Casa Sugarlandia – a jaunt into the Philippines in the heart of Shoreditch

Something has been brewing in Shoreditch in the past few weeks, and we ain’t talking about the Truman Brewery. Don Papa rum have brought the feel of the Philippines to London for an immersive island experience known as Casa Sugarlandia that unites tropical rum cocktails, banging asian food and all things weird and wonderful together until 8th June.

Entry is free so go along now to try some delicious cocktails!

Don’t know Don Papa? This Filipino rum is the first small-batch rum from the Philippines. Distilled and aged for over seven years in American oak barrels on the island of Negros Occidental (known locally as Sugarlandia), the pure, original Noble cane is the foundation for Don Papa Rum’s long, rich-textured finish and flavours of vanilla, honey and candied fruits.


Casa Sugarlandia runs from 22nd May to 8th June, taking over a two-storey venue on Shoreditch’s Great Eastern Street, revamped as a fully set-designed space, offering Londoners a spectacular taste of the island of Sugarlandia in the Philippines via some of its customs, flavours and flora.

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Check out the event listings below for more information and to grab tickets to any of the events!

While the programme changes weekly, there are some mainstays, and those with a penchant for Karaoke will be able to jump on the microphone, Filipino-style each week.  Invented in the Philippines in 1973, Karaoke comes to the Casa on Thursdays. For those on the shy side or simply hoping to coax out their alter egos, there’s also the option to don a mask to spare their blushes and truly let loose. This isn’t your regular sing along, but Masked Karaoke, Sugarlandia style.


These guys know how to do a garnish. Photo: Drinking Twins

The in-house menu comes courtesy of a rolling roster of three chef teams each presenting their take on the flavour of the Philippines. Nicknamed “Asia’s last secret cuisine”, Filipino food upholds rich flavours and displays a wide range of culinary techniques emanating from the 7,000 islands that make up the Philippines. BBQ chefs SARAP line up alongside London supper club chefs Mae Williams and The Adobros.


Getting papped enjoying one of the Don’s tasty cocktails. Photo: Don Papa

There will also be two, ticketed supper club experiences at Casa Sugarlandia. Mae Williams brings her authentic flavours for a five-course menu (28th May) whilst The Adobros present their distinct culinary classics (4th June). Both menus will include a complimentary Don Papa cocktail and the rum as an ingredient in a selection of dishes.

On another night, concoctions will be served with exquisitely edible sugar-spun garnishes designed by the artist Fernando La Posse showcasing the provenance of the unique Filipino sugar used to make Don Papa.

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Each week will see a well-known Filipino chef take over the dining space Downstairs at Casa Sugarlandia. Come and enjoy the much talked about cuisine of BBQ and Lechon masters Sarap London and supper club favourite The Adobros and Mae Williams.

SARAP London // 23-25 May
Food with Mae // 30 May – 1 June
The Adobros // 6-8 June

28 May // Mae Williams Filipino Supper Club 
A sumptuous five-course ‘Dinner of the Dons’ menu featuring complimentary Don Papa cocktail on arrival.
Tickets > HERE 

4 June // The Adobros Filipino Supper Club 
A sumptuous five-course ‘Dinner of the Dons’ menu featuring complimentary Don Papa cocktail on arrival.
Tickets > HERE 


Masked Karaoke – Free Entry 
Masked Karaoke is a fun and fast-paced karaoke night every Thursday at Casa Sugarlandia, but with a masked twist. 23 May is hosted by the colourful, carnivalesque and transgressive collective Sink the Pink!

23 May – Hosted by Sink the Pink 
30 May – Hosted by Tamara dos Santos 

6 June – Hosted by Tamara dos Santos

Don Papa Bar of Masks Party – Free Entry 
FREE entry to meet the Don of Tattoos, Maestro of Masks, Babaylan of Sugarlandia and other masked creatures. Choose from a beautiful selection of masks to become your Sugarlandia alter ego for the night. Top Ibiza DJ Looka Barbi on decks.
22 May 

Don Papa Cocktail Masterclass 
The Don of Cocktails is in town, ready to host a Don Papa Cocktail Masterclass. This is a Sugarlandia-inspired insight into the world of Don Papa and its island home of Negros, in the Philippines. Proceedings start with a welcome drink of the delicious Darker Don, followed by a tasting of the family of four Don Papa Rums and more.
25th May & 1st June // Tickets > HERE 

Black Cow Vodka launches new tailored cocktails

We are huge fans of Black Cow Vodka, made entirely from pure milk, as the smoothest vodka on the market. And to tempt us to drink even more, they have launched four new cocktails in some of the top bars across London.

