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  • 9 tantalising gin cocktails

    Gin-lovers of the world will be rejoicing this Saturday as World Gin Day returns for its ninth year. To celebrate the nation's favourite cocktail, we've asked those in the know to share their favourite gin-based cocktails of the moment. Now if these doesn't whet your gin appetite we don't know what will!

     

     

    Floradora Floradora by Pata Negra

    • 40ml of Beefeater gin
    • 20ml of homemade raspberry syrup
    • 20ml of lime juice
    • Top of with Fever Tree ginger ale

    Build & stir. Cubed. Glass: highball 10oz Collins

     

     

     

     

    Gin & Ting Gin & Ting by Pata Negra

    • 25ml Beefeater gin
    • 25ml fino
    • 5ml lime juice
    • Top up with sparkling Ting

    Build & stir. Cubed.

     

     

     

     

    Manor Thyme

    Manor Thyme By Slaughters Manor

    • Brockman’s Gin 50ml
    • Fresh blueberries 5-6
    • Fresh Thyme 2 sprigs ( a few to garnish )
    • Lime juice 20ml ( peel to garnish )
    • Sugar syrup 15ml

    Pick a small amount of thyme and slap the inner and outer of the tumbler, fill with crushed ice. In a shaker muddle blueberries, Brockman’s gin, lime juice, thyme and sugar, shake and double strain over the crushed ice. Garnish with lime peel, thyme and a violet flower.

     

     

    The King Of The Swingers

    The King Of The Swingers by Hyde & Co

    • Beefeater Gin
    • Banana Liqueur
    • Lime Juice
    • Cacao
    • Agave

     

     

     

     

     

    Jerez Flora Club Jerez Flora Club by The Ox Clifton

    • 25ml Beefeater gin
    • 20ml Chase marmalade vodka
    • 5ml Fino sherry
    • 15ml Raspberry syrup
    • 15ml lemon juice
    • 2 dash Peychaud's bitters
    • Egg white
    • Hibiscus flower garnish

     

     

     

    Tea on the Terrace

    Tea on the Terrace By Bambalan

    • Beefeater gin
    • Lychee liqueur
    • Chilled earl grey tea
    • Lemon juice
    • Viola flowers

     

     

     

    martini with a twist - Dakota

     

    Gin martini with a twist by Dakota Hotel Group

    • 50ml Tanqueray 10
    • 12.5ml Lillet Blanc

    Stirred over ice and served up in a Nick & Nora glass and garnished with a grapefruit twist.

     

     

     

     

    One in Five - Dakota

    Five in One by Dakota Hotel Group

    • 35ml Thomas Dakin
    • 25ml St Germain
    • 15ml D.O.M Benedictine
    • 15ml Gomme
    • 20ml Lemon juice
    • One egg white

    Dry shaken, wet shaken, served up in a coupe glass and garnished with a nice bright edible flower.

     

     

     

    IMG_4373

    Southern Collins by The Ox Cheltenham

    • East London Liquor Company Gin Batch No 1
    • Bob’s Grapefruit Bitters
    • Prescott Hill Climb

    An Ox take on a Summer classic, the Tom Collins, our Southern Collins is perfect for long Summer afternoons. Using East London Liquor Company’s Gin and topped up with local beer Prescott Hill Climb this cocktail is finished with a dash of Bob’s Grapefruit Bitters, a brilliantly zingy addition which really lifts the drink.

  • Argentinian Alternatives

    El Esteco Harvest 1

    Malbec has well and truly put Argentina on the wine map – it’s their star grape, like Sauvignon Blanc for New Zealand, Shiraz for Australia, and Chenin Blanc in South Africa.

    Indeed, commenting on the success of this sun-worshipping varietal, Jo Gilbert of Harpers says: “One of the great New World success stories is the rise of Argentinian Malbec, which has become the go-to grape for both supermarket shoppers and trendy restaurants in the UK and also worldwide”.

