The Spirit of Sharing 2018, @ 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 around London!

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!

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

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.

Image result for dublin liberties whiskey

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.

Most noted of the Tipperary expressions is the Watershed: Bright and sweet on the nose with vanilla, the pallet has sparks of black pepper, vanilla fudge, and a long honeyed finish. A less chocolatey version of the Tipperary Rising.

How about something a little different? This year’s gin room, curated by Gin Monkey Emma Stokes, exhibited some spectacular Irish gins.

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.

Dingle comes in with a wealth of spirits: the Dingle’s Original Gin is a classic London dry, with its flavours enhanced by a slice of orange in the glass. Powerful notes of classic juniper, summer berries, and notably floral with a clean finish. On the other hand, Dingle Vodka is rich with vanilla and white pepper, with hints of aniseed.

Dingle Original Gin

The Bord Bia’s Spirit of Sharing continues to be a success, with more excellent products and expressions coming out of Ireland each year. We’ve been sleeping on Ireland’s gin industry, and I can’t wait to see what more the island has to unveil.

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Cocktails in the City 2018

Once again, Cocktails in the City is coming into serve thirsty Londoners some of the best cocktails in the city!

Oh wait, I just got the name.

Yes, CitC 2018 is a bringing  London’s most exciting bars beneath the green canopies of London’s One Marylebone for a sunny three-day celebration of the city’s unique and diverse drinking scene.  Festival-goers will get a chance to enjoy bars from around the city coming together in one gorgeous location on April 5th – 7th.

Bars and a representing brand set up stalls where bartenders presented the brand in a cocktail of their devising to the public for judging, with scores gathered at the end of the weekend.

The 2018 Bar & Brand Line-Up
The Gibson Bar, The Artesian, TT Liquor, Cahoots, Mr Foggs, London Cocktail Club, Chapter 72, Eve Bar, Ella Canta, Little Bat, The Bloomsbury Club, Little Nans, MASH, Mint Gun Club, Coupette, Rock and Rose, Burlock, Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar, Four Degrees, Chotto Matte, Opium

International bars: Atrium Bar – Florence, House Bar – Amsterdam, Café Moderne – Paris

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Cocktails in the City showcases the world’s most inventive  and original cocktail bars, bringing together the cream of London’s illustrious cocktail culture, all within sipping distance of each other.
Cocktails in the City is a bar-hopper’s paradise, creating a village of pop-up bars for guests to explore, each with their own unique aesthetic, hosting tastings, workshops, games and of course, a plethora of talented mixologists creating out-of-this world cocktails.

Each of the 25 bars create a signature cocktail for guests to taste-test and this year’s theme is ‘Inspired by London’. Expect exceptional concoctions, all with a unique twist and flair, from a handpicked selection of the world’s top bars, this year including The Artesian, Eve Bar, The Gibson, Coupette, Little Bat, The Bloomsbury Club, Burlock, Hawksmoor, Mr Fogg’s, Mint Gun Club and Opium. There will be international bars to explore from Amsterdam, Paris and Florence, a ‘Be the Bartender’ experience in the garden, garnish and spirit workshops and interactive tasting tables as Cocktails in the City takes you on a whirlwind tour of cocktail exploration.

Guests are encouraged to try their hand behind the bar, explore new trends, sip on some of the world’s newest and most premium spirit and liqueur inventions and taste unusual and rare ingredients, as Cocktails in the City takes you on a cocktail adventure through London’s drinks scene in one night, without even having to leave the building.”

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Expect to see flavours inspired by this city we love: Earl Grey will play with rum in the Navy-inspired “Rum Fellow” by 1940s inspired Cahoots; the gin/beer rivalry of the 1700s will be enacted by sour beer syrup and juniper water in the “Whisky Avenue” by Eve Bar; and classic London flavours of gin, hops, elderflower and champagne will govern the Ada Lovelace inspired “Love Lace” by Little Bat. Of course, the Espresso Martini classic by London bar legend Dick Bradsell will appear with Chapter 72 in their “Peanut and Cinnamon Espresso Martini“.

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Some favourites from years past include:

The Looking Glass Cocktail Club, Shoreditch – harking back to Maker’s Mark’s history as breadmakers, this cocktail is inspired by Italy’s sweet panettone bread loaf and it’s potent almond flavour.

The Maker’s Baker cocktail mixes Maker’s Mark whiskey, cider reduction with winter spice, Americano vermouth, ‘Liquid Panettone’, and Sinner Bitters. A sweet wintery Manhattan with heavy mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and spices, with lingering almond certainly took centre stage with it’s innovative homemade creations of ‘liquid panettone’ and spiced cider reduction.

