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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Kummel

Cocktail of the Week: The Silver Bullet

For those who have stockpiled kümmel after the panic earlier this month, here’s a great cocktail to make with everyone’s favourite caraway-scented liqueur. It’s the Silver Bullet. Did you keep…

For those who have stockpiled kümmel after the panic earlier this month, here’s a great cocktail to make with everyone’s favourite caraway-scented liqueur. It’s the Silver Bullet.

Did you keep your head during the great kümmel panic of 2021? That’s what your grandchildren will be asking you about life in the first quarter of the 21st century. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, a quick recap.

A Baltic beverage

We reported earlier this month that there were rumours of a kümmel shortage in the golf clubs of Britain. This is a liqueur flavoured with caraway seeds along with cumin, fennel and other spices. It’s not dissimilar to Scandinavian akvavit, though sweeter, and it has its origins in the same part of the world, the Baltic, Riga in modern day Latvia, to be precise. 

Despite its Nordic origins, kümmel used to be immensely popular among the British upper classes. There are mentions of it in Evelyn Waugh’s works. But the only places you will see kümmel drunk today are old-fashioned gentlemen’s clubs, and in particular golf clubs. After a long day chasing a little white ball around a strange Teletubby-esque version of the countryside, there’s nothing golfers like more than a restorative glass of kümmel.

mentzendorff-kummel-combier-distillery

The Combier Distillery where Mentzendorff kümmel is made

Panic in the golf clubs

However, there was panic at the 19th hole as apparently one of the principal brands, Wolfschmidt in Denmark, had ceased production. Blog Cookie Jar Golf reported: “In recent weeks, reports have been coming into us from all corners of the U.K. that clubs are unable to secure orders on further stock of Wolfschmidtt, amid rumours that the Danish company has ceased production. Despite a lot of phone calls and various efforts to establish contact with the brand, no official statement has been received, however, we can confirm that future orders on the product are no longer possible.”

So is this the end for kümmel, a drink that is so unfashionable that most people have never heard of it? Happily not. One of the original brands, Mentzendorff, has no plans to stop producing. The Mentzendorff family were Prussians based in Riga who came to England in the 1860s and branched out into wine importing. The firm is still going strong and is the UK agent for Bollinger Champagne. The liqueur is now distilled in France.

Andrew Hawes, MD of Mentzendorff reassured us: “We’ve been keeping kümmel enthusiasts well-stocked for over 150 years and have no plans to stop any time soon!” 

So for all those who now have a garage full of kümmel alongside gallons of petrol, bumper packs of toilet paper and huge sacks of rice, the question comes what to do with such a distinctive liqueur? Well, you could take up golf and drink it neat, but it also works in one of the great lesser-known cocktails – the Silver Bullet.

The Silver Bullet

A kümmelised gin sour

Nobody seems to know where this one came from but it dates back to the 1920s at least as it crops up in Harry Craddock’s 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book where it’s a simple mixture of two parts gin to one part each of lemon and kümmel. It’s essentially a kümmelised gin sour. With it’s big spicy flavours and sweetness, kümmel is not the easiest of mixers, but a good dose of gin and lemon juice calms it down a bit, producing a very elegant and distinctive cocktail.

If you’re feeling fancy, you could add an egg white but it’s not essential. Salvatore Calabrese in his Classic Cocktails uses vodka instead of gin which sounds pretty tasty and is a nice nod to kümmel’s Baltic origins. I’m using a recipe from Difford’s Guide. The most important thing is the kümmel.

How to make a Silver Bullet

45ml Bathtub Gin
25ml Mentzendorff Kümmel
10ml lemon juice

Add all the ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker and give it a good hard shake. Double strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a twist of lemon zest.

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The Nightcap: 8 October

A new Islay distillery, Diageo splurging half a billion dollars on Tequila, and Gary Barlow launching his own wine are just some of the intriguing news stories that made a…

A new Islay distillery, Diageo splurging half a billion dollars on Tequila, and Gary Barlow launching his own wine are just some of the intriguing news stories that made a bumper Nightcap this week.

