billion. By comparison, Johnnie Walker, the world’s most valuable Scotch brand, is worth US$4.3bn. The time for baijiu has come!

Books and booze are a brilliant combination

The Bloomsbury Club Bar unveils literary cocktails for World Book Day

A good book plus a delicious dram? We’ve fallen in love all over again with that simple joy recently. So when news reached us that London’s The Bloomsbury Club Bar has created a literary-themed cocktail menu for World Book Day on 7 March, we were all ears. To honour the Bloomsbury Set of writers, philosophers and artists, the bar is encouraging guests to bring in a paperback book which they can trade for a complimentary cocktail. The books will then be donated to a local charitable bookshop! The four cocktails on the special menu include the mysteriously smoking JK Rowling, make with Chivas Regal 12 Year Old, ginger, honey, lemon, and Lapsang tea aroma; and the Roald Dahl, crafted with Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros, peach liqueur, dry vermouth, and grenadine, and comes complete with a giant chocolate ear. Other authors in the line-up include TS Eliot and Charles Dickens. The whole thing was developed by newly-appointed head bartender Scott Gavin in partnership with drinks group Pernod Ricard. Can’t bear to give up a beloved book? You can still enjoy a serve, you’ll just have to part with £12 instead.

BrewDog takes to the skies

And finally… BrewDog Airlines takes off

Not content with making beer, running pubs and launching a hotel, self-effacing Scottish brewer BrewDog has now taken to the skies. This week, the inaugural flight of BrewDog Airlines took off from London Stansted to Columbus, Ohio. On board, a group of paying customers along with a smattering of journalists were treated to a selection of brews, including an IPA especially designed to taste good at altitude. One of the lucky few was award-winning beer writer Adrian Tierney-Jones who told us it was a very jolly experience: “everyone was very well behaved. I’ve seen more pissed people on a flight to Tenerife.” The only slight problem was that the lavatory tanks on the Boeing 767 weren’t designed to cope with all the, ahem, liquid produced by 200 British beer lovers. Tierney-Jones tweeted on landing: “Loos had to close two hours before landing such was the volume of micturition…” Apparently there were some serious queues for the toilets when they landed. We can picture the debrief at BrewDog HQ: “We’re going to need a bigger plane.”

Have a marvellous weekend, folks!

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The Nightcap: 22 February

Greetings and welcome to Friday – you’re tuned in to your weekly round-up of all things booze news, The Nightcap! Yes folks, it’s Friday once again! Not only that, it’s…

Greetings and welcome to Friday – you’re tuned in to your weekly round-up of all things booze news, The Nightcap!

Yes folks, it’s Friday once again! Not only that, it’s also National Margarita Day, so if you’re not reading this edition of The Nightcap with a freshly-prepared Margarita, please feel free to prod anyone in arm’s reach and ask them kindly if they’d like to make you one. Or go make one for yourself and the aforementioned person in arm’s reach. Either way, ensure a tasty lime-and-Tequila-based beverage is in-hand before proceeding to read The Nightcap.

So, what’s been happening on the MoM blog this week? Henry taught us how to make a Margarita for our Cocktail of the Week, and hopped over to Ireland to check out the Dublin Liberties Distillery opening. Annie showed us the best time-saving treats for your home bar, and dug into the history of the Rat Pack and its connection to J&B Rare. Adam looked to the west and picked out some terrific Welsh drinks to celebrate St. David’s Day with. Oh, and we launched a gin. And won the Icons of Gin Online Retail of the Year award. As you do.

On with the remainder of the news!

Your love of Jim Beam meant it exceeded 10 million case sales!

