There comes a time when you want to gather friends and enjoy an evening with a bit more of a purpose than simply chatting, drinking and singing (maybe the singing is just my circle of friends). There are games nights, Murder Mystery Dinners (I highly recommend the range from Paul Lamond Games), tastings and many other, less conventional entertainments. In this case we’re talking beer tasting. I had too much and I have several friends who enjoy a glass of ale; this was a match made in heaven … probably not, actually, as you will hear: Read More
We’ve all been to Real-ale festivals, big and small; and we thought that CAMRA’s offering a few months ago at Olympia in London was pretty impressive. It was big but, depending on how you measure these things, it wasn’t the biggest: Wetherspoons are claiming that crown with festivals in every one of their pubs simultaneously, which, when added together, probably does make the biggest in terms of number of pints on offer, although not by range of ales. Still, this is not a time to be churlish nor an opportunity to be missed – I’d say a beer festival is never an opportunity to be missed – so I took a camera crew of students from Barnet College to my local Wetherspoon pub, the Tally Ho in North Finchely, to see what was going on. The students did fine. Considering …
There is a dance or an on-going negotiation between, on the one hand, bar owners and brands and, on the other, the customers and it’s based on one agreed ambition: both sides want us, the drinkers, to have a good time. We want to do that with the minimum of fuss and the bars and brands want us to be happy to pay for doing that specifically with their own products. How the two ambitions should be brought together is an age-old question that drives the drinks and bars industry. Sam Surl has some ideas on the subject and he’ll happily tell you about them, given half a chance. I gave him that chance at the Boutique Bar Show 2014.
Each group of drinks has an atmosphere, a “feel”: Beer is convivial, sociable and extended: one of life’s great lies is “Oh, I’ll just have the one!” … wine is considered, perhaps introspective, civilised … cider is refreshing and, like beer, for drinking in more public situations but it has a sense of danger … whiskey is for the serious drinkers, it can bring out the best and the worst in you … Gin, on the other hand, described by Dylan Moran as Mascara thinner, is a more refined drink for sipping … and vodka is the source, the distillation of reason … or un-reason.
All the major drink groups have their serious side; however, the one category of drinks that is uncompromisingly indulgent and fun, a little decadent and imbued with more science and art than most is the cocktail.
There is no doubt that ordering a cocktail is a statement about your approach to the occasion and the company and hints at your expectations of the rest of the evening. Cocktails can be sickly sweet, face-crunchingly astringent, long or short, sweet or sour but always worthy of attention, if only in a vain attempt to try and maintain a steady head.
One of London’s finest cocktail bars, The Lonsdale teamed up with London Cocktail Week so we went to meet them.
Cocktails At The Lonsdale
If you prefer a shorter version, here it is:
Every area of work has its networks of colleagues, contacts and friends, and, in an ideal world, it’s difficult to tell them apart. The same is true of the fraternity and sorority of wine-writers. We meet and compete in the convivial atmosphere of tastings and presentations and develop a sense of closeness, of belonging … that sometimes even lasts after the alcohol wears off! Read More
Shochu is the newest thing at the bar. It’s not a wine, it’s not really a spirit as we understand it. It is Japanese but it is not Sake, so what it is and is it worth the effort of finding out? The Saki Bar and Food Emporium held a tasting of Shochu to help us answer these questions: Read More