Right. What the hell are we wearing for Halloween this year then, folks? You’d think having the first real spooky time party in two years would mean we’d have all kinds of ideas. But, the reality is very different. How about we strike a deal, you suggest some cracking outfits, and we’ll give you another delightful dollop of Friday Nightcap goodness. Are we square? We’ll assume it’s a yes and deliver our end of the bargain. Here it is.

This week on the MoM blog, Henry tasted the Diageo Special Releases 2021, picked out ten Scotch whiskies perfect for autumn, celebrated the 100th anniversary of The Sidecar, and heard why Mezcal Amores is on a mission to persuade customers to try agave spirits neat. Elsewhere, Jess tasted new Compass Box whisky with John Glaser, while Adam we got the reaction to Bunnahabhain becoming our first MoM Whisky Icon champion, picked out some of the most entertaining events to see during London Cocktail Week 2021, made some non-boozy cocktails perfect for Sober October, and got the story behind The Spirit of Manchester Distillery. Another corker of a week.

But, it’s not over yet. Here is The Nightcap: 8 October edition!

The Nightcap: 8 October

You’d think Islay would be full of distilleries already, but people keep finding space

Islay to get new sustainable Scotch whisky distillery

A proposal for a new low-carbon whisky distillery on Islay is in the pipeline. IIi Distillery will be located at Gearach Farm near Port Charlotte and is named after an old name for Islay. The brainchild of landowner Bertram Nesselrode and farmer Scott McLellan, they plan to ensure the site is powered with renewable energy, with a hydrogen plant, solar panels, battery storage, and wind turbine, ensuring the venture is not only green, but almost off-grid. The cylindrical distillery, which will also have a separate warehouse, a grain store, a visitor centre, and plenty of parking, is their attempt to help to ensure that Islay’s whisky legacy “can continue well into the future,” as revealed in their proposal to Argyll & Bute Council. “The vision for the site is bold and different; not just another distillery on Islay, but an Islay-native project, serving and benefiting the local community with jobs, sustainability, and growth,” their application explained. “Physically, the built form of the distillery will also represent a point of difference: it will respect the built vernacular of the island and complement the natural form of its spectacular surroundings”. The proposal is awaiting feedback from the council and will go through by 14 October. Once approved, construction will begin next summer.

The Nightcap: 8 October

The Glenlivet has a pretty remarkable history

Illicit whisky site discovered in Glenlivet dig

Archaeologists have discovered the floor of an illicit whisky distillery that dates back to the 19th century in a recent dig at the former site of The Glenlivet Distillery. The newly discovered site is where Glenlivet’s founder, George Smith, made whisky in 1824 in Upper Drumin, about half a mile from the current distillery. Fragments of bottle glass and ceramics believed to have been used in whisky production were also uncovered. Mr. Smith became the first illicit producer to get his licence, and Glenlivet was one of Scotland’s first whisky distilleries to become licensed after the 1823 Excise Act. Derek Alexander, the National Trust for Scotland’s head of archaeology, has a long association with the location and conducted a survey of the distillery remains in the 1990s and said that “returning to this place after nearly 25 years to finally uncover the remains of this special place is really inspiring,” adding that what’s really interesting is that “this is where the illicit production of whisky and the transition towards larger-scale industrial production meet; a formative part of the whisky industry becoming one of Scotland’s biggest and most successful”. The site where the dig is being carried out as part of the Pioneering Spirit project – a partnership between conservation charity the National Trust for Scotland and The Glenlivet – is marked by an inscribed monument marking its role in whisky history. Investigations at the site began on 4 October and will run until 9 October.

