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Issue 8 - July 2012


Stafford The Art of Informal Luxury

In this issue, we showcase Super Premium Vodka: Chase • Belvedere • Cîroc


Antico • Assaggetti • Cambscuisine K West Hotel & Spa • St. Ermin’s Hotel 1

jackets • pants • headwear • aprons • knives • shirts available in over 40 countries across the globe



Issue 8 - July 2012 Editorial Director Laurie Cuthbert T: +44 (0)1223 321603 M: +44 (0)7842 628881 Email: Design Director Rick Koobs T: +44 (0)1760 755850 Email: Web: Twitter: @goeatsleepdrink Facebook: esdmagazine Pinterest: esdmagazine

Hello and welcome to Issue Eight of EatSleepDrink Magazine – the home of all things luxurious and exclusive in the UK’s deluxe food, beverage and hotel world. Despite the constant supply of rain and grey skies, we’ve been trying to brighten your horizons with our usual mix of exclusive features and cutting edge news from the deluxe hospitality sector. With more than 37,500 unique visits to our homepage already this month – www., we’d like to thank you for your continued and evidently growing support! As the natural extension of our ever-growing digital offering, our quarterly print magazine will be launched this July and published every three months thereafter. Now available at the special introductory price of £24 per year, head over to and click ‘Subscribe’ to sign up instantly using your credit/debit card. In this month’s edition, we’ll be bringing you our customary blend of hot hotels, fabulous food and delicious drinks. On the front cover this month, we lead with The Stafford London by Kempinski. As one of the capital’s must prestigious addresses, The Stafford offers its discerning guests unparalleled luxury in the most secluded of locations in the heart of Mayfair. If it’s not already on your bucket list, we suggest you include: ‘a night at The Stafford’ as soon as possible! Lovers of authentic Italian cuisine with a modern twist will be intrigued by our articles on Assaggetti and Antico Restaurant & Bar. Both restaurants have become synonymous with exceptional food and wine that combine some of the most renowned Italian ingredients with modernity and youthful style. If you’re in search of a truly remarkable success story then our feature on St. Ermin’s Hotel will tick all the boxes. Having been left to languish as a midrange hotel for many years, St. Ermin’s underwent an enormous £30 million refurbishment in 2011. This investment has catapulted the property from 451st in the TripAdvisor rankings to 27th today, which is a true testament to the value of strategic investment. Speaking of taking the market by storm, K West Hotel and Spa has become a firm favourite with media types and musicians due to its prime location in West London. Just a stone’s throw away from the shopping paradise of Westfield, K West boasts uber-stylish facilities and spa treatments to die for. Little surprise then that it has become one of the most dependably stylish destinations in London. As you will have come to expect from EatSleepDrink, our ‘Drink’ features this month are a decadent affair. Having visited LIWF and Distil last month, we thought it was about time to bring you a spotlight on the industry and what better choice than the UK’s increasingly robust Super Premium Vodka market. Our exclusive features on Chase Vodka, Belvedere and Cîroc are packed full of exclusive commentary from the decision-makers that make the brands tick. As always, we hope you enjoy our latest issue as much as we’ve enjoyed producing it. If you would like to see your deluxe hotel, fine dining restaurant or premium brand featured in EatSleepDrink, then do get in touch with me: laurie@ Have a great month, Laurie Cuthbert, Editorial Director


Issue 8 - July 2012


Antico - Located on bustling Bermondsey Street, Antico Bar & Restaurant serves rustic Italian cuisine to a crowd of art aficionados that have warmed to the restaurant’s attention to flavour and quality ingredients. ......................................................................................................................................................8

Assaggetti - Located on Haymarket, just away from the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly, Assaggetti is leading an Italian revolution in great tasting and authentic Italian cuisine. .......................................................... 22 Cambscuisine - Formed in 2001, this Cambridgeshire-based restaurant group is one the UK food industry’s major success stories. .......................................................................................................................... 38

The Stafford - Dedicated to offering its guests the very best in accommodation, gastronomy and beverages, The Stafford London by Kempinski is one of the capital’s most discerning hotels. ...................... 14 K West Hotel & Spa - Opened in 2001, K West Hotel & Spa has come to define stylish accommodation in West London with its mix of sleek rooms and luxurious in-house spa. ......................... 28 St. Ermin’s Hotel - Just a minute’s walk from St. James’s Park, St. Ermin’s Hotel underwent an extensive and meticulous £30 million refurbishment in 2011. .............................................................................. 43

Belvedere - Launched in 1996, Belvedere is a luxury Polish vodka produced and distributed by LVMH (LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton S.A.), which controls and operates some of the world’s most recognisable and luxurious brands.. ................................................................................................................... 18

Chase Vodka - Having spent his life working with the humble potato, William Chase gives us the inside scoop on his unorthodox path to the top of the vodka industry. ............................................................ 34 Cîroc Vodka - Launched in the UK in 2006, Cîroc is a super premium distilled vodka manufactured in France from grapes in contrast to the commonly used corn, sorghum, rye, wheat or potatoes. .......................................................................................................................................................... 48

Advertisers Index ....................................................................................................................................................... 50 If you would like to go directly to an article, simply click on the relevant heading listed above.



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Lottie Shaw’s signs Hider Foods to extend baked offerings nationally Yorkshire, UK Yorkshire craft bakery Lottie Shaw’s, has signed up distributor Hider Foods to support plans for national distribution of its range of traditionally home baked products. Hider Foods, a family owned distributor, supplies speciality fine food and premium quality products to retailers and wholesalers nationally. The Lottie Shaw’s brand, with its distinctive artisan packaging, has seen continuing success in the independent retail market with the company enjoying 25 per cent growth in the first quarter this year. As part of its growth strategy, the company is now looking to extend its reach nationally and Hider Foods will now introduce the company’s authentic Seriously Good Yorkshire Parkin, made to a 100 year old family recipe, Yorkshire Parkin biscuits, Yorkshire Parkin Pudding, Gingerbread men and other products to national retailers and wholesalers. Charlotte Shaw, Director, Lottie Shaw’s said: “We chose Hider Foods because they have an unrivalled reputation as a first class national distributor and as a fellow family run business, we felt they had an understanding and an empathy for our brand and product offer. We are excited to offer our handmade products nationally”. Lottie Shaw’s was established by Charlotte Shaw, who hails from a baking family with more than a 100 years heritage and because she was so passionate about her family’s traditional Yorkshire Parkin recipe she decided to set up a new company and the Lottie Shaw’s brand was born. Charlotte packaged and marketed her handmade Yorkshire Parkin to bring a little piece of Yorkshire happiness into homes across the region and to encourage consumers to eat parkin as an all year round treat. Visit: Twitter: @lottieshaws

Holdsworth unraps new chocolate gift box Bakewell, Derbyshire Exquisite handmade chocolate maker Holdsworth Chocolates has unveiled its new pink Theobroma cube gift box of chocolates. Filled with a delicious selection of mouth-watering truffles, pralines and creams, the attractive pink box complements the blue Theobroma cube already on offer in the Holdsworth range, both of which are named after the Theobroma tree, which produces the cacao beans, the main ingredient in chocolate. Each of the 16 chocolates in the box has been carefully selected by Holdsworth’s skilled chocolatiers and includes pink champagne explosion truffle, orange mimosa, apple and geranium cream, praline cup and cranberry cream. Every one of the chocolates is handmade, hand-finished and hand-packed by the team based in the heart of the Derbyshire Peak District, famous for its tarts, at Bakewell. Holdsworth Chocolates was created by Barbara Holdsworth in 1988. Spurred on by a passionate belief in making chocolates by hand, she developed her own recipes. Stockists of Holdsworth Chocolates include Harrods, Selfridges, Waitrose, Chatsworth House shop and Chatsworth Farm Shop and Ibbotsons of Ashford. A number of the firm’s chocolates have been awarded gold star rating in the Guild of Fine Food’s Great Taste Awards…the Oscars of the speciality food industry. Visit: Twitter: @holdsworthchocs

The Goring to pamper guests with exotic Molton Brown bathing menu London, UK This summer, London connoisseurs Molton Brown and the quintessentially English hotel, The Goring are coming together to launch a luxurious ‘London via the World’ bathing menu to celebrate the eccentric, vibrant character of the capital. Created to transport The Goring’s guests to exotic6destinations around the world (via the bathtub) Molton Brown’s ‘London via the World’

bathing menu is inspired by five of the brand’s most-loved fragrance collections. Guests staying in the hotel between 15 July and 15 September 2012 will be able to choose the ultimate pampering experience from one of the five countries that make up Molton Brown’s new Global Heroes MMXII collection of body washes. Whether it be London via China, Florida, The Gulf of Guinea, Australia or

Madagascar, guests will be transported to all corners of the world from the comfort of their hotel room. The experience includes the services of a Goring Bath Butler who will draw a wonderfully scented bubble bath, and prepare the perfect cocktail, inspired by the ingredients and destinations of the bath collection. The final touch is the flickering light and scents of the much loved Languor or Verve piccolo candle sets of four complementing fragrances. The Goring, the only 5-star hotel that is still owned and run by the family that built it, and Molton Brown, championed for travelling the world in search of the rarest ingredients, will invite guests to choose from one of the following exotic experiences, each priced at £20.12. Visit: The Goring, Beeston Place, London SW1 0JW, Telephone 020 7396 9000 Visit:

Red Carnation Hotel Collection one of several groups aiming to minimize industry’s carbon impact London, UK The Red Carnation Hotel Collection is proud to announce its collaboration with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) and a selection of international hotel companies to launch a standardised approach to carbon measurement. The methodology, named ‘HCMI 1.0’, is a consolidated move, led by the hotel industry, to establish a global standardised approach to this common problem for the hotel sector and its corporate customer base. Three of Red Carnation’s luxury boutique properties were involved in trials to pilot the scheme: The Oyster Box Hotel in Durban, one of the collection’s most recent renovations; The Milestone Hotel, the flagship London property; and The Chesterfield Mayfair, one of the collection’s busiest four-star properties.

