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The Nightcap: 4 February

A £73 million Guinness brewery and venue is coming to London, Heaven Hill adds to its considerable portfolio, and Kilchoman and the Cotswolds distilleries expand. It’s The Nightcap: 4 February…

A £73 million Guinness brewery and venue is coming to London, Heaven Hill adds to its considerable portfolio, and Kilchoman and the Cotswolds distilleries expand. It’s The Nightcap: 4 February edition!

February might be a short month but if this week’s Nightcap is anything to go by, there’s still plenty going on. It doesn’t make sense to be wasting any time, let’s see what we got up to on the blog this week before we get to the stories that caught our eye. 

We set out welcoming some cracking MoM exclusives, including Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel whiskeys, before we picked out some perfect gifts for Valentine’s Day, From Champagne to cream liqueurs and wonderful whisky. Elsewhere, we visited the revamped Cardhu Distillery and spent some quality time with the Thinking Drinkers, made a cocktail for Her Maj, and welcomed Wire Works whisky with some cracking video content. A corker of a week, if we do say so ourselves…

Now, let’s get to it, The Nightcap: 4 February edition!

The Nightcap: 4 February

Heaven Hill’s considerable portfolio is getting even larger

Heaven Hill adds a FEW more brands 

American whiskey giant Heaven Hill got into the spirit of the January transfer window and splashed out Samson & Surrey, a Miami-based spirits portfolio started by two former Bacardi executives. The purchase includes  Bluecoat Gin, Widow Jane Whiskey, Mezcal Vago, Tequila Ocho, France’s Brenne Whisky, and FEW Spirits. Terms of the deal were not announced, the news came via FEW founder Paul Hletko. According to Hletko, his business will continue to operate from its warehouse at the end of an Evanston alley and the changes will be in the realms of distribution, sales, and marketing. “For FEW, it should be business as usual. We’ll continue doing what we do. We’ll just do it with the sophistication and market access of a Heaven Hill behind us,” he explained. Heaven Hill Brands include Heaven Hill (naturally), Elijah Craig, and Evan Williams. Now there’s all kinds of potential for fun after some big spending. Which is something of a theme in this week’s Nightcap as… 

The Nightcap: 4 February

This is what we can expect from Guinness’ triumphant London return

Guinness returns to London with £73 million brewery  

… Diageo does some splurging of its own by pumping £73 million into a new Guinness microbrewery and culture hub in London’s Covent Garden. We’re guessing the results of Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh have been pleasing. The upcoming venue, named ‘Guinness at Old Brewer’s Yard’ is set to open in Autumn 2023 and will create up to 150 jobs and train a further 100 bartenders annually. The new 50,000 sq ft venue, which first brewed beer back in 1722, will have just enough space for events and local community initiatives, as well as being the southern UK hub of Diageo’s ‘Learning for Life Bartending and Hospitality Programme. Dayalan Nayager, managing director, Diageo Great Britain, said: “We’re excited to create a new home for Guinness in the heart of London. ‘Guinness at Old Brewer’s Yard’ will strengthen London’s hospitality community and be a must-visit destination for thousands of visitors to enjoy”. Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak, who has visited the site, added: “This multi-million-pound investment is a crucial vote of confidence in our capital. 300 years after brewing the first beer in Old Brewers Yard, it’s fantastic to see Guinness breathing life into our hospitality and tourism industries and creating more jobs and training opportunities in central London.” It’ll be great to see Guinness back in the capital for the first time since the old Park Royal brewery closed in 2005. 

The Nightcap: 4 February

The one flaw with Kilchoman is there’s never been enough great whisky to go around. This should help.

Kilchoman ramps up production with £22.5 million funding 

More spending news! Kilchoman Distillery has agreed a deal with Barclays worth £22.5 million, allowing it to invest in new production facilities and farming on Islay. The distillery aims to produce 40% more whisky within the next 12 months. The owners have already started work on a new warehouse and extra staff have been hired to cope with demand, making it a major employer on the island, with 40 people now working for the business. The bank’s loan will also allow Kilchoman to increase its presence in France, Germany, the US and China, four major markets for the brand. Kilchoman general manager, the magnificently-named Islay Heads, explained the deal: “It has been pleasing to deal with the team at Barclays who were informative about the whisky industry and genuinely interested in the business and our staff. For us it was all about getting the right package in place and developing a long-term relationship. Barclays listened to any points we made and came up with a deal not driven by ticking a box but meeting our needs for a straightforward credit facility to meet our ambitions.” Andy Hall, head of Barclays corporate banking, central Scotland, added: “Despite the challenging economic conditions, the production of our national drink remains an expanding industry and we are pleased that Kilchoman is now one of several independent distilleries in Scotland where we are supporting their ambitions for growth in Scotland and beyond”. It’s fantastic news, and it’s not even the last big spending story this week…

The Nightcap: 4 February

Dan Szor will soon own the largest producer of English whisky

PLUS The Cotswolds Distillery announces whisky expansion

… because there’s going to be a significant expansion in the production of whisky at The Cotswolds Distillery as well. Christ, it’s a spendy Nightcap, isn’t it? The plans, which include a new dedicated distillery for its whisky, will soon make it the largest producer of English whisky. The site near Shipston on Stour in the North Cotswolds will eventually produce 500,000 litres of pure alcohol per year and the distillery will be commissioned over the Summer of 2022. Despite the challenges the hospitality industry has faced in the last couple of years, the Cotswolds Distillery has achieved significant growth allowing it to venture into new markets, expand, and bring some big names. These include Lynsey Eades, formerly of Remy Cointreau, as international sales and global travel retail director, as well as consultancy from industry veterans Ken Grier and former director of Scotch whisky at Diageo, Richard Watling. “Since the launch of Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky in 2017, its spectacular growth in popularity has proven its ability to drive our premium brand both nationally and across key international markets,” says founder Daniel Szor. “The long-term nature of whisky production, combined with our ambition to remain at the forefront of the fast-growing English whisky movement for years to come, is behind our decision to significantly upscale our whisky production”. We’re looking forward to seeing the new and improved Cotswolds, having been very impressed by what’s come out of the distillery so far. Exciting times… 

The Nightcap: 4 February

It’s great to see so many brands embracing responsibility

Nc’nean lands high scoring B Corp accreditation

Remember last week when we were congratulating Maker’s Mark on its B Corp accreditation? Well, now we can add Nc’nean to that shortlist of accredited producers. In fact, the Highland distillery is doubling the number of Scotch whisky distilleries to hold the certification having also met all those rigorous social and environmental standards we talked about last week, with an extremely high score of 135.6. It’s not surprising if you’re familiar with the brand’s environmental ethos, the distillery is powered by 100% renewable energy and is certified organic, sourcing barley exclusively from Scotland. Nc’nean whisky is also bottled in a 100% recycled clear glass bottle and in July 2021, it became the UK’s first whisky distillery to be certified net-zero for its own operations (scope 1 and 2), beating the Scotch whisky industry target of 2040 by 20 years. This is one impressive producer of whisky, folks. Good thing the spirit is tasty too, so we should see plenty more of them in the future!

The Nightcap: 4 February

Save us a seat

Mr. Lyan returns to East London with new bar

The multi-award-winning Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr. Lyan, has announced the opening of a new cocktail bar, Seed Library. It’s located in the basement of One Hundred Shoreditch in East London, where he opened his first bar White Lyan, in 2013 and will fling its doors triumphantly open in March. It also hasn’t got a Lyan reference in the name, and won’t be trying to reinvent the wheel quite as much like its sister sites. Don’t expect as many mad scientist creations. Instead, a short, frequently changing menu will feature new takes on classic mixed drinks, such as the Sancho Leaf Martini and the Perilla Gin & Tonic, which will be joined by a curated list of low-intervention wines and a range of beers from craft brewers. A more chilled affair, by the sound of it. And if it’s as good as his other establishments, we’ll be popping by ourselves pretty frequently. Elsewhere, Mr. Lyan is bringing back his popular Sunday Lyan series for 2022, in partnership with Fever-Tree. Teaming up with some of the bars, restaurants, and brands, the series will celebrate the creativity and quality from across the industry and kicks off with Fierfield botanical spirit drink from J.J Corry Irish Whiskey on 6 February. The only question for us is, where does he find the time?

The Nightcap: 4 February

Rennie is man in-demand, for good reason too!

Rosebank announces Malcolm Rennie as new distillery manager 

The Rosebank revival is one step closer to reality as the Lowland distillery welcomed a new distillery manager ahead of the site opening later this year. And it’s someone who featured on our blog recently. Malcolm Rennie, fresh from helping to bring Lochlea to life, is bringing his 35 years of distilling expertise to oversee the production process, from the first fresh trickle of new make spirit through the stills, to cask selection and maturation. Working alongside Ian Macleod Distillers’ group distillation manager, Robbie Hughes, and malt master, John Glass to put all that experience to good use, which includes helping to revive a sleeping giant after helping to reopen the Annandale Distillery after 90 years. As for the distillery, construction delays as a result of the pandemic haven’t stopped its march forward and production is due to begin towards the end of summer. A new eye-catching sloping stepped roof has nestled around the distillery’s 108ft chimney, connecting Rosebank’s past with its future, while the mash tun, the process tanks, mill, and grist case have been installed, with three Forsyth stills to follow. The return of the much-loved Lowland whisky is not too far away now, folks.  

The Nightcap: 4 February

The Tio Pepe Challenge is back!

The Tio Pepe Challenge 2022 is open

After a two-year hiatus caused by that global pandemic thing, the Tio Pepe Challenge is back. Gonzalez Byass is laying down the gauntlet to UK bartenders to create a unique sherry cocktail. The winner gets to take on the rest of the world in Jerez in May. Bartenders must enter by 9 March with the top 10 competing in the final in London on 4 April. Entrants must not only come up with a cocktail but also demonstrate their knowledge of sherry. But never fear, if you don’t know your Amontillado from a Palo Cortado, Boris Ivan from Gonzalez Byass will be hosting free online masterclasses on 9/16/23 February at 12 noon. Or you can get down to Bar Pepito near King’s Cross on 23 February from 1-3pm, try some wines and practise your venencia skills – that’s the cup on a stick thing which you have to learn how to use if you want to be taken seriously in Jerez. Giacomo Bucciarelli, the 2019 winner, commented: “The Tio Pepe Challenge is a unique experience mixing incredible emotions amongst highest level professionals. Spanish culture plays a big part of the liquid journey every participant goes through. Definitely a game-changing competition!!” So bartenders, clean your shaker, dust off your cocktailing trousers, and let those creative juices flow. 