    It goes without saying that most restaurants and bars around town will have at least one Malbec on their list. Consumers have grown to adore the familiar, plush and velvety notes that are so often found in a glass of Malbec. The variety has lead the revolution of Argentinian wines; and has now cleared the path for what’s starting to unravel.harriet

    Argentinian Buyer Harriet Kininmonth says: “Today’s UK market is evolving and consumers are increasingly on the hunt for provenance and distinction, craving a premium and enriching experience. To this effect, we are witnessing a newfound curiosity surrounding Argentinean wines beyond Malbec, with a shift in focus towards alternative varieties, regionality and altitude.“

    So it’s settled; we’re experiencing an identifiable move beyond Malbec, but what exactly is next for Argentina in terms of varietals?

    Phil Crozier, Director of Wine at Gauchos – also known to respond to the moniker Mr Argentina – has an idea. While he admits Malbec will always be king, he says there are a raft of exciting new wines vying for their time in the sun.

    “In terms of white, we absolutely focus on Torrontes, since it’s an indigenous varietal. For me, Semillon has a great future in Argentina – there’s so much history behind the grape, and a few new winemakers are ensuring its revival. White blends, however, are the way to go. There’s more complexity, with Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Semillon and Torrontes, and they seem to blend very well. This is especially true of wines from the Uco valley, with lean and tight characteristics being the order of the day”, Phil says. 

    “When you look at reds, an entry-level Bonarda is excellent value; I do find that an equivalent-priced Malbec doesn’t match the value of simple and pure Bonarda. At the higher end it also delivers, with rich, soft and silky tannins.

    “Cabernet Sauvignon is a popular option, especially for those who have yet to be seduced by Malbec.

    phil blob

    “Without doubt, Cabernet Franc is the runner-up in the Argentine steaks. It will take a while, but I think this varietal can go where Malbec goes too, in terms of quality and identity”, Phil says.

    Phil’s not alone in his sentiments on Cab Franc; indeed, Argentinian wine writer Joaquín Hidalgo says it’s the promise on everyone’s lips.

    When looking to pinpoint what might be the next big thing to come out of a wine producing region or country, the source of truth can, more often than not, be traced back to winemakers themselves and what they’re drinking from the area.

    In recent years, the murmur among Argentinian winemakers is that Cabernet Franc is that next big thing; it’s what they’re all drinking.

    Change however, won’t come quickly, nor will this upshoot of exciting new wines knock Malbec off its perch; however, what can be surmised is that the future is bright for alternative Argentinian varieties.

    Compared with last year, we’re seeing growing number of Enotria&Coe customers thinking outside the box and expanding their Argentinian lists to include the likes of Torrontes, Cabernet Franc, Bonarda and Tannat.

    Looking at our Argentinian portfolio, Harriet says: “We are very excited about our range, which boasts unprecedented diversity, equipped with some of the most desired brands in the market. From Bonarda to Torrontes, from Tannat to Cabernet Franc, our new selection can cover all the new trends and demands, and proves that Malbec isn’t the only Messi in the team.”

    daniel pi blog

    Head of Winemaking at Peñaflor Daniel Pi has embraced the movement towards wines of finesse that express the nuances of their terroir: “This year [2016] we’ll be making wines which we have been fantasising about: reds armed with freshness, slightly thinning in the mouth. It’s not what we’re used to, but it’ll surprise the consumers”.

    Earlier this year, Tim Atkin MW, spent three weeks in Argentina tasting hundreds of wines for his annual report. During this time, he caught wind of the changing landscape of the country’s wine industry, noting as much in his conclusion of the trip.

    “Stylistically I noticed that the wines are finer, lighter and more elegant than in other times. There is good structure in most reds, but there is less oak and alcohol is beginning to decrease. There is a turn towards gastronomic wines, wines to accompany a dish instead of wines that are a meal by themselves. In many cases, I found wines that are fresh and easy to drink. These allow for better appreciation of the personality of the place where they are made. If we’re talking about trends, this is what stands out for me in Argentina today and I really like it.”