Jonathan Raggett, Managing Director of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, commented: “The issue of sustainability has become morally intrinsic to our ethos at Red Carnation Hotels. We proactively, both as a business and as individual hotels, seek opportunities to understand and minimise our impact on the environment around us. “We are also really proud to be the only privately-owned, family-run boutique collection in the working group. It is great to have a voice amongst such established big players and for us to

The Tea Experience to supply Weetons of Harrogate Yorkshire, UK Speciality Yorkshire tea company, The Tea Experience, has signed an exclusive deal to supply its premium quality range of loose teas, Flowering Tea Blooms and gift sets to Weeton’s, one of Yorkshire’s most stylish delis and farm shops based in Harrogate. Doncaster based The Tea Experience is the brainchild of former Royal Mail human resources manager, Ann Davis, who lifted the lid on a new career by turning a hobby into a growing online tea business. Established as Harrogate’s top food emporia and listed as one of the top 100 shops in the UK, Weeton’s has launched a range of loose teas from The Tea Experience, as well as its Flowering Tea blooms, a light and delicate green tea skilfully handmade by Chinese artisans, which offers a stunning cup of tea and a fantastic floral finale. Weeton’s has also listed a Flowering Tea Bloom gift set. Ann Davis commented: “The Tea Experience was created to share and promote the quality of loose leaf teas and tea products at reasonable prices. We are delighted to be listed in Weeton’s, a farm shop which is dedicated to providing local producers with a market for their goods. We hope discerning Weeton’s customers will convert to the taste of our loose teas, which provide a superior taste experience. To the ‘baggies’, we say give us a

all come together in this landmark collaboration to change the industry for the better”. The Red Carnation Hotel Collection will be implementing the initiative across all fourteen of its properties, championed by the in-house green team, which is chaired by Jonathan Raggett. For further information, please contact: info@ Visit: Visit: Twitter: @red_carnation

chance, you can even create your own DIY teabags using our tea filters.” The Tea Experience ensures consistency of taste and quality for its customers by importing high grade loose tea from the Far East and Europe from specialist tea importers and wholesalers. They are now on a mission to encourage and convert more people to try loose teas versus tea bags for an enhanced taste experience. Visit: Twitter: @tea_experience

ETM Group's Gastro Race poses 'thrilling test of strategy, stamina and stomach' London, UK To coincide with the Olympic Games, Tom and Ed Martin (ETM) are giving competitive customers the chance to become champions with their very own ‘Gastro Race’. No training or diet plans are required and the game rules are simple. Just pick up a ‘Gastro Race’ card from any ETM pub or restaurant any time from Friday 27th July and visit four of your favourite eating and drinking destinations within the group up until Sunday 12th August to win. Whether you’re a Sloaney pony kicking off from King’s Road’s Cadogan Arms, a city slicker starting at Fetter Lane’s White Swan or an East-ender with The Gun and Prince Arthur in your sights, this will be a thrilling test of strategy, stamina and stomach. Once you’ve set out your game plan, visit any of the four targets within the timelines outlined to either sip a drink of your choice, tuck into a bar snack or two, choose a main course from the à la carte menu or devour a starter/dessert. Go for gold and win a complimentary meal for six people, strive for silver and nab four tickets to any wine event at city hotspot The Jugged Hare, or battle for bronze and walk away with a Champagne afternoon tea for two served at The Botanist on Sloane Square or Chiswell Street Dining Rooms, Barbican. All competitors who finish, regardless of their qualifying time, will be awarded with a drink on the house for simply being a good sport. The race is on, start planning that victory lap now! For full details and locations visit: 7 Twitter: @ETMgroup

: Antico, London

A Model Italian Set in the heartland of London’s artistic Bermondsey, Antico Restaurant & Bar is the brainchild of Nick Crispini, the 31-year old owner of this new Italian hotspot. We caught up with Nick to find out more about his foodie heritage and unorthodox route to the restaurant industry.


“The building, before it was renovated into Antico, used to be an old antiques market – hence ‘Antico’, which is Italian for ‘antiques’. I wanted to draw upon this traditional aspect of the past and give the food a very rustic feel”.

Following a degree in digital media, Nick rode the crest of the cyber age by becoming a freelance web developer, while also moonlighting as a part-time DJ and model. Yet having been born into a restaurateur family in Guernsey – his parents ran the hugely successful Nino’s, Mamma Rosa, Westcoast and Louisiana, amongst others – Nick has evidently inherited the foodie bug. Having enrolled on a year-long course at London’s legendary Leiths Cooking School, Nick jumped into the business headfirst, notably cooking with Theo Randall at the Intercontinental; being front-of-house at Mews of Mayfair; and working at events

such as Elton John’s White Tie & Tiara Ball, where he was butler to the top table.

The authentic experience As Nick begins by telling us, despite spending his twenties dabbling in different professions, his true calling was always destined to be running a restaurant. “It was very much in the blood as both of my parents (and even my sister!) were all restaurateurs. Having decided to finally follow in their footsteps, I knew that Italian food was

exactly what I wanted to serve. “There’s just such a majestic simplicity to Italian food and it makes me feel at home – maybe because I’m half Italian!” he explains. “I wanted to take this simplicity and add a bit of modern flair to it. The result was Antico. Indeed, the whole concept behind the design of the restaurant completely mirrors that of the food”. Living just minutes from the foodie hub of Bermondsey Street, Nick began his search for a site close to home and it didn’t take him long, securing number 214 on the corner of Bermondsey Street and Long Lane. “There was a buzz about the area,” he says, “and we were able to


Antico’s owner, Nick Crispini

transform the building into a 70-cover restaurant and 60-cover bar over two floors. “The building, before it was renovated into Antico, used to be an old antiques market – hence ‘Antico’, which is Italian for ‘antiques’. I wanted to draw upon this traditional aspect of the past and give the food a very rustic feel,” Nick describes. “This was the exact approach for the restaurant as well – from the soft oak flooring to the rustic mirrors and right the way through to the relaxed atmosphere”.

Intimate and trendy As many restaurateurs will testify, opening one’s first restaurant is full


“The restaurant’s major strength is the quality of the food, especially the pasta. We make it from scratch on a daily basis and you can definitely tell when it melts in your mouth”. of surprises – surprises that Nick has experienced his fair share of, as he continues by telling us. “I never realised just how difficult it would be to open a restaurant! Luckily, I feel that the restaurant and the food speak for itself, but the hardest part is getting people through the door. At the moment, I think we’re just beginning to develop a fairly regular clientele – the locals are very loyal and we really try to give them the

best possible experience every time. “I knew from the beginning that I wanted to have a bar and it’s going very well so far,” he affirms. “It gives our guests a full experience – pre-dinner aperitivo downstairs – perhaps an Aperol Spritz (a personal favourite!), upstairs for a delicious main of Mint & Lamb Ragu Pappardelle (inside tip: this is worth a visit alone), and then back down to finish the evening off with an Espresso Martini. “The feel of the downstairs bar is intimate with quite a trendy atmosphere,” Nick highlights. “Great new additions to the bar include our flat screen TV that disguises itself just inside a two-way mirror and the beginning of a bi-monthly Acoustic Night, featuring live

The über-stylish downstairs bar at Antico

local artists from the Bermondsey area”.

Perfect pasta Despite assurances from the legions of Italian restaurants that their pasta is truly ‘to die for’, it is rare to actually discover

genuinely delicious homemade pasta – something that Antico thankfully has in abundance, as Nick is understandably proud to clarify. “The restaurant’s major strength is the quality of the food, especially the pasta. We make it from

scratch on a daily basis and you can definitely tell when it melts in your mouth. “Wherever possible, we strive to use locally-sourced ingredients, but, most of all, good quality ingredients with no exceptions,” he notes. “We are currently offering a two course menu for £15 or three courses for £18 during lunchtimes and early evenings. Furthermore, we have a ‘2-4-1’ Happy Hour from Wednesday-Saturdays between 5-7pm in downstairs bar, so we have lots of affordable options available too. “I designed the restaurant space myself, using influences significant to me that fitted with the concept. However, because of my nature, I am always looking to make little changes and the interior will always be evolving to keep it fresh and of the moment”.

Looking ahead As Nick proclaims on Antico’s website ( “Pasta is


easy to make but difficult to master” – a motto which is reflected throughout. Indeed, the menu is full of traditional dishes executed with a modern flair. On our recent visit, we were particularly impressed with Nick’s recommendation of the Mint & Lamb Ragu Pappardelle as well as the Slow-Roasted Pork Tortelloni. We were also told that for complete indulgence, the one kilo Bolton Abbey Rib Eye Steak Fiorentina, dry aged for 35 days and served with Rocket and Parmesan is difficult to top. Given the restaurant’s growing reputation in Bermondsey and throughout the capital, Nick has recently been boosting Antico’s PR efforts, as he continues by highlighting. “We are currently running a campaign to increase general awareness of the brand across the board. I would like to think that my attention to detail, dedication and passion Nick Crispini enjoys a joke with his executive chef.


“We have an exceptional dish of Monkfish, tomato, chilli and garlic risotto that is my new favourite, without a doubt. It has quickly become our most popular dish as well and, for me, there is nothing better than to wash it down with a chilled glass of Soave Classico”. has contributed to the early success of the restaurant and I have a superb team in place who share my vision for Antico, which is a massive asset”. To conclude, we were curious to discover if any new dishes were on the horizon at Antico – a question that Nick couldn’t resist answering. “We have an

exceptional dish of Monkfish, tomato, chilli and garlic risotto that is my new favourite, without a doubt. As well as being my personal favourite, it has quickly become our most popular dish as well and, for me, there is nothing better than to wash it down with a chilled glass of Soave Classico”. And if, like us, you couldn’t get enough of Antico’s modern take on Italian classics, the Homemade Sorbetto is a must, not to mention an absolute steal at just £4. With a prime location in one of London’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, we are predicting great things for Nick and his team at Antico. Antico Restaurant & Bar, 214 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3TQ 020 7407 4682 Visit: Twitter: @AnticoLondon


: The Stafford London

The art of

Informal Luxury

Nestled away in the heart of St. James’s, The Stafford London by Kempinski is one of the capital’s most iconic and prestigious hotels. EatSleepDrink Magazine spoke to Leon Baum, General Manager, about how The Stafford has perfected the art of Great British hospitality. Steeped in more than 400 years of history, The Stafford comprises 105 rooms and suites, including the last word in luxury at the all-suite Stafford Mews, which opened in 2007. From the 380 year old working wine cellars to the immaculately restored Carriage House rooms and suites in the 18th century stable courtyard, The Stafford will appeal to even the most scrupulous of guests.