The Nightcap: 4 February

Congratulations, guys

Cardiff’s Lab 22 voted Britain’s best bar

On Tuesday this week, the great and good of the drinks world gathered at One Night Records in London to see who topped the UK’s Top 50 Cocktail Bars. And beating the might of the London bars was Cardiff’s Lab 22 which emerged victorious after jumping 32 places in two years thanks to the menu of head barman Max Hayward. Despite not taking the crown, London bars dominated the top ten with Swift Soho coming in second and the Connaught, recently named World’s Best Bar, coming in third. Which begs the question, how can a bar be the best in the world but not the best in Britain? The highest new entry was at number four for another London bar Tayēr + Elementary, brought to you by Alex Kratena and Monica Berg. Top 50 Cocktail Bars publisher Christopher Lowe commented: “London has always been seen as a global leader for cocktails but as you’ll see from the 2022 list, other major cities across the UK are now catching up. Our newly launched website will help cocktail connoisseurs discover the best of the UK bar scene with many of these very much still under the radar.” Congratulations to the Lab 22 team. We can’t wait to sample to see what all the fuss is about.

The Nightcap: 4 February

We’re struggling to understand the point of this, frankly

And finally… Waiter, there’s a non-fungible token in my drink

Face it, at some point you’re going to have to learn what an NFT (non-fungible token) is. They are everywhere in the booze world and, no, they have nothing to do with mushrooms. In fact, we have an article on the very subject going out next week. But while we love a bit of tech at Master of Malt, it can be taken too far. Such as at Adam Handling’s Eve Bar which is offering London’s first NFT cocktail menu. We’ll attempt very briefly to explain this: for your money, which could be as much as £4,000, you’ll own a one-off cocktail recipe in the form of an NFT which no one else will have plus some actual stuff including a certain number of complimentary drinks at Eve Bar and a real-life or digital masterclass with your cocktail’s creator. The big question is: why? When you go out for a drink, you want a drink, you want it cold and delicious, and you want it now. What you don’t want is to own the digital rights to a unique cocktail. And while you’re at it, bring back cash. Harrumph, harrumph!

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Is the dive bar finished?

Dive bars from the Dolphin to the Crobar are on the ropes. But a new roster of bars with divey vibes are emerging, and their cocktails are making waves. Millie…

Dive bars from the Dolphin to the Crobar are on the ropes. But a new roster of bars with divey vibes are emerging, and their cocktails are making waves. Millie Milliken asks what makes a good dive bar in 2022 and picks out seven of the best.

Spending 10 days isolated in your flat can really do wonders for one’s ability to do housework. My flat has never been so spotless and during my frenzied shelf-reorganising, book alphabetising and clutter-throwing-outing, I came across a framed, black and white photograph of eight people, posing for their portrait on a beach.

London Calling

A lovely piece of memorabilia, I decided to keep it – despite the fact that I have no idea who any of these people are, when they lived or even really how I came to acquire it. What I do know though is that it came into my possession after a night out at The Dolphin pub in Hackney, my local dive bar 10 years ago. 

Any Londoner looking for a really, really good time until 4am should know this Mare Street institution. It’s hot, it’s sweaty, and being branded with its blue, dolphin-shaped stamp is akin to a badge of honour.

People have many definitions of a dive bar. The Urban Dictionary uses descriptors like ‘unglamorous’, ‘shabby’ and ‘well-worn’, with the drinks described as ‘simple’ and ‘cheap’. For me, however, the quality of the drinks (or lack of) isn’t the defining factor of a dive bar, it’s the attitude of the owners and an unspoken agreement between them, the customers and everyone involved that we’re all just going to have a fucking good time.

Ten years ago, such places made up the majority of my drinking destinations: flashbacks to rolling down the steep staircase into Soho’s Trisha’s with a flourish; dancing around my handbag (and getting it stolen) in Shoreditch’s Jaguar Shoes; and pouring pints down peoples’ trousers in Holloway’s The Big Red (don’t ask). Back then, a £4 spirit and mixer or a pint of mediocre lager did the job.

Sadly, many classic venues are falling victim to Covid, changing consumer tastes and the growing costs of running a bar. One such institution is The Crobar (photo below) which, despite raising considerable funds to save it from the claws of Covid, has sadly closed its doors. Owner Richard Thomas opened the legendary rock ‘n’ roll bar back in 2001 after a bartending career that began in 1981. After stints at two former music destinations, The Borderline and The Garage, he opened the rock and roll bar he’s always wanted to drink in. “It was something that a lot of people wanted, not just myself,” he tells me. “Within a year or even eight months we took off, we were busy before we’d even got a name.” For those who might not have figured it out yet, The Crobar was named after the heavy metal tool.

Crobar London

Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy nights!

Dive bar paradiso

Drinks may have been simple (spirits and mixers, and beers) but Thomas never wavered on quality. “I’ve always been a believer in giving people quality booze… Right from the start our aim was to have the best liquor in town.” With a rock crowd bourbon was a popular choice, with around 50 on the back bar and Bulleit as the house pour – selling 90 bottles a week at its peak. Thomas was also sure to have about six to eight Scotches, half a dozen Irish whiskeys and 12 good quality Tequilas which Thomas was keen to give his guests as a serious sipper. “We stopped offering people salt and lime with Tequila because it was nice to drink by itself and our Tequila sales just went up and up.”

He even eschewed fridges (“fridges in bars are the most pointless waste of money) for chilling his beers in ice and water to ensure someone ordering a beer at 2.45am had as cold a beer as someone who ordered one at opening time. A refreshing approach to many of the other rock bars I’ve frequented over the years. “This idea of doing booze like McDonald’s appals me – a good bar is when you’d rather be there than in your house… That’s why people always arrived at 8pm with intentions of leaving at 11pm and staying till 3am.”

Is this the end of the dive bar?

So, why are these institutions struggling to survive? Thomas is refreshingly open about how financially difficult it became for bars like The Crobar to keep their doors open, citing a decline in office workers, less tourists who would spend good money in theatres and restaurants which in turn was spent by their staff in his bar, and landlords upping the rent. 

“Soho in the ‘90s and the early ‘00s was bloody fantastic. You could go out and you could go to half a dozen really cool bars and rock clubs. But after 2008, that was a game changer… It got tougher and tougher, landlords got greedier, the government got greedier, in 2014 they put the rates up by 111% overnight. My rent when I left was £130k a year… Margins got smaller too – in the 90s margins were 72%, but by the time I left Crobar it was 42% because of endless costs.” 

Two Schmucks

Diveyish, it’s The bar at Two Schmucks

Divey vibe, but with great drinks

It might look like the classic dive bar’s days are numbered, yet a recent trip to Barcelona in November pointed to the future. I found myself in Two Schmucks, a bar that defines itself as a ‘five-star dive bar’. It has all the hallmarks of a classic dive (neon signage, Converse hanging from the walls, a definite dancing on tables vibe) but its drinks certainly aren’t. Drinking fancy cocktails like the Melon, Cheese and Pepper (combining melon cordial, gin, vermouth and burrata) amidst the revelry that comes with the Two Schmucks crowd might be the most fun I’ve had while drinking cheese foam.

“The concept of Two Schmucks wasn’t decided by us, it happened as a result of us trying to work around a tonne of limitations – mostly financial,” laughs co-founder Moe Aljaff. “We knew what we could do and we believed in the service we provided. We started without any money so we built everything ourselves and tried to get whatever we could to deck out the bar.  It took us a year before we first used the phrase ‘a five-star dive bar’, the bar took on its own concept and we just kind of went with it.”  The combination of quality cocktails and divey vibes has clearly paid off, with the bar being ranked at number 11 at World’s 50 Best Bars and the end of 2021.

Looking for a raucous night out?

But what about back on UK soil? After two days with the Schmucks (including at their new karaoke bar Lucky Schmuck) I realised – Covid-aside – it had been ages since I’d had such a raucous night out in my own hometown. When I posted on a London bartender Facebook group asking for people’s favourites, one member replied with eight damning words: “There are no real dive bars in London.” Shots officially fired. 

That’s not to say these kinds of bars don’t still exist – they just appear in different guises. Lyndon Higginson, the brains behind Junkyard Golf Club, Crazy Pedro’s, The Liars Club and other Manchester haunts has done a formidable job of combining divey surrounds and late-night destination bars with drinks lists to please a more discerning drinking crowd. Below Stonenest, a new basement bar in Soho, is making its mark too with cocktails like White Port and Tonic, Joan Collins, Zombies and a small but discerning wine list.

And the old guard are revinenting themselves too. Richard Thomas is waiting for Covid subsidies to come through before unveiling the new guise of The Crobar which will undoubtedly be welcomed with open arms and mouths from its already loyal following – and hopefully, a new one too. He is eagerly counting down the days. “You have no idea how much I want to listen to heavy metal and get shitfaced.” Here’s to diving into 2022.

6 of the UK’s best dive bars

We called for members of the bar industry to tell us their favourite dive bars. Here are five of the most popular

El Camion, London

This bar industry regular is still a sure thing if you find yourself in Soho and in need of a bar to prop up till 3am. It’s basement bar, The Pink Chihuahua, is where you’ll find all the tequila and a place to dance with zero judgement.

El Bandito, Liverpool

‘Roses are red, violets are blue, shots of tequila, Blink 182.’ It seems poetry and agave spirits are both a strength of this basement tequileria in Liverpool. Walls are festooned with a mish mash of Mexican memorabilia while cocktails are fun but packed full of the bar staffs’ knowledge of all things agave.

Crazy Pedro’s, Manchester

Pizza and nachos seem to be Pedro’s favourite drinking foods, and chances are you’ll need some to soak up all the cocktails that scream out from the menu. Classics include the likes of El Diablo and Ped’s Spritz, while house cocktails use ingredients like Batanga Reposado, Koch Espadin and supasawa.

Slim Jim’s Liquor Store, London

This Islington-by-way-of-America favourite is described more as a ‘vibe’ bar but people who have worked there firmly put it in the dive category. Whisky is the spirit du jour with over 80 bottles from around the world on the back bar and live music and the obligatory jukebox add to the vibes.

La Pantera, Cardiff

Mexican wrestling on the TV, and memorabilia on the walls, and Batangas on the menu make La Pantera a favourite in Cardiff. Merch is popular (and another sign of a good dive bar to sell to its loyal following) while drinks have catchy names like Shark Tooth and come in fun colours like the Midori Sour.

Blondies, London

A proper rock n’ roller, Blondies is dark, dingy and the stomping ground of punks, partiers and karaoke lovers alike. You might go to this Hackney venue for the music but with pizza, Midori Margaritas and the licence to let seriously loose, this might just be the perfect antidote to two years of being well behaved.

Please let us know some of your favourite dive bars, past and present, in the comments or on social. 


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The Nightcap: 19 November

Big news this week as Heineken buys Distell, Gordon’s Gin has a new look, and there’s been a Fok Hing mess for a Hong Kong gin brand whose brand name…

Big news this week as Heineken buys Distell, Gordon’s Gin has a new look, and there’s been a Fok Hing mess for a Hong Kong gin brand whose brand name was deemed offensive. It’s the Nightcap: 19 November!