Japanese gin and Jim Beam bolster Beam Suntory’s 2018 results

It was Beam Suntory’s turn to unveil those all-important 2018 numbers this week, and they make encouraging reading. Bourbon first, and Jim Beam continued its “strong momentum” to exceed 10 million case sales, while Makers Mark posted “double-digit” gains, passing the two million case-mark for the first time (that’s a lot of bourbon). Cognac brand Courvoisier and Canadian Club whisky contributed “high single-digit growth”, with Hornitos Tequila also performing well. But gin is well and truly in for Beam Suntory. Sipsmith’s growth was in double figures, while ROKU Japanese Craft Gin, which entered 31 new markets, “inspired strong sales”. Overall, Beam Suntory posted “mid-single-digit” sales gains. Cryptic, but clearly all’s well at the American-Japanese drinks group. Looking to future growth, Takeshi Niinami, Suntory Holdings Limited president and CEO, said in the financial results: “The key will be to continue providing high quality products like The Premium Malts and Jim Beam, and creating strong brands that are loved by consumers. In order to do this, we need to develop and grow premium products that have new value, which our rivals cannot offer.” Bring it on!

So this is what the future looks like…

Penderyn gets the green light for its second distillery!

Exciting distillery news alert, especially with St. David’s Day approaching – Welsh whisky producer Penderyn has got the go-ahead to open a second distillery! Planning permission for the new Swansea site was granted earlier this week, meaning work to transform the historic Hafod Morfa Copperworks site can get under way later this year. “Penderyn is delighted to bring a copper-based industry back to this area,” said Stephen Davies, Penderyn’s chief executive. “Once opened, we hope to see up to 100,000 visitors a year, and it will become one of the major attractions in the area. This all helps us promote our whiskies from Wales to the world.” The Lottery Heritage Foundation awarded £3.75 million to the project, which will comprise an exhibition area detailing the history of the copperworks, shop, tasting bar, conference suite and, of course, the distillery It’s all expected to open in 2022. Llongyfarchiadau, Team Penderyn!

A work of art – and that’s just the whisky!

Compass Box releases Leonardo da Vinci-inspired whisky

Just to remind us that blended whiskies can be seriously swanky comes a new release from the master of mixing, Compass Box. Called Tobias & the Angel, it’s named after a work by Verrocchio-Leonardo (meaning that it was painted at the school of Andrea del Verrocchio by Leonardo) hanging in the National Gallery in London depicting the biblical story of Tobias. The whisky is a blend of 24 year old Clynelish aged in American oak hogsheads and a peated Caol Ila of “considerably older age”, according to Compass Box. Founder John Glaser said: “For nearly 20 years, since we created our malt blend called Eleuthera in 2002, we have held a special reverence for the two distilleries used in Tobias and the Angel. That’s when I first discovered how perfectly these single malts complement each other. When we were recently offered extremely old and special parcels of whiskies from these two distilleries, I was compelled to put them together again.” He went on to say: “For this whisky, the name of the biblical story Tobias & the Angel just felt right; it seemed to reflect the personality of the two whiskies in this recipe. Searching through the many depictions of the story over the centuries, the Verrocchio-Leonardo painting had the beauty and the gravitas we wanted for this special creation.” Only 2,634 bottles will be produced and they will retail for around £450 ($500).

It’s time to party like your distillery manager used to work at a rum distillery in the 60s.

Ardbeg Day 2019: Time to get out your maracas

Well, have we got news for you. It turns out that the Islay-based Ardbeg distillery actually has some old connections to the Caribbean. Hamish Scott, Ardbeg’s distillery manager from 1964 to 1967, used to fill the same role at a rum distillery! Ardbeg Day has quite a reputation, with locals transforming everything from tractors to wheelbarrows into magnificent floats. Hence, on 1 June, during the famed Fèis Ìle Festival, Ardbeg Committee Members from around the world will gather in celebration of this year’s limited edition bottling, Ardbeg Drum. Dubbed a “peaty excuse for a party”, the single malt whisky has been matured in bourbon casks and finished in rum casks from the Americas, which should make for a rather interesting dram. It looks like this bottling will be as flamboyant as the celebrations surrounding it! The Committee release will go on sale from 5 March, though only a limited number of bottles will be released – let the festivities begin!

The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, in all its glory.

