Irish Gin & Tonic Fest 2017


The best of Irish Gin and Tonic comes to London!

detrfgh
On 1st July Great Irish Beverages and A Drop Of Irish are hosting the closing party for this year’s Irish Gin & Tonic Fest 2017 in London.

The Irish Gin & Tonic Fest is an all Irish summertime celebration of the best gins produced in Ireland. Hundreds of bars and restaurants from across the Republic and Northern Ireland celebrate the best that Ireland has to offer the G&T between 25th June and 1st July. The organisers, Great Irish Beverages, decided that this year they’d bring some of their good cheer and lovely spirits over to London and close the festival in style!

The party will be hosted at Bootyard, home to 40FT Brewery and Cold & Blac coffee liqueur, the guys that brought you the best Paddys Day party in town earlier this year! Doors to the party open on July 1st from midday to 10pm.

Wristbands are available to buy online through DesignMyNight for £10, or on the door for £15. This will give guests access to samples of all of the gins being showcased, along with one complimentary All Irish G&T, served with Poacher’s tonic water. Delicious 40FT beer will also be available from the Tap Room.

Displaying Irish.GnT.Fest.Image.1.jpeg

Gins representing every province in Ireland will be in attendance, along with a chance to meet the people behind the brands to find more about their story and how they’re made:

  • From Ulster, the lovely Boatyard Gin. Wild bog myrtle from the family farm in Fermanagh helps to characterise Boatyard Distillery’s gorgeous organic grain gin. It has been nicknamed a “double gin” for the two distillations they implement for each bottling.
  • From Leinster, the delectable Bonac 24. The initial inspiration for this Wicklow gin actually came from time spent working in the Hamptons in NY, also known to the locals there as Bonac. Apparently, it took the Clifford family 24 times to get their gin formula right, hence the name Bonac 24.
  • From Munster, the delicious Dingle Gin. Straight outta county Kerry, with a rich spirit that is beautifully infused with eastern European spices and local flowers. Brought to you by the same folk as The Porterhouse Brewery.
  • From Connaught, the outstanding Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin. Made in the only distillery in Leitrim, it is named after the famous Chinese green tea, it also features Irish ingredients such as dried meadowsweet which makes it a rather global spirit.

A dedicated G&T bar will be serving up Gin and Tonics throughout the day, pairing the Irish gins on show with Poacher’s Tonic, a craft Irish brand currently making waves in the tonic market. Ireland’s only producer of premium, low sugar, natural mixers, Poacher’s citrus tonic water features Florida orange and Irish rosemary, while their classic tonic water is more quinine forward with just a tiny sprinkling of Irish thyme.

Renowned Irish Chef Simon Lamont, will be cooking up some of the finest BBQ to line attendees stomachs too. Host of TV show The Lazy Chef, which saw him take to the road to highlight some of Ireland’s best kept culinary secrets, Simon now splits his time between Ireland and London, cheffing and running creative pop-ups.

So come along to the 40FT Brewery in Dalston and join us for a one night only extravaganza of Irish gins and Irish tonics! Or as we like to call it #LondonIrishGnT.

 

Advertisements

World Whisk(e)y Day 2017

Is there much else better than whisk(e)y?
Probably not.

The third Saturday of May marks World Whisk(e)y Day! Whether you like yours neat, on the rocks, or muddled into a julep; on an armchair or at a bar – WWD is a day to make the best of a beautiful spirit.

So here is a run down of what to do WWD 2017!

The Sun Tavern, Bethnal Green

The Sun Tavern are more than partial to a drop themselves, they thought they’d do something a bit special this Saturday 20th.

Throughout the day they’re hosting three free Poitín masterclasses, normally priced at £25 per person. Guests will try four different Poitíns and a Poitín cocktail while learning the history of the homemade whiskey-turned legal spirit.

These classes are to run on a first come first serve basis on the day, however bookings will be taken to reserve a spot in advance. Classes will take place at 1pm, 3pm & 5pm.

They’re also launching their new Whiskey Menu on the day. Having won Imbibe’s Whiskey List Of The Year for 2016/17, they’ve certainly got something to live up to.

They’ll be introducing three whiskies from their private collection too. These are whiskies that are extremely rare and not normally available to customers. They will be offered on their menu at a cost price in order to give everyone a chance to enjoy something extremely special.