November continues to speed along but we’re not racing to Christmas just yet because there’s plenty to enjoy. Getting to wear big coats again. Eating casserole after casserole. And learning what the world of booze is up to this week. It’s always something and it’s usually entertaining. This week is no different. Let’s get stuck in.

But first, we had #WhiskySanta back on the blog to give you the chance to Super Wish your way to a bottle of Bunnahabhain 40 Year Old, before we had our own giveaway for The Macallan 25 Year Old Sherry Oak. We then gave you the opportunity to take a virtual tour of Pernod Ricard’s new whisky distillery in China, heard Dr. Nick Morgan’s warning about whisky investment firms, and learned from Lauren Eads that bourbon is more dynamic than you might think. We also tasted the world’s first biodynamic whisky, mixed up a winter classic, cast an eye on the new Wine Cask series from That Boutique-y Whisky and That Boutique-y Rum, and enjoyed some warming whiskies with a distinctly smoky profile.

But we’re not done yet. Now it’s time for The Nightcap: 19 November edition!

Bunnahabhain Nightcap: 19 November

Soon this will be owned by Heineken

Heineken buys Bunnahabhain parent, Distell 

Big news came from Heineken this week who revealed plans to buy South African wine and spirits maker Distell Group Holdings in a €2.2 billion deal. If approved, the transaction will include an internal restructure of Distell to create two new businesses: Newco and Capevin. The former will combine Distell’s portfolio of spirits, wine, cider and ready-to-drink beverages with Heineken’s Southern Africa and export markets business, which includes Namibia Breweries and South African whisky distillery James Sedgwick. Capevin will include the company’s remaining assets, including its Scotch whisky business, consisting of the Deanston, Tobermory and Bunnahabhain brands. As part of the agreement, Heineken will own a minimum 65% stake in Newco, while Distell’s largest shareholder Remgro will retain control of Capevin. “Together, this partnership has the potential to leverage the strength of Heineken’s global footprint with our leading brands to create a formidable, diverse beverage company for Africa,” says Distell CEO Richard Rushton. “I am excited for what lies ahead as we look to combine our strong and popular brands and highly complementary geographical footprints to create a world class African company in the alcohol beverage sector.” We’re intrigued what effect this move will have on some of our favourite single malts.

“Know when to stop” warns Diageo this Christmas

Diageo’s latest campaign is a long way from the clever and witty adverts of the past (see some of our favourites here). It’s called “know when to stop” and it consists of a series of short animations warning people of the dangers of over indulgence over Christmas. Not just with booze but online activity, eating and home decorating. They were created by the exquisitely-named Cari Vander Yacht, an award-winning illustrator. She explained, “I wanted to visually capture the sort of manic nature of ‘too much of a good thing’ which was central to the overall idea of moderation.” Kate Gibson, global director of Diageo in society (where do they come up with these job titles?) added: “We know the holidays are an important time of year for people to be getting together and celebrating. This campaign is a fun, festive reminder that there’s a happy limit to everything and the holidays are best enjoyed in moderation, be that drinking, eating, or binge-watching.” The global campaign refers viewers to Diageo’s DRINKiQ site. It’s part of the company’s Society 2030 plan, to suck all the joy out of life, sorry, “to educate people on the risks of the harmful use of alcohol.” All very laudable, the trouble is the films are just not terribly memorable and become irritating after just one view, especially with the Peppa Pig-esque music. We worry they might have the opposite effect to the intended.

Kinahan's digital brand ambassadors

What will the future be like… in 1992

Kinahan’s brings you digital brand ambassadors

During lockdown, digital tastings proliferated. We all got used to tasting whisky and chatting with brand ambassadors like Boutique-y Dave or Georgie Bell from Bacardi, virtually. Now Kinahan’s has had the brain wave: since we don’t need to meet BAs IRL, then why not cut out the human entirely? Fiendishly clever and more than a little sinister. This week the Irish whiskey brand unveiled some “digital brand ambassadors”. These frankly rather rubbish-looking creations (see photo) will start appearing on digital platforms from this week. Irish whiskey writer Bill Linnane caught the look when he said “Lawnmower Man but whiskey.” At the moment, it all seems very much in the development stage but apparently they will become fully interactive thanks to the magic of AI. Director Zak Oganian tried to explain: “Building meaningful relationships with consumers is an integral part of our brand longevity. For Kinahan’s, implementing new technologies is going to be a journey of trial and error. Once we get it right, the next generation of whiskey drinkers will enjoy a new enriched reality”. But what we want to know is: will these digital BAs be able to go off on a tangent like Colin Dunn from Diageo? 

Nikos Sourbatis Head Bartender Clumsies

Head bartender Nikos Sourbatis. He doesn’t look very clumsy, TBH

The Clumsies pop-up coming to London this December

Do you fancy visiting one of the world’s great bars, The Clumsies, but can’t face the ever-changing rules about air travel? Well, you’re in luck because the award-winning Athens bar will be putting on a London pop-up at Hotbox Spitalfields on Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9 December. There you can try The Clumsies trademark “perfectly imperfect” cocktails such as ‘X-tasis’, a sweet and sour mix of buttered aged rum, passion (fruit we assume though it might just be raw Greek passion), pineapple, fermented milky oolong tea, or ‘Intimacy’ which features Tequila blanco, mezcal, beetroot kvass, pandan, turmeric, and London Essence Rosemary and Grapefruit Tonic. The team has also prepared its own interpretation of the Negroni called ‘Eden Garden’ containing London dry gin, sandalwood Campari, Mancino Sakura vermouth, and eden flower. In fact everything on the menu sounds delicious. Bookings are recommended though you may be in luck if you turn up on the off-chance. And if you can’t get in, then at least you haven’t travelled that far. That’s assuming London is closer to you than Athens. 


New Gordon’s bottle! It’s a lot like the old one!

Gordon’s Gin reveals new bottle

Gordon’s Gin has a new look. The updated bottle design pays homage to the rich history of Gordon’s and emphasises the flavour experience of each variant with highlighted taste cues. It’s also made from up to 85% recycled glass as part of owner Diageo’s commitment to making its packaging widely recyclable by 2032. This is a big deal as 40% of gins purchased in Britain are Gordon’s core expression, at least according to the brand. Some things haven’t changed, however, the Royal Warrant, the same scripted Gordon’s font on a green glass bottle since the inception of the brand in 1769, and the classic boar’s head. “We are incredibly proud to launch the latest fresh and stylish design for Gordon’s gin, which builds on our rich history and familiarity whilst highlighting the taste cues and making the bottle even more attractive,” says Mark Jarman, global head of Gordon’s Gin. “On top of the eye-catching aesthetics, this bottle is also part of our journey towards our wider sustainability targets, ensuring all packaging is widely recyclable by 2030. So, we are incredibly proud of this latest development.” The brand new bottle design has already started to be rolled out globally, so expect to see it sooner rather than later. 

(Im)perfect Martini - Lyaness - 11NOV_Caitlin Isola

That’s an (Im)perfect Martini (credit: Caitlin Isola)

Lyaness launches brand new menu

London bar Lyaness has a habit of producing menus that are full of drinks that sound so good we want to try them all (not in one night, drink responsibly). Its new cocktail list, featuring five house-made ingredients and a culinary-driven approach, is no different. Named the ‘Lyaness British Cookbook’, it is the first new menu since the pandemic and has a particular focus on iconic flavours which have global resonance, looked at through a British lens. Ingredients such as green sauce liqueur, oyster honey, and blood Curaçao, an ingredient inspired by the fruity richness and body which blood can bring to a dish – think black pudding. The process behind each of them will take a cook’s approach to flavour and focus on ingredients rather than drinks themselves. The 15-serve menu was designed by the bar team, who are sure to wow guests with their usual brand of unusual and unique processes. Expect delightful creations like the (Im)perfect Martini (Discarded Grape Skin Vodka, grass amazake, Fierfield birch, overripe ‘nectarine’), the Chestnut Rabble (Hendrick’s Gin, green sauce liqueur, St Germain, beeswax, chestnut orgeat, pineapple leaf soda), and the Brackish Rickey (Martell VSOP Cognac, smoked passionfruit, oyster honey, ocean soda). It launches next week so we highly advise you to check it out.

Valentian Vermouth

Dominic Tait enjoying his own vermouth (credit: Kirsty Anderson)

Scottish vermouth brothers hit crowdfunding target in two days

Gone are the days when the choice of vermouth came down to French or Italian. There’s Regal Rogue in Australia, Asterley Bros. in England, and representing Scotland, Valentian. Now this award-winning Scottish brand is expanding. Thanks to the magic of crowdfunding, it has raised £120,000 from 170 investors in just two days. Valentian Rosso was created by the Dominic and David Tait (what is it with brothers and vermouth?) in 2019 and blends Scottish new make spirit with Italian wine and botanicals. The extra money will go to hiring a full-time staff member, launching new products, a secco and a bianco, and there are plans to open a brand home in the Borders region. Dominic Tait commented: “Our post-crowdfunding plans are well under way, and it’s incredibly exciting to be looking at locations for our HQ. We are looking forward to bringing our first full-time employee on board in January with a focus on the west of Scotland, where we see huge opportunities in Glasgow in particular. This will augment the significant strides we have already made in Edinburgh and the east. We are beyond pleased with the plans for our new brand home, and very optimistic about the sites we have identified. Once the feasibility study is complete, we will then look to move onto the next stage with planning. It’s too early to say exactly when it will open, but we will have an update soon.” Exciting times for Valentian.

Poppy Delevingne Batch & Bottle

“Oh this old thing?”, Poppy Delevingne casually enjoying a batched cocktail

Poppy Delevingne announced as the face of Batch & Bottle

Did you think you’d get through an edition of The Nightcap without a celebrity booze project? Think again! The latest famous face is Poppy Delevingne, British model, actress, and, according to the press bumf, ultimate dinner party hostess, who was announced as the face of the Batch & Bottle range of pre-bottled cocktails. “I love nothing more than having my friends over for cocktail parties or intimate dinners. Having hosted a few in my time, I know how daunting it is when all eyes are on you, which is why I am always looking for simple pleasures that can easily elevate any occasion and make your guests feel special,” Delevingne said. “That’s why I’m so excited to be partnering with Batch & Bottle, the cocktails are delicious and add a bit of glamour to any party. Each offers something slightly different – from the sweet Reyka Rhubarb Cosmopolitan to the dry but elegant Hendrick’s Gin Martini, it’s almost impossible to pick a favourite. It’s like having your very own bartender in a bottle. What cocktail dreams are made of.” The range is made of four pre-bottled cocktails, completed by the Glenfiddich Scotch Manhattan and Monkey Shoulder Lazy Old Fashioned. Now you too can truly party like the stars – though we reckon we probably won’t be waiting until an extravagant dinner party to crack these out.