Firstly, if you don’t know Black Cow, or don’t have a bottle in your cupboard already, this vodka is made in Dorset from the milk of grass-grazed cows. Launched in 2012, we first came across it a few years ago when we tried a pairing of smooth Black Cow, made from milk whey by dairy farmer Jason Barber, and the cheese that Jason makes from the curds of the milk. And oh boy, is it delicious. If you think of vodka as having a strong burning aftertaste, think again. Black Cow has a creamy finish that is almost like Baileys, making it great to sip or have as part of a tasty vodka cocktail.

The great news is that its also really easy to get hold of – it is sold across the UK in most places where you can find quality booze, including Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Majestic, Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, Berry Bros. & Rudd and quality independent retailers for around 30 quid!

To get to know the vodka even more, Black Cow have partnered with bars across London – Blakes, the Connaught and Hix Soho, who have created three signature serves to highlight Black Cow being served throughout February.

First up is Blakes, where Alex Spencer has created the Berry Smash, a light, fruity and refreshing cocktail with fruits of the forest, apple, aloe vera and cherry.

Black Cow Berry Smash Blakes hotel

Photo credit: Matt Austin

Next, Aurel Istate at the Connaught has created the ‘Carpe Gustum’ – including limoncello, egg white, vanilla, and yuzu juice and inspired by a dessert created by the the Executive Pastry Chef at the Connaught. This cocktail is dreamy and decadent.

Carpe Gustum, Connaught

Photo credit: Matt Austin

Dustin MacMillan, Head of Bars at HIX Restaurants and Black Cow Brand Ambassador, has created a bespoke Valentine cocktail. Named the ‘Blushing Bronco’, this includes rhubarb syrup and bergamot puree and will be available at HIX Soho and all other HIX restaurants throughout February.

Blushing Bronco Black Cow Cocktail at HIX1

Photo credit: Matt Austin

Finally, as a nod to the upcoming Oscars,  Massimiliano Terrile, Head Barman at Good Godfreys at The Waldorf Hilton, has created The ‘Tarantini’ Cocktail which mixes Black Cow with amaretto and strawberry conserve, topped with double cream and amaretto crumble. A nod to Quentin Tarantino, it is perfect to celebrate British success at the Bafta’s but also the upcoming Oscar’s on the 24th February.

Tarrantini Cocktail

Photo credit: Matt Austin

Black Cow really is one of our favourites, and we love playing around with it to create smooth vodka cocktails for everyone. Check out Black Cow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at: @BlackCowVodka and on their website for more info.

Glen Moray Old Fashioned Masterclass

As advent calendars begin to open and Michael Bublé emerges from his dusty pile of CDs in the spare room, there’s nothing quite like a classic whisky cocktail to ring in the season.

Hailed as one of the most sustaining and versatile classics, an Old Fashioned is our real go to for a nighttime tipple round the fire with the family. Although annoyingly hard to capture the complexities and nuances of a well made Old Fashioned on camera, the world of drinkstagram loves to experiment with this simple but profound tipple.

We were delighted to be invited to a special Old Fashioned Masterclass a few weeks ago with special guest judges Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley from ‘World’s Best Spirits’, hosted by Glen Moray, surrounded by fellow drinks passionistas and whisky buffs.

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Photo: Glen Moray

Arriving to a table overflowing with a multitude of sugars, bitters and, of course, delicious varietals of Glen Moray, we had a great night literally laid out in front of us! Given free reign to present the two judges with an interpretation of the Old Fashioned using the tabled ingredients, we were let loose in a whirlwind of bloggers and booze, and, to our surprise, we won! 🙂

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Photo: Glen Moray

The winning Old Fashioned variation we created was a Penicillin twist using Glen Moray Peated, Ginger Bitters and lemon oil, although we had great fun constructing a Black Walnut Bitters and maple syrup old fashioned and many many more (our memories get a bit blurry after the fourth or fifth…)

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Photo: Glen Moray

Post event, we wanted to continue to play around with this beautifully balanced whisky, with further experimentation with Glen Moray Elgin Classic including fat washing some with peanut butter and toasted sesame oil before mixing with a Strawberry and lime zest Oleo Saccharum and expressed orange peel to make a tasty PB+J sandwich old fashioned.

