Manguin en Provence Distillery Tasting

“Between the palace of the popes of Avignon and the Phillippe le Bel de Villeneuve Lez Avignon Tower which in the 14th century were joined by the famous bridge of Avignon with its 21 arches, is the island of Barthelasse, the biggest river island in Europe, a land of sand and lemons, swept by the Mistral, perfect for the cultivation of exceptional fruits, bathing in the sunshine of Provence.”

In the plush environs of Fitz’s Bar, London, Beatrice and Emmanuel of the Manguin Distillery regale us with stories from Provence while holding close the guarded secrets of Manguin. The French distillery is most popular for its Poire Williams Eau de Vie, with a Williams Pear trapped inside the bottle for sale, but we had the wonderful opportunity to taste more of what they had to offer.

Manguin Oli’Gin

Many gin purists these days have begun to rebel against the wealth of gins not led by juniper on the palate, and I’d agree if it were not for this beauty.

The Oli’Gin changed my mind – a superb gin if you like your olives.

Made in an alembic pot still names Cesar, the botanicals of obviously juniper, then familiar orris, coriander, orange and lemon peels, angelica, and flavoured with the maceration of three Provencal olives births a unique gin for the clean dirty olive Martini.

Love olive but not brine? Solved.

This nose is not kidding around. Olive tapenade pours out of the bottle when uncorked, and lingers. Mandarin follows soon after, and the aroma of truffle makes a powerful entrance, masking the shy bouquet of jasmine and white flowers. The journey ends with a train of olive and hints of coriander.

Max of Matango and the Water House Project whispers “I need to use this in a Harissa bun” and now I’m hungry.

The palate isn’t kidding around. The sweet black olive and juniper enter together – this is not a ‘flavoured’ gin as one might be led to believe at first. And here is the surprise of spices! A little bit of bite, but smooth enough to be in the driest of Martinis.

Manguin Oli’Still:

The secret to the Oli’Gin! So tantalisingly close, but the three olives that make this distillate are kept secret. The maceration is prepared in a Charentais alembic, this heart of the still is glorious to replace the brine for a Dirty Martini, and I would love to use it in a Bloody Mary.

The sweet black olives are back, let it sit and return and you will find the strangest of scents: freshly baked donuts!

Eau de Vie Abricot Quintessence:

How gorgeous is this? I have a… complex… personal relationship with Eau de Vie but I do love this brandy.

A perfumed bite, but the first sip’s powerful tarte tatin and apricot soon gives way to Provence’s chalky terroir, the aroma of sea spray – the lavender and heather that dominates the countryside sways into view, and soon ends on the sweetest of almond cakes, sugar syrup dripping from the sponge.

This EdV is Provence in a bottle – from its fruit to its flowers to its soil and sea. Gorgeous.

Finally, the last two liqueurs!

Moving into sweet territory, these fruit and floral liqueurs are a wonderful end to the afternoon.

Béatrice and Emmanuel Hanquiez of Manguin en Provence

Manguin Clementine liqueur:

Sweet, syrupy, beautiful. The bright spray of clementine explodes into almonds, followed by a parade of lemon sherbet. This is what you want from a liqueur: simplicity with depth.

Last but not least, the Manguin Citron Bergamote liqueur:

What I love about this, it leans into the sweetness of the liqueur rather than shying away to preserve the floral perfuminess of bergamot. By doing so it keeps with a liqueur’s foremost purpose without sacrificing the bergamot’s flavour.

Bergamot swirls into scene, soon cardamom crushes in a mortar. The pith of blood orange sinks into an earthy minerality to end on a soft bed of violets.

The opportunity to taste the Provencal flavours of Manguin’s products was an honour, and have definitely placed them firmly in my radar, as well they should yours. With a wonderful Eau de Vie, especially for EdV novices, spectacular floral and fruit liqueurs to drink neat or use in cocktails, and an olive gin and distillate for both cocktails and cooking, Manguin has stunned by bringing Provence to London.

Thanks to,

Manguin en Provence distillery


Fitz’s Bar @

Russell Square, Bloomsbury,
London WC1B 5BE



Irish Gin & Tonic Fest 2017

The best of Irish Gin and Tonic comes to London!