It’s a Fok Hing funny story

And finally… Hong Kong gin name ruled offensive

A Hong Kong gin has been forced by the Portman Group to change its name after it was deemed offensive. It was previously called Fuk Hing Gin. Stop giggling at the back. According to the brand, the name pays homage to Fuk Hing Lane, a street in Causeway Bay, on Hong Kong Island. Nevertheless, the producer, Incognito Group, changed the name to Fok Hing Lane after consultation with the industry watchdog. But the story doesn’t end there because a member of the public complained about the new name, stating: “Personally I wouldn’t want to see this product on family supermarket shelves or being promoted in an environment where children have access — such as most social media sites.” The complaint was made in relation to rule 3.3 – that a drink’s name, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not cause serious or widespread offence, according to a statement on the Portman Group website. The brand went on the attack on its social media pages, addressing “the Karen who got offended by our name …” It continued: “We have agreed to update the reverse label to be more descriptive of the details that inspired our brand, and look forward to introducing our UK fans to a little bit of Hong Kong history whilst they enjoy Fok Hing Gin during the forthcoming festive season and beyond.” Too Fok Hing right.

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The Nightcap: 15 October

Delicious new whiskies from The Macallan, Glenmorangie and the Clydeside Distillery, grape leftovers that are good for your skin and Hendrick’s wins the ginternet. These are just some of the…

Delicious new whiskies from The Macallan, Glenmorangie and the Clydeside Distillery, grape leftovers that are good for your skin and Hendrick’s wins the ginternet. These are just some of the delightful things that have grabbed our attention in the Nightcap: 15 October.

It seems half the news these days is all about people running out of stuff. Short supply is an issue across a lot of industries. But one thing that you can guarantee will be here every seven days is a nice healthy dollop of The Nightcap, as boozy and brilliant this week as it was last.

Speaking of which, let’s take a look at the week that was on the MoM blog. Adam put on his thinking beret and asked, ‘what is peat?’, Henry was in a bubbly mood and Lauren took a trip to Venice with the delicious combination of vodka, sorbet and Prosecco that is the Sgroppino. Meanwhile, our favourite grizzled industry veteran Ian Buxton reflected on how the world whisky category has come on in less than decade while elegantly plugging his new book 101 Craft and World Whiskies which is well worth a read. But that’s not all! Our ex-editor returned with a trip to Westward Whiskey in Portland, Oregon, we sampled the sheer magnificence of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, and danced around like giddy schoolchildren at the arrival of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2020. What a week! 

Now, let’s crack on. It’s the Nightcap: 15 October edition!

Patron XO Cafe

Farewell old friend

Patrón XO Café will soon be no more

Bacardi has announced that it is ceasing the production of one of its most popular drinks: Patron XO Cafe, a 35% ABV liqueur infused with a kick of coffee, Patrón Tequila president Mauricio Vergara said that the business wanted to focus on growing and protecting the supply of their “super and ultra-premium Tequilas”. Priority is going to Patrón Silver, Reposado, and Añejo drinks instead, with Vergara describing now as an “incredibly exciting time” to be in the Tequila business. He continued: “We are thrilled to see consumer demand for Tequila continuing to explode around the world. Tequila is seeing rapid growth and incredible momentum – not just in the United States, but it is the second fastest-growing category in value across the globe.” Bacardi had acquired Patron back in January 2018 in a £3.66bn deal and, while Patron XO Café seemed a popular addition to its roster, a drinks industry source told The Grocer that the drink was discontinued most likely due to a lack of profit. Despite the fact that retail sales grew over the course of the pandemic, rising £550k to £1.9m over the year to 15 May 2021, the source was quoted as saying: “Because it’s not obvious to the consumer what [the drink] is, it will take a lot to investment to scale,” the source said. “Without scale it’ll be a very small profit contributor and not worth the effort.” A shame to see it go though we have heard rumours that Vivir Tequila has stepped in the breach with its own coffee liqueur. Isn’t capitalism great?

Congratulations to Dr Erna Blancquaert (left) and Angela Elizabeth Scott

Golden Vines wine diversity scholarships announced worth £55,000

The great and good of the wine world, and Kylie Minogue, descended on top London nightspot Annabel’s for the inaugural Golden Vines awards. Yes really! Apparently the pint-sized pop princess was there though we were too engrossed in the ridiculous quality of the wines served which included Dom Perignon, Château d’Yquem and Domaine de la Romanée Contée, and missed her. But we weren’t just there to swill fine wine. The evening saw the announcement of two Taylor’s Port Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships, worth £55,000 each. The winners were Angela Elizabeth Scott from Pennysvlvania who is training to be the first black Master of Wine, and Dr Erna Blancquaert, a lecturer at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Scott commented: “Receiving The Golden Vines Diversity Scholarship, Internship and Mentorship programme means that I will be able to connect with key figures and gain experience to which I would otherwise lack access. I hope to help others do the same,” and Dr Blancquaert said: “This Golden Vines Diversity Scholarship will enable me to expand my knowledge on the entire wine value chain, implement it in my teaching, and address global vitiviniculture problems through my research.” Adrian Bridge from the award’s sponsor Taylor’s Port added: “Taylor’s Port is delighted to be involved with this initiative to foster diversity in the wine industry. We are excited to see two very worthy winners have been chosen by the judges.” Congratulations to both winners and to Taylor’s Port for getting behind such a worthy cause. 


It’s Stobcross – which sounds like an anagram of something rude

Clydeside Distillery releases first-ever single malt whisky

Introducing Stobcross, the first-ever single malt whisky from one of Scotland’s newest and most exciting whisky distilleries, Clydeside in Glasgow. Bottled (and what a striking bottle it is) at 46% ABV and made from 100% Scottish barley and water from Loch Katrine, the inaugural Stobcross was named after the street on which it was made. Whisky production returned to the banks of the River Clyde for the first time in a century when the innovative new distillery opened in 2017. Andrew Morrison, commercial director at Morrison Glasgow Distillers, said: “Today marks a culmination of many years of hard work. Stobcross pays tribute to Glasgow’s industrial heritage and the spirit of innovation which forged its position on the global stage”. Clydeside is Located in the former Queen’s Dock, the transformed Pump House includes an impressive visitor centre, interactive tourism experience, shop, and cafe.  Fittingly, the distillery’s chairman Tim Morrison is the great-grandson of John Morrison, who originally built The Queen’s Dock in 1877. The distillery is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area, and we’ve been waiting on this release for a while, so we’re very excited to see how it will do. Let us know your thoughts if you manage to get a taste.

Glasses of light and dark beer on a pub background.

Support your local, or it might not be there tomorrow

Almost 1,000 hospitality venues shut in two months this year

Britain’s hospitality sector lost 980 sites between July and September 2021, according to new data. The latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and Alix Partners showed the closure of an average of 16 sites per day. We, of course, have the effects of and responses to the Covid-19 pandemic to blame, leading to problems like supply issues, rising costs and, most keenly felt, labour shortages. There will also be a fair amount of debate regarding Brexit’s impact here too, but one thing that’s for certain is the sad inevitably that independently-run pubs, bars, restaurants and other licensed venues were always going to be hit hardest. According to the report, they account for nearly three quarters of all closures during the period, while a report from the Night Time Industries Association revealed around 86,000 people working in the night-time industry have lost their jobs because of the pandemic earlier in the week. Compounding the issue further is new research from the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) which shows sales of gin in the UK on-trade plunged by nearly 50% in the 12 months to July 2021, while a YouGov poll has revealed 66% of adults believe pandemic-led closures led to a decline in their mental health. Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, says the numbers are a “reminder – if it were needed – that the crisis in hospitality is far from over”, adding that targeted government support on these major challenges like the crisis in recruitment, as well as VAT relief, is needed to help prevent “hospitality’s recovery from stalling”. It might all sound bleak, but not all insights are negative. Lumina Intelligence, for example, expects an industry return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024, according to its UK Pub & Bar Market Report 2021.

Glenmorangie Winter

Another delicious-looking Glenmorangie is on its way

Glenmorangie unveils new winter warmer whisky

Glenmorangie is seemingly on a mission to ensure it has a dram for all occasions after it unveiled a 13-year-old single malt created specifically for the winter season. A Tale of Winter, produced by head of whisky creation, Dr Bill Lumsden and his team, was inspired by ‘the joy of cosy moments indoors’ during Scotland’s snowy months. The innovation- hungry whisky makers took a batch matured in ex-bourbon barrels and finished it in ex-Marsala casks, giving the 46% ABV whisky aromas of orange toffee, lavender honey and sweet rose, and flavours of red pepper flakes, cocoa powder, Brazil nut toffee and sweet barley malt, apparently. You might remember it was around this time last year that Glenmorangie launched A Tale of Cake, and like that edition this bottling will be available from Master of Malt soon. To celebrate the launch, the distillery has made a selection of seasonal cocktails, including a Winter Old Fashioned and a Quinta Ruban Hot Chocolate. There’s even a Pumpkin Scotch Latte perfect for the forthcoming festival of spookiness.

Macallan Harmony

Do they ever stop at Macallan? No, no they don’t

Macallan makes chocolate-inspired whisky

The Macallan’s relentless pursuit to be in the news every week continues, mostly thanks to the distillery’s insane ability to conjure up new single malt ranges. This time it’s the Harmony Collection, which kicks off with a whisky that combines the worlds of whisky and chocolate. To create the new bottling, The Macallan whisky maker Polly Logan visited Girona, Spain, to learn about the flavours behind the chocolate-making process. She teamed up with pastry chef Jordi Roca from three Michelin-starred restaurant El Celler de Can Roca and chocolatier Damian Allsop to learn the art of chocolate, then searched sherry-seasoned oak casks maturing at The Macallan Estate to identify “rare, indulgent chocolate notes”. The whisky is made from a combination of European and American oak casks, and is said to pair perfectly with rich chocolate, you might expect. The Macallan Harmony Collection Rich Cacao comes in a fully recyclable and biodegradable presentation box, made using natural by-products in the chocolate-making process. A limited 200 pairing tasting sets, including a bottle of The Macallan Harmony Collection Rich Cacao, a 10-piece box of custom-made chocolate, a pairing guide and two Macallan Glencairn glasses, are being made available to pre-order the Reserve Bar on 8 November 2021. We’ll have plenty of the whisky here too soon, if you’re worried about not getting your hands on that.

The Lucky Drinker

Ciprian Zsrag is the Lucky Drinker

St James Bar bartender launches cocktail book, The Lucky Drinker

We last visited St James Bar to sample the delights of the drinks from the talented team, but last night we popped over once again for a very different kind of event – a book launch! There were drinks to be had (of course), but all were simple classic cocktails made from The Lucky Drinker, the new book from Ciprian Zsrag, former head bartender of St James Bar (with experience at Artesian and The Savoy’s American Bar under his belt, too). The Lucky Drinker started as a blog in 2017, though it’s the culmination of many years of experience before. The book covers recipes, yes, but also barware, food pairings, and a history of industry personalities – it even takes into account the cost of a cocktail. During the evening Zsrag’s excitement is palpable, as he recounts over a decade of planning, and how, in contrast to the usual offerings from the St James Bar menu, the serves in the book are based on minimalism – though each recipe comes with a way to ‘twist’ your drink, should you be feeling on the flamboyant side. A beautiful book for anyone wanting to nail the classics, without splurging on crazy ingredients and contraptions. Congratulations Ciprian!