Other cocktails presented by LGCC included the Honey Loaf, and Fig Muffin – each an excellent rendition on the baker/distiller theme.

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Fifteen, Old Street, came in with another winner! Inspired by Wimbledon’s classic, the Strawberries and Cream.

Inspired by Behn’s Milk Punch, this summery cocktail gets a 300 year update and is a massive mix of Langley’s gin, strawberries, whole milk, Dolin dry vermouth, coconut water, green tea, lemon juice and peels, sugar, pink peppercorns, tarragon and coriander seeds.

And what a fabulous mix it is!

A wonderful well balanced, silky cocktail, sweet without being overbearing and mellowed by the fruit and spices. Absolutely fantastic.

fifteen

Another great cocktails from CITC’s past is the the Reverend JW Simpson with their Larder Batch: Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, Pinot Noir and pink peppercorn reduction, cardamom bitters and angostura bitters; with a steak accompaniment. In terms of presentation, it stuck with the theme of the bar and the Four Roses bourbon, and the service was conversational, fun, and effervescent like the event itself. The accompaniment suited both the intense aspects of the drink, the bourbon, and Pinot Noir/pink peppercorn reduction – here the Reverend presents us with a steak dinner in a cocktail format and a nibble; the natural spiciness of the Four Roses Small Batch, and that of the peppercorn and cardamom suits the steak perfectly. The Reverend excelled on all fronts and more.

larder-batch1

So if you love your cocktails, get yourself a ticket asap, and see you at Cocktails in the City 2018!

One Marylebone, 1 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4AQ

Thursday 5th, Friday 6th and Saturday 7th April: From 6 – 11.30pm
Tickets are priced at £20 and include a cocktail, multiple complimentary experiences and cocktail booklet.

www.cocktailsinthecity.com

London Cocktail Week ’17 Day 3: Soho & the City

Welcome one and all to London Cocktail Week 2017! Wield a pass on your smartphone DrinkUp London app and enjoy the discounts/events that LCW has to offer!

This year the Hoodooist will be bringing you #YourDailyDoseOfHoodoo, a multi-part review of each day of London Cocktail Week ’17, as well as daily coverage on our Instagram @highballhoodoo.

Today we look at 2 days out this LCW: Where the Hoodooist tackled Soho and the City!

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Let’s start with some of our regulars in Soho!

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The Propitious, by Jinjuu

Jinjuu Soho:

Once you find a way not accidentally bungle the name of the cocktail up thanks to be over-caffeinated because you passed Soho Grind twice already, Korean after-work hotspot Jinjuu Soho serves the Propitious: one of it’s two LCW17 offerings.

Chrysanthemum-infused Soju, Green Chartreuse, Green tea reduction, #Korean plum #wine, plum bitters, and prune dust makes for a velvety and powerfully perfumed cocktail.

We begin with notes of the Green Chartreuse, followed by the green tea, and then a sudden wave of the Chrysanthemum – strong and potent. A momentary respite with plum wine, but then the Chrysanthemum is back to dominate. I’m not quite to sure what to make of this drink. The first half is almost too difficult to drink, it ignores ‘floral’ and goes straight to ‘spraying perfume into your mouth because it’s been that kind of day’.

Later, the plum wine emerges a bit more, but a little too late.

The second option is the Kimchi Bloody Mary and Korean Fried Chicken, which we covered last year.

A short walk away, we’re down at MASH!

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Dr. Miroslav’s Cold Remedy, by MASH

Everyone knows the Hoodooist loves MASH.

The fab Miro and team at MASH give us Dr. Miroslav’s Cold Remedy, a mix of Tito’s Vodka, ginger syrup, peach puree, lemon juice, and a touch of manzanilla sherry.

What I quite loved about the Remedy was it managing to be simple, but effective – which was refreshing with so many the bars in Soho which were trying so hard to impress they were going all over the shop.

An opening hit of light ginger spice, peach saunters in, and then lingering hints of dry sherry. Served in a chilled copper glass that keeps the drink wonderfully cold. Just what we needed. And if that isn’t enough for you, knowing that a pound from each order of the Remedy is donated to Guide Dogs should be an incentive to definitely try this offer.
Puppies.
Puppies.

Make sure to try the snacks and starters while you’re here – beef tartare with crisps is always a great combo.

And a short walk away in Covent Garden we arrive at…

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The Martell Gourmand, by BOKI

Boki serves the Martell Gourmand: a Martell Cognac mini Sazerac with a glass of Martell VS Single Distillery Cognac, paired with pistachio ice cream and cardamom biscuit.