Yet far from being stuffy, the service is comprehensively thoughtful with a proud emphasis on ‘catering for the individual’.

A hidden gem Smiling discreetly in the face of contrived, pre-packaged perfection, The Stafford stands as a London institution that epitomises informal luxury, as Leon begins by telling us about the hotel’s

rich history. “The Stafford consists of three different and very distinctive parts. Today’s main house, 16-18 St. James’s Place, was originally built as private residence in the 17th century. Number 17, most famously owned by Lord and Lady Lyttelton, remained in the family until 1849 when Lady Lyttelton, daughter of the then Earl Spencer, was pressed into service as nanny to Queen Victoria.

the Wine Cellars to give the amorous “These residences changed hands King the opportunity to visit his mistress many times before in, 1912, the undetected,” Leon recalls. “During WWII, neighbouring houses were combined the passageway was used to get secret and The Stafford was born,” he explains. agents in and out of the palace. Then, “During the Second World War, the in the late 1980s, the old stables to the hotel served as a club for American back of the and Canadian Main House officers “It was rumoured that Charles II stationed had a mistress in St. James’s and there- on Blue Ball Yard were overseas who fore a hidden passageway was built, transformed sought refuge into cosy in the working connecting St. James’s Palace with the wine cellars, Wine Cellars to give the amorous King rooms and suites with which today countryside form an integral the opportunity to visit his flair, keeping part of The mistress undetected”. many of the Stafford. The original features, such as the split doors cellars are our hidden gem for exclusive and wooden beams. dinners and wine tastings with Master “As our latest addition in 2007, the Sommelier Gino Nardella. Stafford Mews houses 26 contemporary “It was rumoured that Charles suites, including the exclusive penthouse II had a mistress in St. James’s and suite overlooking the roofs of Mayfair,” therefore a hidden passageway was he affirms. “The last piece in the hotel’s built, connecting St. James’s Palace with

rich history came in 2009, when Kempinski Hotels were brought in as the management company”.

Care and attention Synonymous with personal service, Leon continues by telling us how The Stafford has become one of the most dependable luxury hotels in London. “We pride ourselves on our eye for detail and the personal care and attention that we put into every single transaction with our guests. Indeed, approximately 60 per cent of our guests are repeat visitors. Many of these have been coming to The Stafford for generations, so it is more like welcoming friends and family into your own home than guests to a hotel. “I would say that our biggest asset is the team of professionals and true characters that work here,” he asserts. “Frank Laino, our Executive Concierge, has been here for 13 years and heads up a very experienced team of exceptional

Enjoy first-class private dining in The Panel Room.


Stylish accommodation in the Classic Queen Room

concierges – together, they have 125 of experience between them. Gino Nardella, one of only a handful of Master Sommeliers in England, has been overseeing the hotel’s wine collection for 35 years and he has selected every single wine and Champagne on our extensive wine list. “No one is more passionate about wines and, at the same time, he can talk so beautifully and engagingly about the subject,” Leon notes. “Our Head Barman, Benoit Provost, has been with us for 17 years and has a fantastic ability to remember guests’ names and their favourite drinks, putting them at ease immediately. This is what we like to think of as a mark of a true professional. “Speaking of which, this year we have put together a list of celebration cocktails for our centenary. So, this April, the cocktail was the French 75. Not only is it a delicious cocktail, but 75 per cent of our American Bar staff are French, so we think it is very fitting!”

Economic space Because of the rich history of The Stafford, the hotel has been ingeniously designed to accommodate the latest in modern technology without compromising on the property’s glorious heritage. “As with many historic


buildings, we have to use space very economically. This means that we have a state of the art gym suite, but neither a swimming pool, steam bath or sauna. So, to ensure our guests want for nothing, we established a partnership with Third Space ( – London’s premier health and fitness club. “Within easy walking distance to the hotel, we can provide our guests with a well-rounded fitness product, which they Enjoy a classic cocktail in the famous American Bar.

greatly appreciate, even though it is not in-house”, he affirms. On the environmental front, The Stafford is equally as forward-thinking – a fact that Leon is understandably eager to underline. “Obviously, you can constantly improve what you are doing and in order to do so we have an ‘Innovation Team’, which consists of representatives of all departments to constantly brainstorm how we can improve. Green issues are

Experience the uncompromising luxury of the Main House Master Suite.

very dear to many of our staff, so our members of staff who have been here To find such informal luxury in for such a long time is a truly endearing ideas very often exceed the ‘pure’ hotel London is a rarity, but to find it in such a feature of The Stafford. Indeed, many of operations. prime location, just footsteps away from our guests have very fond memories of “We therefore participate in a cycle the capital’s main attractions, is nothing scheme, through which short of miraculous. we encourage our stuff With the opening of From the moment one enters to cycle to work,” he The Lyttelton in May highlights. “Many of our 2011, Executive Chef, The Stafford, tucked away in a gloriously head of departments do Brendan Fyldes, has secluded corner of St. James’s, it is clear that it and Frank, our Executive created a world of Concierge, annually gastronomic delights the right choice has been made. participates in a charity bike fitting for such a ride from London to Paris”. property. And such the hotel, because they have celebrated is the comprehensive service at The The Olympic year weddings, birthdays and jubilees here Stafford, guests cannot help but feeling Given the extremely robust return with us.” like they have been before. occupancy rates at The Stafford, the Indeed, the hotel’s greatest strength Inspiring hospitality ‘Olympic question’ is more about is its effortless luxury and easy-going constant improvement than dramatic From the moment one enters The atmosphere that keeps guests returning change, as Leon continues by clarifying. Stafford, tucked away in a gloriously time and time again, as Leon confirms “We have an ongoing renovation plan for secluded corner of St. James’s, it is clear by telling us about his favourite Stafford the hotel. A property of this age needs that the right choice has been made. experience. “My ideal thing to do is constant care and attention, so although Having been graciously accommodated something I have witnessed many of we still have a handful of suites to sell for in a Mews Junior Suite (sensibly priced at our guests enjoying: sipping a Pimm’s the Olympics, we are not working on an £677 per night including breakfast), we No. 1 in the sun in our courtyard and elaborate marketing plan. can confirm the exquisite, informal luxury watching the world go by”. “In my opinion, we will definitely need described by Leon. Visit: to focus more on the time directly after With Molton Brown and Floris london/the-stafford-london/welcome/ the Olympics, when London will most toiletries, Bose CD/Radios, complimentary for rates and reservations. probably experience a dip in visitor WiFi and soft drinks, not to mention the Twitter: @staffordlondon numbers,” he admits. “Ultimately, our supremely comfortable Superking beds, Facebook: guests enjoy the personal character of The Stafford is truly a home-away-fromkempinskihotels the hotel, and the fact that there are home.


: Belvedere Vodka

A Taste Sensation Launched in 1996, Belvedere is a luxury Polish vodka produced and distributed by LVMH (LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton S.A.), which controls and operates some of the world’s most recognisable and luxurious brands. EatSleepDrink Magazine spoke to Nick Ambridge, Senior Brand Manager, to find out more about Belvedere’s exciting new range of Macerations.


As the world’s first super premium vodka, Belvedere has come to represent the pinnacle of the Polish vodka-making tradition. Additive-free and diluted with water from its own artesian well, Belvedere combines over 600 years of expertise with an uncompromising commitment to quality and heritage. Credited with creating the ‘Luxury Vodka’ category, Belvedere is made from Dankowskie Gold Rye and, in the last few years, the brand has created some of the most innovative and delicious flavoured vodkas available, made by a process of maceration.

Natural fruit and flavour Unlike other flavoured vodkas, Belvedere only uses natural fruit and flowers, with the fruit macerated for a minimum of one month. Indeed, no sugars, glycerine or artificial additives are used in the production, just fresh produce, as Nick begins by telling us. “Whilst Belvedere is distilled in Zyradow, Poland, the maceration process actually takes place in Turenne, just south of Brive in France. “The unique maceration process is a combination of infusion, distillation and blending. To infuse the vodka the ingredients are soaked in Belvedere for up to four weeks, which helps the vodka to gently extract the flavours but only to the point where flavour is extracted and oxidation is minimised,” he explains. “Afterwards, the infused vodka is distilled using a small pot still, leaving a bright and freshly flavoured distillate with the colour removed. The maceration process keeps the flavours in Belvedere Vodka bright, expressive and stable, so they won’t deteriorate over time like many infusions. “Today, we have five macerations in the portfolio,” Nick describes. “Namely: Orange; Citrus; Black Raspberry; Pink Grapefruit; and Bloody Mary, the last of which is our trade best-seller because of its universal appeal to bars, restaurants and hotels”.

Building the brand “People are generally shocked at how clean and crisp the vodka is when we do our samplings,” Nick affirms, “which is a direct result of the unique maceration process. Given the fact the many people are used to synthetic flavours when they taste flavoured vodka, it is always great to hear the feedback on the ‘natural’ taste of

a fantastic drink with our macerations that minimum fuss”. retain their genuine integrity. Waking up to “In terms of taste the market for the macerations, at the Across the luxury food moment, I would say and beverage sectors it is predominantly in the UK there has trade-based, although been something of we do have quite a revolution taking significant off-trade place over the last few sales as well,” he years – a revolution confirms. “At the that has seen many moment, none of the consumers wake up to major grocers stock the difference between the macerations, but mediocre products and this might change in those that literally taste the near future as better, even if it means we are working on paying a premium for a couple of exciting them. “Whereas before, projects that might I think super premium increase availability vodka used to run on to the wider market. image alone in the way Through social media, that champagne became we have been able synonymous with a to create a real buzz certain kind of cache. for the product range, Today, I think people particularly with the have woken up to the likes of Facebook genuine flavour and ( taste of such products. belvedere-vodka) and “Belvedere is Twitter (@belvedere_ characterful vodka that “Given the fact the vodka). is made from rye,” many people are used Nick elucidates. “Now, “At present, our most popular many people would to synthetic flavours consumer maceration argue that you cannot when they taste is Citrus, closely tell the difference followed by Black flavoured vodka, it is between vodkas, but I Raspberry,” Nick experience the tasting always great to hear highlights. “What notes on a regular basis the feedback on the has been really and there is a clear encouraging is the appreciation of the rye ‘natural’ taste of our development of our in Belvedere as opposed Bloody Mary consumer macerations that retain to the traditional wheat market, which is now flavour. We have never their genuine our third best-seller compromised on quality, integrity”. in this sector. I actually so, with our macerations, think that this will grow we macerate in France, and grow and by the end of 2012 it may which, given the transportation costs even be our best-seller. involved in moving it from Poland, “Indeed, in the US the Bloody Mary indicates just how seriously we take the already leads consumer sales, so we are production process. seeing history repeat itself in the UK. I “France has a history of worldthink the Bloody Mary really captures the class flavourings – the factory we use imagination as it is the first vodka named to macerate our vodka also flavours after a cocktail. For many people, making mustards and jams, so rather than just a Bloody Mary is quite complicated, do it in house in Poland, we decided to so with this maceration you just need go to France where quality is assured,” tomato juice and lemon, which gives he affirms. “Ultimately, we could have


flavoured vodka but rather macerated”.

