The Inspire Issue
ISSN 2052 0603
My first experience of gin was discovering the collection of bottles sitting under the stairs at my Grandmother’s house. Being inquisitive, I was eager to learn more about this mysterious liquid that my family had been distilling since 1762. My fascination with gin and its complex distillation process had begun; and under my Grandmother’s expert guidance, I learnt how, by simply infusing the crisp sharpness of juniper berries with a variety of other flavours and aromas, the taste could change dramatically. For inspiration I looked first at South Africa, my wife’s home, and quickly found some exciting flavours and aromas that could be derived from the flower, seed, root or other parts of
indigenous plants there. I researched several native South African plants, eventually deciding on the Baobab tree and Cape Gooseberries (Physalis) as the main botanicals. When distilled individually, both of these give the unique and very different citrus notes that are now an intrinsic part of Whitley Neill Gin. To reflect the role the Baobab tree played in the creation of Whitley Neill, I decided to make its distinctive roots-up silhouette the symbol of our brand. I then took the other carefully selected botanicals to create our full range of award-winning gins - inspired by tastes from around the world...
Meet Johnny Neill, 8 th generation distiller from a distinguished family line.
Tom Collins •
50ml Whitley Neill Original Gin
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
Lemon wedge garnish Add ingredients to a highball glass with ice and stir. Garnish with a lemon wedge. FOR MORE SERVE SUGGESTIONS VISIT: WHITLEYNEILL.COM
T H E U K ’S N O .1 P R E M I U M G I N
FORGET RESOLUTIONS, THEY’RE SO 2019.
INSTEAD WE START THE NEW DECADE
BY ASKING THE QUESTION:
WHO OR WH AT
That’s an easy one for us, the clue is in our name. We’re continually inspired by the creativity on show in the everinventive world of cocktails. To prove it, we’ve devoted the whole of our first issue of 2020 to it. However, we wouldn’t have dreamt of taking on a theme like this without a very special mention to the late, great gaz regan who passed away in November 2019. The author, bartender and all-round top gent formerly known as Gary Regan was one of the kindest, most generous and inspiring people we’ve had the pleasure to meet and the world will be just that bit duller without him. Fortunately for anyone who is even remotely interested in the joy of mixology, his words of wisdom – both written in his many books and publications, including this one, and spoken, as a mentor, judge and teacher throughout his illustrious career – will live on forever (p. 18). That said, he would have loved the thought of celebrating the people, products and places that continue to inspire today. There’s Shingo Gokan for instance, the only person with three bars on the World’s 50 Best Bars list. He talks to us exclusively about his next exciting ventures on page 30. Jane Ryan looks over the most creative cocktail menus of the past decade (p. 42), and Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown pick out 10 of their most inspiring drinks experiences to date (p. 52). Then there are the bars… Victoria Miller has visited some 20,000 in her 15 years as a drinks writer. Check out the ones she finds most inspiring on page 66. Happy imbibing!
Ms S & Mr G thecocktaillovers.com
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30. IN-the spotlight Gokan, go!
Shingo Gokan reveals his two major projects for 2020. Warning: they’re going to be huge…
7. IN-the know
25 reasons to be a cocktail lover this season
Being app happy, increasing our water intake, flying smart and being knit-wits – just a few of the things we’re looking forward to in the upcoming months
36. IN-style Class acts
Drinks brands with bottle (including stand-out packaging and inspiring stories to boot)
13. IN-the know The place
Get your creative juices flowing at Tayer + Elementary
15. IN-the know The drink
In praise of Chris Moore's amazing poshed-up Piña Colada
17. IN-the know
Meet the new addition to the Hendrick’s family (and it’s probably not what you think…)
Jane Ryan rounds up the most inspiring drinks menus of the decade
18. IN-the know
A tribute to the late, great Gary Regan
22. IN-the spotlight Leaders of the pack
There’s no shortage of talented individuals in this game but there are some who really stand out. Check out our eight greats
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Cocktails and dreams
…for cleaner drinking at home
50. IN-focus Light fantastic
How an inspiring use of light led to a showstopping drinks launch
Editors: Sandrae Lawrence Gary Sharpen
10 of the best drinking experiences
Drinks buffs Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown pick out their favourite moments in bars
Office Manager: Tereza Singh Sub-editor: Laura Hills Creative Director: James Cheverton at Burnt Studio burntstudio.com
Who or what inspires the bartenders? Find out here
60. IN-formed Mains & Martinis
Three London restaurants where the drinks are every bit as delicious as the food
62. IN-formed Word up
News, views and reviews from the cocktail front
66. IN-ternational The perfect dozen
Bars that inspire? Virginia Miller reveals her favourites, and they don’t include the usual suspects
70. IN-the know The Flavour Thesaurus The last word in great taste
Photography Adam Goodison adamgoodisonphotography.com Contributors: Jared Brown Anistatia Miller Virginia Miller Jane Ryan Phoebe Shakespeare Lauryn Tomlinson Miles Watson
For all editorial and advertising enquiries, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 020 7242 2546 thecocktaillovers.com Printed by Stephens & George Distributed by Gold Key Media Reproduction in whole or part of any contents of The Cocktail Lovers Magazine without prior permission from the editors is strictly prohibited. The Cocktail Lovers Issue No. 34 Winter 2020 The Cocktail Lovers magazine is published by The Cocktail Lovers Ltd. in London, UK PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY
The Cocktail Lovers are proud winners of Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication, Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards 2016 and The London Evening Standard Progress 1000 – London’s Most Influential People 2015 and 2017. Also shortlisted for Best Food & Drinks Publication in the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME) Awards 2019
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Phoebe Shakespeare is a London-based set designer and props stylist specialising in fashion and events. She creates illusionary worlds, whatever the scale, to enchant and immerse the viewer. Her work is in demand by the likes of Harvey Nichols, Converse, Apple Music and Selfridges, with editorial commissions for publications including Vogue Italia, ES Magazine, AnOther and The Telegraph.
“The most inspiring work I’ve done was a trip to the Spanish/ Portuguese border a few years ago to photograph a festival of near-death experiences, or rather, those people who should have died but somehow survived against the odds,” says Adam.
Who or what inspires you? “For the shoot in this issue I was inspired by the Surrealists and in particular the Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico.” Phoebe’s impressive sets can be seen on page 36.
Who or what inspires you? “Inspiration comes to me in many forms – rarely from one situation or individual. I tend to find inspiration on the streets or in nature, when I can be alone with my camera and outside the highly controlled shoot environments I usually find myself in. The freedom to be anonymous for a second or two is inspiring to me and helps me to see things through the camera slightly differently.” See Adam’s photographs for this issue on page 36.
The Cocktail Girl
Our Cocktail Girl has been writing about cocktails in London for the past 10 years. And it’s a job she takes extremely seriously. Mostly you’ll find her perched at the bar, studying the menus and listening to the rhythm of the bartender’s shake, although she’s also partial to a cosy booth.
Jane writes creatively and for a number of drinks publications but the work she found most inspiring was working at Cub, the sustainable restaurant in London. “I loved explaining to people how the food we eat can make an impact on the world and why the ingredients in the dish were considered, lovingly made and better for the planet.”
Who or what inspires you? “Over the years I’ve met countless bartenders who have inspired me by the way they create drinks. There’s Matt Whiley and Rich Woods over at Scout, the Venning brothers and Rosey Mitchell at Three Sheets, everyone at Swift, the guys at Homeboy and Andy Mil and co. at Murder Inc. There’s never been a better time to be a cocktail-loving Londoner.” For this issue The Cocktail Girl visits Scarfes Bar (p. 63).
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Who or what inspires you? “I’m constantly inspired by distillers the world over. When you meet someone with weathered hands who has tended their stills for a generation, knows the crop they are fermenting and puts a sense of place into every drop of liquid – surely that’s what we’re all here for. It renews my sense of love for this industry and inspires me to be as dedicated, as certain and as constant.” Jane picks her favourite drinks menus of the decade on page 42.
REASONS TO BE A COCKTAIL LOVER THIS SEASON
andy warhol (1928-1987) self portrait 1986. tate. ©2019 theandy warhol foundation for the visual arts, inc / artists right (ars), new york
What’s cooking in the world of cocktails as we kick off 2020? Here are a few of the things that we’re looking forward to in the next few months
Channelling the Factory vibe You don’t have to give a jot about art to recognise images of Andy Warhol. The same can be said for his work. There are the iconic pieces from the Pop period, you know the ones, the Marilyn Diptych, Campbell’s Soup Cans and that fab series of Elvis pics, then there’s his famous Screen Tests. In fact, Warhol’s art took in all kinds of fascinating insights into American culture, captured in dramatic large-scale paintings, films, publishing and television – all of which are among the
100 works that can be seen in this latest exhibition opening at Tate Modern. There’s only one way to prepare drinks-wise and that’s with a cocktail and Art Afternoon Tea at the Rosewood London. Ordering a Campbell’s Soup Cans (Belvedere Vodka, clear tomato cordial and Kamm & Sons), naturally. ‘Andy Warhol’ is at the Tate Modern from 12 March to 6 September. Early booking advised. tate.org.uk The Cocktail Lovers - 7
Being app happy
This isn’t a coaster, this is the Barsys Coaster, a cocktail-making whizz at your fingertips. Choose a drink that you’d like to make from the Barsys app, place your glass on the base and add the liquids – no need to measure, the coaster changes colour when you need to start and stop pouring. Now that’s what we call smart technology. thebarsys.com
Keeping a lid on it That’s the bases covered. For the future of lids, check out what they’re up to at Amorim Top Series – they’re all about engaging the senses. amorimtopseries.com
…and for incorporating the blues into your cocktail-making skills, there’s this. Iko Blue Glass Cocktail Shaker, oliverbonas.com
Getting busy with the fizzy
For bubbles every day, your way, get yourself a SodaStream. Perfect for soft drinks as well as sparkling cocktails, one reusable carbonating bottle can save up to 1,282 single-use plastic bottles each year. sodastream.com
Covering up If you’re going to wear an apron when you’re making drinks, make sure it’s worth looking at. Get yours from mrmurka.com
Feeling the blues This year is all about Pantone 19-4052 (that’s classic blue to you and us). Discover how that tastes with the Pantone Colour of the Year 2020 tea blend, combining lemon verbena, lemongrass, rose petal and the addition of butterfly pea flower for that distinctly fashionable hue. tealeaves.com
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The next big thing in drinks? Liqueurs reimagined by top bartenders. Look out for Acqua Bianca, a blend of lemon, bergamot, peppermint, ambergris and rose from Salvatore Calabrese, and the intensely rich, deeply delicious Dutch Cacao by Joerg Meyer.dekuyper.com
NINE …then there are cordials. We’re absolutely smitten with Paragon, the new single botanical cordial series by Alex Kratena (p. 27). If you think you know what pepper tastes like, prepare to think again. paragoncordials.com
Switching up the decanter
Forget glass, if we’re decanting whisky or rum from a bottle, we’re putting it straight back into wood. The Whisky Echo Tango decanter is the business – beautiful to look at and with the neat infusion chamber in the base, you can add oak spheres to play around with the flavour. nisnasindustries.com
ELEVEN Being knit-wits
It’s official: cocktail knits, they’re a thing. Sip pretty in this embellished cotton, silk and cashmere number by BA&SH at selfridges.com
12 …or you can always knit your own using 4-ply wool from the Cocktail Range at West Yorkshire Spinners. Choose from Mojito, Blue Lagoon, Rum Paradise and Tequila Sunrise. wyspinners.com
Increasing our water intake Can’t trust yourself to drink enough water? Switch up to a HidrateSpark 3 bottle. Glowing reminders and text notifications keep you on track based on your activity levels, ensuring you reach your optimum hydration level every day. hidratespark.com
…add a long ice cube specially designed for a water bottle and you’re done. conranshop.co.uk
Sharing the love
Mind you, if you’re travelling with your amour on Valentine’s Day, it would be churlish not to pack a Rosé All Day Cocktail Kit. The limited-edition tin includes elderflower syrup, rosé gummy bears, linen coasters and a bar spoon – just add sparkling wine. And love.