The GlenDronach announces limited release 1993 Master Vintage

If you’ve ever enjoyed the pleasures of a Scotch whisky from Highland distillery GlenDronach (if you haven’t you need to correct this ASAP), then you’ll know that the brand specialises in bold, rich and predominantly sherried single malts. The distillery’s new release, The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, is no exception. The liquid in some sherry casks filled in 1993 proved so exceptional that the distillery did the sensible thing and bottled some of it! The GlenDronach master blender, Dr Rachel Barrie, personally hand-selected the Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks used in this twenty-five-year-old expression, which was bottled at 48.2% ABV without chill-filtration or additional colouring. “With a quarter of a century slowly maturing in our renowned Andalucían casks, The GlenDronach Master Vintage 1993 Aged 25 Years has developed profound layers of depth and complexity, leading to an exceedingly long, voluptuous and memorable finish,” said Dr. Barrie. “Fans of The GlenDronach’s traditional Highland Single Malt can expect rich brandy-laced fruitcake on the nose, cocoa-dusted coffee and sultana brioche on the palate and lingering pecan toffee notes in the finish. I hope sherry cask connoisseurs around the world enjoy The GlenDronach 1993 Master Vintage, as an example of the finest sherry cask maturation.” Well, that sounds amazing. Is anyone else salivating a little?

Behold: Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon

Balcones readies new pot still bourbon

Hang on to your hats, American whiskey fans! Waco-based distillery Balcones has a new addition to its core range. Behold: Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon! Made using the brand’s Forsyth pot stills and aged for 24 months in new charred oak barrels, the mash bill features roasted blue corn, Texas wheat, Texas rye and malted barley. The result? An intriguing straight bourbon bottled at 92 proof (46% ABV). “Texas Pot Still Bourbon is about inclusivity,” said Jared Himstedt, head distiller at Balcones. “We wanted to create something that both long-time Balcones enthusiasts and people who are experiencing us for the first time can appreciate. By delivering flavour complexity within an approachable taste profile, we can introduce more people to the nuance of what we do.” Balcones Texas Pot Still Bourbon should be with us in the second half of 2019, but if you really can’t wait and fancy a trip to the US, you can get it from Texas, Florida and California now, priced at US$29.99.

The Dalmore and Massimo Bottura Present The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years.

Folks, we have Dalmore news! There’s a new expression on the block, and this one comes with some significant age. The Dalmore L’Anima Aged 49 Years was created by master distiller Richard Paterson and Massimo Bottura, owner of three-Michelin starred Osteria Francescana in Modena (voted the best restaurant in the world by the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in 2018). 49 years-matured. Michelin-star chef. Dalmore. This should be good. Dalmore L’Anima – meaning soul in Italian – was inspired by Bottura and Paterson’s shared love of creativity, innovation and flavour. The 41.5% ABV cask-strength, natural colour expression is a marriage of Dalmore expressions previously matured in freshly-emptied small batch bourbon barrels; Gonzalez Byass casks which previously held 40 year old Pedro Ximénez sherry; and Graham’s vintage Port pipes. How does it taste? Sunkissed raisins, bitter chocolate, old English marmalade; freshly brewed Java coffee, Demerara sugar, pecan pie and crème brûlée, according to the tasting notes. But the most pleasing aspect of this new expression? It will be auctioned at Sotheby’s later this year raising funds for Bottura’s non-profit Food For Soul, which tackles fight food waste through social inclusion. “Bottura’s approach to deconstructing and reinventing daring food pairings is very similar to the way I approach whisky making,” said Paterson. “The coming together of our passions allowed me to create a whisky that is bold, different, full of warmth and completely unforgettable – it is a true reflection of the love, blood and balsamic that unites us.” Delightful.

The House of Peroni is a fully immersive experience

Introducing The House of Peroni 2019

Peroni Nastro Azzurro has kicked off its House of Peroni 2019 activation! The multi-sensory immersive experience is set London’s Covent Garden and features eight different spaces, inspired by eight emerging fashion designers. For example, the Sicily space focuses on light that recreates the Sicilian sky, the Nature and Maximalism room is full of botanical scents and a wall of man-made flowers, and the Future and Sci Fi area transports visitors to a futuristic time through industrial city sounds. Then there is, of course, the bar! Visitors are invited to sip on a selection of Peroni-infused cocktails crafted by Manchester-based bartender Sam Taylor, who has been mentored by Peroni Nastro Azzurro’s master of mixology, Simone Caporale. Taylor was scouted from a nationwide search for the best bartending talent, so expect great things from his creations! Each tipple is inspired by each of the eight designers, plus there’s Peroni Libera 0.0%, an alcohol-free serve just as stylish as its boozy counterparts. Just goes to show the Italian beer brand can keep up with current low alcohol trends. 2019 marks the seventh outing for the House of Peroni concept, which runs until 9 March.