The Nightcap: 8 October

Trying… to… resist… making… Take That… wine… puns…

Gary Barlow launches his own wine range 

Music man Gary Barlow has introduced his own range of organic wines, imaginatively called ‘Gary Barlow Organic’, fulfilling what has apparently been his dream “for as long as he can remember”. He spent the past two years collaborating with the Benchmark Drinks, who have also made wines with Kylie Minogue and Ian Botham. The wines are said to be “carefully crafted and developed” by the man himself. Which must have been taxing. The packaging features a piano key design, for reasons completely oblivious to us. The wines themselves come from Castilla in Spain and are produced by Peninsula Wines which is run by two masters of wine Andreas Kubach and Sam Harrop, who are known for their sustainability and approach to making wine with as little intervention as possible. So far the range consists Gary Barlow Organic RED made a juicy unoaked wine made with Tempranillo and Syrah, and The Gary Barlow Organic WHITE a refreshing blend of Viura and Verdejo. We are sorry to report that there is as yet no Jason Orange wine. Both are available online at garybarlowwines.com from 9 October. So have a little patience. 

The Nightcap: 8 October

Diageo has big agave-based plans

Diageo to spend half a billion dollars on Tequila plant

Drinks giant Diageo revealed this week it’s about to step up its Tequila-based efforts by investing half a billion dollars in the spirit (that sentence  reads best if you do a Dr. Evil impression). Work on a $500m Tequila distillery in Jalisco will begin this year in the town of La Barca, with the company saying it would support Diageo’s 10-year sustainability plan by incorporating environment-friendly technologies, and would create around 1,000 jobs. The move was motivated by the rapid growth in US Tequila consumption. Apparently Covid-19 lockdown led to a surge in online buying and the making of summer cocktails at home. Álvaro Cárdenas, president of the company’s Latin America and Caribbean operations, commented that its Tequila sales had risen 79% in the past financial year.  He also commented that this is “the most significant investment we have made in Latin America and the Caribbean in the past 10 years.” In 2019, the company completed another Tequila facility in Atotonilco El Alto, in the southern state of Guanajuato and spent a big chunk of change adding Tequila Casamigos, a brand created by actor George Clooney and other partners, to its portfolio in 2017. So if Diageo’s movements are anything to go by, the future looks very bright for Tequila.

Brewdog vodka

Coming soon… Brewdog vodka

Brewdog reveals new distillery and spirits

Brewdog is about to launch a new range of spirits that were produced at its new distillery in Ellon, Scotland. The site was built because the original location was not fit for expansion and there were capacity constraints on the whisky and rum side, according to Steven Kersley, head of distillation at Brewdog Distilling, who was quoted in an interview with The Spirits Business. The equipment from the original distillery has been moved to the new site, which will also boast a 10,000-litre triple bubble still that’s three times bigger than the original still. There’s also two 3,000-litre pot stills, one of which will become a full-time spirit still for whisky production, as well as Brewdog’s 19m-tall rectification column. Before, Brewdog could only manage eight to nine casks a week, when demand required 30-35 casks. This move should reset the balance a little and allow innovation. The new site sits next to the Brewdog brewery but will operate as its own standalone distillery. There will be a visitor experience, a gift shop, and a tasting room that will be able to accommodate upwards of 30-40 people, and will look out over the distillery so guests can see the still house. In addition, Brewdog Distilling has created a new range of vodkas: Seven Day Vodka, named as a nod to the seven days it takes Brewdog to make its vodka from scratch. Alongside the original, there’s three flavoured expressions: Passionfruit and Vanilla (which tastes like Um Bongo for grown-ups), Rhubarb and Lemon, and Raspberry and Lime (deliciously refreshing). An RTD range is also in the works. It’s all go at Brewdog at the moment.