Pelegrims, good for your skin and good for the environment

Pelegrims skin care is grape for your complexion 

You may be wondering why the Master of Malt content team’s skin is looking so youthful and glowing despite the demanding circuit of tastings, parties and late nights we have to endure to bring you all the news from the world of booze. Well, it’s because of a new skincare range called Pelegrims, an old English name inspired by Pilgrims Way to Canterbury. The secret of the Pelegrim magic is grape extract. These are leftovers from the wine making process and come from Ortega and Pinot Noir grapes grown not far from MoM towers at Westwell in Kent. The polyphenols in the seeds, skins and stems have antioxidant properties. The range consists of a facial oil, facial balm, a hand cleanser and hand pomade. And not only are they made from a waste product but the packaging is recyclable. The range is a collaboration between skincare expert Alex Verier, wine lover and tech type, and Jerome Moisan. Remarkably Moisan isn’t even the most entrepreneurial one in his family. His son put together a charity cookery book earlier this year called In Conversation With which outsold Mary Berry, Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver in its first week on sale. And he was only 12 at the time! Watch out Dad.


Gin is a wonderful thing but it isn’t good for your liver

Hendrick’s is the most searched for gin on social media

You’ve probably been wondering what the most searched for gin on the internet is. No? Just us? Well, Homeware retailer IWOOT (stands for I Want One Of Those) has crunched the numbers and the results are in, perfect timing what with Gin & Tonic day coming up on 19 October. Based on hashtags on Instagram and monthly search volumes the winner is…. Hendrick’s, followed by Tanqueray, Gordon’s, Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire, which isn’t surprising. The most searched for type of gin was apparently pink gin followed by sloe and rhubarb. Though we imagine that just plain old gin was quite popular too. The infographic produced by the firm shows that searches for gin were up 80% year on year probably because of all those lockdowns (go here to see a full breakdown of the date). The press release we received then took a wild turn by claiming: “There are many reasons why drinking gin may have increased in popularity during this time; it’s a natural remedy for your joint woes, helps fight kidney and liver disease.” Sounds like someone’s had one too many G&Ts.

And finally… Remember kids, motorbikes and booze don’t mix

We’re a bit sceptical here of motoring/booze collaborations here on the Nightcap. Are whisky and fast cars really such a great combination? But two Italian icons have cleverly squared the circle by emphasizing that they don’t go together. The old switcheroo! A new campaign launched by legendary motorbike manufacturer Ducati and its sponsor Amaro Montenegro features a rugged Italian biker deciding not to take his beloved bike out, and instead spend the evening with his friends drinking, yes you guessed it, Amaro Montenegro. Almost as much fun as riding your Ducati and a lot more sociable. It’s called ‘Don’t Drink and Ride’ and naturally comes with its own hashtag #DONTDRINKANDRIDE. The aptly-named Marco Ferrari, CEO of Gruppo Montenegro, explained: “As a spirit brand, it was imperative to be vocal about responsible drinking and we wanted to send a clear message in a compelling and engaging way. We feel our ‘Don’t Drink and Ride’ campaign is the perfect response to it.”  Just in case you needed to be reminded that high performance motorbikes and cocktails are not a good combination. 

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Cocktail of the Week: The Singapore Sling

This week’s cocktail was invented at one of the world’s great hotels, Raffles Hotel in Singapore.  Well, probably, the Singapore Sling has a convoluted and fascinating history as Lauren Eads…

This week’s cocktail was invented at one of the world’s great hotels, Raffles Hotel in Singapore.  Well, probably, the Singapore Sling has a convoluted and fascinating history as Lauren Eads finds out. 

There’s few cocktails more famous than the Singapore Sling. Born at the turn of the century in colonial Singapore, it screams frivolity with its luminous pink hue, foamy top, lemon slice (sometimes pineapple) and glacé cherry garnish. In the hands of some, it can be a dangerously garish cocktail that would be tacky if it weren’t such a classic. But there is method to its madness, amid a convoluted history.

The Raffles Hotel story

It’s widely reported that the Singapore Sling was created in 1915 (or thereabouts) by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon at Raffles Hotel in Singapore. At that time the hotel’s Long Bar had become a popular gathering spot, positioned near the newly improved rail and road systems that brought rubber and palm oil plantation owners over to Singapore from Malaya every weekend. So much so that it had become known as ‘the ‘Rendezvous of Planters’.

Men were a firm fixture, of course, but what’s more curious is a twist that would see the Singapore Sling intertwined with (some kind of) feminism. At the time, women were not allowed to consume alcohol in public. Instead they were reduced to drinking only juices and teas to “save their modesty”. What a drab way to spend an afternoon.

Raffles Singapore Sling

Where it all began, probably, Raffles Hotel in Singapore

A man ahead of his time

Tong Boon, who was either a feminist or a capitalist, saw an opportunity to create a beverage that appeared non-alcoholic (hence the juicy appearance and bright colour), but was actually infused with a kick of gin.

Today, Raffles lists the recipe as being made with gin, pineapple juice, lime juice, Triple Sec and Bénédictine D.O.M. Tong Boon is said to have added grenadine and cherry liqueur to turn the serve pink, supposedly chosen to give it a “feminine flair”. 

The clandestine cocktail became a hit with women and men alike, and so it is to this day. That’s how the Raffles story goes, but where cocktails lead, controversy often follows.

The Pink Sling

In 2011, journalist and cocktail historian David Wondrich found contradictions to the Raffles tale having trawled through old newspapers, unearthing references to ‘Slings’ throughout the late 1890s, twenty years before Tong Boon’s invention.

The Sling cocktail is well documented with origins in North America (spirit, soda water and sweetened with sugar). But he also unearthed references to ‘Pink Slings for pale people’ as early as 1903 – still a decade or so before Raffles lays claim to the pink drink.

By the time Harry Craddock’s 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book was published we find three similar yet distinct cocktails; the Gin Sling, the Singapore Sling and the Straits Sling.

The Straits Sling is the closest to Tong Boon’s Singapore Sling, calling for gin, Benedictine, cherry brandy, lemon juice, angostura bitters and orange bitters, topped up with soda water. (The Straits Sling was also popularised by Robert Vermeire’s 1922 Cocktails and How to Mix Them, though his version called for clear kirschwasser and was not pink).  Craddock describes the Singapore Sling as dry gin, cherry brandy and lemon, topped with soda water, a minimalist version of both a Straits Sling and the Raffles’ Singapore Sling recipe.

Fear and loathing - Singapore Sling

Hunter S. Thompson (Johnny Depp) enjoying a Singapore Sling or two in the film of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

So who added the grenadine?

But neither call for pineapple juice or grenadine like the Raffles’ ‘classic’ recipe. So, how did they come into the mix? Simon Difford from Difford’s Guide posits that they were added in the 1970s to appease a growing taste for sweeter, tiki-style drinks, while also making use of the abundance of pineapples in Singapore. This is a likely assumption – the Singapore Sling’s heyday was no doubt the ‘70s. 

Hedonist and literary legend Hunter S. Thomson might have helped raise its cool. Thought to be one of his favourite cocktails, he makes reference to a session of drinking Singapore Slings “with mescal on the side and beer chasers” in his 1971 classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (though admittedly Thompson referenced a lot of drinks throughout his literary career).

The Singapore Sling has had a confusing journey, full of mystery and misnomers. My take? Tong Boon’s drink most likely began as a Gin Sling at Raffles (sugar, gin, ice, topped up with soda), probably transformed into a Straits ‘pink’ Sling (with the addition of Benedictine, cherry brandy and bitters), and later gained the name ‘Singapore’, which had a more internationally-appealing ring to it. Pineapple and grenadine were completely arbitrary additions, which ironically is what most now associate with a Singapore Sling…

So, while variations exist, I see two closely related versions of this classic; the sweeter Raffles ‘Singapore Sling’, and the pared back drier ‘Straits Sling’. Here’s how to make them both.

Singapore Sling credit: Raffles Hotel

Singapore Sling credit: Raffles Hotel

Singapore Sling (according to Raffles Hotel)

30ml gin
15ml Heering cherry brandy liqueur
7.5ml Cointreau triple sec
7.5ml Benedictine D.O.M
15ml fresh lime juice
120ml pineapple juice
10ml grenadine
1 dash Angostura bitters
Soda water

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a Hurricane (Sling) glass. Top up with soda and garnish with a lemon slice and cherry on a stick.

Straits Sling (according to Harry Craddock in 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, made for six)

4oz (120ml) dry gin
1oz (30ml) Benedictine D.O.M
1oz (30ml) cherry brandy
Juice of two lemons
1tsp Angostura bitters
1tsp orange bitters
Soda water

Shake well and strain into a glass. Top with soda water and ice.


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Celebrating our favourite bars for National Hospitality Day

The Drinks Trust, Hospitality Action, Licensed Trade Charity, and Springboard have come together to create National Hospitality Day. We think it’s a great idea, so we decided we’d shout about…

The Drinks Trust, Hospitality Action, Licensed Trade Charity, and Springboard have come together to create National Hospitality Day. We think it’s a great idea, so we decided we’d shout about some of our favourite establishments. 

Good news everyone, National Hospitality Day is on the horizon (18 September)! 

Ok, so you might not know what that is. In your defence, it is new. On Saturday the very first one launches as a nationwide celebration of pubs, bars, restaurants, operators, and suppliers in the UK. It was founded by four charities, The Drinks Trust, Hospitality Action, Licensed Trade Charity, and Springboard, to mark the resilience of an industry which has been brought to its knees by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. 

While they had a devastating effect on the industry, they did also serve as an invaluable reminder of how much richer our lives are for having great bars, pubs, restaurants, hotels, and more in them. No more taking our favourite destinations for granted. Now they’re back, they need our support to survive and National Hospitality Day is a chance to say “welcome back – we’ve missed you” and celebrate all that’s great about UK hospitality.

The charities behind the initiative are asking brands, distributors, bars, pubs, restaurants, or any operator up and down the land to pull out all the stops to come up with a fundraising and sponsorship activity. And we’re doing our bit by championing some of the fantastic venues at the heart of our communities. Here are some great destinations we think you should head to from various people throughout Master of Malt.