Really, the only thing you should be drinking before, during and after a flight is water. But if you must add something extra, make it the contents of My Flight Pack. The three sachets take in Prep, Rest and Wake, preparing you to take on the time zone of your destination like a boss. myflightpack.com
Paying lip service Ladies who like wine will love the Wine Not Lip Gloss & Brush Set. Not only is the rouge-tinted gloss vegan-friendly, it comes with a large wine glass-shaped, wine-coloured complexion brush. Chin, chin! tartecosmetics.com
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Teasing out the flavour of food
…speaking of which, if you only make one change to your drinking
Looking for an alternative to wine with your meals? Try tea. Saicho is a range of three sparkling cold brews specially chosen to pair with food. Perfect for keeping your drier resolutions firm. saichodrinks.com
habit, make it swapping your usual aperitif for an Æcorn Dry and tonic. N/A but bursting with character – it saved us through Dry January. aecorndrinks.com
TWENTY TWO Feeding our skin Winter takes its toll on the skin. Feed yours with Skin Drink by Virginutty at wearthlondon.com
Keep track of all your cocktail recipes and musings in this. Piña Colada Fabric Notebook, penelopehope.com
Wrapping up Time for a new bar kit? Treat yourself to this handsome number by Nappa Dori. It’s smart but even better, a portion of the profits goes to charity. conranshop.co.uk
24 Changing shape We’re not saying that Champagne tastes better from this design by Michael Ruh, but looks-wise, it sure stands out from the crowd. thenewcraftsmen.com
Boxing smart Three reasons to have NIO cocktails on your radar: they’re CD-sized, ready-to-drink and formulated by top bartender Patrick Pistolesi. Choose from 14 drinks and build a box of three, six or nine cocktails that gets posted through your door. niococktails.co.uk
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TWENTY FIVE Making like a barista Take your at-home coffee-making skills up a notch with a new milk frother from Smeg. Available in five colours, it’s the ideal way to inject some retro cool into your kitchen. smeguk.com
Discover the finest contemporary silver and jewellery from over 300 designer-makers. www.thegoldsmithsdirectory.co.uk
Cocktail set: Martyn Pugh
THEREâ€™S A HIGHBALL IN YOUR FUTURE
THE PLACE Tayer + Elementary There are two very distinct zones with corresponding moods at Tayer + Elementary. That said, both have conviviality at their heart. Whether nursing a (refillable) coffee or sampling one of the palate-pleasing seasonal drinks in the light-filled, day-to-night Elementary up front, or watching the bartenders as they prepare their cocktails with chef-like precision at the central bespoke bar at Tayer (above) in the back, the entire place fizzes with creativity. Inviting, informal, ingenious. For more inspiring places, see page 66. The Cocktail Lovers - 13
~ 30 ml Giffard Rhubarb liqueur 30 ml Gin 10 ml Giffard gum syrup 20 ml Fresh lemon juice 40 ml sparkling water
~ Method Shake first four ingredients with ice and strain into ice-filled glass
Garnish Rhubarb ribbon
Proudly distributed by Mangrove in the UK - www.mangroveuk.com 14 - The Cocktail Lovers
THE DRINK Champagne Piña Colada We don’t care what anyone says, everybody loves a Piña Colada – why wouldn’t they? It’s literally happiness in a glass. Add rhum agricole, pineapple cordial, coconut sorbet and a healthy measure of Champagne into the mix and pow! You’ve got yourself spiritual perfection right there. Accessible but elegant, decadent but instantly moreish, Chris Moore’s inspiring twist on what was once a guilty pleasure has justifiably earned itself a place in the cocktail hall of fame. Try one – we’re sure it won’t be your last. Available at coupette.co.uk The Cocktail Lovers - 15
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THE BOTTLE Hendrick’s Absinthe
One thing that you can always expect from those curious folk at Hendrick’s is the unexpected. Take their latest release, for instance. Not a gin but an absinthe, inspired by the dreamers and literati of the Belle Époque and artfully reimagined for modern palates. Yarrow, elderflower and neroli along with rose and cucumber add an unexpected lightness that lends itself perfectly to mixing. For now, only 4,000 bottles are available exclusively to UK bartenders. For more inspiring bottles, see page 36.
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THE PEOPLE They don’t make them like Gary (gaz) Regan any more. Renowned in drinks circles around the world for his wit, words and wisdom, the Lancashireborn, New York-made bartender, author and educator passed away in November last year and we can honestly say that the drinks industry has been a sadder place ever since. His many accolades include writing for publications such as Wine Enthusiast, Malt Advocate, San Francisco Chronicle and these very pages, while his books, 'The Joy of Mixology', 'The Bartender’s Bible' and 'The Negroni: a gaz regan notion' among them, have earned a place in every bartender’s arsenal. Other highlights in his impressive career take in Cocktails in the Country, a twoday bartending course with a ‘zen-like’ approach, which he ran from his home in Cornwall-on-Hudson, north of Manhattan, and the e-newsletter he published four times a week. As a press release sent out after his death said, “We can actually hear him say, ‘What the hell are you people going to do without me?’” Gary Regan passed away in New York on 15th November 2019, aged 68.
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Absolut Haven It’s getting dark, the rain is heavier than ever and there’s a fierce wind blowing. Undeterred we pull up our collars and stride purposefully on, for ahead in the distance we can see the welcoming lights that signal our destination: surrounded by a mass of fir trees, an appealing wooden chalet. We’re welcomed across the threshold and suddenly all is cosy and warm. Settling into our comfy seats we gaze around and take in the delights in what appears to be a charming Swedish chalet. It’s hard to believe we’re actually in the heart of London. In fact, we’re in the Elyx Chalet situated on The Terrace in the courtyard of the super stylish Rosewood London Hotel. This delightful flight of fantasy, which runs until the end of February, is the latest in a long line of lovingly created collaborative experiences courtesy of the Prestige Team at Pernod Ricard UK. Renowned for its immersive luxury creations, this is one of the team’s most ambitious projects so far. “We wanted guests to be transported away from the hubbub of London’s busy streets and escape into the twinkling fantasy world of Absolut Elyx for the finest cocktail experience imaginable,” explains Four-by-Two Creative Director and long-term collaborator Shaun Clarkson. Having worked with the Prestige Team on projects including Perrier-Jouët Champagne, Chivas Regal Whisky and Martell Cognac, he knows what it takes to bring such imaginative visions to life. “As always when the Prestige Team works with a partner this was a tremendously collaborative experience. The shared aspiration was to create a fully operational bar in a unique, welcoming, self-contained space.”
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The result is the Elyx Chalet and, as we discovered, it did indeed transport us away. As ever with the Prestige Team, it’s the details that count. In the chalet there’s an emphasis on texture: reassuringly solid timber walls, substantial stone floors, luxurious fake fur throws, leather coasters and, to help ward off even the slightest chill, an abundance of soft woollen blankets in which to indulgently wrap yourself. Focal points include an intimate bar and a series of enticing flickering flames suggesting open fires, and if you happen to glance through one of the portal-style windows you’ll even see an occasional flurry of snow. We’re happy to say the distinctively quirky copper figures that are synonymous with Absolut Elyx are also present: over there a cheery gnome, perched on a central table a thoughtful owl, and just beside us on a shelf a cheeky squirrel. Copper makes an appearance in the presentation of some of the featured drinks too, which brings us nicely to the cocktails created especially for the chalet.
Martin Siska is Bars Director at Rosewood London and another key player in the collaboration. As well as being instrumental in the creation of the Elyx Chalet concept, Martin was also responsible for guiding the team from Rosewood London’s Holborn Dining Room restaurant in creating a unique drinks offering. “As soon as we agreed on the idea of the chalet I was inspired to introduce Swedish flavours and ingredients, which I knew would work well with Absolut Elyx. Working with the team we wanted the drinks menu to be approachable for guests but also offer them some things that were a little different and that would complete the Swedish chalet-style experience.” And, we can assure you, it does. The Midnight Sun (Absolut Elyx, cranberry, redcurrant, Amaro Montenegro and PerrierJouët Brut) looked elegant in a very stylish wine glass and was fruity and uplifting. The Tomte’s Nectar (Absolut Elyx, apricot brandy, winter berry sherbet and ginger ale), which arrived in a playful miniature version of the smiling copper gnome, was long, refreshing and we loved the hint of sherbet. If you like an Espresso Martini then we would direct you to The Nutcracker (Absolut Elyx, peanut butter, winter spices and coffee), which looked exceedingly elegant in a copper Coupe and had an exceptionally creamy texture. Meanwhile the most popular item so far, according to Martin, is the Glögg (Absolut Elyx, Bordeaux wine, port and winter spices), an appealing take on mulled wine – “the guests love it,” he says. If this weren’t enough, there’s also the Gurka Martini (Absolut Elyx, Douglas fir, white vermouth and sherry). Even on a chilly night this was an ice-cold delight.
Please drink responsibly
Alongside the excellent drinks there’s an equally delicious dining menu, from simple starters like rabbit and bacon en croûte with pickled vegetables to mains like fillet of Cornish cod with roasted cauliflower, golden raisin and caper butter. Perfect alongside the cocktails.
Escape into the twinkling fantasy world of Absolut Elyx It was no surprise that we settled in for a long cosy evening, and if you get a chance (especially with Valentine’s Day in mind) we suggest you get along to the Elyx Chalet to do the same. Moreover we also suggest you join us in keeping an eye out for future creative collaborations courtesy of the Prestige Team. The Elyx Chalet at Rosewood London is open Wednesday to Saturday until 29 February from 4pm to 11pm. rosewoodhotels.com/en/london For trade enquiries about working with the Prestige Team at Pernod Ricard UK contact email@example.com
Leaders of the pack
In praise of the visionaries who are pushing the drinks industry forward
f uck t rum p and his st u pid l l a w g n i k c u f
It might not seem like a big deal now but when Jim Meehan opened PDT in New York’s East Village in May 2007, speakeasies weren’t really a thing. They existed of course, Milk & Honey and Angel's Share among them. But then PDT came along, and the fact that you could only gain access by picking up the receiver in a telephone booth situated in a hot dog joint caused quite the stir. Not just with excitable punters but curious press as well. “I never intended PDT to be a speakeasy, but we were called a speakeasy so many times that when Time magazine called up and wanted to do a feature on speakeasies, I took it,” Jim says matter-of-factly. Smart move. Thanks to his eloquence, quest for perfection and ability to craft a mighty fine cocktail, he’s regarded as one of the brightest minds in the biz. And he has the accolades to prove it, including World’s Best Cocktail Bar, American Bartender of the Year and Outstanding Bar Program for his work at PDT, and Best Bar Mentor in recognition of everything he does/ has done to nurture the next generation of bartenders. Part of that takes in the two books that he’s written, The PDT Cocktail Book and Meehan’s Bartender Manual, both award-winners in their own right. Then there’s the range of products that he’s collaborated on, including a sleek collection of leather goods with Moore & Giles, a dry grapefruit soda with East Imperial, advising on Banks Rum and custom spice blends for the ultimate Bloody Mary with La Boîte. He’s no longer at PDT but he continues to inform and inspire at every turn. Catch him at one of his talks throughout the year. mixographyinc.com
Thanks to his eloquence, quest for perfection and ability to craft a mighty fine cocktail, he’s re garded as one of the brightest minds in the biz
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Ryan Chetiyawardana Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, has never been one for making things easy for himself. As he readily admits, fear has been a motivating factor in all of the things that drive him. Or at least the things that have earned him the multiple awards that he’s picked up in the 10-plus years that he’s been shaking things up on the drinks scene. Perhaps most notable was getting the conversation about sustainability in bars started. Until he opened the groundbreaking White Lyan in London in 2013, no one was even thinking about the impact that the waste produced in bars was having on the environment. But with its no ice, no perishable ingredients, no shakers policy, it certainly got the world sitting up and taking notice. And he’s continued to push boundaries, ask questions and explore his versions of the answers ever since.