    When it comes to Malbec, Tim notes that without a doubt it’s very important, but pointed out the fact that it represents just 10% of the total vineyards in the country.

    “From my point of view, Argentine wine producers have two ways to go, not one or the other but both simultaneously. With Malbec, continue to work with precision on the origin. There is a lot of diversity to show the world about these wines. We must begin to explain that a Malbec from Perdriel, San Pablo, La Consulta, Salta, Gualtallary, Río Negro, Las Compuertas or Altamira is not the same.

    “The second path is the diversity of types of wines that are produced in the country. There are almost a hundred different cultivated grapes that give the possibility to elaborate very different wines, and it has to be shown. This year I tasted Albariño, Verdejo, Mourvedre, Grenache, unique wines that are very enthusiastic and will surprise many. In addition, other grapes, such as Assyrtiko, Furmint, Nero D’Avola, Vermentino or Mencia, can be cultivated and should work very well.

    “While Malbec is the best-known variety in Argentina, those who search a little deeper are surprised by the huge amount of styles and wines that exist,” Tim said.

  • Spotlight on LaOsa

    We sat down with Noelia da Paz, of the newest addition to our Spanish portfolio, LaOsa. 

    How did you become a winemaker?

    In or around 1998, my father and his brothers bought some vineyards, and shortly after they built a winery. Because of my personality and experience, they asked me to work with them. And while I had never worked in wine before, I had a lot of experience in sales. It didn’t take long for me to fall passionately in love with wine and everything that goes into the production and enjoyment of it. It was clearly my life path and I felt that everything I had done and worked for, led me to this path.

    What is the story of your winery?

    Unfortunately, in 2014, for personal family reasons, the winery was sold. However, I couldn’t abandon my passion and wanted to find a way to continue. At the start of 2015 I started my own brand, my own label. Everything inside of me pushed me to do it, even though I didn’t necessarily stop and think about it too much. With all the experience and the contacts I had, it was easy to continue on. I rented a winery in the area and started procuring grapes to make my first harvest. 

    LaOsa_4

    What’s your winemaking philosophy?

    The philosophy of the project is the respect for the authenticity of the regions, traditional varieties and winemaking process. In order to complete my mission of elaborating small productions of high quality, expressive wine, it takes time, and a respect the varieties and the land.

    Tell us about the grapes – why are they special and what are their characteristics?

    LaOsa_7The main varieties are “Prieto Picudo red” and “Albarín white”. They are indigenous from León, at the moment “Prieto Picudo” can only be found here. The Albarín blanco hails from the south of León and to the north in Asturias, and there are around 30ha in León. Prieto Picudo bunches are small, tight and the grapes have a pointy shape and are quite blue colour. The ripening is late and the harvest is usually done in late September or early October. The Prieto Picudo variety is characterized by its vegetable notes in both nose and mouth, marked by tannin and high acidity. Due to these main characteristics of the grape, it is excellent for producing wines with long ageing in oak as well as longer ageing in the bottle. Albarín bunches are very small, with thick skins and a juicy, very flavourful flesh. The grapes are harvested with low yields. It is very aromatic with beautiful citrus and floral notes, with a great balance of alcohol, fruit and acidity. 

    What does Trasto mean?

    I want the project to reflect who I am; everything I do means something to me. Trasto means rascal, and like the label says, my Mama used to call me a rascal. The design of the label makes me a bit nostalgic for my childhood, the writing and calligraphy of grade school and the mention of my Mama. I would like to continue being a rascal and never lose my spark!

    What is the meaning behind the bear logo and the winery name?

    LaOsa is my nickname, I gave myself this name. I love bears, they’re tender yet strong, with a savage character. When it came time to design the logo, the graphic that I brought to the designer was the head of a Grizzly. After working on it for a long time, we consider the logo to be much more tender and feminine, and most of all personal.