  • ‘Dungourney 1964 Pure Pot Still Special Reserve’ – in auction originally at over £800 and available to customers at only £30 per measure. Only 1200 of these bottles were released and are seldom seen any more.
  • ‘Knappogue Castle 1951’ – in auction originally at £550 for the bottle and available to customers at £20 per measure, 36 years old when bottled. Was some of the last stock from the old Tullamore Dew Distillery. A true taste of history.
  • ‘Bushmills 1975 Millenium’ – in auction originally at £200 for the bottle and available to customers at only £10 per measure. 24 years old when bottled for the millennium. These were sold privately to investors, so it’s really rare to see a bottle on the market.

Other interesting new additions are The Boutique-y Whisky Company Single Malt, Connemara Single Malt, and the pretty exclusive Cill Áirne PX.

Merchant’s House, City

This Friday the 19th, the whisk(e)y celebrators at Merchant House of Fleet Street are going all out with 50% off all whisk(e)y drinks and cocktails!

Take a seat and enjoy the fabulous whisk(e)y cocktails the MH is renowned for and soak in the comfy atmosphere of the venue – hidden away from the rush and bustle of the busy City.

 

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The Binchotan at MASH Steak

MASH Steak, Soho

Bourbon lovers rejoice, everyone knows the Hoodooist enjoys popping by MASH Steak for a drink.

To celebrate World Whiskey Day, MASH have partnered with Buffalo Trace to launch a special menu showcasing some of their favourite whiskeys. From 20th – 31st May, join MASH for a classic Mint Julep, a New York Sour, or a flight of the Bartenders’ Favourites: 1792 Ridgemont, Eagle Rare 10 (YES), and Buffalo Trace.

Displaying SouthSide Flip.jpg

Brick and Liquor, Tooting

Down in Tooting, cute & cosy cocktail establishment Brick & Liquor are celebrating World Whiskey Day by launching the second edition of their much lauded cocktail menu, starring the Southside Flip, a revived Jerry Thomas classic from 1862, featuring Chivas Regal 12 year old whiskey, apricot brandy and lemon juice; served smooth with a whole shaken egg; and the Amaro No.2, the perfect gentleman’s tipple, featuring Buffalo Trace bourbon, Disaronno & a delicious Italian Amaro liqueur.

Amaro is an often unloved and often neglected Italian gem; with a taste that is both graceful and robust making it the perfect companion for the whiskey and amaretto. Served gently stirred.

Yelp London Treat Yoself Free Giveaway

Maybe you’d rather spend the evening relaxing at home?

Fetch yourself your nearest Glencairn whisk(e)y glass and pour yourself a dram. These gorgeous glasses provide a wide crystal bowl to appreciate your drop’s colour, a shape to inspect the body of your whisk(e)y, and a tapered mouth to focus the aroma to the nose.

Displaying Glencairn Glass.jpg

Some iconic whisk(e)ys to try this season would be a classic smoky Ardbeg for this late Spring rain.

The Uigeadail capture’s Ardbeg’s traditional silkiness, its deep, smoky notes with luscious, raisin tones of old ex-Sherry casks

The recently released limited edition Kelpie brings powerful aromas of oily peat, salty seaweed and tarry rope have been produced by virgin oak casks from the Black Sea, intermingled with the hallmark Ardbeg flavour profile. Waves of spicy black pepper give way to a delectable tide of bacon and dark chocolate. Incredibly deep.

Ardbeg Kelpie Box and Bottle

Another good option would be Glenmorangie’s Private Edition Bacalta 2017: the sweet and honeyed nose opens to a palate ripe with mint toffee, caramelised oranges and dates, ending with a mentholic length of creamy fudge and sweet citrus.

Glenmorangie Bacalta Full Beauty Shot High Res

And if you want something from across the Atlantic, why not try Texas’ first whiskey! Made from blue corn, the Balcones Baby Blue is rich and thick with baked apple and caramel, buttery with baked spices.

Baby_Blue (2)

Other whiskey choices from the emerald isle can be found at our trip to the Irish Embassy with a wealth of Irish whiskeys to taste!

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Or, maybe, you want something less intense for the weekend, maybe a drink for when the sun is out?

Whisk(e)y and ginger ale/beer is certainly experiencing a bit of a renaissance, and people are out to capitalise.