As he readily admits, fear has been a m otivating factor in all of the things that drive him
Such as closing White Lyan at its peak, and reopening it as Cub – same ethos but upping the ante with a sustainable food-and-drinks-matching offering amid luxe surroundings. Then there’s the fact that he’s made bottled cocktails seriously cool (to solve the consistency of f lavour dilemma); produced two delightful lifestyle recipe books (making cocktails accessible to a foodiefocused audience); and continues to deliver thoroughly intellectual but seemingly simple drinks in each of his venues (because, why should the geeks have all the fun in the f lavour department?). Find him at Lyaness, Super and Cub in London, Superlyan in Amsterdam and Silver Lyan opening in Washington DC early this year. mrlyan.com
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Who said that luxury can’t be fun? Not Miranda Dickson. As Global Brand Director at Absolut Elyx she’s drawn on her passion, vision and drive to not only make vodka sexy again, but elevate it to superstar status. Never mind the fact that the liquid is smooth, rich and characterful as you like, you’ve got to get past any preconceived ‘vodka-is-bland’ barriers before you try it. Which is where Miranda’s expertise comes in. Clever collaborations with the likes of Alex Kratena, Monica Berg and fellow drinks bigwig Leo Robitschek to conjure up the always phenomenal bar programme at the Elyx House – one of the most hotly anticipated happenings at the annual Tales of the Cocktail event in New Orleans – have given the brand kudos with the industry, while on a wider level Miranda has brought the Absolut Elyx experience to life in hotels, festivals, bars and nightclubs around the world. And did we mention the branding? That’s down to Miranda too. To echo the copper used in the two distillation processes that give Elyx its creamy taste, there’s a playful collection of cocktail accessories, all crafted from copper. Yes, they’re fun and in the case of drinking vessels like the Gnome, Unicorn and Owl, verging on bonkers, but it’s that playful side of luxury that Miranda understands and translates so well. absolutelyxboutique.com
Miranda Dickson Miranda has brought the Absolut Elyx experience to life in hotels, festivals, bars and nightclubs
Consider for a moment just how many bartenders there are in the world, then think what it means to be named International Bartender of the Year. It would be fabulous whoever gives you the nod, but when it comes from the 'Oscars' of the drinks world, the Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail, then it’s absolutely huge. Then get this, a few months later you step on stage to pick up another award, this time the Bartender’s Bartender Award at The World’s 50 Best Bars. Oh yes, 2019 was a very good year for Monica Berg.
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Monica may have received both accolades last year, but in truth she’s been building up to them since she started working in hospitality, aged 15. Back then she was based in Norway, very much at the forefront of the bar scene, renowned for her use of local ingredients and culinary inf luences as well as her knack for teaching. So much so that she took on the running of a bar school in Oslo where she first trained and wrote regular columns for a number of publications including this one.
In Norway, Monica is renowned for her use of local ingredients and culinary influences
Most drinks distributors build their portfolios on tried-and-tested, easy-win products. Maverick Drinks is not most drinks distributors. Like the name suggests, Michael Vachon started the company seven years ago to champion forwardthinking brands around the world – small, independent, often quirky, always different. The thing that’s driven him from the outset is seeking out craft spirit producers with as much passion for how their products are made as the way they taste. Which is why when anyone is seeking out the most creative new products, they turn to Maverick Drinks. As the landing page to its website proudly states: ‘You are now leaving the mainstream’. Within 14 months of operating it was named Spirits Distributor of the Year at the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014. Since then, the team have reclaimed the title another three times. They’ve also bagged themselves an impressive Queen’s Award For Enterprise: International Trade in 2018, while Michael has justifiably earned a place on the Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s Future 50 list. For drinking outside the box, check out the Maverick Drinks portfolio. maverickdrinks.com
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But that was then. These days Monica divides her time between running day-to-day operations at Tayer + Elementary (p.13) with her partner Alex Kratena (p. 26), consulting on projects, judging competitions around the world and organising the annual P(our) Symposium, an event dedicated to exploring new ideas and sharing information. Her latest initiative is a much-needed ‘safe space’ where hospitality staff can raise concerns or discriminatory issues in the workplace while remaining anonymous. Find out more at backof house.info
Michael Vachon The thing that’s driven him from the outset is seeking out craft spirit producers with as much passion for how their products are made as the way they taste
Alex Kratena You can’t help but be inspired by Alex Kratena. Whether unravelling the many layers of one of his clever cocktails, discovering the complexities of his modern liqueurs, watching him at work at his bar Tayer + Elementary (p. 13) or just listening to him give a talk on anything from branding to the importance of time, we defy you not to be enlightened. As with anyone with a sharp mind, Alex is famous for pushing boundaries, daring to go that little bit further to satisfy his own inquisitiveness. His work at Artesian in London is a case in point. While most luxury hotel bars were still as stiff as the uniforms the staff were obliged to wear, he brought the fun to five-star, serving cocktails in anything from skulls to f lower pots, goldcoloured pineapples (before gold-coloured pineapples were a thing) to Lego figures and giant copper spiders. Everybody made it their business to check in to the Artesian to check out its latest offerings, and as a result, Alex and his team were named World’s Best Bar for four consecutive years, from 2012 until their departure in 2015.
He brought the fun to five-star, serving cocktails in anything from skulls to flower pots, goldcoloured pineapples (before goldcoloured pineapples were a thing) to Le go figures and giant copper spiders
He’s also been rewarded with a number of personal accolades, including Best International Bartender and Bar Personality of the Year, and perhaps unsurprisingly has been listed as one of the 40 most inf luential people shaping the future of the global bar industry. Having travelled the world extensively over the past few years, consulting on a number of projects and developing products like Muyu liqueur and the recently launched Paragon range of botanical cordials, you’ll now find him working most days alongside Monica Berg and his new team at Tayer + Elementary as well as putting together the programme for the annual P(our) Symposium in June. tayer-elementary.com
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Lars Williams & Mark Emil Hermansen Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen don’t do conventional booze; they do flavour. And when we say flavour, we mean unapologetically bold, distinctly different spirits that spark curiosity, excite the palate and defy convention at every turn. Having worked with René Redzepi of Noma fame, they’re not exactly shy when it comes to pushing boundaries in the taste department. But that was with food. When Noma closed for refurbishment in 2016, the duo set out to deliver a flavour experience in another medium. Fortunately for us, they brought their passion, expertise and child-like ‘nothing is impossible’ curiosity to the world of drinks, creating Empirical Spirits. With the clean, minimal packaging and names like Fuck Trump and His Stupid Fucking Wall, ES X ee#1 and Ayuuk, you just know that these are far from your average gin, whisky or vodka. In fact, they don’t fit any category at all. Neither are they made using what might be considered traditional techniques. For starters, much of the equipment used at Empirical HQ in Copenhagen has been custom-made by the team. Ditto the production process, which combines a mash-up of Eastern and Western techniques to deliver the desired
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effects. To them, alcohol, like perfume, is merely a vessel that captures the flavour, making it possible to share experiences and memories, but in their case, through drinks. shop.empiricalspirits.co
Fortunately for us, they brought their passion, expertise and child-like ‘nothing is im possible’ curiosity to the world of drinks, creating Em pirical Spirits
WE DIDN’T INVENT TEQUILA Tequila has been around for centuries, but we took the time to get it right, crafting a small-batch spirit that’s worth sipping slowly. It requires Mexico’s finest 100% Weber Blue Agave, hand-selected and distilled in custom copper stills for a smooth finish every time. We didn’t invent tequila,
The perfect way to enjoy Patrón is responsibly. Handcrafted and imported exclusively from Mexico by The Patrón Spirits Company, Las Vegas, NV. 40% abv.
WE JUST PERFECTED IT.
Gokan, go! There’s a reason why Shingo Gokan is the only person on the planet with three bars in the World’s 50 Best Bars list: the man is a freakin’ ‘G’. Razor-sharp, in both the way he thinks as well as his dapper style, you can always rely on him to have an inspiring project on the go.
Since winning the Bacardí Legacy Global Finals with his clever matcha tea and sherry-based rum cocktail Speak Low in 2012, the Tokyo-born bartender who made his name at Angel’s Share in New York has continued to win people over. And if you’ve met him, you’ll know why. On the one hand he radiates a reassuring inner warmth and calm that is quite rare in the fast-paced world of drinks, on the other, Gokan very much lives up to the first two letters of his name. It took two years from him taking the Legacy title to immortalising his winning cocktail in the name of his first award-winning bar. Next came Sober Company, opened in 2017. The Odd Couple, the good-times bar he set up with fellow Bacardí Legacy Finalist and multibar owner Steve Schneider, followed a year after that. All three are in Shanghai and doing very nicely thank you very much. In 2018 Shingo opened The SG Club, his first bar back home in Japan. And while that saw him spending much of last year on Japanese soil, that didn’t stop him from having ideas for further afield. When we meet at Sober Company the day after the 2019 DMBA awards in Shanghai, where he and the team picked up two exquisitely crafted trophies for Cocktail Program and Bar of the Year, he has at least four initiatives planned for 2020 alone. We say at least four because the more we talk, the more Shingo remembers
what else is brewing. “Oh yes, we’re also going to be…” he peppers into the conversation as he mentally runs through his upcoming year. Some we can’t talk about. Yet. But the two biggies on his radar right now are game changers. One is the opening of his debut venue in New York, the other is the release of his very own spirit. Both, it must be said, are destined to be huge. Here’s why…
GOKAN Pairing food and cocktails – Gokan style Before setting up his bars in Asia, Shingo spent 10 years working at the much-lauded Angel’s Share in New York. Now he’s returning to the city with Gokan, a food and cocktail pairing joint in the Lower East Side. “We’re taking over a space at the Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant Uchu,” he begins. “One side is an omakase sushi bar which is very popular and Gokan will occupy the space that was once the kaiseki part of the operation.” It’s small, just enough for eight seats, but that suits Shingo’s concept perfectly.
The two biggies on his radar right now are game changers
left: teaser image of sg shochu, launching february 14th; above: render of gokan, heading stateside in april
On the one hand he radiates a reassuring inner warmth and calm that is quite rare in the fast-paced world of drinks, on the other, Gokan very much lives up to the first two letters of his name
“Gokan is my surname but it also means ‘five senses’ in Japanese. The idea here is to go further than straightforward food and cocktail pairings; we’ll be incorporating all of the senses in the experience.” That means a specially curated soundtrack, lighting and scents to set the mood for the two seatings each evening, with texture and taste coming from the five to eight courses on offer. All paired with painstakingly conceived food-centric cocktails. Of course, being Shingo, the cocktails are a very important part of the equation, a part that people will be ready to judge. They needn’t worry. He’s spent the past eight years or so perfecting what he considers to be the art of matching cocktails to food. As he explains: “For me a cocktail pairing has to be one plus one equals 10, not one plus one equals two – as far as I’m concerned, that isn’t a pairing. In my mind, you need to create a new flavour when you bring food and drink together.” How so? “It’s a different approach to making cocktails, which is why it’s very interesting. With wine you have to find the right wine to pair with the dish but with a cocktail you can adjust, play around, tweak the nuances – it means you’re totally in control,” he says, eyes twinkling
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the master at work in sober company
with excitement just thinking about it. “The cocktail doesn’t have to be perfect on its own but once it’s added with the food, the balance is different.” There will be themes. “We might take the ocean for inspiration for example, with ocean food, ocean drinks, ocean music, or it might be a country, nature or ingredients that we take our lead from. It’s fun to have a theme – it helps you find inspiration. Without a theme it’s hard to tie down.” Speaking of themes, like all of Shingo’s venues, you can expect his arty background to show through in the decor. “The concept is chaos in silence,” he says, offering up the images for inspection. “The location is the chaos part of the equation – the Lower East Side used to be a ghetto and there’s still some of that edge to it, there’s graffiti everywhere. Which is why we’re incorporating some graffiti in the design of the interior. The silence is represented in the tea ceremony style of service, the precision, detail and quietness that is part of my background.” Under his direction and with his focus you can bet the fusion is going to work like an absolute charm. Gokan is due to open in April 2020.