Congratulations Scott Gavin!

Scott Gavin appointed bar manager at The Bloomsbury Club Bar

The Bloomsbury Club Bar, London, has a new bar manager. It’s UK World Class finalist Scott Gavin! With over 10 years of international experience in high-end hotels, independent cocktail bars and immersive bar outfits, Gavin began his career in 2006 in sunny Malta at Twentytwo, the island’s most prestigious bar. He returned to the UK in 2012 to become head bartender at the award-winning Limewood Hotel in Hampshire, before spending two years as senior bartender at the sublime Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood London. His first managerial role was at industry haunt NOLA, where he helped relaunch the bar. He also frequently collaborates with Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge. That’s some career, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can bring to The Bloomsbury Club Bar. “I’m thrilled to be joining the team,” said Gavin. “The Bloomsbury Club Bar has been really innovative in the way it works with brands and other bars across the world. This position will be a new challenge for me and I’m excited to help continue raising the profile of the bar in London and worldwide.” Best of luck, Mr. Gavin!

Golden Barrel LeClarc Briant

Behold! The golden barrel!

And finally… For the wine lover who has everything, how about Champagne aged in 24-carat gold?

Winemakers love experimenting with fermentation vessels. Wines can be made in oak casks, concrete tanks, stainless steel vats, and even clay amphora, just like in Roman times. But now one Champagne producer has come up with the blingiest way to make wine yet: in a gold barrel. According to The Drinks Business, Champagne house Leclerc Briant will be releasing a wine fermented and aged in a stainless steel barrel lined with 24-carat gold some time in 2021. When asked what was the point of a gold-plated barrel, winemaker Hervé Jestin talked about “a resonance between solar energy and the wine”. He then went on to say that the gold would “increase the level of solar activity during the first fermentation” and “makes a connection with cosmic activity”. We’ll have what he’s having!

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The Top 10 minimalist cocktail bars

When it comes to back bars, bigger isn’t inherently better. Quite the opposite – it takes the most creative and discerning of bar teams to work cocktail magic with a…

When it comes to back bars, bigger isn’t inherently better. Quite the opposite – it takes the most creative and discerning of bar teams to work cocktail magic with a pared-down selection of spirits. We’ve picked 10 of the world’s best minimalist cocktail bars…

While bumper booze inventories continue to draw admiration from thirsty fans (ourselves included), other venues have taken the opposite road; slimming their selection down to little more than a shelf’s worth of hand-picked spirits.

For some bar owners, eschewing established brands for a curated rail of favourites is simply a matter of personal taste. For others, it supports their ethos of sustainability: locally-sourced at all costs. Some want to make a stand against pouring deals born from corporate interest. Or, occasionally, it’s a mix of all three.

Whatever the reason may be, stripped back bars certainly don’t make for lacklustre drinks – as the 10 bars that follow attest:

Punch Room at The London Edition, London

Minimalist credentials: Just one cocktail style here – punch

Seasonal speciality punches are the name of the game at London’s Punch Room. While you delve into the menu – which offers single-person punches as well as sharing drinks for up to eight people – you’ll sip a welcome drink punch reinvented daily by the bar team. Don’t miss their classic Milk Punch, a clarified drink that combines Hennessy fine de Cognac, Havana Club 3 Year Old, Somerset Cider Brandy, green tea, lemon juice, pineapple, spices syrup and, yes, milk.

 

Punch Room, London Edition

You can have anything you want at Punch Room, as long as it’s punch

 

Obispo, San Francisco

Minimalist credentials: Single spirit bar with a sense of place

Recently-opened San Fran hangout Obispo is a single spirit bar with a difference. Rather than clamouring to own one of every single bottle going, owner Thad Vogler has stocked his bar with a limited inventory of speciality rums, many from distilleries he has personally visited. The concept? To champion truly unique spirits that taste like the places they come from: no additives here, thanks. One highlight of Obispo’s cocktail menu has to be the Mojito, made according to a 1934 recipe from Havana-based bar El Floridita with stirred mint and raw sugar.