Merchant’s Heart introduces its ‘Spirit Enhancers’, well made and beautifully bottled mixers for a simpler retreat. The MHSE Ginger Ale provides a fresh ginger note is found throughout with a lingering heat on the finish. Excellent with aged spirits, particularly bourbon and whisky.

Light and airy, a bit of the ginger ale with Woodford Reserve and a drop of bitters is enough to pep you up on a hot day. These go down easy on the patio as you watch the world go by.

Ginger Ale - Merchant's HeartGinger Ale - Merchant's HeartGinger Ale - Merchant's HeartImage may contain: food

The Ginger Beer by Umbrella Brewing is, for lack of a better word, gorgeous. At a surprising 5%, UBGB takes no prisoners.

The team behind it explain, “We wanted to create a drink that was very natural, so our Ginger Beer contains only a few ingredients: fresh pressed ginger; hand squeezed lemon, cane sugar, malted barley, yeast and water.  Natural ingredients create natural sediment in every bottle. We remove all the yeast using an incredibly fine filter, so the sediment in our bottle is entirely made up of pressed ginger root.  That’s why we ask you to turn the bottle over before serving – to “wake up the ginger”.

What you get is the powerful flavour of raw ginger and candied lemons, thick with molasses and hint of malt. A length of fiery and spicy ginger follows.

A bit of Suntory classic with UBGB, a slice of citrus and honey and you’re sorted.

Displaying Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 10.49.14.png

 

While you sip on your drinks, make sure to grab something to read!

Iconic Whisky by Cyrille Mald and Alexandre Vingtier brings together 1000 whiskies into one impressive text. Each whisk(e)y is accompanied by flavour notes and an aroma wheel, followed by a map marking the origins and terroir, not to mention a 3D illustration of whisk(e)y production!

Spirit of Place by Charles MacLean takes us on a visual tour of 50 distilleries in Scotland, with photographs by Lara Platman and Alan MacDonald, documenting the ‘cultural terroir’ of the distilleries these historic and classic whiskies originate from.

 

Sadly, World Whisk(e)y Day lasts only a day – but who follows thew rules anyway. June is London Food Month, and there is a *lot* of whisk(e)y nights to enjoy!

Whisky Ambassador Colin Dunn guides a tour of taste and flavour, pairing whiskies with amazing delicacies from Borough Market. The Whisky Exchange has selected six treaty whiskies and matched them with great artisanal produce. The evening will begin with a cocktail featuring the brand new Ro and Co Irish Whiskey, before sampling the six pairings. Patrons will be served Oysters, artisan cheese, and cured meat with a selection of fantastic whiskeys, including Talisker, Lagavulin, 25-year-old Mannochmore, and much more.
When: Monday, June 12
Cost: £40
For one night only guests will be able to experience an exclusive Talisker whisky masterclass hosted by World Class Brand Ambassador. Guests will be guided through a flight of five Talisker whiskies paired alongside delicious delicacies from Black Rock.
When: Thursday, June 15
Cost: N/A
A luxury tasting featuring six different Johnnie Walker whiskies including the luxurious Blue Label. Hosted by the legendary Diageo brand ambassador Colin Dunn.
When: Thursday, June 15
Cost: £40
Tonkotsu Mare Street hosts a tasting of a selection of rare Japanes whiskies, including Hakushu Bourbon Barrel, Yamazaki Puncheon and 15 year old Miyagiko. Whisky expert David Wrigley will guide the event, pairing his favourite whiskies with delicious delicious from Tonkotsu’s kitchen.
When: Tuesday, June 20
Cost: £40
Manicomio Chelsea serves a Talisker Whisky-based cocktail throughout June as part of London Food Month, made with fresh sage, apple, and a touch of coconut rum. This delicious cocktail can be enjoyed in the bar on on the terrace.
When: Throughout June

And if you are up in Edinburgh, on 20th May from 1:00am – 2:00am whisky lovers are encouraged to stay out late (or get up early!) and join esteemed whisky writer and founder of World Whisky Day, Blair Bowman; Alex Bruce, whisky maker and Managing Director of Ardnamurchan Distillery and Chris Hoban, whisky blogger and brand ambassador for R&B Distillers as they extol the virtues of Scotland’s National drink. 

Savour a dram of Harry’s, a dram of Raasay While You Wait and a taste of the much sought after Glover 4th alongside a delicious cheese and meat board, while basking in the knowledge of our 3 whisky experts – what better way to kick off World Whisky Day!
And that’s all for this World Whisk(e)y Day 2017, folks! There is no right way to drink it except the way you love it.