SG SHOCHU Breathing new life into an old category When did you last have a shochu-based cocktail? We’re guessing never, right? Sake, the Japanese rice wine, we’re more accustomed to, but shochu, its spiritual counterpart, is another matter entirely. Shingo’s next big mission is to change that. Having spent the past year back in Japan setting up The SG Club, he noticed something: “We Japanese don’t use homegrown products in our cocktails,” he says incredulously. “Shochu is the only spirit we have but if it’s stocked in your bar, it’s considered cheap; people don’t think that it’s something that can be used in mixed drinks.” He believes that’s down to a couple of things. At the forefront, in Shingo’s opinion, is the fact that shochu is bottled diluted to 25% abv, which means it doesn’t shine out as a base in cocktails. Then there’s the image. “It’s something your parents drank. The bottles are oldfashioned, usually black with a metal screw cap, and the overall look doesn’t fit behind the modern bar,” he adds. Taste and aesthetics aside, the other major hurdle is
selling the category outside of Japan. “To date, shochu has mainly been sold into Japanese restaurants because the distributors have a mindset that Japanese people drink it with food. But people outside of Japan don’t drink spirits with food, they go for wine, so understandably it hasn’t taken off.” There’s also the small matter that people don’t really know what shochu is, or indeed, how to drink it. For the record, shochu has an impressive history dating back around 500 years, and like sake it’s traditionally consumed with meals. Unlike sake though, which is fermented rice, shochu is a spirit commonly distilled from three main sources: rice (kome), sweet potato (imo) or barley (mugi). As for flavour profile, think gin for the rice distillations, rum for sweet potato and whisky for barley. By definition, good quality shochu is single distilled, resulting in a bold, flavoursome product that is then diluted to 25%. This is where Shingo is about to make his mark with the launch of a new shochu for an international market. “Traditionally there are top distilleries for each shochu category. For rice there’s Takahashi Shuzo Company located in Kumamoto, for sweet potato there’s the Satsuma Shuzo Company in Kagoshima, and Sanwa
above: the interior at sg club, japan; right: the kitchen at sober company, shanghai
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sg club exterior
Shurui Company in Oita is most famous for barley. I’m bringing all three together for the very first time to collaborate on a range,” he says excitedly. That range is SG Shochu, three expressions created by the top ninjas in their respective fields. Not only do they come in at a cocktail-friendly 40% abv, they’ll also be packaged in gorgeous, Instagram-friendly bottles. It’s set to be a very big deal in shochu circles, not just because of the higher proof of the spirit but because these three revered companies are working together on one project. “They’ve never done that before, they each have their own pride and think that their base ingredient is the best,” continues Shingo. “To put it into context, it’s like Bacardí, Diageo and Pernod Ricard working together on a brand. They’re uniting on this project because they like the idea of Shochu going on a global stage.” As for getting it out there, telling the stories, showcasing the versatility of the products and sharing the love of shochu, that’s where Shingo comes in. With his status and heritage coupled with the fact he’s put his name behind the brand (SG stands for Sip and Guzzle as well as Shingo Gokan), he’s perfectly placed to do it. As he says: “If you know the market, the people and how to make cocktails, it’s possible to reach the bar industry. I’ll be on the brand side, involved in the marketing and branding
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of the products. I’ve been in the industry 10 years and this is a new, exciting challenge for me. I’m planning lots of collaborations and cool events with music, fashion, art and design. I want people to associate SG Shochu with fun, not just regular guest shifts – I want to do something very different.” Cleverly he hasn’t forgotten his home market. Or the growing band of no/low drinkers and people who want something suitable for drinking with food. “Japanese people don’t drink shochu straight, they add water in some form, whether that’s soda, hot water or ice, which means the spirit is diluted again to about 15%. That makes it very easy to drink with food. So although we’ll have the 40% bottles for cocktails, we’ll be producing one at 15%, which means you can simply open the bottle and pour it straight into a wine glass – serve it chilled or warm it up and enjoy like you would a wine.” Like we said, the man is a freakin’ G. The future of an old category starts here… SG Shochu launches in Japan and China on 14 February 2020 with releases in the US and the rest of the world to follow. thesgshochu.com
BAR CONVENT B R O O K LY N
The International Bar & Beverage Trade Show June 9 & 10, 2020 Brooklyn Expo Center
SAVE 25% OFF YOUR TICKET ENTER CODE “CLM” AT CHECKOUT BARCONVENTBROOKLYN.COM (discount available from the regular rate starting April 1, 2020)
From the eye-catching labels and bottles to the outstanding quality of the liquid inside, creativity reigns supreme in the world of drinks. But there are a few brands that shine out more than most. Here are a few of our favourites…
Inspired by: The migrating cuckoo travelling from West Africa to Scotland, via the length of Italy
Cucielo Rosso Vermouth di Torino Talk about an inspiring starting point for the creation of a liquid, this majestic vermouth – conceived by Andy Holmes and brought to life by Carlo Vergnano – took flight by echoing key stages in the journey of the migrating cuckoo. There’s the warmth of West Africa, reflected in the anise, clove and peppery notes and rich, warming colour. The freshness of Scotland, Andy’s homeland, comes by way of the bite of citrus peels and spark of pomegranate. And Italy is of course the home of Vermouth di Torino – as well as Master Blender Carlo. Our tip Enjoy it in a… Flight to Manhattan 40ml Cucielo Rosso Vermouth di Torino 5ml bourbon or rye whiskey 2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters Method: Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled Martini glass or Asti cup. Garnish with an orange twist or Maraschino cherry. artisan-spirits.co.uk
Photography by Adam Goodison Styling by Phoebe Shakespeare
Inspired by: A passion for flavour
The Plum, I Suppose Empirical Spirits is many things. Ordinary isn’t one of them (see p. 28). The Plum, I Suppose is the latest in the line-up of flavours from the unconventional Danish company famed for its exacting in-house production processes and cheflike approach to the creation of drinks. This one is named after a line in a Robert Frost poem and the liquid is based on the dried inner plum kernel, which has a similar profile to almonds. Taste-wise it’s reminiscent of a cherry liqueur, without the sweet viscosity. Floral, bright and marzipan-like. Our tip Enjoy it in a… The Plum, I Suppose & Citrus Soda 50ml The Plum, I Suppose 75ml white grapefruit or other citrus soda Pinch of dulse seaweed Method: Pour The Plum, I Suppose into a glass over a large ice cube. Top with citrus soda and stir gently to combine. Garnish with a sprinkle of dulse seaweed. shop.empiricalspirits.co
Inspired by: The history of bubbles and the science of carbonation
THREE CENTS Dry Tonic Some tonics focus on taste. With others itâ€™s all about the bubbles. Vassilis Kalantzis, George Bagos, George Tsirikos and Dimitris Dafopoulos have made their business about delivering both. Low in calories and sugar yet absolutely bursting with character, the light, fresh and just the right side of dry combination of natural quinine and bright citrusy notes in THREE CENTS Dry Tonic partners up beautifully with any spirit or fruit juice. Our tip Enjoy it in aâ€Ś Gin & Tonic 50ml premium gin 150ml THREE CENTS Dry Tonic Water Method: Pour the ice-cold premium gin into a Collins glass. Top with Three Cents Dry Tonic Water and carefully add ice cubes one by one so not to lose the carbonation. Garnish with a slice of pear. threecents.co.uk
Inspired by: The European aperitif tradition and the genius of 17th-century herbal remedies
Æcorn Dry It takes a very bright mind to create an aperitif as bold, herbaceous, bittersweet and complex as Æcorn Dry. Particularly as it doesn’t contain any alcohol. Claire Warner hit on the recipe for the three non-alcoholic aperitifs in the Æcorn range by blending English grown grapes with a select bouquet of carefully sourced botanicals; in the case of Æcorn Dry, they take in oak, sage, chamomile and black tea. The result is absolutely gorgeous – delightfully floral, with a crisp, bitter edge. Our tip Enjoy it in an… Apricity 40 ml Æcorn Dry 75ml non-alcoholic white wine 5ml lime leaf cordial* Method: Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled wine glass. *To make the lime leaf cordial: warm 500ml elderflower cordial with 5g dried lime leaf and allow to infuse for two hours. Fine strain. Bottle and chill.
Inspired by: The unique aroma and fresh taste of the original Paloma cocktail
THREE CENTS Pink Grapefruit Soda When the THREE CENTS team couldn’t find a soda with the intense pink grapefruit tang they wanted to make a bona fide Paloma, they combined their enquiring minds, business sense and bartender know-how and created their own. Made from carbonated spring water and natural pink grapefruit aroma, it’s ideal in the drink it was inspired by but equally delicious on its own. Our tip Enjoy it in a… Paloma 50ml blanco tequila 200ml THREE CENTS Pink Grapefruit Soda Method: Rim a tall glass with salt, pour the tequila over cubed ice and top up with THREE CENTS Pink Grapefruit Soda. Garnish with a pink grapefruit wedge. threecents.co.uk
COCKTAILS AND DREAMS JANE RYAN SINGLES OUT HER MOST INSPIRING DRINKS MENUS FROM THE PAST DECADE
We don’t go out to drink. In the age of same-day deliveries, 24-hour off-licences and YouTube tutorials on Negronis, there’s no reason to leave the house if you want to get a buzz on. No, we go out to experience something you can’t obtain in a supermarket, bottle shop or your aged parents’ liquor cabinet. We’re looking for something different. Whether it’s that human interaction with new and old faces, a story to tell or listen to, or just to escape the everyday routine of sleep, eat, work, repeat. There are many elements that the fine folk of the hospitality world can tinker with to figuratively transport you far from the passing of time. They can curate a soundtrack, dim the lights and distract you with creative and inspiring cocktail menus. A cocktail menu can literally be just a list of drinks, their ingredients plotted out to help you create an idea of what you’re ordering (often wrong, who knows how tequila, frangipani, lemon, green apple and spice will come out?
I don’t and I just made it up). No disrespect to bars that do that, some of them are among the very best in the world, here’s looking at you Happiness Forgets and Satan’s Whiskers. But over the past decade cocktail menus have striven to re-engage regulars and keep the bars spoken about in the media and beyond. Yes some have gone too far, they’re all style and no substance, but when done well, the cocktail menu can entertain, educate, inspire and guide you in the direction of new flavour experiences – ones you may have otherwise missed out on. Here are the very best we’ve seen since cocktails crawled out of the noughties and landed on Callooh’s mixed tape.
Odori We Will Always Have Athens (2018) Described as ‘a city guide with a difference’, this Athens cocktail list was inspired by the many neighbourhoods of the city. Not only did it evocatively describe them – the flea market humming with a mix of languages, the tiny taverns that nestle into the fabric of Varvakeios with its barrage of smells, sounds and flavours – but the menu also managed to distil the experience of walking through each area into a cocktail.
photograph: kosmas koumianos
The Odori team’s menu gave visitors an insight into their home and the myriad reasons they love it Complete with a pull-out map to take away, the Odori team’s menu gave visitors an insight into their home and the myriad reasons they love it whilst simultaneously giving locals a fresh way to see Athens. Its stand-out drink? Secret Alleys made with secret alley’s spritz, Assyrtiko wine, Martini Bitter, Martini Ambrato and a Greek herb cordial.
Callooh Callay Cassette Tape (2012) Callooh’s menus have always been high-concept, and lots of fun. This is a bar that has never taken itself too seriously, despite being considered one of the world’s best for most of its lifetime, and this has filtered down to its menus, from the Pantone to the Oyster Card, the Year Book to the Sticker Book. But the one that stands out in London’s collective memory is its Cassette Tape, bringing a touch of the 90s to 2012. Its cover screamed with the words ‘Now That’s What I Call Cocktails’ and promised 23 charttopping hits of summer. The insert listed all its drinks – many of which have become modernday classics, such as the Marmageddon which was served in a glass rimmed with marmite, or the grated-chocolate garnished Black Forest Cocktail. The menu was also home to An Ale of Two Cities, Sean Ware’s drink for the legendary 42 Below competition of 2008 and used 42 Below Feijoa Vodka, Punt e Mes vermouth, nettle cordial, malt syrup, granny smith apple juice and bitters, all served in an ale cup.
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The Modern Life of Plants (2018) The past few years have seen plenty of menus worldwide hero three key terms: seasonality, locality and urban foraging. But at London’s Dandelyan (RIP), Ryan Chetiyawardana and the bar team rejected these tenets in their menu The Modern Life of Plants and instead explored the notion of industrialisation, particularly as it pertains to botany. Understanding it, the team said, can offer a path forward that champions sustainability on a large scale. This menu makes the list not because it was pretty (although it was) or made us laugh (only after too many of its drinks) but because it was truly trying to teach its guests that mass production when it comes to plants doesn’t equate to bad practices or an unsustainable future. There are over seven billion people on this planet, so let’s face it – we’re going to have to grow lots of food en masse at some point, somewhere.
There are over seven billion people on this planet, so let’s face it – we’re going to have to grow lots of food en masse at some point, somewhere The Brundall cocktail, which used Bacardí 8 Year Old, Braemble Gin Liqueur, apple, Summerdown mint and ground ivy, was inspired by an old strain of British mint, Black Mitcham – grown at Summerdown Farms in Basingstoke, England – that is traditionally used in perfumery and cosmetics. In 1945, thanks to the war and the pressure to grow less labour-intensive crops, this little mint was near extinction. Sir Michael Colman (of Colman’s Mustard fame) chose to reintroduce the species to Britain on a large scale in 1996, having found a farmer growing it industrially in the US state of Montana. Beginning with a small trial plot about the size of a tennis court, Coleman proved that individuals can turn the tide for whole crops. The Brundall, a booze-forward rum sour, which incorporates the mint as an oil, is a clear example of the conversation the menu was hoping to start.