I’m not quite sure what Boki is trying to do: either as a venue or as drink. In any case, it seems the head bartenders decided to pre-bottle their Sazeracs (what?), and put a load of lemon juice in it. Why this was decided was beyond me.

Sazeracs are… not easy. The short and simple ingredient list is deceptive, but the key to it is practice until it is muscle memory. Our kind bartender, Daniel, responded to our feedback well and remade it without any lemon, giving us a half decent Sazerac (good job for a first try).

Cardamom biscuit and pistachio ice cream paired surprisingly well with measure of Martell, ending on a great pairing note.

Next, we put on our hiking boots and head down to Blackfriars to find…

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Big Trouble in Little Cynar, by COLD

The City of London Distillery is a good place to come down with friends to prepare your own gin in their in house gin lab and distillery.

And this LCW, they presented the Big Trouble on Little Cynar: City of London Square Mile Gin, Cynar artichoke liqueur, apricot brandy, lemon juice, and vanilla salt.

The first sip is a shock, the tartness might be a bit much, but it is easy to get used to. Apricot, followed by the savoury Cynar (one of my favourite ingredients), ending with more tart stone fruit flavours.

I highly recommend eating the provided bar snacks of chilli nuts, since this enhances the orange sweetness of the drink, and even accentuates the otherwise hidden vanilla.

Head down to Monument station, to find Mber!

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Mber is serving the Cloud Nine: Sipsmith London dry gin, yuzu liqueur, orange bitters, lemon juice topped with a white chocolate foam.

Alternatively, for an extra 9 quid, you can take a walk on the wild side and get the cocktail plus a series of exciting bites:
-Zebra Loin Tataki with kizami wasabi mousse, satay cured egg, roasted grapes, parmesan-nori popcorn, and teriyaki sauce
-Grilled kangaroo steak Tagalog with smoked aubergine & tahini, edamame hummus, moromi-miso chimichurri and grilled pita bread
-Pork Katsu kare with panko bread crumbs, glazed apples and fennel chutney

The cocktail is a great aperitif of lemon and orange tempered by the white chocolate foam, however I would have quite enjoyed the inclusion of cardamom in the cocktail as well, to help round off the citrus.

The bites are wonderful, particularly the pork kare, whose flavours complement one another without attempting to outdo each other (in contrast to the zebra loin, which felt a bit blurry).

I highly recommend stopping for the Petit Fours as well! Great selection.

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Alright! That’s our recap of Soho and the City of London Cocktail Week 2017!

All in all, I feel in comparison to the East London stars we covered in yesterday’s post, Soho and the City could have done better. However, kudos to MASH for preparing a drink that came in with a plan in mind, and lived up to it. Sometimes simplicity with a bit of kick is all one needs. Similar, with the Kimchi Bloody Mary by Jinjuu, which is far better than their Propitious Chrysanthemum cocktail.

I do hope it may have helped you one way or the other, dear readers, on our quest through the most magical week of the year.

We will be putting up summaries of some of the tastings and masterclasses we visited this week, and hope to see you this Saturday and Sunday at the Tequila and Mezcal Fest!

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London Cocktail Week ’17 Day 1&2: East London

Welcome one and all to the recap of the first two days of London Cocktail Week 2017! Wield a pass on your smartphone DrinkUp London app and enjoy the discounts/events that LCW has to offer!

This year the Hoodooist will be bringing you #YourDailyDoseOfHoodoo, a multi-part review of each day of London Cocktail Week ’17, as well as daily coverage on our Instagram @highballhoodoo.

Today we look at 2 days out this LCW: Where the Hoodooist tackled East London!
This is gonna be a long one, folks, strap yourselves in.

 

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Let’s see what’s happening in East London! Central maybe have been a bit hit and miss, but East is winning.

There’s a hell of a lot going on here, so we had to divide it into two separate articles, Part 1 gives us more of Old Street and a bit of Dalston:

After a coffee and cognac pairing with Courvoisier at Joyeux Bordel, we begin our cocktail journey at Black Rock!

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Talisker Remember the Maine, by Black Rock

The Talisker Remember the Maine is a twist on the classic with Talisker Whisky Distillers Edition Amoroso Cask Scotch, Bulleit Rye, home made spicy cherry liqueur and Cocchi Di Torino sweet vermouth, and a spray of absinthe on the side of the glass.

What a beautiful cocktail – the first spicy hit of rye makes way for the Talisker with it’s cream sherry barrel of fruit and light smoke, the wave of cherry and rich fruit, bitter orange peels and cocoa – ending once again on the Talisker cream sherry cask finish scotch.

As time passes, the drink becomes increasingly aromatic. Love.

Short walk away, we find ourselves at Scout!