 

The Spirit of Sharing 2017, @ The Embassy of Ireland

Some of you might be gearing up for the craziness of this year’s St. Paddy’s Day (cough Sun Tavern), but whether or not you’re still wearing (feeling) green (or still pretending to be Irish), this year’s explosion of Irish whiskeys and poitins onto the London cocktail scene is making some of the Scots lowkey panic.

As for the English whisky distilleries..Well. Um.

Anyway.

We now enter the ballroom of the Irish Embassy, South Ken, where the Bord Bia Irish food board and brought in some of the biggest, and growing, names in Irish spirits to taste, in the company of fab bartenders from Loves Company and LCC!

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Let’s have a stroll and look at some of the outstanding spirits we have on show today!

Before the whiskey classics, let’s get on to whiskey’s ancient ancestor and fairly recent and exciting on the London scene – the potent Poitin has been released after its four century long ban from 1997.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The Glendalough Sherry Cask Poitin – Picture courtesy of: http://www.glendaloughdistillery.com

Stored in virgin Irish Oak, the Glendalough Poitin range provides variety.

The standard Glendalough Poitin comes with a similar bread palate, with pepper and oak, with a subtle creaminess. The (wonderful!) Sherry Cask Finished Poitin has a beautiful nose of orange and spicy sweetness, a toasty palate of fruit and spice, and long sherry finish. Finally, the Mountain Strength is bold with barley, fruit and oak. Spectacular stuff.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

On the note of strong drops, St. Patrick’s Distillery Moonshine will put a bit of pep in your step.
How about something a little different? We’re seeing a lot of gin from Ireland, and one of the more intriguing ones is Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin: A bright citrus of lime and lemon before giving way to deeper spices and the characteristic gunpowder tea. Great if you like your gins spicy without getting too Opihr-esque.

 

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The blurry Teeling Trio

Of course Teeling is here!

We know the Single Malt: Light, peppery, cinnamon – peppered with floral notes. The Single Grain is more adventurous: Be ready for cereal flavours with spice and treacle, custard plays around here too. A spry spirit, that. Finally, the gorgeous Small Batch: rich with floral notes, spiced with cinnamon and other herbs, a creamy creme brulee at the end. Wonderful and flamboyant.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

On whiskeys, got to give a second to Hyde’s 1922 Rum Finish Single Malt – the rum cask gives this whiskey a twist with tropical fruit, and stronger vanilla notes.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The Dublin Liberties Oak Devil – Picture courtesy of: http://www.marblehead.uk.com/

They say an oak-carved devil stood over the gates of a place nicknamed Hell in the Liberties of Dublin. They also say that oak was soon used for whiskey barrels – explaining the name of The Dublin Liberties‘s whiskey: Oak Devil. Expect a lot of caramel, spice and pepper, followed by warm winter notes of Christmas. Love this little tipple.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Let’s end the night with Harry Gerakis’ gorgeous customised cocktail! A mix of Dubliner whiskey, Angostura Orange bitters, ginger syrup and chilli tincture: a sweet, deep, spicy and rich concoction made the perfect nightcap.

Get yourselves ready for St. Patrick’s day!

Tequila Fest 2o16 Preview!

Though the wide-spread drinking of tequila and the recent emergence of Mezcalerias like Agaveria El Nivel, one of the Hoodooist’s favourite openings 0f 2014, are known well enough, a connoisseurial culture of the spirit never completely blossomed in the Isles. “This is a no salt or lime zone”, stresses Festival organiser Eduardo Gomez, as we grab our tasting cups.

After last year’s major success, TequilaFest 2016 is not an event to be missed – on September 17th and 18th at the Boiler House Brick Lane!

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Hosted at Lupita, Shoreditch, the press preview brought forward a spectacular crowd to taste a large variety of tequilas & mezcals. A few fantastic discoveries in the world of agave for the Hoodooist, such as Meteoro‘s pure Espadin mezcal – it even comes with a backstory – a crater from a crashed meteor in Oaxaca became the cooking spot for this mezcal’s agave. Delightfully smooth, the Meteoro Joven is a fantastic sipping tequila. Bold, muscling in with powerful smokiness and a bright trail left behind, it lives up to it’s media campaign, #ItFellFromTheSky.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Another of the TequilaFest newcomers to expect will be agave giant Patron with theirSilver, Reposado, Anejo and XO Cafe range – and in a few days will be unleashing their Incendio chilli-chocolate tequila onto #Drinkstagram tags everywhere.