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01 Mint Dandelyan
Mint is a crop that is used across the world, a crucial mainstay of bars; a go-to green note, a sense of freshness, the crisp brightness of a Mojito. But how to tame this wonderful weed? Rampant and verdant, it also cools tongues and tempers, not to mention its potency in insecticides. Yet beyond its literal functions, it remains a crucial modern crop in many guises from sauces to perfumes.
Nightjar Playing Cards (ongoing) Nightjar hasn’t just given us one menu on its famous Playing Cards, it’s given us scores of them – and I can’t be the only one who finds the cards years after their last visit to this Old Street bar, in a sock draw 12,000 miles away. Cards might not seem so inspirational to any reader who has never ventured down Nightjar’s stairs, but this bar has made them masterfully with gorgeous, opulent imagery and a list of ingredients on each individual card. There has always been a playful element to this speakeasy bar, from its garnishes to live music, and the cards slot right in alongside, completing the picture and providing endless conversation for the many first dates that have taken place in its basement. Cards are generally divided up into drink styles – PreProhibition, Prohibition, Post-war, Signature and Sharing –and as the editions of the menu have gone on the serves have become more and more sumptuous, giving us drinks such as the Fog Cutter, served with billowing smoke and a miniature pineapple perched on the rim.
Trick Dog Murals (2017) Trick Dog is to San Francisco what Callooh Callay is to London – although they might not like the comparison seeing as these two bars have a tendency to accidentally produce the same high-concept cocktail menus. For its Murals list the bar essentially curated an art show that had cocktail pairings, asking artists to create 14 different public murals around the city that you could go and see in person as well as via the photography on the menu. This line-up included street artists like Vogue, Optimist and Jeremy Fish. So yes, they managed to fill their city with beautiful works of art – but Trick Dog wasn’t done there. The photos of these artworks were then made into a book, aka the menu, which was sold to raise money for non-profits Precita Eyes and Creativity Explored. Drinks-wise the menu was equally as fantastic as its charitable aims and beautification project, with cocktails named after the artists. Rogelio Martinez used Aviation Gin, papaya ‘som tam’ liqueur, Ancho Verde and mint, while the Greg Galinsky called for Tanqueray Gin, Tio Pepe fino sherry, banana, coriander and lime.
Little Red Door Evocative (2016) Another art-inspired list, this time from Paris, back when the genius mind of Remy Savage was in charge behind the perfectly human-sized red door. Devoid of descriptions (unless you really needed to know, in which case you could pull a tab to reveal the ingredients), this menu was presented as a book with 11 distinctive artworks – no description, no name, just a page with a picture.
The Evocative menu really tried to push guests past their usual choice of drink
This thought-provoking menu, rather than tell us what’s in our drink, explored how it was possible to communicate flavours through imagery instead. Guests were instructed to choose the picture they most connected with, from a voluptuous black and white nude obscured by colourful hydrangeas to a morose looking figure sat atop a leaf, in shades of blue and green. But perhaps that’s just how I’d describe it, and ‘morose’ wouldn’t be the next person’s word of choice. The Evocative menu really tried to push guests past their usual tipple and get them thinking about how they could experience flavour – which was both educational and outside-of-thebox thinking.
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Tippling Club Sensorium (2016) Teaming up with perfume house International Flavors & Fragrances, the then head bartender of Singapore’s Tippling Club, Joe Schofield, along with its owner Ryan Clift, decided to try and lead their customers literally by the nose in regards to their drink choice. The menu, as such, was in fact a dense collection of scent strips threaded into the holes of an upturned Hawthorne strainer. Lingering on the strips were scents called such things as Rain, Leather and Grass, which guests were asked to explore before (as with Little Red Door’s menu) choosing the one that most resonated with them. It was yet another means of allowing customers to pick a drink through an entirely different mode of communication, albeit one tied much more closely with flavour.
The cocktail they came up with was intended to play off whiffs of earth, asphalt and ozone, using citrus, soda, vodka and an earthy edible stone Cocktail creation wasn’t started until International Flavors & Fragrances had delivered on their scents, giving the Tippling Club team the challenge of deciding what drinkers would expect having smelt the odour of ‘rain’. In that example the cocktail they came up with was intended to play off whiffs of earth, asphalt and ozone, using citrus, soda, vodka and an earthy edible stone.
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Bulletin Place Daily Changing (since 2012) This menu isn’t like the others on the list – it didn’t change the game, involve a perfume house or call on the talents of artists, not the traditional kind anyway. This inclusion is here because when you really think about what the team at Bulletin Place in Sydney do each and every day it blows your mind, more so than any other cocktail menu listed here. Bulletin Place, like plenty of other bars, changes its menu daily. Except it doesn’t rotate the classics, it invents five new drinks every single day it is open – that's six days a week – and has done for the past eight years. We allow them a well-deserved rest on Sundays. Bartenders who work here are given one or two shifts a week where they are responsible for the menu and are encouraged to use the fresh produce available, mostly native fruit from Australia. The drinks are classically based but as the bar has grown in age so too has its prep space in size, meaning they now ferment fruit wines and get far more technical than the opening team did back in 2012. Still, mathematically it’s around 300 days – conservatively, allowing for holidays – of the year they’re making new drinks, which is around 2,400 days over eight years, which is 12,000 new drinks. And I haven’t had a bad one there yet.
Artesian Butterfly (2013) Artesian at London’s Langham Hotel revolutionised what it meant to be a hotel bar and just how far you could push the creative envelope whilst still offering five-star service. Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale didn’t just test that limit, they stretched their creative prowess seemingly well beyond what we thought hotel bartenders could do, and the drinks world adored them for it. Their Butterfly menu was a game changer, with cocktails presented in a circular aluminium wheel according to flavours and style, which were revealed when it was spun. This was one of the first times cocktail drinkers around the world would see and hold a menu that wasn’t in some form a piece of paper – even if that paper was, say, the insert to a cassette tape. Guests at The Langham were able to choose from the six combinations inspired by the travels of the team, including ‘Delicate and Delicious’ and ‘Oriental and Floral’, according to their mood.
Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale didn’t just test the limit, they stretched their creative prowess seemingly well beyond what we thought hotel bartenders could do, and the drinks world adored them for it If the physical menu didn’t astonish you then the drinks would have. Smoke and mirrors were the literal garnish to the drink titled Forever Young, inspired by the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, while Above & Beyond was served in a tumbler below a floating plastic pillow that you were invited to burst and smell. The pillow also contained a little gift: a bag of worry dolls from Guatemala, and as for the drink itself, it used South American flavours such as banana, coffee and Zacapa 23 Rum.
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10 INSPIRING PRODUCTS FOR CLEANER DRINKING AT HOME
FOR STAND-OUT DRINKS Sertado cocktailware made using 100% recycled copper, priced from $38, madetrade.com
FOR COFFEE ON THE GO Reusable bamboo cup, £13, clarissahulse.com
FOR KEEPING YOUR BOTTLES UNDER WRAPS Bottle holder made from seatbelts, £35, urbanmakers.co.uk
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FOR SMALL SIPS Collapsible, zero-waste, stainless-steel drinking straw, £12.24, wearthlondon.com
FOR SERVING IN STYLE Purbeck tray made from sustainable spun bamboo, £25, gardentrading.co.uk
FOR COLOURFUL WAYS TO STORE BOTTLES Bolga market basket, handwoven by a female weaving cooperative in Northern Ghana, £60, lolaandmawu.com
FOR MAKING YOUR MARK Grafitti insulated water bottle, £25, wearthlondon.com
FOR MAXIMISING FLAVOUR Reusable, recyclable, doublewalled glass infuser, £24, globalwakecup.com
FOR CONSCIOUS COCKTAILS Green glassware, 100% recycled from wine bottles, supporting a village youth project in Zanzibar, priced from £16.50 for the carafe, grahamandgreen.co.uk
FOR DRYING OUT Recycled dark grey flour sack ‘Screw It’ tea towel, £7.50, morgan-wright.co.uk
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In a world of premium spirits where new expressions, rare releases and all manner of limited editions are forever being presented to an increasingly discerning public, itâ€™s no longer enough to simply have a great product. Yes, the liquid has to offer something new, its packaging must reflect these unique qualities and assigning it a premium price will suggest an aspirational quality. But more than ever though itâ€™s about the ability to capture the imagination, linger in the memory and get talked about.
Ticking all of the boxes was Metaxa Angels’ Treasure Single Cask Strength Nº1019 when it was recently launched to 50 influential figures from the world of lifestyle media. It was the kind of gathering that’s ever-ready with a smart phone for a special social media moment. They were also the kind of guests who you might say have seen it all. So what did they see this time?
stripped-back graphic interpretation of an elegant decanter. While it was aesthetically pleasing, the show also served to touch on key messages, such as the figs evoking tasting notes, the sun suggesting climate and the cellars underlining heritage and craftsmanship, while the graphic appearance of the decanter showcased modernity.
They’d been ferried to a secret location before stepping into a room that bore the illuminated description ‘1019’. As for the room itself, its stark white walls made it look a little like an art gallery, while white dining tables and chairs suggested a futuristic restaurant. The overall effect was one that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Yes, there followed a dinner (cleverly echoing the tasting notes of the spirit), as well as a presentation and the unveiling of the spirit in question, but it was the light show that will linger in the memory and either consciously or otherwise evoke the individuality of the spirit as it vies for space in a crowded market. And for those immersive and emotive five minutes, there were some 50 smart phones coming out in force to spread the word.
photography: christos drazos
But rather than stripped-back minimalism, this was a blank canvas: the whiteness gradually transformed into a soft blue glow, and the subtle visual was joined by sounds of nature – water, birds, rainfall, wind. The centre point of this immersive experience came when the guests took their positions on those white chairs, at those white tables, now adorned with white charger plates, all bathed in an increasingly intense shade of blue. The scene was apparently set for dinner to be served. Wrong. It was time for the light show to begin.
The space came alive with an elegantly choreographed sensorial journey
For five minutes the space came alive with an elegantly choreographed sensorial journey. Images of figs appeared on the plates, atmospheric depictions of barrels within ancient cellars were conjured up on the tables and a shimmering sun appeared to set slowly before the eyes. These literal images then gave way to all manner of laser-like lines that danced around before arranging themselves into a
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of the most inspiring drinking moments of the past decade As experienced by Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown
The Connaught Cocktail Trolley
The 21-Second Martini Even before we first met, we both found ourselves drinking at Julian Niccolini’s Four Seasons Restaurant in New York during the late 80s and early 90s. The bar was attended by a venerable, corpulent New York-Irish bartender with understated wisdom akin to Jeeves who knew everyone by name and by drink. John Kelly had been there since the end of the last Ice Age, with Greg Connolly as his Sancho Panza for the last 25 years. Order a Martini and Kelly stirred your drink for precisely 21 seconds without checking his watch, straining it into a custom-made Nick & Nora from Tiffany. This was the glass that inspired the legendary bartender Audrey Saunders to locate and purchase Nick & Noras for Pegu Club, which in turn sparked a global trend.
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Cocktail trolleys originated during the late 1800s, but shot to the main stage in New York after Prohibition when one silly law mandated that bars could not be visible to restaurant patrons. To skirt that fatuous legislation, bartenders went mobile. There was nothing to stop them loading a trolley and mixing tableside, with the main bar and back bar safely out of sight. Needless to say, every venue adopted the cocktail trolley. Then they all but disappeared. While London’s Connaught Bar was not the first to resurrect the moveable liquid feast, there’s no question it took it to another level with Agostino Perrone’s mixing artistry supplying the final, masterful touch. We will never forget our first Martini from that cart, even though we may have forgotten the third or fourth a few times.
