Wednesday, 30 January 2013

No 3 Gin : The Making Of (For Gin Geeks!)

So these are the botanicals for No 3 Gin; the 3 fruits are juniper (ok, its a cone!) grapefruit peel and orange peel then the 3 spices are cardamom, coriander seed and angelica root

They go into the still, like this

The copper helmet gets bolted on

Fred, a one man show, hand crafts the gin, attaching the swans neck here

The condenser 
And all for this...No 3 Gin. The final word in a dry martini.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Kyoto meets Edinburgh: Burns Night Japanese Style

We all know that the Japanese do whisky. And they do it well. So I was more than delighted to be invited to join Hakkasan CEO Niall Howard along with successful Scottish business (wo)men and “celebs” (courtesy of 360 Communications and Bacchus PR) for a Burns Supper with a unique Asian twist hosted at Chrysan.

Welcomed with traditional bag pipes – the Scottish ones, I know that the Japanese have their own version too – and a glass of Champagne, I opted for a non alcoholic drink (thank you Worship Street Whistling Shop for my boozy early evening!) and received a deliciously tropical Iced Tea with an orchid on top. I have to say this was a good call as what was to come was a real education in taste.

A mere two minute welcome speech led us straight into the meal, starting with a small “dish” that has sake poured into it. Well they said it was sake, it tasted like warm lychee tea and was the perfect palate cleanser with the warm flannels too. (I opted for a hand wipe, my neighbor went for a full facial wipe down!) Next was Tori Leekie soup (chicken, leek and ginger) with Suntory Hakushu 12 yr old and soda; this is very popular in the East as an introduction to whisky and palate cleansing too. The soup was fabulous, so was the whisky with a smoky hint coming out too.

Next was Nabe Burns – “Japanese haggis”, dashi turnips and wasabi potato salad – served with Suntory Yamazaki 18 yr old. Now, the Japanese do not have Haggis. However Niall had taken the ingredients to chef Daisuke Hayashi and with some Japanese spice and magic it become a delicious plate of nummy – official term - which was wiped clean. And the whisky? Something about the hand carved ice ball had a profound effect on the whisky beyond dilution. It was incredibly approachable and disappeared worryingly quickly.

And lastly, one of my food nemesis’ – Cranachan. If you don’t know it, it’s like we took Eton Mess, swapped the meringue for oats (?!) and threw in whisky and honey – hideous. Yet this was transformed – or deconstructed I should say. Firm whipped cream was encased in oats and topped with raspberry coulis, accompanied by macha ice cream, Hibiki soaked raspberries and honeycomb pieces. Drooling yet? This was accompanied by the star drink of the night – Suntory Hibiki Old Fashioned which my brother and dining partner had finished before dessert arrived!

Coffee was short and strong, toilets were heated and complicated to the point of fear. I loved both.

The best thing about this evening is that although Burn’s celebrations are over for another year, this was a trial run for Chrysan's larger plans next year to celebrate the --- anniversary of Kyoto and Edinburgh’s city twinning, So in about 11 months’ time when you start thinking about how to celebrate, Chrysan may well be doing something a little special and a lot tasty.


Thursday, 17 January 2013

January Offer - £5 House Cocktails at Dabbous

Blood and Sand
I have long been a fan of Dabbous (Whitfield St) and the genius of Oskar behind the bar, but for some reason that I cannot fathom I had not visited in many a month. So with the announcement that it was back open after a THREE week break I headed off to prop up their bar. 

And here is the best bit - get yourself down there in January to enjoy their house cocktails at just £5. £5! This bar is already excellent value with most drinks coming under £10 and being totally delicious. So what should you drink? 

Pump Up The Jam
The Mellow Yellow is a curious mix of smoky whisky and yellow pepper. Order it, but make sure your friend orders something different so you can share as this is so complex you'll need a breather. The Bulletproof was staggeringly good - if impossible to lift - with bourbon, greengage and gooseberry all coming together with mint and citrus. The Dewars 12yo used in the Blood and Sand adds a lovely smoked note to the drinks. And the Pump Up The Jam is one for the girls. No denying it when this pink flower topped vanilla and pumpkin jam concoction turns up with an added twist of whisky bitters. Men, you have been warned.

So, get down there and enjoy a £5 cocktail, then stay for the food, music, ambiance and everything else. 

Friday, 4 January 2013

Happy 2013!


Welcome back

Happy New Year etc etc

So, what were your 2012 bar highlights?

Instead of looking back I am going to look ahead. Antico, Bermondsey Street, is revamping their bar - a plus to have a bar to wait for a table in their fab restaurant but never quite got the feel right - and is re-opening the second week of January. Dray Walk off Brick Lane is going to be the foodie haven for 2013. My own little project with The Table in Southwark is almost at take off point, watch this space for a soft launch on their cocktails menu. 

And my personal ambition - hitting those 5* hotel bars. Now I have the money (work allowance), motivation (our brands are well placed for these venues) and time (with just one full time job to run!) I look forward to drinking well and making new friends. 

I also vow to visit Callooh Callay on a regular basis, do not make enough of my Jub Jub status and I apologise! 

If you have any suggestions or you'd like to know if I've been somewhere just drop me a note. And if you fancy a review just let me know where you are, but no free drinks accepted, that's bribery...