A Rake’s Bar, Washington, DC

Minimalist credentials: Exclusively hyper-local cocktails

While championing locally-sourced ingredients is increasingly commonplace in bars these days, few can claim to exclusively do so. A Rake’s Bar, however, is one of them. You won’t find Scotch or Tequila (or even citrus!) here – each drink celebrates local distillers and ingredients, from locally-produced Curaçao to verjus from nearby vineyards. Everything from its antique glassware to the physical cocktail menu is the product of local collaboration.

 

A Rakes Bar, Washington

A Rake’s Bar, a hyper-local bar for hyper-local people

 

Buck and Breck, Berlin

Minimalist credentials: Small in size, stripped back cocktail list

Located in Berlin’s Mitte district, Buck and Breck seats just 14 people at a time, around a communal black wooden table that doubles as the bar station – the only furniture in the entire space. But the stripped-back interior is far from the speakeasy’s only minimalist draw. Cocktails are listed by name and base ingredient (no brands, here, all spirits bottles are colour-coded) and accompanied by a considered Champagne offering.

Native, Singapore

Minimalist credentials: Asian flavour profiles only – with a focus on foraging

Founded by Vijay Mudaliar, formerly of award-winning Singapore cocktail bar Operation Dagger, Native is committed to using local and regional produce: think flavours like mango, turmeric, cinnamon, and tapioca, paired with spirits like Sri Lankan arrak and Thai rice gin. Try Antz, which combines Thai rum, aged sugarcane vinegar, coconut yoghurt, salt-baked tapioca, soursop, and, yes, real ants served in a frozen basil leaf.

 

Native Bar Singapore

Native in Singapore offers cocktails made with ants, yes real ants

 

Three Sheets, London

Minimalist credentials: Small in size, stripped-back cocktail list

Made from just a single shelf of spirits, Three Sheets’ cocktail menu reflects its name: three pages with three cocktails on each. Aperitif-style cocktails decorate the first column, and get progressively punchier as the menu unfolds. Bartending brothers Max and Noel Venning are the brains behind this welcoming neighbourhood venue, which is big on pre-batched and bottled ingredients. All the stuff you want from a cocktail bar, and none of the stuff you don’t. Head there during the day for a dynamite flat white.

 

Three Sheets Dalston

Three Sheets, Venning Bros’ bar in Dalston, East London

Bar Gen Yamamoto, Tokyo

Minimalist credentials: Small in size, just two menu options available

Tiny eight-seater Japanese bar Gen Yamamoto is a drinking den unlike any other in the world. There’s no cocktail list, just a tasting menu crafted to reflect ‘shiki’, which means Japanese seasonality. Your options are minimal: choose from either a four-drink or six-drink menu, and sit back as solo bartender Yamamoto takes your taste buds on a veritable flavour journey. FYI, the bar is carved out of a 500-year-old Mizunara tree.

Backdoor 43, Milan

Minimalist credentials: Small in size

Is Backdoor 43 the smallest bar in the world? At the grand total of four square foot in size, it’s certainly up there. There’s only space for four (plus one Guy Fawkes mask-wearing bartender) at the tiny bar, for which the menu changes on a monthly basis. If you can’t get a reservation, fret not – a small selection of classic cocktails can be ordered to-go via a small slot window to the street.

 

Backdoor 43, Milan

Backdoor 43, Milan, probably the smallest bar in the world

 

Above Board, Melbourne

Minimalist credentials: Exacting cocktail list with no off-menu orders

Owned by award-winning bartender Hayden Lambert, Above Board is the minimalist bar blueprint both in terms of drinks and design aesthetics. A sleek grey 12-seater island bar commands the softly-lit room; hand-picked spirits are decanted into crystal bottles and stored out of sight. The menu boasts 25 cocktails, split across signatures and twists on classics, with minimal garnishes. Glasses are thin and beautifully chilled, the ice is hand-stamped, and the hospitality is second to none.

