Old Fashioned week is nearly upon us!

We love a good Old Fashioned, that simple yet elegant elixir that can get an party started. And, in great news for all lovers of the Whiskey cocktail (and Whisky, given the many variations on the recipe, not to mention rum, tequila…) Old Fashioned week is set to return on 1 November.

The celebrations take place from 1-10 November, and the aim of the week is to celebrate all things great about the true OG cocktail, developed in the 1800s as a classic mix of spirit, sugar, water and bitters. Bartenders around the world will be putting their own unique spin on the drink, having a chance to show their flair for creativity and pushing the boundaries of what an Old Fashioned can be. Now in its fourth year, it has launched this year with ambassadors in 13 international zones.

Bars across the world will be taking part in the week, and will offer discounts, free tastings, and many other offers. To see the list of bars participating, and to see what offers are available, check out the Old Fashioned Week website, or, to get the party started at home, check out a recipe to make your own Old Fashioned below!

This year, the standard is raised even higher as Old Fashioned Cocktail Week launches a challenge to bartenders and bars to create the best Old Fashioned in the world – whether that be classic, a contemporary spin, or an off-the-wall, avant garde creation! The video based competition is open to professional bartenders who can apply at www.old-fashioned-week.com, and must submit their entries before 30 November. Results for the competition will be announced on 15 January 2019, and more information can be found on the website or on Twitter at @OldFWeek.

Classic Old Fashioned cocktail recipe

We have written the recipe below in parts, so that you can make a bigger portion if you want. 1 part below refers to one 25ml shot

Glass: old fashioned / tumbler / rocks glass (any short glass will do)
– 2 parts spirit. Choose bourbon (we love to use Bulleit for a good and well priced bourbon) / rum / rye whiskey / Scotch whisky / cognac
– 2 dashes of ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters
– 1 sugar cube (or half a shot of sugar syrup (dissolve one part sugar in one part water)
– 1 sliver of orange zest
– 1 Toschi Amarena cherry
Muddle the bitters and sugar with a splash of soda or flat water for 1 minute in the glass.
Add the spirit and fill the glass with ice. Give it a stir and garnish with the orange zest and cherry.

The New York Distilling Company – the Rye Renaissance Returns!

Hot on the heels of the second annual ‘New York Rye Week’ (held October 15-21, 2018), we took a moment to look at one of the top distillers of this beautifully classic grain whiskey…

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For hundreds of years, rye enjoyed a prominent place in New York agriculture, used to create flour, beer, and rye whiskey, thriving in New York’s glacial soil and northern climate and hardy enough to survive the cold New York winter.

Although in recent decades the popularity of Rye Whiskey has been replaced by a shift in consumer taste toward Bourbon, we have recently started to see an upward spike in trends for more complex and aromatic whiskey, with rye enjoying once again its well earned place in the spotlight, driven in part by the recent interest in Nordic baking and making.

A classic whiskey that is as versatile a cocktail ingredient as it is delicious damn dram in its own right, rye is one of our favourite spirits to experiment with, but also to enjoy as a comforting go-to when looking for a no frills deliciously straight up drink on the rocks. From the timeless Manhattan to a classy Sazerac, we’ve enjoyed it served all over the world in a variety of forms, but Ragtime Rye really changed the game for us.

KatzRag H.jpgMade from a mash bill of 72% rye, 16% corn and 12% malted barley with the primary grains, rye and corn, being derived from New York State, Ragtime Rye is the brainchild of The New York Distilling Company, based in Brooklyn.

The distillery’s aim is to “create products and brands of exceeding quality and originality while building on an American cocktail heritage set in its second Golden Age” (one hell of an aim in our book!). With a commitment to use the most sustainably produced ingredients in all its spirits, The New York Distilling Company also features grains grown in New York State whenever possible including the rye used to create Ragtime. This rye is 100% non-GMO and primarily organic, specifically grown for New York Distilling Company by Pedersen Family Farms in the Central Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

With a deeply complex flavour profile which boasts nuances of caramel, earthy tobacco and spices including clove, Ragtime Rye is perfect served neat or made into a fruity old fashioned (with some killer hints of white pepper and fruit notes on the palate). It’s bottled at 90.4 proof which makes it a deliciously sippable quaff that satisfies to the very last drop.