The Nightcap: 8 October

One of the finest drops around, by our reckoning

Last Drop releases stunning 100-year-old Pineau des Charentes

We tried one of the most stunning old drinks we’ve ever tasted last week. No, it wasn’t a whisky or Cognac, or even a Port or sherry. It was a Pineau des Charentes. For those who don’t know, this is a blend of unfermented grape juice and Cognac much enjoyed in the Charente region of France. Very tasty it is too, usually, but this special one was over 100 years old. It was discovered and bottled by The Last Drop, the people behind such dazzling spirits as a 1947 Cognac and 1870 Port. The firm is so exclusive that it has only released 22 bottlings in its history. The cask was discovered alongside a barrel of 1925 Grande Champagne Cognac, hidden behind a wall of rubble before the second world war. One sniff and the Last Drop team knew they had something special on their hands. The freshness is quite incredible meaning that despite its incredible complexity and concentration – the balance is just perfect. The nearest comparison would be an old Madeira but really we have never tasted anything like this. Only 382 bottles have been filled and the price considering the quality and rarity is a very reasonable £600. We’re hoping to get some in at Master of Malt later in the year. If you’re looking for something really really special, then this should be on your list.

The Nightcap: 8 October

Tiempo is on its way to Master of Malt now!

Tiempo Tequila launches after six years development

After six years of patience, Tiempo Tequila (meaning ‘time’ in Spanish, fitting), will launch its first batch of Reposado Cristalino Tequila in the UK. Each of the 1,320 limited edition bottles is made from 100% mature blue weber agave, grown and harvested in the Altos and Valley regions of Jalisco by master distiller, Augustin Sanchez Rodriguez to create a liquid that is additive-free, and does not use any chemical intervention. Working alongside a fifth-generation family of distillers, Tiempo is slow-cooked for 48 hours before being fermented using natural yeast for a further 60 hours. It is then twice distilled before spending up to one year aging in American oak whiskey casks. The liquid is then filtered before being housed in recycled glass with sustainably printed and inked labels as well as natural cork and a wooden stopper.  Latin American illustrator Alan Berry Rhys has depicted a surrealist journey through the Mexican jungle on the packaging. Tiempo is working towards ensuring its practices are sustainable by providing living wages for its growing and production team, focusing on sustainable agave farming in the fields, cutting CO2 emissions, reusing agave waste, and packaging with recycled glass and materials wherever possible. And it’s on its way to Master of Malt.

The Nightcap: 8 October

Not whiskey. Or particularly Malaysian. A bit of a swing and a miss, this one

We sample ‘Malaysia’s best whiskey’

We were very excited earlier this year when we received an email entitled: “EXCLUSIVE INVITATION – LAUNCH OF MALAYSIAN BEST WHISKEY.” We’re big world whisky fans but we’ve yet to have anything from Malaysia. We were even more excited when a bottle arrived at MoM Towers. It’s called Timah and on the label it says ‘1871 the legend of Captain Speedy’ and promises to be a ‘Double Peated Blended Whiskey’. It’s made by Winepack corporation who apparently have a “30 years history-making high-quality alcoholic drinks.” We were leafing through the bumf which came with the sample bottle and it states: “Timah’s fine balance of malt and sugarcane molasses imparts a unique peat-infused character.” So sadly this isn’t technically whisky (by EU and British regulations). The bottle says it’s “distilled, blended and bottled in Malaysia” but according to the PR contact, that’s not entirely true. He commented: “The peated whiskey components are imported which is (sic) then blended by our master blender in Malaysia.” He didn’t say exactly where they came from but Ruben from Whisky Notes has information that one of the malts is from Caol Ila. It certainly smells like an Islay, albeit one sniffed across a crowded bar. It’s a bit dilute on the palate but made a refreshing tasty drink with ginger ale and a slice of lime. So if you’re in Malaysia, look out for Timah. But you’re unlikely to ever find it at Master of Malt unless the labeling is changed.