Bisou, Paris

Minimalist credentials: There is no menu whatsoever

So minimalist is the vibe at seasonal Parisian hangout Bisou, they’ve done away with the menu altogether. Instead, you have a chat with the bartender about what you like – and, if you’re fussy, what you don’t – and he’ll whip up the craft cocktail of your dreams for a very reasonable €12 using 100% organic and locally-sourced ingredients. Sustainability is big here, with a focus on reducing waste; unused parts of fruits and vegetables are dehydrated and repurposed as garnishes.

 

Bisou, Paris

Bisou, Paris, so minimalist, it doesn’t even have a menu

 

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10 rules for running a successful bar

On the blog today we have UK brand ambassador for Disaronno Rod Eslamieh, a man who has had a chequered career in the drinks industry. He gives us the benefit…

On the blog today we have UK brand ambassador for Disaronno Rod Eslamieh, a man who has had a chequered career in the drinks industry. He gives us the benefit of his hard-won wisdom…

Eslamieh began working in drinks when his father bought an old fire station in Brentford, west London, which they turned into a bar and restaurant. It was an odd career move because up to this point Eslamieh didn’t drink alcohol. But he quickly fell in love with the bar culture, and the venue became very successful:

“We opened in 2003. In 2006, within three years, we won the Best Bar Team in the whole UK at the Class Bar Awards. In 2007 and 2008, I was shortlisted for Best Bar Manager at Class Awards. In 2009, I actually won the London heat of the Jack Daniel’s cocktail competition to go and represent (the bar) in Tennessee”, he said.

Rod Eslamieh

Rod Eslamieh!

Not everything went so smoothly, however. Eslamieh had to leave the Old Fire Station after problems with local residents (more on this below). Since 2014, he’s been a brand ambassador for William Grant & Sons looking after Disaronno Amaretto. With his wife Ellie, he runs Chapter 72, a coffee and cocktail bar near London Bridge. So, from a man who has tasted the highs but also felt the lows, here are some top tips for the budding bar owner:

Connect with the community

At the Old Fire Station, Eslamieh had problems when a small group of residents who didn’t like having a late bar in their neighbourhood concocted a case against him. They accused him of harassment and aggressive behaviour. Even though there was no evidence, Eslamieh ended up having to walk away from his own bar. He told me what he’d learned from what must have been a bruising experience, “I’d say the two top mistakes that people will make when opening up a bar is not understanding their community and engaging with them.” For his new bar in Bermondsey Street he made sure that this didn’t happen again by talking to local residents and businesses, and getting them on side.

Don’t try to be too perfect

Eslamieh said: “I think too many people wait for everything to be perfect, for the stars to align. Sometimes you should just get on with it rather than just think all the time. Because if you think a lot then you can easily talk your way out of something.”

Location, location, location

It was a complete accident finding the space that became Chapter 72 in Southwark. He was visiting his friend Simon Difford (from Difford’s Guide) and thought: “‘God, this is a really nice street’. So I called my wife and said, ‘there’s a lot of nice restaurants and bars here’. And then just outside I saw this shop with a To Let sign. I called the agent up and I said, ‘can I come and see it?’ and they said, ‘someone’s just pulled out, do you want to come and see it tomorrow?’.” The bar opened six weeks later (see rule above on not making it too perfect).

Rod Eslamieh Chapter 72

Rod Eslamieh at Chapter 72 in Bermondsey Street

Get the vibe right

This is perhaps a hard one to teach but we’ve all walked into bars and restaurants which you know just aren’t working. Eslamieh said, “I’m a great believer that sometimes you can go into somewhere and there’s a real positive feel and a real good connect, and sometimes there isn’t. And I think you can just see by the way the bartenders and the team move around, how the back bar looks, are the tables messy…”

Don’t micromanage

“Learning to step back and let your team have ownership of the business. Not micromanaging. But also finding out where their strengths and weaknesses are and how you can work on it,” Eslamieh told me.