A fruitful future Although Belvedere has considered numerous Olympic promotions, none of the opportunities were suitable for the brand, as Nick continues by telling us about the company’s optimism for the future of its macerations. “By the nature of the brand being very present and visible in London bars, we are expecting a natural upsurge in sales, particularly given the awareness of Belvedere overseas where many visitors to London will be quite easily increased profitability by compromising on quality but we have always prided ourselves on the quality of Belvedere and strived to maintain it regardless of cost. In this sense, we never like to say that Belvedere is

from. “In the US, Belvedere is already the third or fourth most popular super premium vodka, so it is about leveraging our market power around the world and ensuring that our macerations become

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known for being quality drinks in their own right rather than just mixers,” he explains. “A number of our UK markets are growing very fast, so it is a very exciting time for the brand. The type of tourists that will be visiting during the Olympics are the kind of consumers that will be drinking Belvedere when they’re out in their home countries, so this summer has the potential to be great for the brand. “In the next year and because of the rate that we’re growing, I would hope that the macerations will be in many more homes and available in a wider range of high-end establishments,” Nick concludes. “One thing we have found is that when people try it they instantly love it, so this is where we’ll be devoting a lot of our time to increasing brand awareness and getting the word out there that Belvedere is worth spending a bit more money on”. Visit: Facebook: belvedere-vodka Twitter: @belvedere_uk





: Assaggetti, London

A Taste of

Italy Located in a prime position on Haymarket in central London, Assaggetti is a modern and bright restaurant that celebrates the tastes and flavours of authentic Italian cuisine. We caught up with Owner, Stefano Fraquelli, to find out more about the restaurant’s refreshing approach to Italian cooking.

Seating 120 covers across two floors, Assaggetti is a new breed of restaurant that offers tapas-style dishes cooked with southern Italian flair. With its earthy colours and an impressive state-of-theart Phillips and Wood glass chandelier, the restaurant’s interior was the result of collaboration between Grafico and Rory Cashin Design. Drawing inspiration from New York cicchetti-style restaurants, which set the standard for the casual shared dining experience, Assaggetti is a triumph of authenticity delivered in a modern style.

Setting the standard As Stefano begins by telling us, the concept behind Assaggetti is all about


“Assaggetti follows a simple philosophy of light bites that don’t compromise on taste – this is food to love; to share; to talk about”.

casual eating or, put differently, smaller portions that can be eaten in a more casual way. “It can be argued that Italian food has changed little over the years. However, our lifestyle and the way we eat has, hence the idea of Assaggetti. Indeed, there is a current urban trend for casual dining and sharing small plates of food with friends. “This is not new to Europe but it certainly seems to be taking hold of diners in the UK”, he affirms. “People have less time these days and are more conscious of their waistlines. Therefore, we decided to take the concept of socialising and sharing food and bring it

to the heart of London in Haymarket. Assaggetti follows a simple philosophy of light bites that don’t compromise on taste – this is food to love; to share; to talk about”.

Seeing is believing Literally meaning ‘small taste’ in Italian, Assaggetti is pioneering the demand for classic Italian dishes that won’t break

the bank or waist bands – a concept that is also reflected in the restaurant’s authentic-yetmodern aesthetic, as Stefano continues by explaining. “We want customers to feel unstructured and un-regimented. The high stools and long tables are designed to encourage those who have been on their feet all day to stretch out and relax. “The initial reception has been incredibly positive,” he asserts. “Local business networking evenings and blogger events have proved successful with great feedback. Week-on-week the restaurant has become busier and busier and you’d be hard-pushed to get a table


“We wanted to establish Assaggetti as an approachable restaurant in an area that is predominantly theatre and tourist-led, where prices can be inflated”. on Saturday afternoon owing to our growing popularity. “We wanted to establish Assaggetti as an approachable restaurant in an area that is predominantly theatre and tourist-led, where prices can be inflated,” Stefano tells us. “We adapted the original menu to appeal to theatre goers by adding a chef ’s selection, which has been incredibly popular. Ultimately, the restaurant was created to offer exciting dishes in a flexible, affordable format. The relaxed and informal environment makes diners feel instantly comfortable and ready to spend time with their friends and family”.

Group value

Informal fine dining upstairs at Assaggetti

Assaggetti’s General Manager and Owner, Stefano Fraquelli


As part of the Metropolitan Group (Metrorest), which operates Zia Teresa and Getti in London, Assaggetti was always likely to have the best possible chance of success, particularly given its great value dishes in the heart of central London. Furthermore, as part of Metrorest, the restaurant also has access to the company’s value-added events – something that Stefano is keen to describe. “At the end of June we will be sending out a monthly newsletter to guests who dine at the Metropolitan Group restaurants,” he explains. “There will be value-added events, such as wine tastings and competitions. We will also be offering the Assaggetti venue through London and Partners to group bookings and event organisers for the 2012 Olympics. Indeed, we are currently finalising the events packs to put on various websites as well as our own – “Based on our current relationships, we will be ensuring that Assaggetti is one of the go-to venues for lunch and dinner throughout the Olympics,” Stefano notes. “We are also looking to run events and

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Assaggetti is its laid-back style, which is a real delight in amidst the hustle and bustle of London’s tourist trail. similarly has great value going for it. Such is the quality of the Italian ingredients, the food is achingly moorish. Yet, because of the palatable portions, one can enjoy a range of dishes carefree in the knowledge that waistlines and pursestrings will remain in-tact.

Smiles all-around

special menus to the local workforce as they’re being encouraged to stay in town until later in the day to ease travel congestion, so watch this space!”

Passion for authenticity Having recently visited Assaggetti on a typically busy Saturday lunch service, we can attest to the authentic Italian food on offer at this charming restaurant. Highlights included roasted tomato and bresaola pizzettine (an 8 inch pizza, perfect for a quick bite), antipastini of messy polenta with gorgonzola, squid and mango salad and beef carpaccio.

The well-informed staff recommended the excellent Tuscan sausage pasta and Potato gnocchetti and gorgonzola, all washed down with ice cold Birra Moretti. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Assaggetti is its laid-back style, which is a real delight amidst the hustle and bustle of London’s tourist trail. Sitting downstairs, it wasn’t too hard to imagine oneself in Milan, Rome or Naples – a feeling further crystallised by the authenticity of the food that will appeal to carnivores and vegetarians alike. With the “Chef's Selection” – any three dishes for £11.25 – Assaggetti

When asked about the driving force behind the restaurant’s rapid growth, Stefano was quick to draw our attention to the genuine authenticity that informs everything at Assaggetti. “A passion for authentic Italian food, drink and culture, alongside our enthusiastic staff and a determination to ensure that every guest leaves with a smile on their face – these are the key factors in our success,” he affirms. Stefano was similarly quick to clarify his favourite dishes at Assaggetti: “When sharing with friends, I enjoy tasting a selection of dishes, but my experience wouldn’t be complete without the meatballs, aubergine stew and some zucchini fritti. Furthermore, our Prosecco list is one of the largest anywhere in London and I can’t recommend the 2009 Riserva Giustino Bisol, Ruggeri, enough, which is the perfect way to enjoy to Assaggetti”, he concludes. Given Assaggetti’s delicious and extensive menu, it is perhaps unsurprising that it has achieved such success since opening in 2011. Indeed, with the majority of dishes coming in at around £5, a genuine Italian feast can be enjoyed for under £50 including wine, which given today's trying economic times, will undoubtedly assure Assaggetti’s success for many years to come. Visit: for menus and reservations. Twitter: @MetroRest Facebook:


: London International Wine Fair Lots to see and do. It seemed that more of the lesser known wine regions had more presence too – Hungary, Washington State, Uruguay and even Virginia. So a great opportunity for sommeliers and wine buyers to discover

something new

Last month’s London International Wine Fair and Distil were reported a success by exhibitors and visitors alike. In the face of a challenging economic environment, the show cemented its position as essential to the UK and international wine and spirits industries. Visitor figures (counted only once per person and without exhibitor personnel) were slightly lower than 2011 at 13,431 compared to last year’s 13,754. Discovery was very much the theme for 2012, with exhibitors coming from China for the first time, as well as from other emerging producers such as Georgia, Lebanon, Moldova, Russia, Slovenia and Turkey. The International Wine Challenge Discovery Tasting featured 1,000 wines tailored to independent, ontrade and multiple grocer sectors and a selection of over 50 Industry Briefings, seminars and masterclasses provided the


trade with valuable information from the experts. Innovation was also a watchword with the likes of Wine Stars and Tesco’s Dragons Den style selection high on the agenda. James Murray, Event Director commented: “It’s safe to say that this has been our most challenging show to date. Operating in a depressed economic climate is never easy, but we feel the show stood up to its critics and continues to provide a platform for doing business in the UK. Plans are already underway to ensure 2013 ranks amongst the best shows to date and we are already putting in place new features and confirming exhibitors for next year.” Anne Burchett, Managing Director, Sopexa UK & Ireland commented: “For our exhibitors, finding the time to take advantage of the new