    LaOsa_6

    What are the characteristics of the region?

    León is a flat highland in the southwest of León in Castilla y León. The soil is clay with river stones and it’s close to 750m in altitude. León has a continental climate with long, cold winters, and summers that have hot days and cold nights.

    Who are your greatest wine heroes/influences?

    For me Raúl Pérez has been a very important influence. I have been lucky to know him and call him a friend for a long time. He showed me how to make wine with passion not based on technical data.

  • On the up with Chivite

     

    Navarra’s winemaking history is long and checkered, stretching all the way back to the Roman conquest of Spain. While it’s been in the game for years now, the region has yet to define a lasting identity, and continues to seek a path to success. Perhaps the most distinctive element of the whole region is the eclectic terroir and grapes; however, this diversity has blurred it’s focus and message to the world. Undoubtedly, living in the shadow of its neighbour, and Spain’s most powerful brand, Rioja, has not helped their quest to greatness.

    The jewel in Navarra’s crown, Chivite, is one of the few success stories to come out of the region. The well-revered and super premium estate, also lays claim as one of Spain’s oldest winemaking families. Always at the forefront of innovation, Chivite’s position amongst the best in Spain is thanks to their dedication to producing top-quality wines from the most special terroirs in the region, coupled with a strong commercial history.

    With tradition on their side, Chivite is now looking to modernise and reinvigorate the brand.

    Julian

    Julián Chivite, President of Grupo Chivite said, “Chivite has constantly changed throughout its history and is continuing to do so. We never stand still. That being said, we’re now undergoing an intense period of revitalisation: refreshing the look of many of our well-established brands and launching new products such as Las Fincas Rosado, Las Fieles and the Baluarte range, which respond to market demand and occasion driven opportunities.”

    Innovation, Julián says, comes thanks to small but meaningful changes, and always keeping the consumer front of mind.

    Rosé revolution

    Historically, rosé has been perceived to be a wine lacking in sophistication – an easy drink on a summer’s day, but one that cannot hold its own against serious sommelier-favoured wines, or those that work in a gastronomic setting.

    However, the dial is slowly moving on this as a new wave off winemakers are following a path towards a more versatile, complex, and premium rosé. The emergence of this category has been widespread, with brands such as Whispering Angel and Minuty & Miraval taking the market by storm, whilst in Spain, Chivite is leading the pack.

    Chivite’s breath of fresh air

    Spanish wine law dictates guidelines for how a wine must be made in order to be granted a certain level of qualification. Historically, in the Navarra region, you were legally not allowed to produce a pale-coloured rosé in the appellation and put DO on the bottle. While Chivite recognises that the DO system is still the number one guarantee for quality, they admit there’s certainly room for innovation. So, they took it upon themselves to challenge the status quo, and pursue a path towards a premium, pale rosé.

    “We noticed there was a trend towards lighter coloured, more serious rosé wines at the premium end of the market. As Spain’s leading rosé wine producer – with our well-known brand Gran Feudo – we could see that we were in a perfect position to take advantage of this. But we wanted it to be something different; a wine that stood apart from other Spanish rosés, and appealed to the consumer who knew his wines and knew what he wanted to drink,” Julián Chivite said.

    chivite blog

    The result? Las Fincas; a fetching rosé made in collaboration with Juan Mari Arzak of the three Michelin-starred restaurant Arzak in San Sebastián – it’s also the only Spanish restaurant with three Michelin stars sine 1989.

    Of the daring new venture, Julián said “My relationship with the Arzak family began long ago and over the years we have enjoyed many long evenings, gathered around the table, where exceptional food and wine were always present. And it was during those conversations that the idea of making a wine together formed. Juan Mari has always loved rosé wines and maintains that ours is the best. Thus, we began to conceptualize our perfect rosé, that wine we would always want to drink, and from there Chivite Las Fincas was conceived.”