Herencia de Plata has entered the ring as well, with their bright, peppery range, and can carry it’s weight in combat with the other stars of the show.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Expect to see old reliables like Ocho, who have unveiled their Curado – a Blanco tequila that has been infused with agave – carrying their Blanco’s feel and kick, with a fruity wave of agave, addictive this one.

Stars of last year are back, from the smoky caramel Espadin San Cosme mezcal, to classic Altos and Siete Misterios Espadin, with that spicy, earthy smokiness and sugary dried fruit (so, so beautiful). And you certainly can’t go wrong with a Del Maguey Tommy’s Margarita.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

After the food provided by Lupita was demolished by the now slightly staggering clientele of the room, the Hoodooist realises that this year’s TequilaFest at the Boiler House Brick Lane is going to enormous in comparison to the previous year – this is an event he – and you – should certainly not miss.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

“The Tequila Fest will educate you in the customs of production and consumption and engulf you in the taste, smells, sounds and sights of true Mexico. There are few spirits with a more rich and fascinating lineage. Get to grips with the technical jargon, the process of distillation and the bounty of care that goes into every single bottle.” Also featuring blind tastings, cocktail tutorials and masterclasses, “Real tequila.”

http://www.tequilafest.co.uk/

Fortaleza Tequila Takeover @El Nivel!

Rarely seen in the UK, Fortaleza Tequila is finally making some more noise in London!

Appearing at London tequila bars El Nivel, Covent Garden and El Camion, Soho, Global Brand Ambassador Stefano Francavilla came in for a few days with several bottles of one of the highest rated tequilas in the city.

Obviously, the Hoodooist was not missing this.

Tequila Fortaleza London El Nivel Cocktails

The Fortaleza Anejo

The powerful citrus and pepper nose of the Blanco prepares you for a drink that is strong with lime and cooked agave, with hints of vanilla among the green herbaceous flavours, which – as a Stockholm-hailing friend described it – like sipping a Swedish pine sauna. A very easy going and complex blanco.

The Reposado does a face heel turn: 8 months in American Oak gives it a caramel and agave nose, with the oak’s butterscotch flavours paired with some agave, vanilla and warm (cinnamon?) flavours. A lasting spice length to this gorgeously smooth tequila.

18 months in American Oak make the Anejo a long, deliciously smooth, surprisingly sweet drop. Sweet fruity and winter spice dominate the nose, the palate is rich and sweet. Toffee and butterscotch play alongside the agave and light citrus – but over time, the sweetness of hazelnut comes bursting through, and the tequila turns to full on liquid candy. You need to take your time with this luxurious spirit.

Tequila Fortaleza London El Nivel Cocktails

And here’s the kicker: an unreleased expression stored in a just-dodgy-enough plastic container was behind the bar at El Nivel: a 46% Fortaleza Blanco, expected to release in a few months.

And I have to say, it was probably my favourite.

Nose strong with agave and lime, pepper and probably tropical fruits and aloe gives way to a spicy, herbaceous, incredibly complex Blanco that has surprisingly sweet and malty highlights.

Keep an eye out for this one, kids!

12890994_10154093675134559_3799034201700284070_o

Specifically for the event, El Nivel prepared a series of cocktails: The Cocktail # 4 mixed the Fortaleza Anejo, QuiQuiRiQui mezcal, Antica Formula sweet vermouth, and Benedictine, making a drink that began with the bitter Benedictine, followed by the tobacco smokiness of the mezcal, ending on the orange zest and butterscotch sweetness of the vermouth and Anejo. Wonderful.

Tequila Fortaleza London El Nivel Cocktails

Concoction numbers 1 and 4!

Don’t you worry, readers – the Fortaleza range is here to stay. As it gains ground in London, it will probably hold more of a place as a sipping tequila than one for cocktails, but as we saw in the #4: this promises to change.

And for you tequila fans and connoisseurs, worry not: more Fortaleza Tequila can be found behind bars at El Nivel, and El Camion! So go ahead and treat yourself to some of the finest agave spirits to make it across the Atlantic.

Honestly, you’ll thank yourself for it.