Don’t let it go to your head

It’s not all glamour running a bar, according to Eslamieh. “So you’ve won Bacardi Legacy, you’ve won World Class, you’ve won Glenfiddich Experimental, you’re on the shoulders of bartenders, you’re on the magazines, you’re a superstar. Now I’m going to take this pin and I’m going to burst your bubble. Do you know who doesn’t care that you make the best Old Fashioned in the world? Your landlord. They want to get paid! Who doesn’t care that you make the best Mojito? The local council. If you’re going into opening up a bar thinking it’s all fun and glamorous then you’ve got to think again because at the end of the day, the buck stops with you. You’re the one that has to make sure everyone’s paid, everything is up to date, all licenses are compiled by, all health and safety. Make sure you have a good handyman!”

Look after your mental health

“When I first started in the industry I think there was this real kind of understanding that as a brand ambassador or a bartender you worked ten to 15 hours and then you’d go out drinking until four in the morning, you sleep all day and then you come out. I think that kind of lifestyle is starting to change. We’re seeing programmes like Healthy Hospo coming out. You’ve got more bartenders talking about how they’ve had to deal with alcohol issues and depression,” Eslamieh told me.


Making a Disaronno amaretto sour

Making a Disaronno amaretto sour

Have a USP

For Chapter 72, it’s coffee and cocktails. He said, “I always say that we’re a coffee shop that sells alcohol rather than a bar that sells coffee. So we’re trying to really demonstrate to people that as well as good coffee, we can do great cocktails here as well.  We’re the only place, I think, in London that does Espresso Martini masterclasses.”

Put out an A board

In all the noise about the importance of social media, it can be easy to forget that the old marketing methods can be the best. Eslamieh filled me in, “when we first opened, the coffee side was really busy for us, it was going really well, and the drinks side was a little bit quieter and we didn’t really understand it. So I spoke to a member of staff and said to her ‘just put on the blackboard ‘Best Espresso Martini in town right here’. . . that weekend we were full, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.”

People like fun drinks

Finally, I asked Eslamieh about his predictions for the future: “I think nostalgia will come back. I think people just want something that brings them back to where they were happy, whether it was a disco drink but a disco drink made well. In my next cocktail list, I’m going to put the Screaming Orgasm. It’s a fun drink, it brings back memories! I go to so many bars now where I look at the menu and I don’t even know what those ingredients are, they’re so complicated. There’s all these infusions, there’s all these complicated drinks. Why is LCC knocking out 88,000 Pornstar Martinis a year? Because it’s got a fun name, it’s got vanilla vodka, it’s got passionfruit, people like it.. . . 95% of people out there in the world don’t really care, they just want to have a nice time and have a nice drink.” Amen to that!

So there you have, follow these simple rules, and with a little luck and some money, you could have a successful bar on your hands.

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The Nightcap: 7 December

Another week, another round-up of all the news that’s fit to drink. Yes, it’s the Nightcap! Or c’est le Nightcap as our cousins across la Manche might say. So pour…

Another week, another round-up of all the news that’s fit to drink. Yes, it’s the Nightcap! Or c’est le Nightcap as our cousins across la Manche might say. So pour yourself a snifter and have a nose around.

This week on the blog there can be little doubt that Christmas is coming. To get any more Christmassy, you’d need Noddy Holder to pop up and shout “it’s Christmaaasssss!” We’ve been counting down the days in some style with our office Drinks by the Dram Whisky Advent Calendar. And what treats there have been: Day One was the Lost Distilleries Blend from the Blended Whisky Company, followed by Starward from Australia, something special from Dufftown, a French single malt, a BenRiach, and finally, the mighty Hudson Baby Bourbon. To get you in the mood, we brought you exclusive interviews with the people behind these very special drams!

If that’s not Christmassy enough, Adam came up with some boozy gifts for guaranteed Yuletide satisfaction. Oh, and #WhiskySanta’s Super Wish was something quite spectacular: a bottle of Talisker Bodega Series 40 Year Old, worth £2,750! Blimey.

But it wasn’t all festive fun on the blog. On Monday, we had a closer look at the last Dram Club Tasting Sets of 2018. Annie delved into the mad world of spirits maverick Rebel Rabbet, maker of drinks that defy easy categorisation (and nothing to do with fluffy bunnies.) And Henry met with Cognac sniffer-outer extraordinaire David Baker and tried some brandies distilled during the Second World War.