    Las Fincas Rosado is the first wine produced by the Chivite Group under the appellation of Indicación Geográfica Protegida Vino de la Tierra 3 Riberas. For Spain, this is a new style of rosé. It’s dry and fruity, light and new, compared to the original Spanish rosés. 

    Back to the future

    The success of Las Fincas has been unprecedented, with strong sales throughout Spain and abroad too. This daring new wine also heralds a new era of modern winemaking for Chivite.

    Looking towards the future, Julián says he’d like to continue to retain a reputation for producing fine wines from distinctive Spanish terroirs, whilst building value into our proposition, and continue to innovate and produce wines which reflect the quality and individuality of their region in Northern Spain.

    When it comes to Navarra more broadly, and how winemaking will evolve, Julián says undoubtedly “we will see that the path of offering the best of our terroir – that some of us started many years ago – will be mandatory for all producers in the quest of excellence. Only those who are faithful and devoted to the identity of their land, and those who share these values with their consumers, will conquer the most demanding palates.”

  • May the Fourth Be With You

    star wars

    Sith Martini

    Created by Clementine Beach and Brendon Coster

    Give in to dark side with this Sith-inspired cocktail to celebrate May the 4th – the annual day where fans the world over pay homage to the popular franchise, Star Wars.

    Ingredients

    • 1 ½ Shots - Plantation O.F.T.D. Dark Rum
    • ½ Shot - Briottet Creme De Cacao Dark
    • 1 shot - Espresso
    • ½ Shot - Monin Cherry Sirop

    Method

    Mix together in a martini glass and garnish with a Luxardo Marasche al Frutto Cherry.

  • Cinco de Mayo and the rise of tequila

    Cinco de Mayo – 5th of May – is a day of celebration for tequila lovers the world over. So much so that many believe it to be Mexico’s Independence Day, yet in truth the day celebrates Mexico’s triumph at the Battle of Puebla over the French 155 years ago. General Zaragoza’s unlikely victory became a source of pride for the country marked with military parades and celebrations across Mexico, only overshadowed by the country’s actual Independence Day that occurred 50 years earlier on September 16th – let’s not mention the French coming back a year later and winning the re-match!

    Celebrations started in California after the victory in 1862 and continue to this day. The Mexican population living in America tend to celebrate it more than the people living in Mexico but they are also more likely to celebrate the 4th of July too as this is the national day of their adopted country. The holiday came into vogue in the 1940s and spread across the country, gaining real traction in the 1980s when beer companies, and indeed tequila brands, capitalized on the celebrations. The Americans just love to party and drink tequila and with the amount of tequila sold in America it is a big opportunity for the tequila brands to shift some bottles.

    Since the second world war tequila has become a big business in the US and the rest of the world. Moving away from the college ritual of a shot and a lime wedge into sipping aged liquids and cocktail serve has seen sales of tequila in the US rise from under a billion dollars in 2003 to over $2.5 billion in 2014, with the category growing year on year and the volume sold doubling between 2003 and 2016. In the UK a similar story is seen with a 37% increase in the past two years to £173million in 2016. London is often seen to lead trends in the alcohol industry and yet recent data shows that Yorkshire as a region has seen the highest growth in volume – up 16% on last year!

    Agave Farmer

    Tequila’s march forward into the psyche of drinkers across the world started with US colleges in the 1990s with mixto tequila consumed as a shot with lime and salt, becoming the ubiquitous party drink often seen in films. Yet today’s category growth is not in mixto tequilas but in more refined, premium tequilas made from 100% Blue Weber Agave, and also in more aged variants. This has thrown the category wide open with premium tequila becoming known for expressing terroir (the impact of the region’s soil, climate and environment on the flavour).

    Agave Field Landscape

    But what’s the difference?