The Nightcap: 8 October

We tried these two Calvados expressions and vouch for how sublime they are

… And delicious Calvados at Coupette

We had a tremendous time at London’s Coupette cocktail bar this week, celebrating the launch of Maison Sassy X Coupette Calvados! It’s fair to say that the two know their apples. Coupette with its famous array of Calvados and its expert bartenders who know exactly when it’s right to rustle up a russet or grab a Granny Smith. Meanwhile, SASSY has grafted to bring the delights of Norman cider to us all, and with deep roots in the orchards of the region, it seems only right for a Calvados to join the ranks! We were treated to a tasting of the two new bottlings, Calvados Fine and Calvados XO (which is aged for six years in rum casks!), and were immensely impressed by both. The Coupette team did not disappoint, with a special cocktail menu for the evening, showcasing the two expressions. Every serve was a stunner, the Pan American Clipper, made with SASSY x Coupette Fine, grenadine, lime, and absinthe was exceptional. We were also blown away by another collab between the two brands. A collab within a collab if you will – a canned, ready-to-drink expression of Coupette’s unofficial signature cocktail Apples, also made with SASSY x Coupette Fine. We’re still wondering if they actually shrunk one of their bar people and hid them inside the can to mix it – it was that tasty.

The Nightcap: 8 October

Lyons will provide the drinks expertise

Will Lyons and Charlie Bigham’s host virtual charity banquet

Award-winning wine writer Will Lyons has teamed up with independent food brand Charlie Bigham’s to co-host its upcoming virtual charity banquet tomorrow, offering drink pairing suggestions across a four-course cook along. Featuring top chefs Thomasina Miers, founder of Wahaca and MasterChef champion; Vivek Singh, founder and executive chef at The Cinnamon Collection; Theo Randall, chef proprietor at Theo Randall at The Intercontinental, and Ping Coombes, MasterChef champion, who will offer their expertise across each course. And you can cook along at home thanks to recipe boxes delivered straight to your door. The aim is to raise £30,000 for pioneering charity Chefs in Schools, allowing 2,400 more children to enjoy delicious and nourishing food at school every day. Tickets went on sale here, and included a £5 donation that Charlie Bigham’s will match. Will Lyons’ pairings will be one to watch for drinks fans, he’s The Sunday Times wine critic, and a winner of both the Glenfiddich and Roederer wine writing awards. We’re a fan of a good cause and if it helps further people’s drinks knowledge in the process then that’s a welcome bonus.

MENTZENDORFF KUMMEL Small

We want to reassure Britain’s golfers that there’s plenty of kümmel to go round

And finally… Don’t panic, there is no kümmel shortage

First, there was last year’s toilet paper shortage, then the recent brawls at petrol stations among people queuing to fill up their cars, now it looks like there will be fisticuffs at golf clubs around the country as there are rumours of a kummel drought. For those who don’t know, kümmel is a caraway-flavoured schnapps that is particularly popular among the vibrant golfing community. But it seems that one of the principal brands, Wolfschmidt, has ceased production. Blog Cookie Jar Golf reported: “In recent weeks, reports have been coming into us from all corners of the U.K. that clubs are unable to secure orders on further stock of Wolfschmidt, amid rumours that the Danish company has ceased production. Despite a lot of phone calls and various efforts to establish contact with the brand, no official statement has been received however we can confirm that future orders on the product are no longer possible.” But there is no need to panic, repeat DO NOT PANIC, Andrew Hawes, MD of rival brand Mentzendorff reassured us. “We’ve been keeping kümmel enthusiasts well-stocked for over 150 years and have no plans to stop any time soon!” he commented. And there’s plenty of stock left at Master of Malt. 

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The Nightcap: 17 April

Easter Monday might have made this a shorter working week but there’s still a good helping of boozy news to get stuck into. It’s The Nightcap! If you’re looking to…

Easter Monday might have made this a shorter working week but there’s still a good helping of boozy news to get stuck into. It’s The Nightcap!

If you’re looking to head into the weekend with a brain full of news from the world of booze, you’ve come to the right place – it’s The Nightcap! If you wanted to go into the weekend with a brain full of badger facts, you’ve also come to the right place: badgers are part of the Mustelidae family, meaning they’re related to wolverines. The word “badger” is thought to come from the French word for someone who digs, “bêcheur”. Probably because they’re good at digging. OK, enough badger facts. Time for the booze news!