Chris’s Mint Julep Yes, there's an annual industry gathering in New Orleans. But if you ask us, a better reason to go to this drink mecca is to sit at Chris and Laura McMillian’s Revel Cafe & Bar and order a Mint Julep. A leading historian of this venerable classic and a fourth-generation Louisiana bartender, Chris knows the lore, the history and the verse that surrounds the liquid. He narrates this oral tradition as he pounds out the ice with a Lewis Bag and huge wooden mallet (that looks small in his hands), filling his silver Julep cups, then bringing the rest of the ingredients together during a 10-minute session of spoken-word poetry. Book ahead the moment you’re heading there because this doesn’t happen for casual walk-ins. We first met Chris at the Ritz-Carlton Library Lounge when we escorted a very lost Dale Degroff, who couldn't find his way thanks to too many Vieux Carrés at his previous destination. Chris was behind the legendary bar at the time, and it was there we first witnessed the theatrics that accompany his well-executed Mint Julep – just as he creates it at his own bar today.
El Floridita’s Other Menu
The Perfect View
It was our first time in El Floridita in Habana Vieja. We hadn’t yet met Head Bartender Alejandro Bolivar and he didn’t know us. We managed to grab two seats at the legendary ‘birthplace of the Daiquiri’. Alejandro immediately wiped our spot even though it was already spotless and placed a plate of platanos fritos before us. When he asked what we’d like, we replied that we left the decision to him. He smiled and nodded. We watched as he loaded up a couple of blenders of Daiquiris, pouring the rum in a high arc after spilling the first drops of a fresh bottle ‘por los santos’. He served out the resulting drinks to other customers. Then he grabbed a couple of mixing glasses and made us a Presidente and a Cuba Bella. The next round included a Jai Alai and a Mary Pickford. It’s hard to recall the rounds that followed, but not once did he hand us a Daiquiri that day. We were newbies at his bar and he was happy to give us a crash course in Cuban classics.
A well-trodden axiom of the hospitality world goes something like this: If it has a fabulous view, the drinks and the food are less than stellar and the prices are astronomical. But for every given there is an exception to the rule. Such was the case when we first walked into the rooftop bar at A for Athens, situated in the heart of the Plaka, above Monastiraki Square. A sleek, modern, hip accommodation that is blessed with the finest view of the city’s most iconic landmark, the Acropolis, little did we expect to be greeted by the classically handsome, smiling countenance of Head Bartender Thodoris Pirillos, who skilfully executed not only a perfect Gin Martini but more than a few brilliant creations of his own design. His drinks highlighted local specialities such as tsipouro and rakomelo and converted what could have been a mediocregoes-bad moment into a slice of pure heaven that has been repeated year after year for a decade.
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Audrey’s Tom & Jerry The winter holidays represent the busy season in many a town around the globe. After-work patrons arrive for their pre-dinner, pre-theatre sips followed by regulars whose only destination is the bar itself. The evening wraps up with a few rounds of post-prandial, posttheatre nightcaps. Amid this hustle and bustle, the doyenne of one of Manhattan’s premier watering holes offers her customers a warming taste of a bygone era of New York cocktail making. When the temperatures descend, Audrey Saunders pulls out a vintage vermillionand-white bowl and lid, mixes up her personal blend of Tom & Jerry batter and serves her guests a warm, silky textured concoction that marries cognac, rum, eggs, allspice, nutmeg, clove, milk and Angostura bitters. Talk all you want about cold Eggnog in the dead of winter. You’ll change your tune when you experience this living tradition from Manhattan’s past.
Ueno-san and Company Make a change and with rare exception people will complain and reminisce about how things used to be. How many bartenders kept that old round Plymouth bottle, refilling it from the square design that followed it? When Hidetsugu Ueno moved his Bar High Five from its original home inside a multi-purpose building in Tokyo’s Ginza district to a nearby cellar location, regulars – and international drinks pilgrims – only revelled in the change. Walking into the new space, it was clear that his beautiful ice, glassware, mixing tools and talented team had found their forever home, their perfect backdrop. Although the bar is a bucket-list stop for bartenders from around the world, most of the crowd are regulars who visit at least a few times every week, with some stopping on the way home from work every evening. Thus, Ueno has created a perfect room, from wood panelling to people, in which to host his guests. We would single out one visit from the others, except the service is so consistent the experiences seamlessly blend together.
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Sasha’s Marker Service The late Sasha Petraske is best known for his creation of the modern speakeasy, inspired by his many visits to a hidden gem of a Japanese bar – situated behind a secret door in a Greenwich Village sushi restaurant – named Angel’s Share. But we remember our dear friend for other aspects of his service culture that you may not know. Sasha’s fruit juice programme required that the barback squeeze fresh liquids so that nothing matured past 20 minutes. One server was all that was needed in the original Milk & Honey hideaway on Eldridge Street. But one early evening, we arrived in the midst of an emergency. Both the barback and server had fallen ill and Sasha was left on his own to serve customers. Explaining the situation, he asked, “What’re you drinking?” We meekly replied, “Rittenhouse?” He set down two glasses on the tiny service bar, a bottle of Rittenhouse rye, and marked the level with a grease marker. “Help yourself!” was his only other comment as he raced to take the next orders. More than a few shots later and the occasional motion to retrieve ice and an orange slice or two, we settled up our tab and left Sasha in the thick of it as we eternally carved this moment in our hearts and memories.
Coffee and Jazz Yesterday we took a break from writing this article to visit Crow Castle in Matsumoto, Japan. It was freezing. Afterward we peeked at Google Maps and determined that if we walked a few blocks down a narrow side street we might find a hot coffee. We rounded the first corner and noticed a black awning emblazoned with the phrase ‘COFFEE AND JAZZ’ looming over a steep, graffiti-covered staircase. Our hearts nearly stopped at the top when we looked through the little window on the door. Floor-to-ceiling records and a turntable that would make any audiophile weak in the knees. The miniscule place was dark and displayed the genteel wear of the years as well as the slight hoarder’s penchant that is very much a part of modern Japan: this is a nation of collectors. We found three seats at the bar and peered at the menu. The coffees read like a barista’s fantasy list. Next to those were cocktails. Unable to decide, the three
of us each ordered a coffee and a cocktail. The proprietor, looking far too relaxed and youthful to have opened the bar in 1974 – although he did – suggested we start with coffee and then he would work on our cocktails. Also, like many tiny Japanese bars, he was bartender, host, manager, dishwasher and DJ, in a place that might hold 24 people. Two monolithic speakers presided over a section of the narrow room that was reserved for listeners, not talkers: all the better for savouring classic vinyl recorded by Charlie Parker, Bill Evans, Miles Davis. What started as an innocent pursuit for coffee ended as a full evening of a few rounds of cocktails and the mellowest jazz moment we had experienced in decades. But shouldn’t all cocktail experiences leave with you indelible moments?
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WE ASKED 10 BARTENDERS AROUND THE WORLD ONE QUESTION: WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU AND WHY? THE ANSWERS ARE AS VARIED AS THEIR RESPECTIVE STYLESâ€¦
Zana Möhlmann Bartender, Super Lyan, Amsterdam My travels all over the world trigger my creativity a lot – I have seen so many cool drinks being made in countries I’ve visited. South East Asia fascinates me especially; they’ve a unique way of using fresh, local products to create flavours and drink concepts I have never tasted or seen anywhere else. The people who inspire me are my colleagues at Super Lyan, as well as the guests. Every guest has different drinking habits and different flavour profiles. They challenge me to create interesting and accessible drinks – even those not drinking alcohol should have interesting options available. My colleagues are all different, and with their own creative minds they help me to look at drinks from a different point of view, to reimagine familiar drinks into something new and innovative.
Nikos Bakoulis Co-owner, The Clumsies, Athens One of the people who really inspires me is Kostas Ignatiadis. Kostas has been working at Schumann’s Bar [in Munich] for the past 19 years and is dedicated to treating his customers in the best way – he’s always humble and respectful to his regulars. Getting involved in other industries also inspires me. My big passion is to collect and taste wines from all over the world, including Greece. I love the process of making wine – and the people behind the wines, of course – it really gives me inspiration.
Keith Motsi Head Bartender, Charles H, Four Seasons Hotel, Seoul I am inspired by the people and environment around me. I am fortunate enough to work in an industry that gives me the opportunity to meet people every single day and to travel to far-flung places, which means I get to experience and learn things I would’ve never imagined possible. For me making a positive difference even to just one single person’s life per day is what drives me, especially now – in uncertain times it’s more important than ever to be nice to each other. In a world in which we are so technologically connected but at the same time emotionally disconnected, it is important for me to truly connect and be a positive factor for everyone around me. Because for some, that’s the most emotional connection they will encounter in their everyday life.
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Barney Toy Co-owner, Clipper NZ, New Zealand Simplicity! I find there can be so much complexity and depth of flavour in simplicity. I like to break down drinks to make them as simple and consistent as possible. The drinks at Clipper are all super clean and simple, many with just three or four ingredients. The important thing is to make sure that each ingredient is the best it can be.
Maxim Schulte Emanuele Balestra Director of Bars, Le Majestic, Cannes My impulsion is the human, to give beautiful things, to understand them, with no pretence. I try to do this with my plants, their cultivation, and my beehives. When you are in sync with all these, you can give your all, thus transforming the primary ingredient and granting your clientele an experience and an understanding of nature. The attention that is given to the bees and the plants brings together people who are passionate, and brings a dynamic to the team. The heart of bartending, I believe, must be emotion and transmitting it, sharing it. Emotion is so important because it is human!
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Head Bartender, American Bar at The Savoy, London I believe that inspiration does not come from one thing alone; it is more a collective of things or people that inspires me. Over my career, these people or things have changed and evolved. Multiple people have inspired me during my life and some have brought my enthusiasm to new heights. Every encounter with a very inspiring person is a step of learning. A masterclass and several one-on-one conversations with Luca Cinalli in Macau changed my way of thinking about drinks and creativity dramatically. I still remember his words and how he finds his inspiration for new drinks. I’m not saying that I copied any of his ideas, but the philosophy on how to approach new drinks impressed me. Then working with Luke Whearty showed how little I knew about technique and flavour. The way his mind works is unreal and I took inspiration from his approach to flavour and finding new ingredients. It’s a cliché, but my guests inspire me a lot. Over the years I’ve never felt more rewarded than when a guest pulls me aside and thanks me for making their evening special, with either drinks or service. The most important part is that we concentrate on how we make our guests feel, and that we listen to what they demand and tell us.
Natalie Fraser Bartender, Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar, Chicago My number-one inspiration for bartending – crafting cocktails and serving folks libations with love and flare – is my grandmother. She’s a 72-year-old woman from Mississippi. She had three kids by the age of 18 and raised them spectacularly while managing to have a good time. Her affinity for relationships, leisure and sharing food and drink with folks is why she’s my inspiration.
Chelsie Bailey Bar Manager, Happiness Forgets, London This is always a really hard question to answer as there are so many reasons why this industry and the people in it inspire me. I’m always inspired by people who make a difference to our industry without just making drinks. For instance, Monica Berg creating a safe space for the industry to anonymously report any concerns from harassment to discrimination. Also Hannah Lanfear created an LGBTQI Facebook for the bartending community and has done some amazing meet and greets over the course of that time. Another thing that always has and always will inspire me is the younger generation of bartenders. It’s so refreshing seeing younger people being so creative, and I’m always incredibly humbled when I’ve been approached for advice and see that person go from strength to strength.
Bannie Kang World Class Global Winner 2019, and Co-owner, MU, Taipei If there is one person who will inspire me every day, it’s my husband, our chef. We’ve been working in the same place for more than six or seven years and now we are opening our own restaurant and bar. We are still continuing as a husband-and-wife team to create and develop food and drinks parings and even cocktail garnishes. My most recent achievement would of course be the World Class competition 2019, and before I was the winner he took a month’s leave to help and support me on the training, giving me motivation and the feedback I needed.
Denis Broci Claridge’s Bars Manager, London Inspiration comes from doing something you love. We’re all familiar with the saying “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” and I try to apply that to everything. With that said, I always live by a rule of three and that is the purpose, it’s what makes me wake up at 6am each day and go to sleep at…1am (or later!) My family: Family is what made me fall in love with hospitality when I started working for my uncle’s restaurant
at 16, and now having four kids myself is my biggest inspiration, leading by example and ensuring that one day they will too will be doing something that they love. My team: They are super important to me and even though I might not tell them enough, they are one of my biggest inspirations. I learn from them, I try to improve each day for them and they always help me become a better leader. Our guests: Creating unique experiences that guests will never forget, be it for a guest who I just met for the first time or someone who I have known for 20 years, who has visited every single bar that I have ever worked in and still remembers how I made them feel the first time we met... that for me is what hospitality is all about.