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.


Must Try Spirits of Summer 2017

Summer’s here and it is time to go over some notable releases for that cabinet!

Great to show off, some of these drops can be used wonderfully in simple cocktails, or best enjoyed neat after food. Let’s have a quick look:


What beats a G and T in the summer sun?

Two recent gins to be tried are certainly unique: the Scottish Isle of Harris, and the Japanese Ki No Bi!


The Isle of Harris gin from Scotland is infused with sugar kelp, giving the gin a sweet but slightly briny finish. The nose is dry, juniper and florals are surrounded by citrus and pine. The palate has more of the pine and juniper, with sweet citrus and coriander. A light minerality is refreshing. The finish brings out the brine of the kelp after the vanilla and black pepper.

Great in a Martini, and only needs a small splash of tonic for a G and T.


The Ki No Bi is smooth and well balanced. This Japanese gin has a nose of aromatic sansho and a powerful note of yuzu. The palate is silky, with the notable yuzu, sansho, bamboo and tea, the earthy notes followed by a hit of ginger root for a refreshing, fast finish.

Love this in a dry Martini for something subtle and balanced.



Perched on the southern coast of Islay, the Ardbeg Distillery has forever held a deep connection to the sea. The depths around Ardbeg are full of legends of mysterious creatures that inhabit the skerries (small rocky islands) and kelp seaweed forests off our shore.

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Ardbeg Kelpie is named for the legends of the sea around Ardbeg. The whisky’s 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 for a deep, enticing dram.

This is notably far less smoky and peaty than the other Ardbegs, and instead revels in its chocolate sweetness, silky texture, and late afternoon soul.


Highball Hoodoo Appleton Estate Rum Joy Launch Review
Appleton Estate, the world’s leading Jamaican premium aged rum, releases Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend, a limited edition rum celebrating Joy Spence’s 20thanniversary as Master Blender. In fact, Joy Spence was the world’s first female Master Blender, paving the way for more women Master Blenders across the globe.

The Joy is a blend of rums whose ages range from a 25 year old pot still and other pot and column stills, up to a spectacular 35 year – creating a beautiful copper spirit.

Appleton Estate Master Blender Joy Spence

Appleton Estate Master Blender Joy Spence

The rum opens with Appleton’s characteristic orange, and a powerful hit of ginger. The ginger then dances and effervesces on the sides of the tongue to slowly open up to coffee and cocoa, almond and oak, and lingering vanilla. The finale is a long length of deep, lightly burnt brown sugar.

A perfect late night digestif.



Del Maguey Papalote de Puebla is a recent release from the Puebla valley.

The agave spirit is wonderfully delicate – creamy, smooth. Beginning with traditonal agave, powerful florals like lilac mask a bedrock of tropical fruit, a finish that is delightfully mineral with light hints of vanilla.

This a mezcal you want to enjoy neat in the sunshine.


That’s all for today, hope you enjoy these spirits as much as I have!

Citadelle Gin’s 20th Anniversary

The popularity of the London Dry has led to bit of a misconception that gin lacks a popularity on the continent, where its predecessor – jenever – originated.

The popular French Citadelle Gin reminds us of that continental history with a wonderful smooth and spicy tipple perfect for a Martini. And to celebrate its French history, the 20th Anniversary of Citadelle places the escargot front and centre as its posterchild.

Citadelle Gin London Bar cocktails

Held at the LASSCO Ropewalk, with food by the Disappearing Dining Club, the anniversary served up three classic cocktails with little twists, hosted by the wonderful Citadelle Gin and Maison Ferrand Brand Ambassador, Paul McFadyen.

Neat, Citadelle is smooth, beginning crisp with brine and juniper, before giving way to warm spices like nutmeg and cardamom. A unique gin, definitely.

First, a bright Gin and Tonic, using Fevertree Mediterranean Tonic (quite floral), garnished with singed orange peel, served with a Snail, garlic and lemon Arancini with herb aioli. The snail does more for texture than flavour, but still enjoyable.

Citadelle Gin London Bar cocktails

Photo Credit to the wonderful @janan_jay

Next the star of the cocktails: an Escargot Martini. Light, crisp, glassy. With ice shaken in the vermouth before the gin, the Martini is garnished with a floating snail shell, filled with lemon and olive brine, for the drinker to control how dirty they like their Martini.