    Mixto tequila, synonymous with house parties in the 90s, brightly coloured cocktails and university hangovers must contain a minimum of 51% Blue Weber Agave spirit, the remaining 49% made up of other alcohols – predominantly corn spirit used because it is cheap and easy to produce, and has a touch of sweetness. This mass-produced style brought tequila to the wider world and so we have a lot to thank it for.

    100% Blue Agave tequila, as the name suggestions is spirit made from 100% Blue Weber Agave, giving a cleaner, purer taste, and resulting a spirit that expresses the terroir in which it is produced. A key example is the difference between highland and lowland tequilas where the highland produces sweeter, floral liquid and lowland or valley tequilas have a distinct peppery, herbal taste. It is this arguably more artisan product that is now driving the growth of tequila in both the on and off trade.

    Whisky, cognac and other spirits have made a big deal about the maturation process and how this changes the nature of the liquid to make a richer, smoother spirit. Using different types of oak or other wood, placing the barrels in different warehouses, using different barrels that have contained other spirits or wines. All have an effect on the flavour of the spirit and of course add a nice dimension to the brand story.

    Many tequila brands now use this process to age and mature their liquid, releasing tequilas aged from 2 months to more than 7 years. Reposado tequila is aged for 2-12 months and gains a light amber colour with hints of vanilla on the palate; older Anejo tequila is aged for up to 36 months resulting in a deep golden amber hue and rich indulgent flavours of tobacco, caramel and leather much like an aged bourbon. Muy (extra) Anejo tequilas are becoming increasingly popular, aged for other 3 years with powerful whisky-like flavours. However, the price of such releases is high – in Scotland the ‘Angel’s Share’ of liquid lost to evaporation is relatively low (around 2%) a year, yet in the hot Mexican climate this is much larger, with the product ageing quicker but also with less product remaining each year. Care must be taken to avoid the delicate tasting agave plant being dominated by the oak, balancing the sweet spice notes from the barrel with the natural herbal flavours within the agave.

    Drinks for Cinco de Mayo don’t stop with tequila though – as it becomes more popular so do other regional variations such as Sotol, Bacanora and Mezcal. In particular, Mezcal has become a bartenders’ favourite with its richer, smokier flavour that is more robust and able to take on some stronger flavours. Produced from a range of agave plants that each impart certain flavours; it is definitely something worth trying in a cocktail.

    So, alongside sipping a variation on a classic Old Fashioned this Cinco de Mayo there are many other classic tequila mixed drinks to ease yourself in to the category, or to test the adaptability of Mexico’s greatest export.

     

    Tequila Cocktail Recipes


    Paloma - a delightfully refreshing summertime cocktail that is quick and easy to make

    50ml Reposado tequila

    15ml lime juice

    Grapefruit Soda, such as Ting!

    Simply build the drink in a tall glass filled with ice and garnish with a lime wedge.


    Dulce de Tequila - tequila candy in drink form with a lovely touch of sweet orange.

    35ml Reposado tequila

    15ml Cognac (VS/VSOP)

    15ml Cointreau

    10ml lime juice

    10ml agave nectar

    Shake all ingredients with ice and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist.


    Tequila Old-Fashioned – aged tequila adds a smooth vanilla note to this classic cocktail.

    50ml Reposado or Anejo tequila

    1 teaspoon agave nectar

    2 slices orange

    Black Walnut Bitter

    Muddle the agave nectar and orange in a mixing glass, add ice and tequila and stir until well-chilled, slowly adding more ice if needed. Strain into an ice-filled old fashioned glass, add a few dashes of bitters and garnish with a thin slice of orange.

    And if you just have to shot the stuff, try it with an accompanying shot of verdita – a bright green, refreshing palate cleanser taken just before the tequila.

    To make a batch blend a handful of coriander, ½ the amount of mint, 2 green jalapenos, 1 litre of pineapple juice. Once blended well, chill for a few hours and it is good to go!

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