National Hospitality Day

You will not be disappointed

The Prince of Greenwich, London – Henry, features editor 

We stumbled upon this place in 2018 when we heard jazz music as we were walking up Royal Hill in Greenwich. We poked our heads in and the place was packed, so we were about to turn around and go home when we were collared by a jolly bearded man who greeted us like old friends, and somehow found space for my wife, daughter, and me to sit. Delicious pizzas on long wooden boards were going by so it seemed silly not to order one. The beer was nice, Harvey’s Best, and the house wine was tasty and Sicilian. The man who greeted us turned out to be Sicilian as well, Pietro la Rosa, and he ran the pub with his family. The whole room was stacked top to bottom with bric-a-brac including a lifesize plastic rhinoceros head sticking out of the wall. The music was great, and we ended up spending most of the afternoon there. Pietro brought over colouring books for our daughter. Since that day, we went at least once a month for the music, the pizza, a few drinks but mainly for the welcome. During lockdown, we avidly followed the Prince’s Instagram account, worried that Pietro was going to throw in the towel. Thankfully he didn’t and the place is as wonderful as ever. It’s the best pub in London, if not England, as far as I’m concerned.  Here’s to you Pietro, the Prince of Greenwich!

National Hospitality Day

London’s best-kept secret? It just might be.

The Discount Suit Company, London – Adam, writer

For one of the East Ends must-visit bars, it’s not exactly easy to find The Discount Suit Company. Down a narrow staircase past an unmarked black door and behind a heavy black curtain is a former suit tailor’s store room that was turned into a ridiculously cool London bar in January 2014. Stumble on in and you’ll be greeted by a blend of Northern soul and vintage rock’n’roll in a space that evokes its 1970’s suit shop heritage with original brickwork and low hanging ceiling rafters. A bar top chiseled from a large cutting table is the centrepiece, manned by a really friendly staff making delicious classic cocktails with minimum fuss. It was one of the first places I visited once we were all allowed to go to a bar properly again and the cosy atmosphere, quality drink and conversation with the bartenders really underlined just how much I missed it. If you’re looking for somewhere a little off the beaten track to settle back into the world of high-end cocktails without all the return-to-normality mayhem, this is the place.

National Hospitality Day

Old-school charm in the beautiful Sussex countryside. Perfect.

The Six Bells, Chiddingly, Sussex – Emily, marketing campaigns executive

What do you look for on a night out? If your answer is any of the following: cracking and varied live music acts, cheap and cheerful food served in big portions, a super friendly atmosphere, and/or plenty of cute reading nooks, then I haven’t found anywhere better than The Six Bells in Chiddingly, Sussex. In the heart of a quaint, but energetic village, there’s loads of great walks to go on in the area if you’ve eaten too much (which you probably will) and the pub is patronised by lots of charming locals who appreciate the no-fuss, old-school nature of the place. Some have been going there since the 70s, which says an awful lot about The Six Bells.

National Hospitality Day

The cocktail menu sounds too good to not give it a try, to be honest

Mother Mercy, Newcastle – Luke, UK market manager for Samson and Surrey

Mother Mercy is one of those places that just makes me happy. Housed in an intimate basement cocktail bar in the heart of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the bar managed to pull through lockdown with the help of 750ml bottled cocktails, which are full of fizz, full of flavour, and available for home delivery across the UK. Now that you can visit, however, you should check out the modern classic cocktails (think East 8 Hold Up, Espresso Martini, and Gin Basil Smash) as well as original creations like the Bananabread Punch, Marshmallow Fizz 2.0, and Pinwheel. All made with fresh ingredients, great spirits, and skill. Couple that with a hip-hop playlist, bring pink decor, and the friendliest staff in town… what’s not to love?! 

National Hospitality Day

A sight many of us here at MoM Towers are pleasantly familiar with

The Ragged Trousers, Tunbridge Wells (and more!) – Emma, content executive

A staple stop off on many a Master of Malt night out, The Ragged Trousers in Tunbridge Wells has been fully independent since opening its doors almost 16 years ago. Located on the historic Pantiles which, to be honest, was all looking a bit neglected before The Ragged came along – when a few local folk decided enough was enough and they needed a good, indie local pub. These days, you’ll struggle to find a seat on a sunny weekend, with exceptional food during the day, a well-procured list of wines, spirits, and guest beers, throw in some of the friendliest staff in town and their Spotify playlists and I’ll stay all day! An impressive testament to its popularity and success, the team behind the Ragged has expanded its franchise to include sister pubs The Sussex Arms which will forever hold a soft spot in my heart – great people, great music, a basement for gigs downstairs, fires in winter… check it out! And The George, which is up the hill (usually a no-no for someone based in downtown Tunbridge Wells), but does brew its own beer, making it an ideal safe haven for Pantiles people who have ventured to the dreaded “top of town”.

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Negroni Week: Seven twists on a classic

It’s finally here – Negroni Week (13-19 September) has officially begun. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up seven of the best twists out there and asked their creators for the inspiration…

It’s finally here – Negroni Week (13-19 September) has officially begun. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up seven of the best twists out there and asked their creators for the inspiration behind them. And you can get involved too – scroll to the bottom to learn about our Negroni Week competition. 

Count Camillo Negroni or General Pascal Oliver Comte de Negroni? Who invented the classic cocktail, the Negroni? It’s a question that has been posed by drinks historians, writers and Master of Malt’s own Henry Jeffreys with opposing – or non-committal – views.

What we do know though is that the vibrant, bitter aperitif – classically made using equal measures gin, vermouth and Campari – has been enjoying a prolonged revival in the UK since 2009. Step inside any bar or restaurant in the UK and you’d do well to find one that doesn’t serve a Negroni. 

Twelve years since the great Negroni revival and it shows no signs of waning. The Guardian called it “the cocktail of 2021” and you can even buy them ready-made in a bottle, a can or a pouch. And while we love the original, we thought we’d celebrate 2021’s Negroni Week, 13-19 September, with some of the best twists on the classic being served in bars across town.

From swapping gin for Tequila, infusing mixes with herbs and giving them a fruity component, we asked the makers and shakers for the story behind their creations. They even gave us the full recipes so you can try your hand at home*.

*Though some of them are pretty involved, so we’ve divided them up into ones to attempt and ones that should be left to the professionals. 

You’ve been warned.

Ones to try at home

Credit: Shots London

“Wanky” Negroni, FAM Bar

7.5ml Fords Gin
17.5ml Singani 63
25ml Londinio Aperitivo
12.5ml Punt e Mes
12.5ml Londinio Rosé Vermouth
15ml water

Build and serve over ice with an orange slice garnish.

“I wanted to play on the idea of the multiple ingredient “Wanky” Negroni and create something that actually wasn’t that wanky and satisfied both hardcore bitter drinks fans like myself and people just edging into that bitter realm with a twist on a Negroni that will fulfil both varying palates.” Tatjana Sendzimir, bar manager.

Sbagliato Carafe

Sbagliato carafe, Tayer + Elementary

200ml Campari
200ml Martini Rosso
200ml Pago de Tharsys cava (or another sparkling wine)

Combine all ingredients in a carafe with ice and share.

“We love it because it’s delicious, and it’s a fizzy and low-abv alternative.” Monica Berg, bar co-owner.

Nebula Negroni

Nebula Negroni, Nebula

25ml East London Liquor Gin
25ml Carpano Bitter
25ml Punt E Mes Sweet Vermouth

Combine ingredients and infuse with basil until you have the flavour you want. You can store it in a bottle. When serving, garnish with orange slice and basil leaf.

“At Nebula, we’re proud of our awesome pizzas, so we wanted to pay homage to their Italian birthplace and really cement the link with our Negronis by infusing our blend with dried basil. We use East London Liquor Co gin not just because it’s awesome, but because it’s made just down the road (neighbourhoods are the future!). We finish our blend with Carpano bitter and the powerfully herbaceous Punt E Mes vermouth, so all things sing together in a herby take on the classic that pairs perfectly with our pizzas.” Nate Brown, bar owner

Heads and Tails - Rose Negroni

Rosé Negroni, Heads + Tails

40ml La Vie en Rosé or another Provence rosé
20ml Lillet Rose Vermouth
15ml Campari

Stir down, strain into a rocks glass and garnish with grapefruit. 

“It’s a Negroni, in the south of France and it’s sunny. I made the drink for a festival in Nice where we needed a bitter drink that had a slightly lower abv yet had the feel of the area. Using a Campari to follow the brief but pull the bitterness for the beverage paired with a Provence rosé allowed for the elegance of the area. Finished off with slight fruity and aroma of Lillet Rose gave a Negroni that you could drink throughout the summer days at a festival.” Callum Dunne, bar manager 

Leave it to the professionals:

Pandan Negroni - Nomad

Pandan Negroni, Nomad Hotel

45ml Pandan-infused Tapatio Reposado Tequila
22.5ml Campari
22.5ml Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
15ml coconut water
7.5ml cold-brew coffee

Build in rocks glass with a large ice cube, stir and serve.

“The Pandan Negroni was created after we discovered how delicious Reposado Tequila incorporates with pandan [a herbaceous tropical plant]. The pandan brings out all the green aspects of the Tequila while enhancing the barrel spice notes and softening the acidity. The almond flavour coming from the leaf also plays off the coconut water, which is the only component which dilutes the cocktail, giving it more body and a rounder finish.” Pietro Collina, bar director.

Rhubarb & Tarragon Negroni..jpg RS

Rhubarb and Tarragon Negroni, Publiq

22.5ml Belvedere Heritage 176 malt spirit
2.5ml Tarragon-infused Sipsmith VJOP
25ml Rhubarb-cooked bitter blend
25ml Vermouth rosso blend
25ml Mineral water

Have all ingredients stored cold in the fridge. Pour all ingredients in a rock glass over an ice block. Garnish with an orange slice.

“When looking for a new flavour for our seasonal Negroni, rhubarb was at the peak of its flavour, with lovely fruity and earthy notes, making it an obvious choice for us. Tarragon, with its fresh menthol and anise aroma, brought freshness to this favourite of the summer.” Greg Almeida, bar co-owner.

LITTLE MERCIES FINAL JULY 2021 @lateef.photography-155

Passionfruit Negroni, Little Mercies

20ml passion fruit vermouth
20ml Victory house gin
12.5ml Campari
2.5ml passion berry vodka
0.08ml MSK passionfruit flavour drops

Stir over ice and strain into a rocks glass with block ice and garnish with an orange wedge.

“We have had a house Negroni on our menu since the day we opened. We decided that we would make a sweet vermouth in house, from a seasonal fruit rather than from grapes. The passion fruit was the latest in the line of fruits we chose to work on, more as a challenge as they don’t contain much in the way of juice, and they are high in acid so hard to ferment. We actually ended up soaking the fruits in a mixture of water and sugar, and then letting that ferment. We also made an Oleo Saccharum with sugar and the spare fruit, so that ended up being the sweetness in the vermouth. We also add a passion berry infusion to this Negroni, as it brings some extra complexity and aroma that ties nicely to passionfruit.” Alan Sherwood, bar owner.

Show us your Negroni with a twist recipe, for a chance to win a Jaffa Cake Gin Negroni bundle! Post a video or image on your Instagram feed (not Instagram Story), showcasing your creative “Negroni with a twist” cocktail recipe; and include the hashtag #momnegronitwist (so we can locate your entry)!  Comp opens 12:00:00 BST on 13 September 2021 and closes at 23:59:59 BST on 26 September 2021. Full T&Cs below. Open to 18+ or legal drinking age only. The best and most creative entry wins.