The crisp airiness of the cocktail is combatted by the heavy, sensuous Foie Gras Sliders with sour apple chutney in brioche – a wonderfully moreish and decadent accompaniment to the Martini.

Citadelle Gin London Bar cocktails

Finally, a smooth and fluffy silver Gin Fizz: the rosemary heightening the spices in the gin. A great way to end the evening on a sweeter note, without being sickly. And served with a Brie, leek and truffle Croquette with caramelised red onions.

All three cocktails served are simple enough to recreate at home, and displaying the versatility of the Citadelle Gin and it’s expressions in each drink.

Once again, The Disappearing Dining Club has served up wonderful food paired well with superb cocktails from their barge bar.

Citadelle Gin is an unappreciated star of the gin scene, and certainly one that deserves a place in your cabinet. Spectacular stuff.

Citadelle Gin London Bar cocktails

City of London Distillery, Blackfriars

Type of Bar: Basement, Ginstitute
Ideal for: Gin, Date, Small Groups, Large Groups, After Work, Education

COLD is a rare gem in the City of London, opened in 2012, it finally brought back the distilling of gin to the City after 200 years – and boy do they take it seriously. Climbing down the stairs on unassuming Bride Lane, you’ll walk past their enormous copper stills, Clarissa and Jennifer, on display, which play part of the many Gin Experiences they provide: from tours, flights and tastings, to ginstitutes and making your own gin.

The atmosphere at COLD certainly is one of a late night bar. Dark green walls with an impressively stocked bar and vintage paraphernalia bask in the glow of the stills’ lighting. Further back the sense of being underground heightens, as the Hoodooist hunted down the winged leather Chesterfield armchair in the corner (as one does).


COLD's 'Distiller's Martini'

COLD’s ‘Distiller’s Martini’

They are known for their gins made in situ, including the award winning City of London Dry Gin that is also for sale – a well-balanced gin, with tendency to citrus, the distinct flavours of the liquorice, pink grapefruit and orange come through in this spirit, making it a very interesting choice for a:

COLD Distiller’s Martini: City of London Dry gin, Mancino Bianco with a pink grapefruit twist. As aforementioned, the gin is already fairly grapefruit-heavy, so pairing it with the garnish, and a more bitter vermouth that is distinctly flavoured with grapefruit and orange was a bold choice. The gin gives a slight pepperiness to the Martini, but one must acknowledge the overwhelming grapefruit of the drink – moreso than any of the other cocktails here serving up CoL Dry gin. It provides a decidedly smooth Martini that only isn’t to my taste because of the overdone grapefruit, although I did take to it more after getting the garnish out.

A winning drink coming up was a White Martinez, Cocchi Americano, City of London Dry Gin, Luxardo Maraschino, dash of Regans Orange Bitters, maraschino cherry garnish dropped in. This is excellent, but also very sweet, even in comparison to most Martinez’. The orange bitters really does come through with the grapefruit of the CoL gin; combatting with the thick sweetness of the Cocchi Americano and Luxardo Maraschino. Further down the drink, the cherry gets a chance to release its sugars into the drink for further sweetness. Somehow still a wonderful drink regardless of its intense sugariness – but one that takes time to drink.

COLD's 'Cristal Clear Martinez'

COLD’s ‘Cristal Clear Martinez’

Chatting with our absolutely wonderful server, a bespoke Gin Old Fashioned was concocted, and was exactly that – an Old Fashioned with Beefeater Borrough’s Reserve Oak Rested Gin – sugar, bitters, grapefruit rind. A sophisticated cocktail often avoided by most bars, using a gin avoided by many gin purists, handled well and confidently, here at COLD. Probably more suitable to a drink like this, Beefeater Borrough’s is rested in French Oak barrels that used to contain Lillet Vermouth, that adds to the gin’s juniper and citrus notes of oaky vanilla, and winter spices like cinnamon or nutmeg. This gin certainly isn’t a Martini gin, but a wonderful idea to use it as a Gin Old Fashioned. Inspired.