On the MoM blog this week we were delighted to announce that Glenlivet Spectra has arrived exclusively at MoM HQ. Elsewhere, Annie took us inside the archives at Irish Distillers and then cast an eye on four botanical bottlings that capture the essence of their local area, Jess gave us some top tips on how to have the perfect virtual tasting and Henry mixed a cocktail that made its name back in the golden age. Adam, meanwhile, led us on VR tours of GlenDronach and BenRiach Distillery and recommended some incredible whiskeys from across the pond as well as five films that feature a drop of the good stuff. Oh, and don’t forget there’s still to enter our competition to win a VIP 2021 trip to The GlenDronach distillery!

Once again we’d like to thank all those who entered our virtual pub quiz last Friday and say congratulations to the winner, Richard Hales! He’s won himself a £25 gift voucher to put to good use at MoM Towers and if you like the sound of that, you’ll be pleased to know this week’s edition (link here) will go live at 5pm tonight. You can also find the answers to last week’s quiz if you scroll down to the bottom.

Now, let’s get on with The Nightcap!

The Nightcap

Happy International Kümmel Day!

Kümmel ye faithful!

Today is the big one, bigger than British Pie Week, more exclusive than World Whisky Day, it’s International Kümmel Day! The second-ever and it celebrates 170 years since Ludwig Mentzendorff decided to import his kümmel, which was made in Riga at the time, to the UK (it’s now distilled in France). The British seemed to have fallen for kümmel’s caraway-scented charms immediately. It was particularly popular among golfers who used to refer to it as ‘putting mixture’ but every drinks cabinet would have had a bottle, there’s no better cold weather-pick-me up. Now this classic schnapps is undergoing a revival as bartenders around the world discover it’s peculiar charms. Such luminaries of the drinks world as Simon Difford, Richard Godwin and Alice Lascelles have all come out as members of the Kümmel cognoscenti. You can mix it or just enjoy it neat with ice. So dig out a bottle or buy one and all this week give kümmel some online love with the #mentzendorffkummel hashtag. 

The Nightcap

Say hello to Jameson Hosts!

Jameson supports global bar community online with Jameson Hosts

Jameson has gone and launched an online platform to bring the international bar community together in these strange times. Say hello to Jameson Hosts, an online space where the bar community can come together to share their experiences and knowledge through the wonders of video! What’s more, Jameson is those who create videos for the platform financially, with the content covering all sorts of topics from cocktail masterclasses, wellbeing, career coaching and whiskey tutorials, as well as advice from bar teams around the globe about how they’re adapting to the new challenges imposed by the pandemic. It’s looking to the future too, covering how businesses can better equip themselves for when they (eventually) reopen. “The global bar community has dedicated its life and career to the service of others.  Now, more than ever, this community needs a new place to come together and share inspiring stories, real-world guidance and encouraging words to help each other overcome the challenges they face today and those that lie ahead,” says Brendan Buckley, international marketing director at Irish Distillers. “We hope this will offer both practical and emotional support through this challenging time and we very much look forward to celebrating with all our hosts at Midleton soon.”

The Nightcap

The awards take place on the 18th – 20th September, assuming we can do things by then

Glencairn sponsors Scottish crime writing awards

Everyone’s favourite whisky tasting glass company Glencairns has teamed up with the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival to sponsor two awards. The big one is The McIlvanney Prize named after William McIlvanney who pretty much invented the hard-boiled Scottish detective genre in a brilliant trilogy of novels: Laidlaw, The Papers of Tony Veitch and Strange Loyalties. Without McIlvanney there would have been no Rebus and no Taggart. The winner will receive a prize of £1000, a Glencairn Crystal Decanter and nationwide promotion in Waterstones. Glencairn will also be sponsoring The Bloody Scotland Debut Prize consisting of £500 and a Glencairn Star Trophy. Kirsty Nicholson from Glencairn commented: “As a Scottish family-owned company we are excited and proud to be involved with such prestigious prizes that both celebrate and reward such a rich and talented tradition as Scottish crime fiction. Like Scottish crime writing, the Glencairn Glass is uniquely Scottish with a truly global appeal. We look forward to a great working relationship with Bloody Scotland and would like to wish all the authors who have entered the best of luck.” Festival director Bob McDevitt added: “It’s great to see that in this time of great uncertainty, the Bloody Scotland prizes have attracted another great crop of Scottish crime novels for readers to escape into. I’m also really pleased to welcome Glencairn Crystal on board as a sponsor of the prizes this year and look forward to working with them in the future.” The awards will take place during the festival 18th – 20th September. If we’re allowed out then.