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Shannon Tebay: an American at the American Bar

Last month the American Bar at the Savoy in London welcomed its first ever real actual American head bartender, Shannon Tebay, formerly of Death & Co. in New York. We took…

Last month the American Bar at the Savoy in London welcomed its first ever real actual American head bartender, Shannon Tebay, formerly of Death & Co. in New York. We took some time with her to find out how she’s enjoying one of the most high profile jobs in the business.

Dill and coconut. Passionfruit and fennel. Carrot eau de vie? These are some of the flavour combinations set to appear (word has it) on the new cocktail menu at The Savoy’s American Bar in London.

The iconic bar first opened its doors in the 1890s and was one of the first places to introduce American-style cocktails to Europe. Famous patrons include Mark Twain, Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill. While head bartender Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, published in 1930, has been a bartending bible for nearly a century.

An American at the American Bar

After a temporary closure it is finally set to reopen this month (walk-ins only) and with a new head bartender at the helm: Shannon Tebay. She brings with her a decade’s worth of experience bartending in New York, including seven at one of the city’s must-go cocktail bars, Death & Co.

Yes, she’s an American and a woman; the first American to ever hold the title and only the second woman since the inimitable Ada Coleman, who filled the role from 1903-1926. She’s also an acclaimed bartender with a penchant for painting and pastry who is crazy about coconuts.

Shannon Tebay

An American at the American Bar, whatever next?

Precision and consistency

Tebay, originally from New Mexico, first moved to New York in 2010 to pursue a masters degree in painting and drawing but instead fell in love with the epicurean delights of the city. No sooner had she put down her paint brush, she picked up a palette knife, signing up for a course in French pastry at the French Culinary institute. While studying pastry she took a serving job at the Death & Co. cocktail bar. Ultimately, the allure of mixology proved too great and, realising the parallels between the two crafts, decided to pursue a career in cocktails.

“People often ask me if I use my pastry skills in cocktails. I think they picture me brulée-ing drinks but that’s not really the case. What I apply is the craft of precision and consistency, because it comes down to chemistry for it to be successful.”

In 2012 she left Death & Co. to join one of its original bartenders, Joaquín Simó, on the opening of his own bar, Pouring Ribbons. Tebay became head bartender and later general manager. It was during this time that she perfected The Faultline – a Negroni variation comprising aquavit, sweet vermouth, amaro and carrot eau de vie. She later returned to Death & Co., rising to head bartender.

Her approach to cocktails is one of minimalism, working to find ways to “do more with less”, being innovative and taking away “necessary bells and whistles”. That’s evident in her own choice of favourite cocktail (Gin Martini with a lemon twist, if you are curious). So don’t expect any elaborate garnishes.

“I think it requires more creativity to come up with an idea that’s new and unusual using ingredients directly out of the bottle and letting the flavour speak for itself, rather than doll it up with unnecessary elements. I’ve had cocktails where the presentation is elaborate but the drink falls flat. First of all the drink has to be delicious, and then we can build on that, rather than the other way around,” she explained.

Nuts about coconut

So, what can we expect from the American Bar’s new menu? Tebay’s minimalistic approach will be evident, as well as a few signature ingredients that are never far from her reach.

“I like to combine unexpected pairings between fruity and savoury or fruity and herbal. For example coconut and dill is a combo I love, passionfruit and fennel are great together too. I gravitate towards combos that on the surface seem surprising but have an unexpected harmony. I’m always going to have a bottle of pear eau de vie within arms reach. I use it in a lot of things and I adore it on it’s own. And I love love love coconut in any form, coconut liqueur, coconut cream, toasted coconut,” she said.

One of Tebay’s signature drinks is the Catamaran, a gin-based coconut cocktail crafted for Death & Co. It calls for a combination of Bimini  gin and navy strength gin, Aperol, Don’s Mix (a blend of two parts grapefruit juice and one part cinnamon-infused simple syrup), Coco Lopez (cream coconut) and lemon juice, served over crushed ice. Essentially a Grapefruit Colada, she explains.

American Bar at the Savoy

But will she be upstaged by the carpets?

No one should ever feel unwelcome at a bar

She’s also adamant that the new menu will be approachable and innovative, stamping out any pretentiousness, paying homage to the bar’s history but paving the way for a new generation of clientele and staff. This includes a modernisation of bartending culture, with Tebay placing particular emphasis on sustainability and building a diverse workforce.

“The fact is no one should ever feel unwelcome at a bar – it doesn’t matter if it’s a dive bar or the fanciest cocktail bar in the world. I want the menu to reflect that. I want it to be approachable yet interesting and the cocktails delicious but not off-putting in their construction or concept,” she said.

The magnitude of the role she’s taking on is not lost on Tebay. How is she feeling about joining one of the most historic bars in London? “You can pick any emotion and I’m feeling it – I am absolutely all of it. Excited, nervous, honoured, humbled and terrified. I know the anticipation for the reopening of the bar is high, and I want to make sure that when we reopen we are delivering at the standard people expect,” she said.

The American Bar is a revered cocktail institution so steeped in history and grandeur that it can seem intimidating. This feels like a new chapter – one that’s starting with a fresh, female and (for the first time) an American, lead. And that’s pretty exciting.

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Cocktails in the City celebrates its 10th birthday

Cocktails in the City celebrates its 10th birthday this year with an event 20/21 August at Bedford Square Gardens in London. We talk to founder Andrew Scutts about putting on…

Cocktails in the City celebrates its 10th birthday this year with an event 20/21 August at Bedford Square Gardens in London. We talk to founder Andrew Scutts about putting on a festival in a big city, weathering Covid, and the future of cocktails.

During the upheavals of 2020/1, for some businesses the difference between trading and bankruptcy was having a sympathetic landlord. According to Andrew Scutts, founder of Cocktails in the City: “the reason we could get back on our feet was with the help of Bedford Estates, they changed our payment structure.” The group that owns a large chunk of Bloomsbury saw the value in attracting people safely back to central London.

Scutts managed to put on an outdoor Cocktails in the City event in Bedford Square Gardens in September last year to raise money for the hospitality industry. This was followed up by three ‘Summer Series’ events this year in June, July and now this 20/21 August. Overall this summer’s activities will feature around 50 bars serving over over 7,000 visitors.

Andrew Scutts

Fun for all the family, Andrew Scutts is on the left

The ultimate cocktail festival

Running from 12 noon to 10pm this Friday and Saturday, it’s billed as ‘The Ultimate Cocktail Festival.’ Indeed, Scutts sees Cocktails in the City as offering all the fun of a music festival, dancing, music and partying, but without the drawbacks like crap drinks, camping, and dodgy toilets. “And you can get the tube home at the end of the night,” he said.

Scutts is clearly passionate about bars and drinks, and yet what he originally wanted to be was… a PE teacher! Yes, really. That was the plan following a degree in sports science at Birmingham University. And you can see, even via Zoom, that unlike some of us in the drinks industry, he still takes his fitness seriously.

Following a stint working at Mint Leaf in London, he planned to do his PGCE teacher training but he had to go home to Newcastle when his father became ill. So while he was there he got in touch with Blackwoods Gin who he knew from his time behind the bar and suggested that he become the firm’s North East rep.

A bar show with a difference

From there, all thoughts of the Adidas tracksuit and whistle were forgotten, as he moved back to London in 2003 to continue working in bars. It was at the mammoth Bar Show at Olympia that he had the idea for creating a small scale independent version. 

The Boutique Bar Show was born in 2005. The ethos was that every brand had a stand the same size so “the liquid took centre stage, not marketing spend,” Scutts said. Brands such as Sipsmith, Chase and Maverick Drinks were involved from the start.

Cocktails in the City

It’s the lads from Trailer Happiness who appeared at CitC this summer

Why not put on an event for consumers?

It was a trade-only show but Scutts had a brainwave: he had a venue and he had dozens of bartenders in town, why not put on an event for customers? So Cocktails in the City was born where “bars and brands would stand shoulder to shoulder and speak directly to consumers,” Scutts said. The first one took place in the grandeur of the Manchester Town Hall in 2011, followed by an Edinburgh event. The first London one was in 2014. 

According to Scutts, it proved a much better business model than the Boutique Bar Show (which he hasn’t put on for two years), and has run in different venues around the country ever since. This year, however, he is “playing it safe” and just putting events on in one venue, Bedford Square Gardens in London.

This Friday and Saturday’s event includes such famous bars as Callooh Callay, London Cocktail Club and the Blue Bar at the Berkeley Hotel. Scutts is particularly excited about a bar that hasn’t even opened yet called Boiler & Co, coming soon on Bankside, which will be working with Johnnie Walker on cocktails. This includes a delicious-sounding Rockstar Martini, a whisky-based riff on the Pornstar Martini, whose inventor Douglas Ankrah sadly died this week.

Rockstar Martini - Cocktails in the City

It’s a Rockstar Martini!

Every cloud

Finally, I asked Scutts how Covid has changed the hospitality trade. Apparently, it’s not all been negative in the way it has changed customer behaviour. People are now far more used to “booking ahead so operators know how many people will be coming through the business,” he said

It has also changed the theatre of cocktails with more action happening at the table rather than the bar, where cocktails are increasingly batched. Plus he thinks the “massive move to drinks at home” will continue. During the Pandemic, he launched his own range of batched cocktails so you can get the bar experience at home.

As good as these may be, it’s much more fun to go out. So, “fingers crossed for the weather,” Scutts said, though surely it wouldn’t be the ultimate cocktail festival without a classic Glastonbury downpour.

To buy tickets go here.

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The Nightcap: 13 August

Jameson adds some more flavour to its range, Código 1530 releases one of the most expensive Tequilas in the world, and there’s bubbly panic among the NYC elite. The Nightcap…

Jameson adds some more flavour to its range, Código 1530 releases one of the most expensive Tequilas in the world, and there’s bubbly panic among the NYC elite. The Nightcap returns!

It’s Friday! This is very good news. But it’s also Friday the 13th, which is less so. Bad luck, you see. If you’re not familiar with this, according to Western superstition every Friday that falls on the 13th of a month is considered a cursed day. Why? All kinds of nonsense reasons. It’s a superstition. Black cats are considered evil too. And that can’t be right. Because cats are excellent. We all know this. Still, if you are wary of the dreaded day, then perhaps you’ll enjoy the safe and familiar ramblings of The Nightcap. No harm can come to you just reading a boozy blog… right? 