The Spirit of Sharing Tasting, @ The Embassy of Ireland

Some of you might still be reeling from the craziness of this year’s St. Paddy’s Day (ouch Sun Tavern, ouch Whisky Live), but whether or not you’re still wearing (feeling) green (or still pretending to be Irish), this year’s explosion of Irish whiskeys and poitins onto the London cocktail scene is making some of the Scots lowkey panic.

As for the English whisky distilleries..Well. Um.

Anyway.

We now enter the ballroom of the Irish Embassy, South Ken, where the Bord Bia Irish food board and brought in some of the biggest, and growing, names in Irish spirits to taste, in the company of award winning drinks writer Dominic Roskrow, and Charlie McCarthy of Tullamore Dew and All About the Cocktail fame!

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Let’s have a stroll and look at some of the outstanding spirits we have on show today!

Before the whiskey classics, let’s get on to whiskey’s ancient ancestor and fairly recent and exciting on the London scene – the potent Poitin has been released after its four century long ban from 1997.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Bán Poitín!

Introduced in 2013, Bán Poitín by Dave Mulligan and Cara Humphreys has dominated the UK Poitin market, and are staples at The Sun Tavern, and Discount Suit Co. An industry darling, and rightfully so: the sugarbeet and barley spirit is strongly malty, slightly sweet, and goes down wonderfully with a stout.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The Glendalough Sherry Cask Poitin – Picture courtesy of: http://www.glendaloughdistillery.com

Stored in virgin Irish Oak, the Glendalough Poitin range provides variety.

The standard Glendalough Poitin comes with a similar bread palate, with pepper and oak, with a subtle creaminess. The (wonderful!) Sherry Cask Finished Poitin has a beautiful nose of orange and spicy sweetness, a toasty palate of fruit and spice, and long sherry finish. Finally, the Mountain Strength is bold with barley, fruit and oak. Spectacular stuff.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Bertha’s Revenge! Picture courtesy of: http://ballyvolanespirits.ie/

How about something a little different? We’re seeing a lot of gin from Ireland, and one of the more intriguing ones is Bertha’s Revenge, a milk gin by Ballyvolane House. A beautifully creamy mouthfeel on sweet almond and spicy cardamom and cloves, followed by a lip-smackingly dry citrus finish. It’s been a while since gin got the Hoodooist’s attention – and Bertha certainly did.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Kerrygold Irish Cream! Picture courtesy of: http://kerrygoldirishcream.com/

Let’s look at the lighter stuff: We can’t do Ireland without Irish Cream, and classic Kerrygold doesn’t overwhelm you with sweetness compared to many.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The fun Flaming Pig!

And the gloves were off with the liqueurs. The Flaming Pig spiced whiskey liqueur is melded with cinnamon, black pepper and cloves, ready for a ludicrously silly drinking game. Initial sweet whiskey flavours are immediately followed by powerful spice to set you off.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Highbank Irish Orchard Liqueur Brandey – Picture Courtesy of: https://highbankorchards.com/

Made from organic apples, the Highbank Orchard Liqueur Brandey is fantastic after lunch on the riverside, filled with bright apple, ginger and cinnamon flavours.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Clever Man’s Ejector Seat Turf Smoked Stout

The stouts came out to play: Clever Man’s Ejector Seat Turf Smoked Stout certainly changed the Hoodooist’s mind about the drink, jet black, with peaty nose. A powerfully smoked palate, coffee, and light notes of TCP, with a dry bittersweet finish – this is an Islay Whisky as a stout. Love.

And there is the White Hag’s Black Boar Stout, rich, bitter – the nose is peaty. The palate is malty and smoky, with vanilla, chocolate, treacle and oak thrown in, with a bit of bite. Nom.

 

I guess we’re on to what everyone’s waiting for! The Whiskeys are classics, good old Jameson, Teeling, and the Liberties.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The Jameson Range!

The Jameson family is all out tonight!

We all know the sweet, Madeira and marmalade flavours of the Jameson Irish Whiskey classic. The Crested 10 is a potent mix of grain, pot still, and sherry casks: full and rich, smooth and light before swelling into spice, red fruit and chocolate, over a toasted sherry notes. The Select Reserve Black Barrel aka Small Batch, focuses more on grain and pot still, with double charred barrels. Creamy, and thick. Warm winter flavours of dates, overripe fruit, cinnamon and orange zest are followed by a lengthy finish of nutmeg and cinnamon. The most recent addition, the Caskmates, is given a stout finish – the fruits and chocolate of Jameson is now coupled with hoppy maltiness for a fabulous modern whiskey.