Alongside Ragtime Rye, The New York Distilling Company has a number of classically Golden Age spirits on it’s roster including Mister Katz Rock & Rye (named after their eponymous master blender*), Dorothy Parker American Gin, Perry Tot’s Navy Strength Gin, Chief Gowanas New Netherland Gin, and an Applejack Barrel finished version of their classic Ragtime. Providing a brief overview of the range, we’ve compiled a short explanation of each below:

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MISTER KATZ’S ROCK & RYE

This classic variant of Rye marries the Distilling Company’s youthful rye whiskey and rock candy sugar with sour cherries, cinnamon, and a wisp of citrus that could be enjoyed on its own or in a cocktail.

DOROTHY PARKER AMERICAN GIN

 

Named after the famous poet, Dorothy Parker is as unconventionally brilliant as was the frequent member of the Algonquin Round Table.  New York Distilling Company seamlessly blurs the lines between tradition and innovation, fusing botanicals of juniper elderberries, citrus, hibiscus, with spices of cinnamon.  Bottled at 44% and extremely palatable, this spirit blends with vermouth, grapefruit juice, and even Ramazzotti.

PERRY’S TOT NAVY STRENGTH GIN

Perry’s Tot is bolstered on the foundation of tenacity and dexterity.  Named after Matthew Calbraith Perry, Commandment of the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the nineteenth century, this spirit is as domineering as the general himself.  At 57% ABV, Perry’s Tot channels the grit of nineteenth century Brooklyn. This redolent pairs well with Lillet Blanc, Vermouth, and cinnamon. The robust flavors and coupled with the delicate spices strike the perfect balance.

CHIEF GOWANUS NEW NETHERLAND GIN

Distilled in the old Dutch colony of Brooklyn from grains grown in New York State, Chief Gowanus is based on an early American recipe for making a version of “Holland gin” out of American rye whiskey. The double-distilled rye whiskey, is placed back in the traditional pot still with juniper berries and a handful of Cluster hops (the variety likely to have been in use in 1809, from whence the recipe originates) and is run through a third time. After three months in an oak barrel to smooth it out a bit the end result is that of a full body and a less juniper-forward flavor than regular gin- Indicative of the Dutch style.

APPLEJACK BARREL FINISHED RAGTIME RYE WHISKEY

In tandem with the nascent trend of secondary barrel finished American whiskey, New York Distilling Company introduces Applejack Barrel Finished Ragtime Rye Whiskey, a designated Empire Rye Whiskey. This limited-edition expression is produced from the distillery’s own Ragtime Rye Whiskey aged approximately five months in barrels previously used for aging Applejack Whiskey. The result is a unique combination of legendary New York State spirits: a rich, mature, bold rye flavor with notes of cherry and vanilla, a round mouth feel and and gentle aroma and flavor of bright apple.

Allen Katz

Allen Katz – Legend.

*One of the nation’s leading authorities on distilled spirits and cocktails, Allen Katz is also the Director of the Spirits Education and Mixology for Southern Wine and Spirits of New York and is at the forefront of industry training around the country, as well as hosting public and professional seminars and serving on the Board of Directors for the New Orleans Culinary and Culture Preservation Society and The Manhattan Cocktail Classic.

www.nydistilling.com

Ice Sculpting for Cocktails with Jägermeister

 

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Tools of the trade

As part of London Cocktail Week, we had the fantastic opportunity to try our hand at ice sculpting in a special ‘meisterclass’ run by Jägermeister. With the aim of providing the basics of home ice making for cocktails, this class was not only incredibly fun but left us with some truly useful skills to impress future dinner guests (being raised in Surrey gave us an appreciation of the fine art of hosting!).

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Creepin’ on some cocktails

Starting with a huge block of crystal clear ice, we were armed with two types of knives, a hefty mallet and an assortment of strange looking ice picks to hack ourselves out an array of impressive ice shapes, starting with a basic cube to elaborate diamonds and spheres.

*Do not try this at home warning*

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An incredibly sharp knife

To prepare cocktail worthy ice sculptures, the carver must firstly take a slab of prepared ice and saw through slightly with a sharp serrated knife before tapping their way through with the mallet. This formed two smaller blocks, a process that was repeated a number of times until a cube small enough to fit inside a rocks glass was formed. Once this initial shape is created, you can carve away corners to create a multi sided shape that captures the light at each intersection, or continue to whittle down using 45 degree angles to carve out a diamond shape.