The MoM blog was home to all kinds of wonderful content once again, like Ian Buxton’s review of the intriguing new book Drunk by Edward Slingerland, or the journey through shochu our in-house educator Richard Legg’s took us on, or Millie’s look at the seven new international bars that are giving us the travel bug. Elsewhere, Henry enjoyed a rare Balvenie, the simple pleasures of the Highball and an outrageously old Port, while Adam recommended some interesting cask-finished whiskies and celebrated a drinks brand making a difference on World Elephant Day. Oh, and we’re hiring if anyone fancies working for the greatest company in the world. We have t-shirts (sometimes). 

Now on with the Nightcap: 13 August edition!

The Nightcap: 13 August

Look! It’s Jameson Orange. Just like actual Jameson. But with orange.

Jameson introduces orange whiskey

The world’s biggest Irish whiskey is introducing a new flavoured bottling Jameson Orange (at 30%), which combines Irish Distillers’ classic expression with natural orange flavouring. The intention was to make a modern, low sugar and still whiskey-focused twist that exploits the popularity of flavoured whiskeys and spirits as well as building on the success of Jameson Cold Brew. “The concept behind Jameson Orange was to create a product which would appeal to a growing audience of flavoured spirits fans, that draws on the quality and integrity of our award-winning triple distilled Irish whiskey,” says Brendan Buckley, international marketing director at Irish Distillers. “Jameson Orange’s flavours are inspired by a classic whiskey cocktail, and we’re confident that this focus on taste and quality will appeal to a broad audience of whiskey fans, bartenders, and curious spirit drinkers.” Jameson Orange will be on its way to MoM Towers soon, while a second flavour variant, Jameson Lime & Ginger, inspired by the signature Jameson serve, will follow soon after. 

The Nightcap: 13 August

At $3,300 a bottle, this is one of the most pricey Tequilas we’ve ever seen

Código 1530 releases one of the most expensive Tequilas in the world

Código 1530 is no stranger to extravagant Tequilas (check out this Extra Añejo!), but the brand has really outdone itself with its latest expression. The new release has a price tag of $3,300 a bottle, making it one of the most expensive Tequilas on the market. And with only 350 bottles of the spirit available, it’s also one of the rarest. Why is it so special? Well for a start it’s a 13-year-old extra añejo Tequila, which is remarkably old. Most añejos on the market are matured for one-to-three years and the aforementioned Extra Añejo spent six years in cask, which would typically be seen as a huge amount of time. This bottling, however, blows it out of the water. Plus, it was finished for six months in a Cognac cask, which again is not common and certainly not the cheapest way to mature your Tequila. Federico Vaughan summarised the bottling by saying “our 13-year Añejo is in its own category”. It was bottled with no other sugars, colours or flavourings, and the tasting notes tell us to expect sweet vanilla with cocoa powder and cinnamon, followed by earthy peat and exotic spices. Bottles will be available through Código 1530’s website but it’s a shame so few will get to taste it. That’s the world of rare and pricey booze for you. You can at least head to the distillery page and pick up another Añejo to get an idea of what you’re missing.

The Nightcap: 13 August

Max Macfarlane’s expertise will be put to good use in the new venture

Distil invests £5m into new Ardgowan Distillery 

Distil UK (not to be confused with Distell) has announced that it will be investing up to £5m into the new eco-friendly Ardgowan Distillery in Inverkip, Scotland, which hopes to be producing spirit in 2023, as well as welcoming tourists. The owner of premium drinks brands including RedLeg Spiced Rum, Blackwoods Gin, and newly launched TRØVE Botanical Spirit, will provide an initial tranche of £3m, with the potential of an additional loan of up to £2m to follow. The investment will see Distil build a permanent home for Blackwoods Scottish Gin on the site, including stills, a gin school, and visitor centre, while the company will also gain access to Ardgowan’s master whisky maker, Max Macfarlane (formerly of Highland Park, Glengoyne, Bunnahabhain, and Tamdhu fame), to develop a separate Distil blended malt whisky brand yet to be revealed. Martin McAdam, CEO Ardgowan Distillery, says “We welcome this investment and are excited that Distil has chosen Ardgowan as the home for Blackwoods Gin. The Distil team is knowledgeable, passionate and very much aligned with our vision for the project. We welcome their investment and look forward to working together in an ongoing partnership to help both sides achieve ambitious goals.”

The Nightcap: 13 August

We’re impressed by what we’ve seen from Torabhaig so far

Torabhaig Distillery releases second single malt

Torabhaig Distillery is all set to release the second expression from its Legacy Series of single malt Scotch whiskies. Following the sold-out success of the first ever expression from Torabhaig Distillery in February this year, Legacy Series 2017, the second expression of Torabhaig single malt will be Allt Gleann – The Legacy Series. Named after the burn (stream) that flows down the side of the distillery in Teangue on the Isle of Skye, this eagerly-awaited release will be bottled in small batches at 46%, and drawn from no more than 30 casks. Allt Gleann is the second of four expressions to be released under the Torabhaig Legacy Series, which will chart the process of developing the style and character of the eventual core bottling, Torabhaig Single Malt Whisky 10 Year Old, due to be released in 2028. For those who missed out on the first expression, Allt Gleann will be released in larger quantities, in four separate batches throughout 2021 and 2022. Neil Mathieson, chief executive at Mossburn Distillers, told us after the first launch that the “next two releases are looking like they will be heavier in peat” and that’s certainly the case with this one, which is more robust and full-bodied than the first expression. The fruity new make character is still present too, and it’s another promising dram that suggests this is a distillery worth keeping an eye on.

The Nightcap: 13 August

The first round is on the good folk of Inverness it seems!

How cheap is your city’s pint? Study reveals all

Holidu.co.uk has released a study about the price of beer in a number of UK cities and popular holiday destinations for Brits. Inspired by the desire to give travellers as much information as possible, the search engine for holiday rentals set out to establish how much a pint of beer costs at home and abroad. It compared beer prices in top rated UK pubs, capturing both ends of the UK market by studying the price of beer in top-rated pubs and Wetherspoons pubs to give insight into how much a tourist is likely to pay compared to a local. To view the results and full methodology of the study just here, but these are the headlines: London is really expensive. Shocking. In fact, the top three most expensive are London (£4.50), Edinburgh (£4.40) and Birmingham (£4.40), which is pretty much what you’d expect. On average, the cheapest place to buy a pint of beer in the UK is Inverness (£3.10), followed by Swansea (£3.60) and Glasgow (£3.70). Book your staycations accordingly. Of course, if you did want to venture abroad, avoid Dubai (£10.00) or Sydney (£6.50) and instead head to Krakow (£1.30) or Bali (£1.60), as the study worked out the cost in the top 50 tourist destinations for Brits as well. So, assuming you’re basing holiday destinations on beer prices, you’re now good to go. Which is what we all do. Right? 

The Nightcap: 13 August

Can this combo fail? No. No it cannot.

Dewar’s Highballs and Truffle burgers? Yes, please!

If there’s two things we love at Master of Malt, they are Highballs and burgers. So as you can imagine we were pretty excited to hear about a partnership between Dewar’s and fancy London burger joint Truffle. The special Dewar’s X Truffle London menu runs from 19-21 August at Truffle London Soho (go here to book). It features delicious Highballs created by Mark Low from Mr Lyan Studio using Dewar’s new Caribbean Smooth and Ilegal Smooth whiskies, alongside delicious meaty hamburgers. For example, a Dewar’s Ilegal Smooth Highball, made with Ilegal mezcal cask whisky, St-Germain Elderflower liqueur and soda, goes with Truffle London classic burger, “a classic beef & smoked bacon patty in a brioche bun, topped with sweet fig jam, crispy onions, gooey raclette cheese and smothered in their favourite truffle mayonnaise”, according to the press release. Isn’t your mouth watering just thinking about this? But what’s even better is prices start from £10 for a burger and a Highball. We are so there. 

The Nightcap: 13 August

Get your tickets now!

Pergola Paddington to host Oktoberfest celebration: Wunderbar!

Who’s in need of a good horn-blaring, stein-sloshing Bavarian knees up? Everyone? Great, because West London’s largest alfresco drinking and dining destination will be transformed into a beer hall reminiscent of those on the Theresienwiese in Munich, serving up real German beers, delicious Bavarian food, and a hearty helping of ‘Gemütlichkeit’ in celebration of Oktoberfest. Tonight (well, for six weeks), Matthew, Pergola Paddington will be Wunderbar, a spin on the traditional festival. Expect live DJ sets, a Bavarian Oom-pah band, ‘Wunderbrunch’ bottomless brunches, gingerbread house building, a ‘Pink’ LGBT+ Oktoberfest party, as well as the chance to be crowned Beer King & Queen of Wunderbar, with a prize of free beer for a year. Pergola Paddington has even teamed up with Camden Town Brewery to create an exclusive Oktoberfest Lager which will only be available at Wunderbar for a limited time only. Wunderbar will run from 18 September – 31 October. Tickets, which start from £10 and include a stein of beer or a beer cocktail, are now available here. It’s recommended you book in advance, particularly as we might do a big MoM office outing…  Now, where are my lederhosen?

The Nightcap: 13 August

Congratulations to you, Lorenza!

Lorenza Pezzetta takes over at the Artesian 

It’s all go in London’s most prestigious hotel bars. Last week the American Bar at The Savoy announced a new head bartender, an actual American, Shannon Tebay. Now the much-garlanded Artesian Bar at the Langham has a new lady in charge, Lorenza Pezzetta. She joins the Artesian, consistently in World’s 50 Best, from a spell working in private members clubs including the legendary Annabel’s. Originally from Italy, she has worked at Cipriani Downtown Ibiza, The Berkeley, and The Connaught Bar before taking the role of bar manager at Artesian. “It is such an honour to be joining the team at Artesian, not only an iconic bar but part of Langham Hotels & Resorts, a hospitality brand I have always admired. Artesian is the perfect place for me to home in on my experience and bring the knowledge I have acquired whilst working at London’s most prestigious private members clubs and five-star establishments. It’s quite easy to see why the bar is beloved by all, it’s a privilege to be a part of such an incredible team, to be part of Artesian’s next chapter and most importantly to welcome guests back in!”, she commented.

The Nightcap: 13 August

The sun sets on a troubled Hampton Beach. You’re in our thoughts and prayers.

And finally… Panic among NYC elite as Hamptons runs out of Champagne 

The Hamptons are the playground for New York’s elite. Think Saint Tropez, Ibiza and Southwold all rolled into one. But there’s panic on the immaculate beaches because there’s a shortage of Champagne. Yes, according to The New York Post, desperate millionaires and billionaires are having to make do with Prosecco or even cava! Ian Duke from Southampton Social Club said: “The most popular nightclub items —  the high-end champagnes from Moet Chandon or Dom Perignon —  can’t be found.” How are people meant to live without such staples? Another club owner Zach Erdem is using his private plane to fly in Champagne for his wife’s birthday party. Inevitably, some are blaming Covid but this isn’t the first wine shortage to hit the Hamptons, those with long memories will remember the two Great Rosé Crises of 2012 and 2014. America’s elite is nothing if not resilient, however. They pulled through then, and they’ll pull through again. 

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