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The Jerusalem Artichoke, by Scout

Now this was fascinating.

The Jerusalem Artichoke: Bombay Sapphire gin, Jerusalem Artichoke, Malt and coffee soda.

A complex long drink is always an interesting find. First, the coffee fizz, sudden and invigorating. Then, the malt, shamelessly mellowing the texture. This makes way for the nutty, powerfully earthy flavour of the Jerusalem Artichoke and a hint of gin – then returning to the malt and coffee.

Stunning work, adore.

Sadly, the Operation Dagger takeover downstairs didn’t start for a little longer, so I decided to return another time – until then, head up to Dalston for…

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This Spartan joint hands us the slightly NSFW and appropriately named Satyr: Sour plum infused vodka, verjus and soda; served with cured duck in a liquorice teriyaki sauce.

First thought: Red Haribo. Seemingly light at first, but deceptive. Heavy plum and bright effervescent fruit and citrus. The cured duck is a great fatty dish to temper the alcohol as we ended up staying for a session into the early hours.

We turn in for the night, preparing us for the next day in the Wild East, on…

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Day 2: Shoreditch

After a fab tasting at the Buffalo Trace Bourbon Empire at the Looking Glass Cocktail Club, we begin our afternoon at the Cocktail Trading Company!

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The Highest Incarnation of The Revolutionary Cognacship, by CTC

In keeping with their quirky serves, the CTC presents The Highest Incarnation of The Revolutionary Cognacship ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Hennessy VS cognac, sweetened rice milk and smoked lapsang tea, with a garnish of grated nutmeg. Feedback that the nutmeg was too overpowering was taken well. Once past that, the drink bursts into smoky lapsang on sides of the tongue, washed over with rice milk, nutty and oaky cognac. Very reminiscent of a light Brandy Alexander.

I don’t know if this was my favourite drink. It felt a bit watery, and the flavours were a tiny bit all over the place. But a brave drink nonetheless.

Further South on Wentworth St, one salted caramel hot chocolate later…

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White Heat, by 46 & Mercy

The White Heat by 46 & Mercy is a fascinating one.

Buffalo Trace Bourbon infused with white chocolate & white pepper, bitters and lemon oil results in a twist on an Old Fashioned with a powerful lemon nose. The first sip brings in the bourbon and sweet white chocolate, but do not worry, the sweetness is not overpowering. Next, the pepperiness comes in, white pepper spice hits the throat and coats the tongue, reviving you from the fear of too much chocolate. The finish is citrusy, and a lingering spice. Gorgeous.

A hop two streets to the West later, we end the evening with…

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Benandonner, by Discount Suit Co.

Discount Suit Co.! The Benandonner has Elements of Islay Whisky PEAT, Ruby Port, millionaire syrup and lemon.

The initial caramel sweetness lets in the Islay barbecue flavours. Here comes the ruby port, followed by Islay smoke and brine. Finally, lingering fruit and sugar, hints of cinnamon. A beautiful way to end and evening after a meal.

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Alright! That’s our recap of East London of London Cocktail Week 2017! I do hope it may have helped you one way or the other, dear readers, on our quest through the most magical week of the year.

See you tomorrow for coverage of LCW17 Part 2: Soho and the City!

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Cocktails in the City 2017 Summer Edition

Once again, Cocktails in the City is coming into serve thirsty Londoners some of the best cocktails in the city!

Oh wait, I just got the name.

Yes, CitC 2017’s Summer Edition is a bringing  London’s most exciting bars beneath the green canopies of London’s Bedford Square Gardens for a sunny two-day
celebration of the city’s unique and diverse drinking scene.  Festival-goers will get a chance to enjoy bars from around the city coming together in one gorgeous location on July 28th-29th.

Bars and a representing brand set up stalls where bartenders presented the brand in a cocktail of their devising to the public for judging, with scores gathered at the end of the weekend.

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“Mixing together interactive and diverse drinking experiences, Cocktails in the City takes guests on a whirlwind tour of cocktail exploration. Sip on signature serves and taste-test exceptional concoctions from a handpicked selection of bars from all over the world,” including the award winning Nightjar, new openings such as Blind Spot, concealed drinking dens London Cocktail Club and Reverend JW Simpson, and the retro sexiness of Fontaine’s.

“A whirlwind tour of cocktail exploration, expect to sample incredible cocktails from London’s top bars, taste unusual and rare ingredients, shake up a storm with the world’s finest bartenders in interactive masterclasses and watch talented mixologists put their personal twists on new summer creations in this immersive weekend-long cocktail party.