LIWF initiatives isn’t always easy, but the general feeling was really positive­­– some even commenting that they made more contacts in London than at ProWein. Our Fast Track to France feature was busier than ever and, despite those that try to play down the importance of LIWF, the Fair has proved itself an essential, must-attend event for anyone wanting to gain a 360 degree vision of the market. Instant commercial results are harder to find these days but we remain optimistic for the future.” Fiona Cochran, Marketing Director, Bibendum commented: “We have put a lot of investment into the LIWF with our brand new stand and believe it paid off, our producers were very happy to be here and very positive about the UK Market. Our show highlights include celebrating D’Arenberg’s 100th anniversary, our 30th

Birthday and of course, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which we celebrated in style with our British Summer Time campaign.” Stephen Finch, Managing Director, Vagabond Wines commented: “I look forward to LIWF every year. As in previous years I made some good finds and managed to catch up with a bunch of people in the trade.” Richard McKeown, UK Marketing Manager, Fratelli Martini Secondo Luigi commented: “We enjoyed a really encouraging LIWF 2012. We were delighted to experience a lot of interest in Canti Prosecco DOC in particular, whilst the introduction of new wines such as Canti Moscato d’Asti DOCG, were also well received.” Mary Pateras, Owner, Eclectic Wines commented: “We have had really good quality visitors to the stand, a great way to celebrate our 10 years of trading; a steady stream from small independent retailers to wine educators - a really nice mix.” Jeremy Rockett, Marketing Director, Gonzalez Byass UK commented: “We had an absolutely fantastic show. We find that being

proactive and having plenty of events and new product launches on our stand has meant that we got a lot of traffic driving in to taste our products. We were worried that the Thursday of the fair would be quiet but we had a very productive day, real quality rather than quantity. Overall, the show had a great array of masterclasses and seminars, we are proud to be a part of a great institution, a great industry and one that is moving with the times.” Ronan Sayburn MS, Director of Wine and Spirits, Hotel du Vin commented: “This year’s LIWF was one of the best for a long while. Very interesting stands included the IWC, Wine Gang, Union des Grand Cru plus the final of Sommelier of the Year and the usual masterclasses. Lots to see and do. It seemed that more of the lesser known wine regions had more presence too - Hungary, Washington State, Uruguay and even Virginia. So a great opportunity for sommeliers and wine buyers to discover something new. Makes the trek out to Excel well worthwhile”

Richard Vose, Wine Buyer, Peckham & Rye commented: “It was a useful show for us and we have picked up a couple of nice Italian wines and new Spanish too. Not enough time to do everything I wanted, but I guess that’s a good thing!  I thought it was pretty busy considering how quiet the trade is at the moment.” Joe Wadsack, blogger, IWC judge, consultant commented: “It’s all been about innovation this year and I’ve never heard such positive discussion from a panel in this business as at the Harpers Get Engaged briefing.” Jo Wehring, UK Market Manager, WOSA commented: “The 2012 LIWF was a successful event for Wines of South Africa. The themed tasting pods on our stand attracted a wide audience and the stand was very busy on all three days. Feedback from the agents and producers who exhibited with us was positive overall, with several companies committing to taking space in 2013. In tougher times a generic stand offers good value for those who want to reduce costs but still have a presence at the Fair, to meet with press and customers.” The 2013 event will run from 21-23 May at ExCeL.


: K West Hotel & Spa, London

A Stylish Getaway Opened in 2001, K West Hotel & Spa has come to define stylish accommodation in West London with its mix of sleek rooms and luxurious in-house spa. Hilary Cross, General Manager, tells EatSleepDrink about the hotel’s rise to the top.


Stylish and sleek, the Embassy Room is a popular choice with guests at the hotel.

Just a stone’s throw away from Westfield London and a five minute walk to Shepherd’s Bush Tube Station, K West is within easy reach of all the Capital has to offer. That said, from the moment one arrives at the hotel, the warm and stylish surroundings feel like a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of city life. With 220 spacious bedrooms and suites, chic bar and organic spa, K West has unsurprisingly become a firm favourite with musicians, artists and media types who flock back time-and-time again for its prime location and superb facilities.

Great success “As a former BBC building, we wanted the hotel to retain its links with the media as well as attracting people from every industry and each walk of life to come and enjoy what K West is all about,” Hilary begins by telling us. “Since opening, we have had great success with the music industry and I guess that is what we are predominantly known for; being a cool hotel in West London where you will often see musicians and artists having a drink in the bar, chilling out with our guests whilst our DJ plays some great tunes. “Our award-winning organic Spa is

also a big factor in our success,” she affirms. “Recently refurbished in 2010 to an exceptional standard, it now boasts London’s first Snow Paradise. During the work, we also introduced organic products, extensive water recycling systems and eco-friendly towel washing methods”. As well as K West’s organic Spa, the rest of the hotel is overseen by a ‘Green Team’ that constantly search for ways to make the property more ecofriendly, whether improving efficiency or by introducing new organic beauty products for the rooms. Indeed, even the suites at K West boast organic toiletries and everything is 100 per cent chemical free. So extensive has the hotel’s socalled ‘green overhaul’ been that it was rewarded with a Silver rating in the Green Tourism Awards.

Location, location, location Now a firmly established luxury hotel and spa, K West has seen business increase thanks to the much publicised opening of the giant Westfield shopping complex, which is just a five minute stroll away. As Hilary continues, this is just one of K West’s many selling points. “We have

Enjoy a spot of celebrity spotting at the K Lounge Bar.

a fabulous location in West London, offer great value for money and deliver friendly and accommodating service that is unfussy-yet-personal. Further to this, we also boast large bedrooms, which is rather unusual for London where space tends to be cramped at our price point.


Team players

The ultra-modern facade of K West Hotel & Spa in all its glory

When asked about the hotel’s major strengths, Hilary was eager to stress the importance of her and Shaved Pecorino staff that offer personal Cheese (£11) were and professional service cooked and presented from arrival to departure. with aplomb. The wine “Our people are terrific, list, too, was sensibly are also famous for the amazing cocktails priced with the most expensive red (an having been chosen for their friendliness we serve – our mojitos, in particular, are and willingness to help make every excellent Rioja) topping in at £31 for the guest’s experience of K West a great one. incredible!” bottle. Having experienced the Our prime location and product help Fit and healthy contemporary menu executed by Head too, of course! “Gastronomy “Refurbished in 2010, and drinks are also “Our people are terrific, having been chosen for their K Spa and K Fit were a key part of our to take our friendliness and willingness to help make every guest’s created strategy,” she tells us. guests on a journey,” “We offer a wide experience of K West a great one. Our prime location Hilary confirms. “So variety of dishes in whether to relax and and product help too, of course!” the hotel to cater unwind in K Spa or for every taste and to get fit and healthy Chef, Eduart Berisha, at Kanteen, we can have also just launched a Children’s at K Fit, we have created a wonderful confirm Hilary’s sentiments. Mains of Menu to keep the little ones happy too. environment to help our guests reach Chargrilled Sirloin Steak with Hand-Cut We make everything from fresh and their goals. In addition to this, we are Chips, Watercress and Béarnaise (£19) serve anything from Angus beef burgers very proud of our environmental policy and Roasted Butternut Squash, Sun to Wild mushroom risotto with some which encompasses all of our operations, Blushed Tomatoes, Pomegranate, Rocket fabulous dishes in between. That said, we particularly those in K Spa. We currently Unwind in Kuddles Couches at the K Spa.


Kanteen, the in-house restaurant at K West, is low on pretension but high on taste.

hold a Silver Award with Green Tourism and we are trying to achieve the Gold, so watch this space!” Changing tack, we were curious to find out more about K West’s approach to marketing, particularly in the build up to the London 2012 Olympics. “We are actually almost fully booked for the Olympics, with a small allocation confirmed to LOCOG and the rest offered to our top companies who have supported us over the last few years. “I think that we have firmly established ourselves as a cool place to be whether for drinks or accommodation,” she affirms. “Indeed, I would say that many of our return guests keep coming back because of our staff, our innate style, the K Spa and the Bar – all of which make the hotel an ideal choice for business or pleasure. “I have just spent three weeks staying in the hotel and have loved watching

how our guests and our staff interact and engage,” Hilary concludes by explaining. “For me, the ideal experience is my experience...That our guests and our staff both feel K West Hotel & Spa is their second home, just as I do”. Having kindly accommodated EatSleepDrink in an Executive room with its huge Superking bed and sleek bathroom, we can confirm the veracity of Hilary’s sentiments. And

given the hotel’s prime location, stylish accommodation and eco-friendly ethos, we’re predicting another successful decade for K West Hotel & Spa. Visit: for more information and reservations. Rates start from £129 per night. Twitter: @kwesthotel Facebook: KWestHotel

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: Chase Vodka

Chasing the

Having spent his life working with the humble potato, William Chase first rose to prominence as the founder of Tyrrells before conceiving Chase Vodka in 2004. We caught up with the man himself to find out more about his distillery’s world-beating vodka. Whilst travelling the USA in 2004 searching for packaging equipment for Tyrrells, William stumbled upon a small distillery making potato vodka – the rest, as they say, is history. Having become disenchanted with the crisp market, William decided it would be more fun making vodka. Much like with Tyrrells, William’s strategy was refreshingly simple: to make a quality product with provenance and pedigree – a strategy that has taken the industry by storm.

Quality not quantity “When I first started Chase, the whole aim was to make something better and to try and get the industry to buy into it, not from brainwashing or sponsoring bartenders, but from a quality perspective,” he begins by telling us. “I didn’t want to just throw money at the product. Indeed, I felt like we had a real story to tell and that the vodka should speak for itself without massive advertising campaigns and billboards plastered everywhere. “Tyrrells was a massive success but it had reached a point where it was going to masses and so I fancied a change in


direction, which coincided with my trip to America in 2004,” he recalls. “Before I tried the vodka from this small distillery I had no idea that it could taste so good and it really opened my eyes to what could be done with the humble potato. Obviously it is quite a big jump from the crisp market to vodka and, although we began by making the vodka alongside Tyrrells, I soon realised the two wouldn’t work alongside one another. “Because of the premium market we were aiming at, we weren’t able to tie in premium spirits with salty snacks, so it was a big leap of faith to leave Tyrrells. However, I knew from experience that if you have a good product, breaking into the retail sector is relatively easy. Retailers are now quite open to stocking quality products, particularly in the premium market, so if they like it, the chances are they will begin to stock it, which was perfect for Chase Vodka.