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Multi-sided shape fun

One of the most difficult and rewarding shapes was undoubtedly the sphere (ok, ok, we only really managed an ovoid/ice egg but still!), which was created by chipping away using a strange three pronged fork/pick/ice thing. This caused ice shards to fly everywhere in a refreshing flurry of ice rain, really great fun!

A lot harder than it looks (we may have clumsily cut ourselves a few times), this masterclass was a really unique experience in a week full of events that stood out as one of the most memorable and inspired things we’ve done in a while as part of DrinkingTwins – look out for twin ice sculptures in the future!

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Ice diamonds are a drink’s best friend

 

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Showing off them skillz

During LCW at Big Chill (where these masterclasses were held), Jägermeister served a selection of fun and classic cocktails accompanied by bar flaring and DJ events that made the whole place vibrant and fun. Located on the Big Chill terrace, Jägermeister’s Der Wald Bar, transported cocktail lovers to a contemporary German forest complete with fairy lights and foliage – a great immersive way to lose yourself in the world of Jäger!

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Luging our minds

This included impressive sculptures and ice luges where Jägerlovers could indulge in an ice cold filtered shot, poured straight down the hatch, perfectly served at -18°.

A delectable selection of £6 cocktails were available from Jägermeister’s Hubertus Circle bartenders, including: Black Magic, Manifest Hunter’s Tea, Jägermeister Sour, Jungle Hunt and Manifest on the Rocks, plus Jägermeister’s signature cocktail – Jägermeister Mule.

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Keyring flasks for the absolute win!

Nicole Goodwin, Marketing Director for Mast-Jaegermeister UK comments: “An inherently complex spirit, Jägermeister naturally lends itself to being enjoyed as an ice cold shot, as well as being used for experimentation and cocktail creation. We’re delighted to be continuing as official sponsors of London Cocktail Week and partnering with Big Chill as our festival venue.  This year, we’ve curated cocktails and experiences that we think surprise and excite consumers, ultimately inviting them to reimagine the possibilities of Jägermeister.”

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#impressive

LCW Roundup – What a week!

*Phew*

Finally recovering from the week of fun and drunkenness that is London Cocktail Week, and what a week it was! We had and amazing time travelling around the different bars and events happening during this delightful celebration of all things alcoholic (not to mention some pretty damn good soft drinks – that kombucha tho! 🐱‍👓) So much was done in such a dizzyingly short space of time that we’ve decided to do a write up roundup of a few of our favourites from LCW (more to follow):

Dante NYC @ Quaglinos:

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Sippin’ on them ‘gronis

One of the world’s best bars, Dante NYC, took over the iconic (and truly beautiful) Quaglino’s bar between the 28th September and 2nd October, serving a selection of their world famous Aperitivo cocktails. Consisting of a speciality curated menu of 10 drinks for this week long residency, we stopped by twice to sample these beauties. Among our favourites were the decadent Chocolate Negroni (Campari, Fords Gin, Cinzano 1757 Rossa, Crème de Cacao, chocolate bitters and Valhrona), The Dante Martini (Fords Gin, Cinzano 1757 Dry, saline, Verjus, toasted fennel tincture, lemon bitters, pickled stuff, Absinthe mist), and the Unlikely Negroni, which had a beautiful sweet-savory balance (Campari, Cabeza, Cinzano 1757 Rosso, banana, coconut shrub, Thai chilli, sesame oil).

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Aperitivo has traditionally been a custom associated with the beautiful climes of Italy, yet the team at Dante together with Quaglino’s Bar Manager Marco Sangian and Head Mixologist Federico Pasian have created the ultimate Aperitivo experience in London’s Mayfair. This is a further extension of the Quaglino’s bar team’s commitment to Aperitivo – they are also launching the new Q Aperitivo Sessions in September with four  specifically-designed  serves  that  balance  zingy  bitters  with  sweet  Mediterranean  spirits and which  perfectly  encapsulate  the  hazy  essence  of  late  summer.