Some of the London’s best street-food concepts are on board to provide tasty sustenance and a roster of live music and DJs will provide a festive backdrop. Soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the very best in drink entertainment in the beautiful green surroundings of Bedford Square Gardens.

Cocktails in the City takes guests on a sensory tour through London’s drinks scene in one night, without having to take more than a few steps. No tubes, taxis or buses!”

 

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Keep an eye out for long, refreshing drinks, fruit flavours, and the return of fizz!

Some favourites from years past include:

The Looking Glass Cocktail Club, Shoreditch – harking back to Maker’s Mark’s history as breadmakers, this cocktail is inspired by Italy’s sweet panettone bread loaf and it’s potent almond flavour.

The Maker’s Baker cocktail mixes Maker’s Mark whiskey, cider reduction with winter spice, Americano vermouth, ‘Liquid Panettone’, and Sinner Bitters. A sweet wintery Manhattan with heavy mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and spices, with lingering almond certainly took centre stage with it’s innovative homemade creations of ‘liquid panettone’ and spiced cider reduction.

Other cocktails presented by LGCC included the Honey Loaf, and Fig Muffin – each an excellent rendition on the baker/distiller theme.

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Fifteen, Old Street, came in with another winner! Inspired by Wimbledon’s classic, the Strawberries and Cream.

Inspired by Behn’s Milk Punch, this summery cocktail gets a 300 year update and is a massive mix of Langley’s gin, strawberries, whole milk, Dolin dry vermouth, coconut water, green tea, lemon juice and peels, sugar, pink peppercorns, tarragon and coriander seeds.

And what a fabulous mix it is!

A wonderful well balanced, silky cocktail, sweet without being overbearing and mellowed by the fruit and spices. Absolutely fantastic.

fifteen

Another great cocktails from CITC’s past is the the Reverend JW Simpson with their Larder Batch: Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, Pinot Noir and pink peppercorn reduction, cardamom bitters and angostura bitters; with a steak accompaniment. In terms of presentation, it stuck with the theme of the bar and the Four Roses bourbon, and the service was conversational, fun, and effervescent like the event itself. The accompaniment suited both the intense aspects of the drink, the bourbon, and Pinot Noir/pink peppercorn reduction – here the Reverend presents us with a steak dinner in a cocktail format and a nibble; the natural spiciness of the Four Roses Small Batch, and that of the peppercorn and cardamom suits the steak perfectly. The Reverend excelled on all fronts and more.

larder-batch1

So if you love your cocktails, get yourself a ticket asap, and see you at Cocktails ion the City 2017!

Bedford Square Gardens, London, WC1B

Tickets are £15 and include one cocktail, multiple complimentary experiences and cocktail booklet.

Friday 28th from 4pm – 9.30pm
Saturday 29th (two sessions) 12pm – 4pm, 5pm – 9.30pm

http://www.cocktailsinthecity.com

 

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!

Pitch Black

“The 90-minute blind tasting will see guests sip on a pre-set selection of 5 libations.  Consisting of bubbles on arrival, 2 mouth-watering cocktails, an amuse bouche to cleanse the palate, followed by 2 aromatic wines, to be imbibed in absolute darkness.”

‘Blind tasting’ taken to its literal and logical conclusion means drinking in a subterranean room on City Road in complete darkness – have to admit, I was curious, and found myself learning a lot in the process!

Pitch Black cocktails blind tasting

The cocktails and wines will change week to week throughout its run November and December 2016, and is an excellent learning experience for drinks novices and experts alike.

Led down a stairway into a cosy room, we rest on the banquettes as the 8 of us get to know each other – but as the lights dim and eventually go dark, we find inhibitions dissolving and conversations with the others in the room enlivening.

To be fair, the drinks probably helped too.

Novices will get a chance to pay closer attention to finer details like nose, flavour, and mouthfeel, whereas experts will find themselves approaching some well known classics with a renewed appreciation for the drink.

Cocktails and wines will be served, with no hint as to what they are, as participants explore the drinks and discuss flavour and ideas. At the end of each session the drinks are revealed and explained in further detail to surprise.

A Breakfast Martini can have some surprisingly herbal flavours in the dark, and a Pisco Sour a spicier nose than one first thought. An amuse bouche to be enjoyed before moving onto the wines: a naturally sweet Riesling and a devious blend of reds, before a final glass of bubbly to enjoy.

Pitch Black does exactly what it says on the tin, and is well worth the experience. Darkness heightens not only the senses, but the social aspect of the evening, and will be educational to all participants of any level of expertise. I highly suggest you sign up for a fun evening with friends, entertaining parents, or a date, for something just a little bit different.

Tickets cost £48 per head and can be purchased at: http://pitchblackbar.com/