The Nightcap

The cocktails are made with Bacardi spirits, including its signature rum, Bombay Sapphire Gin and more

Bacardi and Deliveroo Editions delivering cocktails to your door

Bacardi and Deliveroo Editions have joined forces in a bid to break lockdown boredom and support local bars in London and Manchester while their doors are closed. The ‘Cocktails at Home’ initiative will ensure that you can still enjoy your favourite cocktails by delivering them straight to your door. More than 120 bars in London and Manchester in the UK began to offer the service yesterday and new bars and cocktails will be added every two weeks over the next two months. To order you can simply head to one of the following links: Whitechapel, Bermondsey, Manchester. The initiative has focused on smaller, independent bars that have no corporate backing and the cocktails will be made with Bacardi spirits, including its signature rum, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Grey Goose Vodka, Martini vermouth and Patrón Tequila. “Our strong relationships with bars and bartenders in the UK is incredibly important to us and as we face the current challenges together, we’re doing all we can to provide the support they need,” says Amanda Almond, managing director for Bacardi, UK and Ireland. “We have 158 years’ experience of overcoming the crises and coming out fighting, and through our Raise Your Spirits initiative, we intend to do exactly that for our on-trade partners.” So, if you fancy a Cubano with Bacardi Ocho from Kwānt, a Rosy Life with Patrón Tequila from Artesian or Lychee Martini with Bombay Sapphire Gin from Filthy 13, you know what to do!

The Nightcap

Gin O’Clock has become a regular highlight of the lockdown for people

And finally… Gin, crisps and ready meals keep the nation’s spirits up during lockdown

As the UK collectively feels the effect of the government-imposed lockdown, you won’t be surprised to hear that people are finding collective comfort in gin, crisps and ready meals. According to proquo ai’s Covid-19 brand impact monitor, folks looking for ways to enjoy a ‘big night in’ have turned to brands like Hendricks, whose products have surged in popularity helped by the goodwill generated when it repurposed some of its production facilities to make hand sanitiser. Gin O’Clock has become a regular highlight, with one respondent saying: “I never used to drink gin but now I have a little on the weekend. Me and the neighbours have started buying different flavours, and we meet up and have a social-distancing gin tasting night.” Unsurprisingly, mixers have also benefited from the trend, with Fentimans, Fever-Tree and Schweppes all attracting new customers and as cocktails go hand in hand with a salty snack, premium crisp brands are also gaining in popularity with new users. “Our platform gathers people’s feelings towards brands 24/7 so it’s been fascinating to see the immediate impact of Covid-19 and related lockdown on public perception,” says Jim Brennan, managing director of proquo ai. “People are not only changing their daily routines, but are also interacting with brands they wouldn’t normally use outside of a crisis. Brands that understand what people need at this time – and work to meet these needs – will ultimately be the ones which succeed.” If you’re looking for a tasty new gin to indulge in, we have a few right here.

The Nightcap

Pub quiz answers

 

1) What is Beyoncé ‘sippin’ with no chaser’ in 2016 hit Formation

Answer: Cuervo

2) What was Jack Daniel’s real name? 

Answer: Jasper Newton Daniel

3) What was John Lennon’s favourite cocktail? 

Answer: Brandy Alexander

4) What is Dr Dre’s gin brand of choice? 

Answer: Hendricks

5) Which Craft Beer producer also produces Lone Wolf Gin?