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MAINS & MARTINIS
We enjoyed glorious British dishes at an iconic Mayfair hotel, sampled a taste of Italy and Spain in the heart of Soho and munched on modern Mexican while drinking in spectacular London views
Charlie’s at Brown’s Brown’s Hotel, Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4BP. roccofortehotels.com (£££) The vibe: Situated in the truly wonderful Brown’s Hotel in London’s elegant Mayfair, Charlie’s blends old-world charm with complementary modernity. The design is smart with a subtly quirky edge, the service is exemplary and the menu is a culinary celebration of British heritage with contemporary creativity. Dress up and join the celebration.
To be honest, we didn’t need a dessert but another glance at the menu and we couldn't resist sharing the Tart tatin, apricot and apple brandy ice cream. And we were mighty glad we did. With its intense apricot flavour, melt-in-themouth pastry and very grown up ice cream, it was an absolute triumph.
The food: We started with the dressed Cornish crab salad and terrine of partridge, duck liver and pear with toasted brioche and autumn compote. Both were kept pleasingly simple to showcase the full flavour of the main ingredients – something chef Adam Byatt and his team do so well. Similarly, the rack of Cumbrian lamb with braised rainbow chard, celeriac and potato gratin was a masterclass in how to select the very best produce and then tease out every ounce of flavour. And never able to resist a good pie, the Sutton Hoo chicken, ham, tarragon and leek pie took comfort food to another level – and us with it.
The drinks: Salvatore Calabrese has deftly put his mark on the classic Donovan Bar at Brown’s, with an exceptional team and an elegant drinks menu. The Sparkling Side of the Moon (Bulleit 10-Year-Old Bourbon, cognac, Grand Marnier, Fernet-Branca, passion berries, juniper, coriander, mint, chamomile and a Champagne top) was a spark of maestro magic – look out for the clever Pink Floydinspired ice cube. Not Shaken, Not Stirred (Tanqueray No. Ten redistilled, Fair Café Liqueur, ginseng, dandelion bitters and coffee caviar) was another powerful drink, but an exceptionally smooth one that slipped down effortlessly.
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Madera at Treehouse London
60 Berwick Street, London, W1F 8SU. saltyardgroup.co.uk (££)
14–15 Langham Place, London, W1B 2QS. treehousehotels.com (£££)
The vibe: A stylish but informal space serving up dishes inspired by the wood-fired grills of Italy and Spain in the heart of London’s buzzing Soho. There are intimate spaces for dates and catching up, while larger central tables with stools are perfect for groups working their way through the sharing menu. And the staff are as smiley as they are informed.
The vibe: Elevated Mexican cuisine and a whole selection of Margaritas, plus outstanding views of the London skyline. This is an all-day space that’s perfect for an easygoing breakfast or laid-back lunch, before the lights go down, the music goes up and a clubby vibe kicks in.
The food: The smokey Salamanca olives and a selection from the charcuterie made for perfect accompaniments to our kick-off cocktails, before diving into the tip-top tapas selection. Both the chargrilled prawns al ajillo and romesco bruschetta and the charred chorizo and octopus skewers with saffron aioli had an appealing smokiness, while still allowing the flavour of the main ingredients to really shine through. The drinks: There are classic cocktails, non-alcoholic, Italian and Spanish gins and five vermouths, but we suggest exploring the signatures – approachable and familiar with just enough of an occasional twist. The Vintage Negroni (Tanqueray No. Ten, smoked Campari and Antica Formula) came with a grilled orange garnish and smoked ice, adding an enhanced intensity to the aroma. The Ember & Ash (raisin-infused rum, Pedro Ximénez sherry and chocolate bitters) was served with smoke in the glass, which could have been a bit too much but, like the dishes, the balance was spot on. And make sure you check out the wondrous range of sherries too.
The food: Mexican but not as you’d necessarily expect it, with plenty of reimagined traditional dishes as well as a full vegan menu. With our drinks we shared some superfresh guacamole (organic avocado, pomegranate seeds, lime pepitas, red onion, jalapeño and coriander) served with warm tortilla chips. The tequila prawns (tequilamarinated king prawns with pesto-marinated heirloom tomatoes, melted mozzarella and piquillo peppers, all topped with crispy shallots) were sublime. And the truffle mushroom (mixed wild mushrooms, white onion, garlic and chives with vegan truffle parmesan and arugula) was deliciously earthy. The drinks: The emphasis is on tequila and mezcal complemented by plenty of fresh ingredients. There’s a good selection of original creations plus eight very inviting Margarita variations. Inspired by a New York Sour, the Alma de Sol (Avion Reposado, turmeric- and chilli-infused Chase Elderflower Liqueur, lemon, passion fruit, Cynar amaro and a red wine float) got better with every sip as the red wine gradually blended in. The Thai Basil Margarita (Ocho Blanco, Thai basil, lime and agave) was light, bright and utterly tasty.
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NEWS, VIEWS, REVIEWS AND HOW-TO’S
Amsterdam’s boozy past
Bees Whisky and honey: it’s a match made in hot toddy heaven. But the golden pairing is so much more than a seasonal tipple. Aberfeldy Barrels and Bees brings whisky drinkers, bartenders and bee keepers together in a global initiative that highlights the provenance and terroir of honey, focusing on how the good stuff from local producers adds natural sweetness to an array of f lavoursome drinks. Our fave? The signature Aberfeldy 12 Honey Cocktail – it’s totally bee-licous! dewars.com
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Let’s be honest, you don’t need a reason to book yourself a minibreak at the gorgeous Pulitzer Amsterdam – it’s always an absolute joy. However, if you need an excuse to do it before 15 March, then its Jenever Journey package should do the trick. We experienced the two-night stay, which takes in a tasting, nosey around and fascinating insights into the category at De Drie Fleschjes, the oldest Jenever bar in the city, plus two Jeneverbased cocktails in Pulitzer’s Bar and a small bottle of Jenever secreted in our room. The verdict? It’s just the job to chase away those winter blues. Available until 15 March. pulitzeramsterdam.com
The art of coffee
For your everyday caffeine fix, there’s Starbucks. For coffee as theatre and connoisseurship, there’s Starbucks Reserve Roastery. These uber-luxe temples to coffee are like Starbucks on steroids: big, shiny, galactic-like venues where master roasters, bartenders and baristas work together to take coffee to a whole new level. starbucksreserve.com
Where most of us see discarded bottle tops, Anna Kompaniets sees wearable works of art. Elaborate earrings, necklaces, corsets – you name it, she does it, transforming bog-standard stoppers with twinkly Swarovski crystals and beads. annakompaniets.com/shop
In pursuit of London’s coolest bars. for the creation of a menu inspired by musical genres. They’re all on the drinks and concept, while the visuals that playfully and oh-so meticulously bring the whole thing to life come courtesy of Gerald Scarfe. Naturally. For the record (pun intended) this is an absolute belter, guaranteed to bring out the child-like wonder in everyone. Set around an interactive stage, the performers are the drinks, neatly divided into Classic, Pop, Soul, Funk, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Rock, Electro and World sections. There are 18 in total, two for each category, inspired by two key moments in an iconic musician’s career. And to make working your way around the menu a little easier, there are helpful cues to the profile of the cocktails, such as Piano (light and refreshing), Mezzo Forte (medium with character) and Fortissimo (downright rich and f lavoursome). Who said modern cocktail menus were easy?
Scarfes Bar While the rest of the world seemed to be depriving themselves in the name of Dry January, I was doing my best to keep the drinks industry in business. Self less of me, I know. Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood London was a no-brainer to hit up for a number of reasons. One: as and when everyone inevitably falls off the wagon and back into the bar, this place gets super busy. Booking is generally advised if you want to be sure to secure one of the plush seats – either by the fireplaces or near the bar, particularly at peak times, but in dreary January, not so much. Two: I love the vibe. It’s five-star but accessible, more like a gorgeous living room, albeit a generously sized, beautifully lit living room, kitted out with original artworks by Gerald Scarfe (you know, the one who famously did the graphics for Pink Floyd’s The Wall album and who just happens to be the bar’s namesake) and featuring occasional bursts of live music. Three: I’d heard great things about its latest menu. And if there’s one thing I do know: Scarfes Bar gives good menu… For this particular list of drinks, Head Bartender Yann Bouvignies and Bars Director Martin Siska call on the talents of the entire team, from bartenders to barbacks, waiters to hosts,
For instance, Aretha Franklin heads up Soul (of course), and the duet of drinks that are based around her distinctly powerful voice take in Diamond Bouquet (Snow Queen Enigma Vodka, fortified wine, royal jelly and pickled grape) and Memphis Punch (Maker’s Mark Scarfe Select, grilled corn, clarified milk and kola and marshmallow). Both depicted as Mezzo Forte. Rock is dedicated to the Red Hot Chili Peppers with Take It Away! (Casamigos Tequila, Belsazar White Vermouth, green coffee and guarana, brewed coco and Chinotto; Fortissimo) and Scarfes Issue (Glenfiddich 15 Year Old, Cynar, carrot and watermelon; listed as Piano). Fancying myself as something of a home girl, I went HipHop, zoning straight in on the section of the menu devoted to the late Tupac Shakur. Poetic Justice (Chivas Regal Mizunara, tonic wine, Sassy Small Batch Cider, maple wood and hazelnut; Mezzo Forte) was my choice, while my date went for the Funk via Prince with Purple Tears (Tanqueray No. Ten, Muscato, aronia and golden berries and jasmine and patchouli). The ingredients sound way more complicated than the cocktails actually taste. In a good way. This menu was a hit with us, both for the fun factor and for damned good drinks. scarfesbar.com
BUY THE BOOK
Make 2020 the year that you get to grips with the wonderful world of whisky. We recommend Ian Wisniewski’s The Whisky Dictionary: An A-Z of whisky, from history & heritage to distilling & drinking – it does exactly what it says on the tin. Published by Octopus Publishing Group, octopusbooks.co.uk
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CREATE A STIR EACH MONTH JANUARY 25 January
Burn’s Night Play It Again, Sam 50ml Glen Moray Elgin Classic 1 tsp golden caster sugar 2 tsp water 2 tsp rose water 1 dash cardamom bitters (Bob’s bitters)
Girls allowed On 8 March it’s International Women’s Day. We’ll be honouring the occasion at the aptly named Celebrate Her at the Artesian bar at London’s Langham Hotel. Bar Manager Anna Sebastian is bringing together an amazing line-up of rock star female bartenders and floor superstars to kick off an ongoing programme and platform to educate and support women in the industry. Expect monthly seminars, talks, socials and courses filled with practical advice and information, but most of all, a lorra fun. Contact Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org
Method: Mix the sugar and water in an Old Fashioned glass, slowly adding ice. Then add the rose water and keep stirring. Add more ice, then the whisky followed by a dash of bitters and stair until smooth. Add more cubed ice. Garnish with a rose petal.
FEBRUARY 22 February
Margarita Day Dynasty Margarita 45ml Patrón Silver 15ml Patrón Citrónge Orange 7.5ml St-Germain 25ml fresh lime juice 7.5ml ginger syrup 3 fresh or canned lychees Grapefruit salt Lime twist Method: Rim a Rocks glass with the grapefruit salt. Place lychees in a cocktail shaker, add the remaining ingredients and ice, and shake hard. Double strain onto fresh ice in the Rocks glass. Garnish with a lime twist. Created by Jay Khan, winner of Patrón Margarita of the Year 2019
MARCH 3 March
Irish Whiskey Day Irish Coffee 40ml Irish Whiskey
Top marks We’re soooo volunteering for further ed now that Trick Dog, San Francisco has launched its Trick Dog University menu. Injecting a boozy kick into the curriculum, all of the drinks engage the minds of enquiring students before giving them the lowdown on the subject in hand: the drinks. For instance, Comparative Literature (Old Forester Bonded Bourbon, mango, Okinawa sugar and hops) is described thus: ‘Explore literature, culture and language, through the lens of the Old Fashioned Cocktail. This field of study draws on comparative analysis, literary
theory, fruitiness and Japanese sugar.’ Clever huh? There are Extra Curricular activities too, including Post Graduate (private barrels), Student Government (low abv cocktails) and Clubs (Highballs). As usual, all proceeds from the sale of the menu itself go to a chosen charity. This one will support The Bon Vivants Scholarship Fund, set up to champion the children of hospitality workers in San Francisco who will be the first in their family to go to college. trickdogbar.com
110ml hot sweetened coffee 25ml double cream Method: Lightly whip the cream until its slightly thickened, then set aside. Pour the coffee into a mug or heatproof glass, then add the whiskey and stir. Gently float the cream on the top. Created by the Venning brothers from Three Sheets in collaboration with The Sun Tavern. Available at The Sun Tavern on St Patrick’s Day, 17 March. thesuntavern.co.uk
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DID YOU KNOW?