The Light House by The London Essence Company:

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Let there be Light(ly carbonated drinks)

This multi-sensory, immersive journey explored the essence of light presented by The London Essence Company for London Cocktail Week. Really nice breather with some interesting cocktail variations including a non-alcoholic Seedlip cocktail, Pea & Ginger (Seedlip Garden 108, LEC Citrus Cordial, London Essence Ginger Ale), and a guided mediation session with Former Director of Research at Headspace and Mindful Scientist, Brad Sanderson. Really nice atmosphere with some great drinks and immersive vibes, not to mention a resident bartender each night:

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Dead Rabbit @ The Sun Tavern:

For one night only, from 6pm-1am on Tuesday 2nd October, Dead Rabbit NYC kicked off London Cocktail Week in their usual awesome way, taking over the Taproom at The Sun Tavern in Bethnal Green, complete with sawdust floor, low lighting and badass Dead Rabbit whiskey ☠🐇🥃

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The Lone Oak: a delicious decadent dream drink!

Bartenders Anna Kremen, Jessica Friedman, and Genesis Cruz of the serial ‘World’s Best Bar’ winners jumped behind the bar to do their thang and serve up such beauties as The Lone Oak (The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey, Green Chartreuse, Pistachio, Lemon, Curry Leaf, Angostura Bitters) – a seriously delicious drink!

Dead Rabbit aficionados will be pleased to hear that their world-famous Irish Coffee was also on offer, a caffeine hit that really hits the spot.

The pop up also included the exclusive unveiling of Dead Rabbit’s brand-new ginger beer labels – drawing inspiration from the famous comic book style synonymous with the bar, and marked the last instalment of their distinctive graphic novel menus.

Campari Cocktails with Sother Teague @ Reverend JW Simpson:

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Sother Teague and his latest book.

Sother Teague, legend in the drinks industry and all round great dude, was behind the bar for one night at one of our favourite hangouts, Reverend JW Simpson for a special CAMPARI takeover and launch of his latest book, I’m Just Here for the Drinks.

Great night with some amazing drinks as usual including winner of the Campari cocktail competition, the Pumkpin Spiced Flip (Campari, Wild Turkey Rye whiskey, fresh mandarin & lemon juice with a homemade spiced pumkpin syrup and a free range egg) – yes, it was incredible!

 

Twisted Bar pop up launch party:

Old school nostalgia was in abundance for this creative bar, shaking up popular sweet and funky cocktails including a pretty damn tasty Oreo cocktail, Skittles sour infusions, a lemon drizzle G+T, Black Forest Negronis, Cookies and Cream white Russians and so much more!
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The experience was made all the more fun with the addition of some classic dance hits blaring out from the DJ booth and a ball pit bath that was actually a lot less comfortable than it looked but good fun 😂

The pop-up bar will be open at 54 Commercial Street in Shoreditch, London, for the whole of October! The month will be peppered with exclusive events, featuring live music, board games, weekly quiz nights and lots of Twisted cocktails!

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Pretty drunk by this point…

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Hello ladies 😉

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Looking as uncomfortable as we felt

Amaro Montenegro joins the Mangrove portfolio

Aleksandra Jaworska of Bullard & Worth, Edinburgh

Aleksandra Jaworska of Bullard & Worth, Edinburgh

As part of the spate of events in the run up to LCW, we were invited to a special rooftop party for one of our all time favourite Amaros, Amaro Montenegro, who have just joined the Mangrove Global portfolio, alongside Aperitivo Select and Vecchia Romagna brandy.

As a result of the UK finals of the Amaro Montenegro Vero Bartender Competition, winner Aleksandra Jaworska of Bullard & Worth in Edinburgh will go on to represent the UK in the world finals taking place in November in Bologna.

Created in 1885 by the Bolognese distiller Stanislao Cobianchi (also known as a “rebel genius”), this amaro is the result of Stanislao’s many experiments with countless ingredients and determination to create the ultimate blend of 40 botanicals to create his amaro liqueur. One final element added to the liqueur is the ‘Premio’, which is the result of the meticulous micro-distillation of five botanicals and is the final and fundamental ingredient of the secret recipe.

The result is a unique and authentic liquid; amber in colour with a complex herbal aroma and a perfectly balanced mix of sweet and bitter.

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The classic, Amaro Montenegro and tonic – truly refreshing!

Classics such as ‘Montenegronis’ and Amaro and tonic were served at Ham Yard Hotel Rooftop bar to celebrate this move and the setting and atmosphere couldn’t have been more perfect. We have a lot of Italian family, including our Nonna, who we raised a glass to on the evening, and this liqueur really makes us feel at home, a huge thank you to everyone involved and here’s to Amaro!