Probably the star of the family, the award-winning Redbreast 12 is rich and nutty, with marzipan and almond – a long sherried finish is spicy and sweet. A gorgeous whiskey worth shelling out on.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The blurry Teeling Trio

Of course Teeling is here!

We know the Single Malt: Light, peppery, cinnamon – peppered with floral notes. The Single Grain is more adventurous: Be ready for cereal flavours with spice and treacle, custard plays around here too. A spry spirit, that. Finally, the gorgeous Small Batch: rich with floral notes, spiced with cinnamon and other herbs, a creamy creme brulee at the end. Wonderful and flamboyant.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The Dublin Liberties Oak Devil – Picture courtesy of: http://www.marblehead.uk.com/

They say an oak-carved devil stood over the gates of a place nicknamed Hell in the Liberties of Dublin. They also say that oak was soon used for whiskey barrels – explaining the name of The Dublin Liberties‘s whiskey: Oak Devil. Expect a lot of caramel, spice and pepper, followed by warm winter notes of Christmas. Love this little tipple.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Charlie McCarthy’s customised cocktail

Let’s end the night with Charlie McCarthy’s gorgeous customised cocktail! A mix of Tullamore Dew whiskey, PX sherry, chilli tincture and whiskey barrel aged bitters: a sweet, deep, spicy and rich concoction made the perfect nightcap.

Night, all – and dream of what Ireland has to offer us in the coming year!

Baijiu Cocktail Week 2016

Welcome to Baijiu Cocktail Week 2016!
Every Chinese New Year, for one week, the ‘white spirit’ takes over London to test London’s bartenders with a spirit the city isn’t that familiar with – and this beginning of the Year of the Monkey isn’t different.

From the 5th to 14th of Feb 2016: 9 venues across London, 9 different cocktails, 5 of which will be reviewed in this post. The Hoodooist and friends hit the road to tour the town for Baijiu deliciousness.

Chinese New Year

Firstly, Baijiu is an intriguing spirit, never quite becoming a permanent fixture in the London bar scene – something drinks giant Diageo is trying to change – with their signature Sichuan province ‘strong aroma’ Shui Jing Fang Baijiu. Made with sorghum, rice, glutinous rice, wheat and corn, it ain’t called ‘strong aroma’ for nothing. Neat, the scent can be detected from a mile away, a flowery aromatic with hints of rice, it tastes surprisingly different, but surprisingly similar.

12670584_10153941024559559_3522973897028066120_n

Been called everything from ‘flowery’, ‘apricot’ to ‘burnt rice’ and ‘with a Maris otter barley length’, it is definitely an acquired taste. But the length and aftertaste’s similarities to scotch is undeniable. This is a smoky spirit for the harder-livered amongst us. A burnt, spicy start, with a long finish, Chinese proverbs state that it takes 300 shots to really appreciate Baijiu. The Hoodooist must admit, it’s acquired, but one he can see himself acquiring.

The perk of Baijiu Cocktail Week is seeing how various bars attempt to work with this strong, fickle spirit. Most of the cocktails this week do their best to mask the bitter-burnt flavours of the baijiu to focus on the flowery sweetness of the spirit.

12525492_10153944105929559_1456527489958618841_o

Demon, Wise, and Partner’s “600th Monkey”

Our first stop is at Demon, Wise, and Partners, in City. The 600th Monkey mixes Baijiu with Admiral Rodney rum, house Falernum, and the DWP shrub, made with honey vinegar, peanuts and vanilla pepper.

In typical DWP style, the cocktail is particularly dry and strong. Beginning with the burnt Baijiu flavour, the cocktail becomes very light with hints of vanilla, then a sudden hard punch of coffee. The finish seems to have hints of pepper, tropical fruit, and peanuts, finally with a long dry tingle. You really want to take your time with this drink, taking a big gulp will burn. The Hoodooist certainly enjoyed this drink, but it is one for specialised taste for the dry and bitter.

12654505_10153941021884559_7201646850520918205_n

68 and Boston’s “Pixiu”

The newly opened 68 & Boston gave us the Pixiu: Shui Jing Fang baijiu with Liquor 43, dark crème de cacao, Bob’s Chocolate Bitters, and strangely: Mount Gay Black Barrel rum. A salted caramel rim and chocolate pieces to garnish.