After those 3 successful drinks, though, there was one hiccup – the OMG & Tea was a warning with the name, really. CoL Old Tom Gin, Bitter Truth Golden Falernum, Merlet Crème de Peche, Breakfast tea, lemon juice, soda water, garnished with mint and lemon. It ended up being a confused muddle of citrus soda at the end of it.  Honestly though, this is a drink that is a warning from the outset, so it was silly to try it.

What COLD does best, is present sophisticated, alcohol heavy drinks – the menu’s occasional attempts into more ‘fun’ cocktail regions come with risk upon reading the ingredients.

The highlight of the night though, was the incredibly knowledgeable and convivial service. Conversing with our servers was a delight, and a highly educational experience. Polite, attentive, the staff are stars.


In summary, COLD is a unique gem in the heart of London’s business sector, and has won awards with good reason. Providing an incredible list of experiences and events, besides their unique gins, makes it a destination in itself. It’s strength lies in its simpler, more sophisticated drinks that demand skill and finesse to construct, and in its wonderful service. A hit in our books.

Drinks: ****
Atmosphere: ***
Service: *****


City of London Distillery

24 Bride Lane,
London, EC4Y 8DT

The Lost Angel & Gaslight Grill, Battersea

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Quirky
Damage£ – ££
Ideal for: Food, Sundays, Gin, Live Music


Now here is a long-time favourite.

A hungover Sunday’s solution is always in the Angel’s arms. Even if it means travelling an hour from Greenwich and cowering in the corner till that spectacular Sunday roast comes around.

Sorry, I think I drooled on the keyboard.


Trying to pin the Lost Angel’s design is a bit difficult. Its jazzy, Victorian, 60’s randomness, upscale pub vibe somehow *works*. It lends to a really comfortable, relaxed atmosphere with live music in the day time; to a raucous party in the evenings – both indoors and in the large garden in the back. It’s that laid back attitude that makes it one of my favourite Sunday spots.

But it’s not just that, the LA hosts several events, from various DJ nights, extended happy hours throughout the week, and Gin Soaked Thursdays – where you can explore the LA’s reputation as a gin palace with a choice of its 30 different gins at 6 pounds each.


Drinks wise, the menu is varied, but tends towards the sweeter on many occasions – but there are still drier, intense cocktails to choose from. Classics can always be requested.

Without argument, their Bloody Mary game is on point. And they dish them out faster than you could believe. The Bottomless Bloody Mary Sundays get you as many as you like for only 15 pounds, and to that deal you can add a Sunday roast for 10. I normally go straight for the Spice Route Gimlet, Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin’s playfulness blends wonderfully with cardamom and lime cordial, and a star anise garnish. A strong gimlet with a spicy Eastern twist, don’t let the lime cordial-instead-of-juice fool you, this drink still packs a punch.


Cucumber, Jalapeno & Coriander Margarita
…does exactly what it says on the tin. Lively, spry, spicy as all hell, this drink is perfect for the afternoon. Another bar could take a lesson here on how to salt a rim; you’re not supposed to make the drinker cringe. The Marrakesh Martini, saffron infused Beefeater gin, apricot liqueur, orange bitters, spiced sugar, ginger and lime juice has great potential, but often is drowned out by the apricot liqueur. A good idea is to let the bartender know to turn that down a bit.

The Strawberry Amaretto Sour makes an excellent dessert drink with fresh strawberries and egg white, as well as the Lost Skipper with dark rum, Chambord, blackberry jam and red wine.


The admirable aspect to the LA’s cocktail list is how straightforward they are, often twists on the classics, they do exactly what they say will – which makes the Lost Angel a great introduction to cocktails.

This is where the Lost Angel’s charm lies: It’s laid-back, and out there to make a fun drink, without overcomplicating things, and without pretension. It is a reminder that complex reductions and vaporisers aren’t necessary to earn high points, neither is unwavering devotion to the classics – simplicity can be the key to a welcoming venue on a harsh Sunday morning.

Seriously though, that roast.

PS: Please update the website’s cocktail menu! People be missing the Jalapeno Margarita!

Drinks: **** (Especially deserving on discounted hours)
Atmosphere: ****
Service: ***

The Lost Angel & Gaslight Grill

339 Battersea Park Road,
London SW11 4LS