The pain barrier “With the on-trade, however, we found that this was totally dominated by the large brands, so we had to work on a campaign that educated the buyers


about the quality and pedigree of our vodka,” William explains. “Nearly all of the big players sell mass produced vodka, so we wanted to break the mould by using all of our own ingredients, grown on our own farm and by making the vodka in our own distillery. “This was a painful experience because although the vodka tasted fantastic it cost a hell of a lot of money to put the infrastructure in place to make a suitable premium spirit from scratch in any sort of volume,” he testifies. “Just to put things in perspective, we could probably buy a spirit in for about 50 pence a litre, like many of the larger distilleries do, and finish it off with a bit of vanilla. To actually go out and make it ourselves costs five pounds per litre, making it a very expensive process in comparison. “Consequently, the only way to really market Chase was to rely on its quality and by inviting buyers and consumers to taste it. We hand-picked all of the bars that weren’t controlled by the big players


“We realised that we could never compete with the likes of Bacardi or Diageo, so it was up to us to spread the word by inviting bartenders and owners to our distillery and see the pedigree and provenance with their own eyes”.

and went to all of them to find out who was genuinely interested. We realised that we could never compete with the likes of Bacardi or Diageo, so it was up to us to spread the word by inviting bartenders and owners to our distillery and see the pedigree and provenance with their own eyes”. In Chase Vodka’s first year, the company ran 200 buses from London full of bartenders from the capital, which, as William continues by explaining, was the start of the Chase revolution. “This grew to 500 buses the next year and last year we had 1,000 tour the distillery. Our distillery is a trade facility for professionals to come and see the process, so they can ultimately believe in what they’re selling. We started an event in 2011 called ‘Rock the Farm’ that is solely for the on-trade and it had 1,000 guests and this year we’re expecting around 3,000. “In a sense it is kind of like a festival where visitors can come and make their own vodka out of parsnips, so it’s injecting a real ‘hands-on’ experience to our potential buyers. Once they’ve tasted the vodka and seen the pedigree, the product tends to sell itself,” he affirms. “At the beginning in 2008, this was the hardest part of the business – getting potential customers to try Chase, but now the strategy has been vindicated, which is a great relief!”

of quality. “Because I was coming into it without any knowledge of the vodka market and thus without knowing how to market Chase in a suitable way, it took quite some time to scale the business in appropriately,” he asserts. “The production process was more straightforward because I had experience with the ingredients. Today, we do the majority of our sales through wholesalers such as Bibendum but it is integral that we have our team of ‘foot soldiers’ on the ground spreading the word about Chase Vodka and what we’re all about. “Rather than just pay brand ambassadors, we train our team to know the vodka and the pedigree inside out, because I think to sell something of this nature you have to have a real passion for it,” William affirms. “The branding, too, was a result of passion and quite a bit of hard work. We often do special edition bottles for customers, which really look great on the shelves and in high-end bars. It took a long, long time to get the brand reflected in the bottle – if the bottle is too exclusive it has the potential to alienate customers, whereas we didn’t want to undersell it either. “As we’re always focused on the liquid inside the bottle it was critical that the brand was communicated through the bottle and I think we’ve achieved that now”.

All grown and made

Bespoke and Flexible

As with almost all premium food and beverage products, those that can tell the difference are the connoisseurs who tend to be positioned at the top-end of the market – a fact that William realised from the very beginning. “When I saw the big brands marketing ‘super premium spirits’ I noticed that they were still made en masse, in stainless steel distilleries. Whereas our vodka is made in a copper still and unfiltered; this is the true mark

As well as Chase Vodka, the company has also become famous for its Marmalade Vodka with its distinctive orange bottle that reflects the Seville oranges used in the distilling process. “Although I wouldn’t say that we’re an artisanal brand, we certainly do have the flexibility to produce bespoke vodkas for particular clients, which is a massive asset. Because our vodka is expensive to produce, we have to ensure there is

enough turnover in the market to cover our costs,” William tells us. “But the fact that our vodka has won so many awards is a great testament to the strength of our products”. “The really exciting thing about Chase Vodka is the strength of the export market, so rather than having to saturate the UK, we have been able to focus on the overseas sectors, such as Hong Kong where we do a phenomenal amount of business,” he notes. “We sell directly overseas and with the growing strength of social media, we are increasingly renowned the world-over, which is a real affirmation of the brand”. Despite the much publicised recession, there has been a crystallisation of quality

Because our vodka is expensive to produce, we have to ensure there is enough turnover in the market to cover our costs. But the fact that our vodka has won so many awards is a great testament to the strength of our products”.

all people and our price point (£36 per bottle) means that we are, by definition, a premium brand,” he asserts. “Our heritage and the whole ethos behind Chase means that we are more than just a marketing gimmick, which is confirmed by the quality of the vodka.”

An exciting year “This is a massively exciting year for us as our main USP is the quality of the core ingredients and the meticulous distilling process,” William tells us. “Across the

William’s Elegant and Crisp Gin being bottled

in the market whereby consumers have become more receptive than ever to genuine pedigree – something that William continues by clarifying. “I think that people are perhaps more prepared than ever to pay for quality as long as they’re not being pushed into it. Indeed, if people discover it themselves there is a sense of delight that comes with such a genuinely great-tasting drink. “It’s very hard to be all things to

world, the Union Jack is becoming one of the coolest ‘brandings’ around, which you wouldn’t have believed 20 years ago, so we have slowly incorporated it into our bottles. We were recently awarded the Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, which was a huge affirmation of our hard work, particularly because we, as British vodka, beat the likes of Russian, Polish and French vodkas. “Because of the Olympics and the

Jubilee, 2012 is going to be our best year yet,” he concludes. “We are already one of the best-selling products in World Duty Free at UK airports as we’re a British brand with true pedigree. “With regards to the future, we are not looking to expand too much in the UK because that will lead to oversaturation and, thus, undermine the strength of the brand. As they say, exclusivity is not just about price but availability. “As there is no danger of us outsourcing production, we know and, most importantly, our customers know, that the quality of Chase will be constant, so although we could increase our production, we are far happier with making quality vodka in small batches for discerning customers”. Visit: Twitter @chasevodka Facebook: worldsbestvodka


: Cambscuisine, Cambridgshire

Honesty and Integrity Founded in 2001, Cambscuisine is a group of five restaurants and a premium catering operation based in Cambridgeshire. We spoke to Oliver Thain, Co-Founder, to find out more about the company’s commitment to quality, knowledgeable staff and fine environments. Having bucked the economic trend over the last four years, Cambscuisine is one of the UK’s hospitality success stories. With an ethos based on hard work, knowledgeable and friendly service and first rate food, it is not difficult to see the reasons behind the company’s success. The company has gathered many accolades, not least ‘The Cock at Hemingford’, being the National Dining Pub of the year in 2010 (Good Pub Guide). Cambscuisine has just launched its latest Pub Restaurant, The Tickell Arms in the heart of Whittlesford, a village just five miles south of Cambridge.

Good things comes in twos As Oliver begins by telling us, the foundations of Cambscuisine were formed more than a decade ago. “I was


working as an Area Manager for a large pub retailer and I got together with Richard Bradley in 2001 to purchase The Cock in Hemingford Grey. We didn’t know each other that well and had only met one another a handful of times. Richard was a Head Chef at the time, so when we combined and bought the freehold for The Cock, he was in the kitchen and I managed it, which was the start of a lasting partnership based on hard work and loyalty”. Located in the quintessentially British village of Hemingford Grey, The Cock continues to be one of the company’s most popular venues, famous for its real ale and freshly prepared food. Oliver continues by recalling the history of the company. “From day one, we both got stuck

in and the sales were strong. Based on the success, we were able to grow the business accordingly. Following on from this, we bought the freehold of the Crown and Punchbowl in Horningsea in 2003. We developed this into what it is today and sold a lease on it in 2007 to Crown Catering Ltd,” he explains. “In 2005, another two years down the line, we bought The Boathouse in Ely, which we developed into a delightful restaurant on the banks of the River Ouse. Then, in 2007, with the proceeds from the sale of the Crown and Punchbowl lease, we bought ‘No 1 kings Parade’ which was very run down and had been shut for about eight months. We opened it with name ‘The Cambridge Chop House’ and it’s been firing ever since.

“No-one really knew who was responsible for the different restaurants and I felt it was crucial that the public knew that The Cock was also part of the same group that owned the Chop Houses, the Tickell and The Boathouse.” “To us, it seemed ridiculous that a building like that in such an incredible location (King’s Parade, which for those unfamiliar, is a wonderful place for a restaurant in Cambridge, right opposite Kings College Chapel), wasn’t working. Up until this point, it was just Richard and I who ran and owned the company but we then took on Max Freeman who joined us in the business going forward. He had been General Manager at Brown’s and Loch Fyne in Cambridge. Oliver recalls. “He possessed the city centre skills and acumen that the business needed at the time, and he bought a great bunch of staff from Brown’s as well!” Another two years on, Cambscuisine opened St. John’s Chop House on Northampton street, as Oliver continues. “Formerly Michelle’s Brasserie and a failing Prezzo, St. John’s is going great guns now, as is the Cambridge Chop House. Both Chop Houses offer non nonsense British food, real ale from the cask and a highly focussed wine list. Then, in 2011 we started negotiating on The Tickell Arms in Whittlesford, which we opened on June 1st 2012. In amongst of all this, we founded the Cambridge Dining Company, which was started in conjunction with Simon Day. He runs that business and it has proved to be a real success catering to some wonderful event destinations in the Cambridgeshire region. That is a business that has tremendous growth potential”.