A beautifully presented cocktail – it looks gorgeous – the Pixiu makes the mistake of attempting to mask the Baijiu’s flavour instead of complementing or encouraging it. By going into the direction of chocolate sweetness, the Baijiu wars against the flavour of the cocktail.

Not going for citrus leaves a powerful clanging aroma of rum and baijiu on the nose, with a smooth caramel mouthfeel. The initial caramel from the rim is followed the by the cocktail’s noisy, infuriating mix of sweet, herbal, bitter, over-sugared, baccano of conflicting flavours. This unfortunate drink tastes like licking a bedsore. Ointment and all.

Feeling personally victimised by this drink, this is the Regina George of cocktails.

Bo Drake Soho

Bo Drake’s “Dragon’s Claw”

Next door, Bo Drake was crazy busy on a Friday. Their Dragon’s Claw was one of the more unique: Baijiu, agave nectar, elderflower, lemon and lime, hopped grapefruit bitters and lime zest – garnished with candied hibiscus and grapefruit slice.

The drink could best be described as mellowing the baijiu enough to drink it, while appreciating the entire range of flavours it presents when drunk neat – which is what made it unique through the day where other bars attempted to mask aspects of the drinks to suit the cocktail. The nectar and hopped grapefruit bitters contributed to a silkier mouthfeel. Surprisingly, one tasted the bitters more strongly than the elderflower (Thankfully, I think).

A great way to really get into Baijiu without throwing back a shot of it.

12662695_10153945832399559_9200190137073561709_n

Ping Pong’s “Dizzy Monkey”

The dim sum chain, Ping Pong, presents us with the Dizzy Monkey: Baijiu is mixed with Monkey Shoulder whisky, Hedonist cognac, triple sec, lemon juice, home-made spiced vanilla syrup, and shock inducing Electric Daisy flower rim.

This is one complicated cocktail. A friend and I had two completely different opinions on the drink, they loved the intense, very intense, citrus of the cocktail along with the powerful earthiness of the Baijiu – the Hoodooist however, could not comprehend the bizarre mix of flavours. This cocktail is targeting directly major citrus fans, the same way that the Demon, Wise, and Partners’ cocktail particularly targeted fans of dry, bitter cocktails.

The shocking tingle of the garnish was major fun though!

12644880_10153944056859559_8901972318420692330_n

The Hide’s “Darling Monkey Nutter”

Our final stop on the Baijiu Cocktail Week crawl is the Hide Bar, Bermondsey. Now, this was probably the best of the cocktails we’ve tried so far.

The Darling Monkey Nutter mixes Baijiu with a South African Chenin Blanc and monkey nut shrub made with peanuts, PX Sherry, and lemon thyme. A strange combo for sure, the nose is distinctly the burnt rice of the Baijiu, and towards the end slightly nutty and citrus. Upon the first sip, immediately you get the earthy flavour from the Baijiu, followed by a powerful citrus from the lemon thyme, the slight fruitiness of the wine, and finally a long, sweet, nutty finish.

This light, silky cocktail gets smokier as time goes on. With wonderful service from Emanuele and Francesco, the slightly sweet and earthy cocktail is definitely a treat you must enjoy this week.

12688195_10153944059679559_5717712109850402160_n

Get thyself an Uber.

Baijiu Cocktail Week is certainly one of the more enticing events of the London drinks scene, and it’s always good to see a spirit break through in London. Though an acquired taste neat, it probably is best drunk that way between courses of a tradition Chinese meal, since it’s use in cocktails is incredibly challenging.

However, the various bars did show how different aspects of the complex spirit can be highlighted with the right ingredients. Bo Drake showed us a palatable way for newbies to enjoy the entire spectrum of the spirit’s complexity. The Hide presented a soft, silky cocktail emphasising Baijiu’s sweeter flavours; whereas the Ping Pong had the burnt-bitter flavour balanced and softened with its citrus and herbal cousins.

Certainly a complex drink that demands further study in the London drink scene, I wish you all a fantastic Baijiu Cocktail Week and Happy Lunar New Year!

Baijiu Cocktail Week 2016, London
5th – 14th February 

http://www.baijiucocktailweek.co.uk/