1.3m alcohol drinkers ‘consider price less’ when going out. Kantar, Worldpanel Division
One to watch... You can learn a lot in 60 seconds. Like how to make a blinder of a cocktail. Tom Lasher-Walker’s One Minute Mixology not only lives up to its name, it’s stylishly shot, easy to follow and comes with little nuggets of historical info behind each drink so you can impress your friends. Boom! tomlasherwalker.com
DID YOU KNOW?
DIARY DATES: C=Consumer; T=Trade
You might be over it but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world is. We’re talking gin, still top of drops on the sip parade. For die-hard fans on the hunt for something to make their taste buds sit up and take notice, try Seven Crofts Gin from the Highland Liquor Co. It’s a big’un, packing a flavoursome punch, and with its pine-y overtones, works like a charm in the winter months. highlandliquorcompany.com
24 January-1 February: Paris Cocktail Week (pariscocktailweek.fr) C/T
One in four drinks serves are now between 5-7pm.
18-20 February: Cabo Cocktail Festival (cabococktailfestival.com) C/T
Kantar, Worldpanel Division
16-22 March: Amsterdam Cocktail Week (amsterdamcocktailweek.nl) C/T
26 February-1 March: Melbourne Cocktail Festival (melbournecocktailfestival.io) C/T
Howdah Onion Bhaji, £2.40 The only thing we love better than a damned tasty snack is a damned tasty snack with benefits. Hello Howdah! Yes, Howdah Snacks are chock-full of flavour and vegan to boot but here’s the best bit – every pack sold goes to pay for a nutritious school meal for a child in India. Howzat for a guilt-free reason to tuck into the spice-tastic range made up of Bombay Mix, Masala Dippers, Bakarwadi and Onion Bhaji? howdahsnacks.co.uk
ONE FOR THE DRINKS CABINET
Everybody’s talking about… Two things: low abv and CBD. It was only a matter of time before someone combined both. Step forward William Borrell, creator of Willow, which comes in at an almost negligible 0.5% abv. It’s the addition of natural cannabidiol that sets it apart from its no/low friends. Enjoy the shrublike drink, a blend of pineapple, cherry tomatoes, strawberry water, kaffir lime, agave and apple spirit, neat or with tonic for a no-booze buzz. willow.london
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12 The perfect dozen by Virginia Miller
What makes an inspiring bar? There are innovators and classics. Boundary-pushers and those that comfort. Elegant destinations or divey hideaways. The best bars, from molecular to easy drinking, nail balanced cocktails and service. The very best feel like community. Out of roughly 20,000 bars visited around the world in the past 15-plus years, I don’t have time for attitude. I can name multiple award-winning bars (in awards I’ve long judged) that have let hype go to their heads… or never understood hospitality to begin with. The best realise they aren’t special just because they do it right. But they’re part of a rarefied global network. When destination-worthy drinks, music, design and genuine welcome marry, it’s magic. Here, 12 of my most inspiring bars:
66 - The Cocktail Lovers
1 True Laurel, San Francisco As one of three cities that birthed cocktails in the 1800s (SF, NYC, New Orleans) – and the renaissance of the past 30 years (NYC, SF) – San Francisco boasts hundreds of world-class bars. Many inspire in the city, schooling the world on tequila since the 1980s (Julio Bermejo at the great Tommy’s) or pisco since the 1800s. SF pushes boundaries and perfects classics, with True Laurel offering one of the globe’s most humbly innovative cocktail menus. Opened by two-Michelinstarred Lazy Bear chef David Barzelay and Bar Director
Left: true laurel, san francisco; above: lidkeob, copenhagen; right: an example of the dishes on offer at cane & table, new orleans
Nicolas Torres, the hip, low-key bar serves stellar food and vintage spirits. Nicolas’s cocktail experimentation is a rarity anywhere, in keeping with SF’s usual ‘quietly do it first’ reputation. He crafts cocktails around the likes of funky rancio wine, fermented tonic or mezcal infused with California-grown guavas. truelaurelsf.com
2 Bar BenFiddich, Tokyo Tokyo may not turn out the most cutting-edge cocktails, but the city has long been queen of technique, ice, service and transporting environments. Tokyo also lays claim to countless bartending masters, whether garden-fresh cocktail king Gen Yamamoto or Bar High Five’s Hidetsugu Ueno, co-creator of the hand-carved ice diamond. Bar BenFiddich owner Hiroyasu Kayama is a leading cocktail master since opening the intimate space in 2013, which evokes a colonial-era tavern. From the ninth-floor bar, vintage liqueurs, house infusions and gorgeous cocktails fuel what is easily one of the world’s most inspiring bars. facebook.com/barbenfiddich
3 Lebensstern, Berlin Upstairs from Café Einstein, Lebensstern may be famed for its appearance in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds film, but the roomy old mansion is known to spirits geeks as the home of one of the world’s best spirits collections: more than 1,800, including some 600 rums, 400 whiskies and 200 gins. Try to pull away from rare bottles lining the cabinets, grab a seat on worn leather couches or, when the weather is nice, on the terrace. Sip flights in numerous spirits categories or peruse the extensive cocktail list, with simple-but-savvy twists on classics like an Aquavit Manhattan, Champagne or tiki cocktails and drinks inspired by different continents.
4 Cane & Table, New Orleans While the most inspiring bartender in the incomparable city of New Orleans is Chris McMillian of Revel Cafe & Barm(p. 53), Cane & Table might ideally exemplify that only-in-NOLA feel. Peeling walls in the colonialera space evoke New Orleans’ past, set to a Caribbeaninfluenced food menu and classic NOLA back patio, almost begging for cigars and rum. Thankfully, they specialise in rum and rum-centric cocktails. They also master low proof aperitifs. Nearby in the French Quarter, bar legends of 100 to 200 years, Napoleon House, Tujague’s and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, are each a must-visit for inspiring history and atmosphere, but Cane & Table recalls the same era... with better drinks. caneandtablenola.com
5 Bar Calvador, Kyoto Call it niche, but for those who love brandy, specifically French apple brandy – the great category of Calvados from Normandy – Bar Calvador is the most impressive bar in the world. Hidden upstairs under the sign of an apple in enchanting Kyoto, Hiroyuki Takayama is Asia’s only certified Calvados ambassador. He has amassed an impressive selection of more than 350 bottles of Calvados alone, plus a robust Scotch collection. His vintage Baccarat glasses ideally suit Calvados dating back decades, or even well over a century. calvador.jp
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Prague’s cocktail scene doesn’t keep up with that of Europe’s best drink cities. But Parlour is an exception in a city where one can easily count the notable cocktail bars (hello, Hemingway and Cash Only Bar). Parlour is next level, feeling like a hidden living room circa the 1920s to 1940s, with vintage furniture and glassware, dim lighting, soothing music and corners to settle into for conversation and quality cocktails. I geeked out with the staff, who have a passion for the craft of drinks and drink history. While hundreds of the world’s best fit this bill, Parlour is a rarity in its region, the kind of place where the elements come together just so.
Singapore is a rich cocktail city, so it’s tough choosing just one inspiring bar. Spectacular Atlas, a modern Art Deco temple to gin, Champagne and, really, every spirit, is an obvious choice, but so are greats like RPM, Jigger & Pony, Gibson, Operation Dagger or Junior The Pocket Bar. But Vijay Mudaliar’s intimate Native inspires for its environmental practices and cocktails based on traditional Singaporean dishes and ingredients, using only Asia-produced spirits. Bartenders explain drinks with cards offering details on their origins, showcasing local ingredients like candlenut, curry leaves, even weaver ants. Sustainability comes into play in drinks like Kristang (aka ‘leftovers’), utilizing sweet potato skins with curry leaf-lemongrass distillate, candlenut milk kefir and pickled ginger.
La Mezcaloteca, Oaxaca While Limantour jump-started Mexico City’s cocktail scene on opening in 2011, the old-world city of Oaxaca has long been a sleepy bar town, a far smaller, romantic city centred on mezcal in the state where mezcal hails from. In Situ is a fantastic Oaxaca city bar, but La Mezcaloteca was a pioneer, the original bar draw for industry coming to Oaxaca to visit palenques to learn about mezcal distillation. This mezcal library –down to green lamps lining the bar – contains more than 400 mezcals, all house-labelled by producer. Here you learn about distillers and agave varietals without getting tripped up by brands. It’s not so much a bar as a deliciously inspiring education. mezcaloteca.com
8 Lidkoeb, Copenhagen Consider Lidkoeb three bars in one, housed in an 1886 building. Adeline and Rasmus Shepherd-Lomborg launched the three-story bar in 2012. Downstairs, imbibe beer and food in the garden patio lined with communal tables under strung lights. A sunny mainfloor bar is all light wood booths draped in fur throws, expert cocktails and boozy shakes. A wood-lined middle-floor bar opens limited hours and hosts private parties. Head to the slanted roof attic for a whisk(e)y bar marked by woods, brick, black leather chairs and couches. Whisky-centric cocktails shine, but the draw is a collection of more than 200 whiskies from Scotland, the US, Japan, India and beyond. lidkoeb.dk
68 - The Cocktail Lovers
10 Pacific Cocktail Haven (PCH), San Francisco Kevin Diedrich is a consummate bartender who attracts a team of top-notch bartenders, many bar managers themselves, at Pacific Cocktail Haven (PCH). The unassuming bar shows off Kevin’s laid-back hospitality and innovative cocktail skills. Coming from upscale bars over a decade ago, he imparts elegance to thoughtful drinks sans attitude. He’s mastered drinks with li hing mui (Chinese salted plum), snap peas, saffron or shiso over the years, pre-dating the current ingredient trend of pandan leaves years ago with his tropical stunner, the Leeward Negroni. His Naked Mai Tai will make you rethink Mai Tais, without citrus but for a subtle rim rub of lime rind to release oils and aroma. pacificcocktailsf.com
Left: native, singapore; above: best intentions (aka fancy cocktail bar), chicago
Best Intentions (aka Fancy Cocktail Bar), Chicago
Nu Lounge Bar, Bologna
Chicago is a great drinking town, though molecular forerunners like The Aviary were best in their early days. But dive bars have defined the friendly Midwestern metropolis – and barflies know a truly great dive can inspire. Best Intentions is a shining example of how to do a dive bar for the modern age. Only open since 2015, it feels like it has been here since the 1970s with its wood panels, 70s paraphernalia (from clocks to jukebox) and carpeted bar. Angostura bitters is on draft, and beers and crushable-but-smart cocktails flow. Brothers Calvin and Christopher Marty’s humour shows in service and the bar’s nickname, ‘Fancy Cocktail Bar’, glowing in yellow over a fridge. It’s based on a Yelp comment complaining that the city “didn’t need another fancy cocktail bar” before they even opened.
There may be tiki bars with more dialled-in cocktails in the world (for one, pioneering Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco leading the pack since 2009), but you’ll find no greater surprise of a tiki/rum oasis than Nu Lounge Bar. Down an alley, amid Bologna’s cobblestone streets and medieval architecture, four Italian friends opened the restaurant/bar in 2000. One, Daniele Dalla Pola, spent time in Miami, fell in love with tiki culture, and brought it back to Nu at a time when you could barely find a tiki bar in Europe, much less Italy. Tiki mugs and decor line the cosy-kitschy bar, while tiki cocktail classics flow alongside the house signature aperitivo, Americano Bolognese. nuloungebar.com
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Last word The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit If you’re interested in food, drinks and all-round great taste, you owe it to yourself to have this wonderful book in your collection. Meticulously put together, it explains the intricate matter of flavour, suggesting pairings, ideas and recipes for a rich bounty of creative dishes. The focus is on food but it’s equally inspiring for cocktail-making. It’s a true modern classic for tastemakers everywhere. Published by Bloomsbury bloomsbury.com
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T H E U K ’ S N O .1 P R E M I U M G I N
GOOS E BERRY GIN
TRADITIONAL ENGLISH GIN WITH GOOSEBERRY -
AVA I L A B L E N O W
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