Building the brand Having been perceived as a rather autonomous collection in the past, Oliver and Richard recently took the decision to improve awareness of Cambscuisine to solidify the brand and boost awareness about the company. “No-one really knew who was responsible for the different restaurants and I felt it was crucial that the public knew that The Cock was also

part of the same group that owned the Chop Houses, the Tickell and The Boathouse. We have around 11,500 people on our database all of whom have requested that we update them with latest offers and promotions. “The business has been developed through people, which is an awful cliché but it’s absolutely the case,” he notes.” For us, it’s about growing the business through really good people and through sharing out some of the equity we ensure that our people are genuinely invested in what we do. This has been a core strategy right from day one. “Richard and I’s first company was Condor Pubs Ltd but the business soon evolved into restaurants and, today, we are most certainly a food business,” he confirms. “However, in Whittlesford and Hemingford Grey, we have strived to make local pubs where people can just come in for a really good pint of local beer as well as offering great food at sensible prices for those that wish to dine with us as well”.

Local connections “I grew up in Cambridgeshire and Richard was formerly the Head Chef at The Cock in Hemingford Grey

The Anchor in Sutton Gault, which I lived next to whilst growing up,” Oliver tells us. “Despite moving away to university, I always had strong local connections, so the decision to be Cambridgeshire-based was formed by contacts as much as it was from local knowledge. When we bought The Cock in 2001, the market had yet to pick up and ever since we have been fortunate enough to use The Cock as our bank, in many ways. “Indeed, The Cock has always helped to fund new projects as we were able to pick up the freehold at a good price in those days, which enabled us to leverage it for the consequent expansion. From this point of view, we were lucky to get in 2001 before the market changed radically in 2003. The Cambridgeshire market is one of the few spots to have grown in recent years and is one of the hotspots in the British economy.” “After our success with The Cock and The Boathouse, we decided to make Cambridge our focus as there wasn’t really many good places to eat here at the time,” he asserts. “Since opening the Cambridge Chop House, the Cambridge restaurant market has developed significantly, but we were in from the ground floor, so we have the advantage


“As an entity, Cambscuisine operates on a simple strategy – under-promise and over-deliver. We are a no-nonsense business that serves first rate food using fresh ingredients from the best local sources”. of great locations with an established clientele”.

People first, people second Refreshingly for a business that has enjoyed such success, Cambscuisine prides itself on its lack of head office or corporate headquarters. Indeed, Oliver, Richard and Max prefer to work in the restaurants (our interview took place at recently launched The Tickell Arms, with a follow up at St. John’s Chop House). This kind of ‘hands-on’ approach has instilled a sense of genuine investment in the establishments and a real quality of care that is evident from front of house right through to the quality of the food and beverage offerings. The quirky lighting at The Tickell Arms in Whittlesford


“We are always in the businesses – we are always in the restaurants, which I think is a real strength,” he affirms. “Further to this, we really look after our staff and there is genuine potential for advancement in the business. We have little things like the 365 Club, whereby staff that have been with us for a year and subsequent years are rewarded. We take management and key staff to the Languedoc Roussillon (with Cambridge Wine) on wine tasting missions to meet our suppliers and producers. All staff have 50% off if eating in our restaurants. We like the staff to be with us Original features ooze class and sophistication at The Tickell Arms. for long periods because this gives us continuity and consistency. Looking after people helps are in great locations; Cambridgeshire cement that. is a very strong area and a real hive “We now employ 110 people of activity economically. We need to and Richard, Max and I know all of remain sharp, continually looking to them,” Oliver tells us. “As an entity, develop each restaurant and never be Cambscuisine operates on a simple complacent and always consistent”. strategy – under-promise and overAnd when asked about his ideal deliver. We are a no-nonsense business experience at Cambscuisine, Oliver, if that serves first rate food using fresh only he had the time (!), would “go for ingredients from the best local sources. a proper night out. Each of our places And unlike other restaurants that boast has a least two real ales (The Cock and about their ‘local’ suppliers, we practice The Tickell Arms have four), so I would what we preach – all of the ingredients have a pint or two of real ale whilst are sourced from suppliers within a half salivating over our wine list. I’d take in hour radius. We don’t shout about it the atmosphere, the environment and though! friendly service. I’d have a three courser “The menus are simply worded to with cheese and after a glass of whisky illustrate the quality of the ingredients from our excellent spirits list that you and dishes; we like to think that we’re an won’t see in many places. I love being in honest business. If we buy something in our restaurants, not least because of the well, we will charge the right price for it. people we employ.” We buy well and we are honest with our With its dedication to people and customers. Prices at Cambscuisine will its single minded, honest approach always reflect our costs and this again Cambscuisine is one of the UK’s genuine has been a core part of our strategy success stories. And although Oliver from day one”. remained coy when asked about the company’s next venture, we’re predicting A bright future that it won’t be too long before there’s Having made a dramatic impact in the another Cambscuisine outpost to rave highly competitive Cambridge food and about. beverage market, Cambscuisine is going Visit: from strength to strength and Oliver Twitter: @Cambscuisine is understandably confident about the company’s future. “All of our restaurants

: St. Ermin’s Hotel, London



Just a minute’s walk from St. James’s Park, St. Ermin’s Hotel underwent an extensive and meticulous £30 million refurbishment in 2011. We caught up with Stuart Leckie, Director of Sales and Marketing, to get the inside story on the hotel’s remarkable change in fortune. Entered through a lush, tree-lined courtyard in a rare haven of calm, St. Ermin’s Hotel has come a long way in the last couple of years. The property’s location in central London has always made it a perfect base for business or pleasure, but with the recently completed £30 million renovation, it has become a genuine player in the capital’s luxury hotel market.

A sense of intrigue Newly crowned as a 4-star deluxe hotel, St. Ermin’s has become one of London’s

most elegant venues, with an impressive array of public rooms, eating and drinking venues and impeccably designed bedrooms and suites, as Stuart brings us up to speed with the hotel’s rich history. “It’s reputed that the building was the site of the St. Ermin’s monastery well over 1,000 years ago. Though the area is very rich in history, our building was made into an apartment block between 1887-1889 and operated in this capacity for just over a decade when it was converted into a hotel,” he recalls. “In this sense, St. Ermin’s has been

operating as a hotel since 1900 and has been linked with the MoD and the intelligence community ever since, because of our location near Westminster and Scotland Yard. As a matter of fact, Winston Churchill spoke here and seconded the top two floors of the hotel during the War with intelligence purposes, so the hotel has always had a kind of intrigue about it. “After the Second World War, the hotel was run by a private family before it was taken over by Hilton in the late 1980s, who then sold it on to the Spanish hoteliers NH,” Stuart explains. “In 2010, the hotel was acquired by our current owners, Amerimar Holdings (, an American hotel management company. St. Ermin’s is their first hotel outside of North America and they fell in love with the property that at the time was in real need of some TLC. “Amerimar have a great record in


The delightful lobby and super cool Caxton Bar.

adding value to run down properties, so after acquiring the hotel in late 2010, they set about restoring St. Ermin’s to its former glory,” he affirms. “We closed for six months while the refurbishment work was carried out and opened our doors again in late April 2011, just a couple of days before the Royal Wedding”.

Nothing short of incredible “I’ve been in the hotel industry for 25 years and, since we reopened, I have never experienced anything like it – the reception to the renovation work has been nothing short of incredible,” Stuart confirms. “Customers absolutely love it and, from my perspective it’s down to


a combination of things. Amerimar is a small company that places enormous importance on service and hospitality – they do not penny pinch and they believe in creating something that has a tangible warmth where guests feel truly at home. “In a sense, we had to overcome quite an imposing hotel and we’ve managed to marry a British sensibility with an American service ethic,” he notes. “The general feedback from our guests is that the service is comprehensive-yet-subtle. This has most certainly been a driving force behind the success of our family rooms, which have skyrocketed since the refurbishment. “We have 18 family rooms – two double rooms knocked

together, which retain both bathrooms. Ordinarily, if you have two kids, you have to rent two rooms, but at St. Ermin’s families can be extremely comfortable in a twin room”.

Selling itself

continues by explaining the remarkable revolution in the hotel’s fortunes. “Having been here for six months before the new owners arrived, the change is just amazing. When we were in the process of pricing up the newly renovated rooms we were told that we’d never get away with charging the rates we proposed. Such is the quality of the new and improved St. Ermin’s those same people were soon eating their words! “Indeed, once they saw the product and experienced it they loved it and keep coming back,” he testifies. “There is a huge amount of indirect Government business in the area, as well as Google, Microsoft and Burberry – young businesses that love the hotel. We are also the first MGallery (www.mgallery. com) Hotel in London, so being able to plug into Accor’s luxury worldwide

One of the most refreshing features of the hotel is the blend of ornate Victorian architecture and the stylish, modern interiors, as Stuart continues by highlighting the power of service. “I would say that first and foremost, the major selling point of the hotel is our staff; the majority of whom have been with us since day one. Our staff is empowered to make our guests’ stay as enjoyable as possible. “Similarly, our staff is as comfortable dealing with the seasoned corporate traveller who wants peace and quiet, to the high-end leisure guest that expects personable service,” he affirms. “We have ‘Wine Hour’ every evening between 5:30-6:30, where all guests are invited into the lobby to meet the management team and enjoy a glass of their favourite tipple on us. “Putting on my sales hat, our location is similarly robust for both business and leisure. We are a one minute walk For the height of luxury, book one of the hotel’s Suites for the ultimate from St. James’s Park in stylish accommodation. and the underground; a two minute walk to Buckingham Palace; and a three minute walk to Westminster marketing service has increased our highAbbey,” Stuart asserts. “From a corporate end sales to global leisure travellers. perspective, you have London’s five “We have similarly invested a lot in major conference centres all within a our own website, as well as on sales five minute walk. SW1 is really where and marketing. We are currently running London meets, so we are in the hub of our Jubilee and Spy Kids packages, the capital’s corporate arena as well. which are doing very well (http://www. “Likewise, if you’re here for shopping,,” he we’re two tube stops from Sloane tells us. Square and the King’s Road, so location is Perhaps the greatest testament a great asset”. to just how far the hotel has come since reopening is displayed for the Rising to the top world to see on TripAdvisor, as Stuart Before Amerimar worked their magic is understandably keen to elucidate. on St. Ermin’s, the hotel was something “Before we closed, we were ranked of a ‘bed factory’, with basic three star 451st out of 1,062 hotels in London facilities that heavily catered to the and today we are 27th, which is an European tourist market, as Stuart overwhelming affirmation of the


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refurbishment. Each morning we discuss our latest TripAdvisor guest reviews and any negative feedback is responded to immediately. Our Staff are rewarded if they are praised in a review – you can speak to any member of the team and they will be able to tell you what position we are on the site at any given time”.