Answer: Brewdog

6) Which late comedian shares his last name with the profession of fabricating barrels? 

Answer: Tommy Cooper

7) What drink does Carrie Bradshaw attempt to order at McDonald’s alongside her cheeseburger and large fries in Sex and the City?

Answer: Cosmopolitan

8) Jean Martell, the founder of the Cognac house, came from which island? 

Answer: Jersey

9) Which country is famous for making rum in wooden stills? 

Answer: Guyana

10) Do London dry gins have to be made in the UK capital?

Answer: No

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Cocktail of the Week: The Martiki

Today we have something of a rarity for you. You won’t find it in just any bar. It combines two great cocktail traditions: classic American and tiki, all in one…

Today we have something of a rarity for you. You won’t find it in just any bar. It combines two great cocktail traditions: classic American and tiki, all in one glass. Say hello to the Martiki!

The inspiration for this week’s cocktail came from a recent conversation with two drinks writers, Richard Godwin and Simon Difford. Over a few drinks, we discovered a shared love of kümmel, a kind of schnapps with a distinctive nutty sweet taste. We thought it would be fun to try to raise the profile of this delicious but rather forgotten liqueur. So, from now on the 17 April will henceforth be known as International Kümmel Day.

Godwin suggested I try it in the form of a cocktail called the Martiki. So, I dug out my battered copy of Godwin’s book The Spirits (a great one-stop place for all your cocktailing needs) and found the recipe. The Martiki is, as its name suggests, a tiki take on a Martini in which you use white rum instead of gin, and in place of vermouth, kümmel.

According to The Spirits, the cocktail was invented at The Luau restaurant in Beverly Hills. Now closed, the place was a celebrity hangout in the ‘50s and ‘60s, decorated in a tropical style, and featured an actual lagoon in the dining room. Bring back lagoons, I say. Much more fun than all this modern minimalism. Most recipes for the Martiki, however, don’t use kümmel. Some call for vermouth, and other versions are rather like Pineapple Martinis. According to Godwin, his recipe came from Jeff ‘Beachbum’ Berry. With a name like that, you’d expect him to know his tiki drinks.  

mentzendorff-kummel-combier-distillery

The Combier Distillery where Mentzendorff kummel is made

Kümmel gets its peculiar taste from caraway seeds along with cumin, fennel and other spices. So it’s not dissimilar to Scandinavian Akvavit, though sweeter. The leading brand Mentzendorff was originally made by a Prussian family in Riga, Latvia. In the 1860s, the family came to Britain and branched out into wine importing. The firm is still going strong and is the UK agent for Bollinger Champagne. The liqueur is now distilled in France. The other brand you might see, Wolfschmidt, is Danish.

Despite its Baltic origins, kümmel used to be immensely popular among the British upper classes. There are mentions of it in Evelyn Waugh’s works. But the only places you will see kümmel drunk today are golf clubs and old-fashioned gentlemen’s clubs. Indeed, the last time I visited such an establishment to give a talk about my book, the man who had invited me insisted I join him for a glass of restorative kümmel afterwards. In short, kümmel could not be less fashionable, which means that it is ripe for a revival.

And so, on to Godwin’s Martiki. If you’re a kümmel novice, you might want to halve the amount you put in. Expressing a piece of lemon peel is essential as it freshens the whole thing up; you can either drop it in, or if you’re feeling properly tropical, garnish with a piece of coconut. You could even, as recommended in The Spirits, add a little coconut water to make it totally tiki.

Martiki, Difford's Guide

Martiki (photo credit: Difford’s Guide)

Here’s the Martiki, a strange mixture of classic and tropical, with a good dash of Baltic into the bargain. Perhaps it should be called the Cosmopolitan.

50ml Diplomático Planas white rum
10ml Mentzendorff Kümmel

Stir ingredients in a shaker with lots of ice and strain into a cold Martini glass. Express a piece of lemon peel over the top, and garnish with a lemon twist or a slice of coconut.

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