Some quality booze writing there, and talking of booze and writing, here are the top drinks stories of the week. Bon weekend!

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The Nightcap: 23 November

Oh hi there! You’ve made it to Friday. Well done. Pull up a comfy chair, pour a dram, and give yourself a pat on the back. But before you go…

Oh hi there! You’ve made it to Friday. Well done. Pull up a comfy chair, pour a dram, and give yourself a pat on the back. But before you go into full weekend mode, we have one final thing for you. Yep, The Nightcap is here with the week’s booziest developments in one super handy digestif!

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve has LOADS on this week. MoM Towers has been buzzing. It all kicked off on Monday with #WhiskySanta’s Craigellachie 31 Year Old Super Wish! Then we received news that Brora’s stills have been whisked off for refurbishment ahead of the closed distillery’s reawakening. We kicked off our mega Ardbeg competition on Tuesday (want to visit the distillery? Check out the blog post and you could be away on a jet plane/train/ferry/alternative mode of transport and be Islay-bound!)

That’s not all. Henry got the lowdown on Dandelyan’s final cocktail menu (sob!), Annie caught up with New York Distilling Company’s Allen Katz, and we introduced our delicious Black Friday Deals. Oh, and we launched a tiny little thing called Master of Malt Auctions… Phew.

Enough for now, though. Here are the other need-to-know drinks stories from the week that was!

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10 of the scariest cocktails to drink in bars on Halloween

Get in the spirit (geddit??) of Halloween with some special spooky cocktails. We round up the scariest, the most outlandish, and the downright weirdest drinks available this week. Before fancy…

Get in the spirit (geddit??) of Halloween with some special spooky cocktails. We round up the scariest, the most outlandish, and the downright weirdest drinks available this week.

Before fancy American pumpkins arrived on these shores, children carved turnips to create jack o’ lanterns. Yes really. It was back in the days when there only three channels on television and bobbies on bicycles would give children a friendly box round the ear for being cheeky. In remembrance of those more innocent times, Be At One Bar in Manchester is offering a free ghoulish cocktail to anyone who brings in a carved turnip in the run up to Halloween. They’re not the only ones doing exciting alcoholic stuff for the scariest night of the year; nowadays there’s more to Halloween drinking than overboiled mulled wine. And too bloody right! Why should the children get all the delicious stuff? So here’s a round-up of the best ghoulish cocktails around. All of them taste better while dressed as Frankenstein’s monster. That’s science.

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The Nightcap: 5 October

The first week of October is almost Oct-OVER. Sorry. That was terrible. Sorry. Anyway, here’s The Nightcap, lots of booze news to be had. As it turns out, October is…

The first week of October is almost Oct-OVER. Sorry. That was terrible. Sorry. Anyway, here’s The Nightcap, lots of booze news to be had.

As it turns out, October is cold. It’s almost like there’s some type of scientific reason to do with how planets move and where stars are, all of which contribute to making the start of October startlingly chilly… Either way, the work week for a lot of folks is drawing to a close, so it’s time to grab a warming tipple and dig into our weekly round-up of news from the drinks world – The Nightcap!

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Behind the scenes at London’s new Ziggy Stardust-inspired bar

In 1973, David Bowie toasted the retirement of his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, with a star-studded bash dubbed ‘The Last Supper’ at Hotel Café Royal. Now, 25 years on, the…

In 1973, David Bowie toasted the retirement of his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, with a star-studded bash dubbed ‘The Last Supper’ at Hotel Café Royal. Now, 25 years on, the historic London venue has immortalised the influential artist by opening a bar in his honour, called – what else? – Ziggy’s. MoM pinned down the hotel’s bars and beverages manager Fabio Spinetti for the inside scoop before the doors fling open for the first time this week…

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at Hotel Café Royal on the night of July 3, 1973. Just hours before, ‘Ziggy played guitar’ for the final time at a sold-out concert at London’s Hammersmith Odeon Theatre. The Soho venue, a natural choice for Bowie’s bash, was packed to the rafters with famous faces.

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