Food and drink As a core part of any luxury hotel’s portfolio, food and drink is another highlight at St. Ermin’s – a fact that Stuart is eager to describe. “We have an in-house restaurant called The Caxton Grill & Bar, which is our main food and beverage offering. We didn’t want highend, haute cuisine but rather a relaxed neighbourhood restaurant that focused on locally sourced, sustainable dishes.

Unusual for a ‘hotel restaurant’, The Caxton Grill has been a phenomenal local success and boasts an average of 80 covers every lunchtime, as well as enjoying an extremely robust sleeper-to-diner ratio.

which again lends more cache to our emphasis on sustainability”. Unusual for a ‘hotel restaurant’, The Caxton Grill has been a phenomenal local success and boasts an average of 80 covers every lunchtime, as well as enjoying an extremely robust sleeperto-diner ratio. “The food is incredible with a good wine list and the local corporate market has embraced it wholeheartedly; many of the senior managers from local businesses can be spotted in here most days! “The bar specialises in flights of wine, so red, white and champagnes, as well as charcuterie platters and nuts roasted in

drab and meek hotel, St Ermin’s is today a shining example of British hospitality that shows no sign of slowing down, as Stuart asserts. “We were fully booked for the Olympics a year ago, so we are gearing up for a really exciting summer. The last thing we wanted to do was alienate our regular corporate clients, so it has really worked out well for us. “From the General Manager down, our whole mission statement is to deliver breathtaking hospitality and success reflected through service,” he concludes. “In terms of the future, we would like to be further established with some of the longhaul markets, such as Middle East, China and Brazil. 42 per cent of our business is now North American, so it is just a question of spreading our wings on a more international front, as well as consolidating our local The spacious lounge area that come as standard with all of the St. Ermin’s suites corporate business”. With rates starting from as little as £209 plus VAT per night, The decision was made by our Head the Josper grill,” he affirms. “From about it is not hard to see why St. Ermin’s has Chef, Hus Vedat, to install a Josper Grill, 5-7pm, there is a really homely feel in enjoyed such an incredible change in which imparts a distinctive charcoal there and everything has been well fortune. And with an Olympic summer flavour to all the local and handpicked thought out, from the drinks right down already guaranteed, the hotel is in a ingredients we use. to the snacks. We also have The Caxton fine position to further improve on its “As well as steaks and delicious meats, Terrace in the summer, which offers remarkable journey up the TripAdvisor we also source all of our fish from the superb Al Fresco dining”. ladder - we’re almost certain that Brixton market, which is delivered each Onwards and upwards another jump is only a matter of time. morning,” he affirms. “The emphasis is Having recently experienced the St. Visit: on protein and a lot of work went into Ermin’s experience first-hand, we can Twitter @sterminshotel making the side dishes really interesting, indeed confirm the remarkable strides Facebook: thanks to our US owners. The wine the hotel has taken since reopening in StErminsHotel list, too, is particularly interesting as April 2011. From its previous life as a our Head Chef ’s wife owns a vineyard,


Purer water at five-star Scottish retreat thanks to Eau de Vie When you’re an exclusive five-star retreat and a top location for fashion shoots, ensuring that guests have first-class amenities and safe drinking water is essential, which is why The Lodge at Loch Goil turned to Eau de Vie. The Lodge, nestled on the banks of Loch Goil, has an enviable location with stunning views, scenery and facilities. It offers luxury en-suite rooms, private dining and is the venue for weddings, events and fashion shoots, including Vogue. It has been renting the Eau de Vie system since early 2012 and Iain Hopkins, Director of The Lodge, considers Eau de Vie invaluable as he explains: “There’s various safety issues with mountain water as it is untreated. Eau de Vie removes the impurities to make great tasting, quality, safe water to make our Highland water purer than any other. Bottled water providers, such as Evian, don’t even make it this good.” The Eau de Vie water can be dispensed into stylish, upmarket Eau de Vie branded bottles, turning mains


water into a profitable and eco-friendly alternative to bought-in bottled mineral water. The bottles can also be recycled, making them even more cost effective. Iain says: “We have around 100 bottles of Eau de Vie, which we have etched with our logo. The system is so simple to use and having the bottles means that we can fill them with water before a big event to help everything run smoothly on the day.” Eau de Vie systems from Classeq are available to rent or buy. For information on the Eau de Vie range, including details of your nearest stockists, call 0844 998 0870, e-mail, or visit .

: Cîroc Vodka

Grape not Grain Introduced to the USA in 2003 and launched in the UK in 2006, Cîroc is a brand of premium distilled vodka manufactured in France from grapes in contrast to the commonly used corn, sorghum, rye, wheat or potatoes. EatSleepDrink caught up with Cîroc to find out more about this luxury brand.


Manufactured by Diageo and now available the world over, Cîroc is famously endorsed by Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, who has been the brand’s US ambassador since 2007. Unlike most vodka, which is distilled from grain, Cîroc is crafted from fine French grapes and inspired by centuries of wine making experience and expertise.

Like no other As the company begins by telling us, the ambition for Cîroc was to create genuinely unique vodka. “The manufacturers wanted to create a premium vodka like no other with which to toast the most glamorous and sophisticated celebratory occasions. Its unique production process gives Cîroc an exceptionally fresh, citrus taste which combines inventiveness, character and luxury in equal measure”. Indeed, as any premium spirit company understands, branding is critical to

tell us. “We are also ensuring that Cîroc is enjoyed by VIPs the world-over, at leading red carpet events, such as the premiere after-party for the recently released film, Snow White and the Huntsmen. “Furthermore, Cîroc has recently achieved high-visibility at a host of parties at the Cannes International Film Festival,” they highlight. “Cîroc is part of the ‘Ultra Premium Vodka’ category, which is a hugely exciting, active and dynamic category that we are proud to be part of and leading the charge in through new product innovation”.

Selling the dream

Crafted from fine, succulent French grapes to create the ultimate fresh, smooth taste, Cîroc is positioned as the definitive vodka for those looking to celebrate – a selling point the company was delighted to explain. “The brand is ideally positioned for those who deserve the most vivid, vibrant and luxurious celebratory occasions. Made from top quality ‘Snap Frost’ grapes – “Great Mauzac Blanc grapes grown in Gaillac, one of the theatre is a key part of the oldest and highest vineyard areas in France – the experience in resulting vodka is a product of centuries of expertise. leading bars and clubs,” they consumer and trade awareness alike, note. “So, in order to capitalise on this, particularly in the luxury market – we created Le Bubble – beautiful and something that they were eager to bespoke Cîroc ice buckets – to create explain. “The Cîroc branding was very a compelling and seductive bottle serve much inspired by the exceptional quality experience. At present, our Original of the vodka inside every bottle. The crisp Vodka is the most popular blend of Cîroc freshness of the brand is represented in a and we’re thrilled with the reception that our newer flavours – Red Berry, Coconut design which is elegant enough to stand and Peach – are receiving around the out in a luxury bar or nightclub, while world and in the UK”. representing the brand and showcasing the vodka encased within the bottle”.

A rousing reception Since its UK launch in 2006, the brand has been incredibly well received and continues to see strong momentum as Cîroc develops its profile, as the company continues by describing. “We have and will continue to leverage our strong relationships with trend-leading bars and clubs to ensure Cîroc is enjoyed by the right people in the right place,” they affirm. “The latest example is The Rose Club, from the nightlife supremoes Nick House and Piers Adam. We have a superb Cîroc Bar in the venue, as well as a signature serve – the Cîroc Punch Music Box,” they


Emphasising quality

One of Cîroc’s major selling points is that it is one of the world’s only vodkas made entirely from grapes. Made from top quality ‘Snap Frost’ grapes – Mauzac Blanc grapes grown in Gaillac, one of the oldest and highest vineyard areas in France – the resulting vodka is a product of centuries of expertise. Unlike grain, grapes don’t need heat to release their sugars, so Cîroc uses cold maceration, cold fermentation, and cold storage processes. Until now, only top fine wine producers practised this process. So as well as ensuring a great taste, this technique further preserves its distinctive freshness and extracts a more flavourful

combination of the fruit character. Although all vodkas are distilled, Diageo proudly emphasise that Cîroc is distilled five times, with the first four distillations of the Ugni Blanc taking place in stainless steel column stills; the Mauzac Blanc grapes are distilled in copper continuous stills. These are distilled as far as 96.5 per cent and 93.5 per cent respectively, then blended together, with 95 per cent being Ugni Blanc and 5 per cent Mauzac Blanc. The final distillation is then performed in a traditional Armagnac-style copper pot still, as the company continues by explaining Cîroc’s approach to quality production. “As a rule, we plan for the long term to ensure we are able to maintain quality and consistency in the production process right through to the bottle serve,” they affirm. “In this sense, Cîroc will continue to innovate and seek out new flavours to better increase our product offering and luxury brand awareness”.

A compelling vision Given the global success of Cîroc, which sold more than one million cases in 2011, it is little surprise that the company has such high hopes for the brand’s expansion in the UK, as they underline. “The driving factor behind the brand’s success is ultimately that it is an exceptional product with all the quality credentials you would expect from an Ultra Premium Vodka. This, alongside a solid understanding of our consumer and a powerful and compelling vision for the Cîroc brand, has been the impetus behind Cîroc’s success”. Unsurprisingly, when asked about his hopes for the next 12 months, the company was eager to explain the company’s optimism for the brand. “Over the next year, we will continue to grow; continue to surprise; and continue to be the definitive vodka for life’s most vivid, celebratory occasions”. Having already become synonymous with the luxury vodka market in the UK, it is difficult not to share the company’s optimism for the future of Cîroc, particularly given that the brand is part of Diageo. Indeed, if the last few years are any kind of guide, it will surely be another year to toast for Cîroc’s ultra premium vodka. Visit: Twitter: @ciroc Facebook:

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EatSleepDrink Magazine - Issue 8  

Issue 8 of EatSleepDrink Magazine, featuring The Stafford, Antico Restaurant & Bar, Assaggetti, Cambscuisine, St. Ermin's Hotel, K West Hote...

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