However, as fun as this experimentation was, we still think that the true beauty of this whisky lies in enjoying it neat or on the rocks, simple and classic. It has a well rounded character and smooth, long-lasting finish, with a soft acidity and tasting notes of fresh green apple and lemon.

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Photo: Glen Moray

Our favourite of the Glen Moray varieties was quite surprising. As we tend to find some peated whiskys too smoky on occasion, the Peated Glen Moray was really, REALLY good! It’s hard to quite describe the nuances that exist in this spirit but needless to say that the creamy vanilla sweetness that cut through the peat smoke created a very tasty beverage.

It’s safe to say that we have found ourselves a new favourite brand, and one that we’ll be knocking back in a ton of Whisky Macs, Penicillins, Hot Toddys and (naturally) Old Fashioneds this Xmas!

Spoil yourselves with a bottle to share with loved ones this Christmas – you won’t be disappointed we promise!

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Photo: Glen Moray

Don Papa Rum Sherry Casks Finish Dinner

A few weeks ago, we had the privilege of attending a very special dinner…



Looking regal while climbing the staircase

Like something out of Eyes Wide Shut, we ascended a candlelit stone spiral staircase behind a hidden door to an illuminated decadent room, a roof full of painted stars above warmly lit velvet furnishings atop a palatial medieval style dining table.

Amidst the opulent table settings were beautifully labelled bottles of limited edition Don Papa Sherry Casks Finish Rum, the golden treat we were here to try, after a mouthwatering four course meal by Executive Chef at Urban Caprice, Joseba Lasa, complete with expertly selected sherry pairings from wine expert and Independent columnist Adrian (Aidy) Smith.


Starlit ceiling

After a welcome cocktail, we sat down to the first of our courses, our evening punctuated by a four piece chamber orchestra who set the mood wonderfully with classical pieces and background ambience.

Throughout the evening we enjoyed an incredible range of beautifully prepared dishes, paired exquisitely with a range of sherries that moved toward the sweeter end of the palate as the meal progressed; genius and delicious.

For the grand finale, the rum was brought out and it did not disappoint as the perfect end to a delightful evening. The whole experience was well thought out from start to finish and a real treat.


Room of delicious delights

First Course:
Paired with Fino
(Bodegas Tradicion Jerez Fino)

Sea Bass Ceviche with Ajoblanco, Pickled Watermelon & Jamon Iberico
Marinated Sardines on Sourdough with Braised Aubergine & Garlic Chips
Salchichon Tartare, Mustard, Confit Potatoes, Fennel & Chervil


Second Course:
Paired with Palo Cortado
(Gonzalez Byass Leonor Palo Cortado Seco)

Grilled Baby Leeks, Romesco Sauce & Dressed Puy Lentils
Chilli Marinated Prawns, Herbed Avocado Mousse, Fried Prawn Head Emulsion & Yoghurt
Ampalya of Ox Cheeks, Mushrooms & Honey Alioli


Third Course:
Paired with Cream
(Gonzalez Byass Solera 1847 Cream Dulche)

8 Hour Braised Ox Tail Kare Kare, Goolang, Sweetcorn, Coriander & Apple Chutney, Pickled Shimeji Mushrooms & Red Onion
Adobo Pork Belly, New Potatoes Crushed with Green Mojo Picon
Baby Gem, Rocket & Radicchio Leaves Dressed with Aged Sherry Vinegar Dressing & Toasted Cashew Nuts
Sweet Potato, Caramelised Onion & Tres Leches Cheese Dauphinoise


Paired with Pedro Ximenez
(Lustau San Emilio Pedro Ximenez)

Coconut Rice Pudding with a Pedro Ximenez Glaze, Caramelised Coconut “Torrija” & Pineapple Cassava Bibbingka Cubes
Poached Pears, Mascarpone Cream & Hazelnuts
Salted Caramel & Chilli Chocolate Truffles


Don Papa Sherry Casks Finish is a Column Distilled Molasses Based Rum, aged for four years in American Oak Ex Bourbon Casks followed by 18 months in four different types of Sherry Casks: Fino, Pedro Ximenez, Cream and Palo Cortado.

These rums are then carefully blended by Don Papa’s Master Blender to produce a unique Limited Edition Rum, unfiltered and bottled at 45% ABV to further enhance the distinctive taste.

Smooth and fruity on the nose, with hints of ripe raisins, the mouth has a full bodied yet delicate sweetness with notes of plum, dark chocolate, and ripe figs. For it’s finish, the Rum lingers on the palate for an extremely long (and satisfying) time, making this a really decadent and special drink that creates the perfect end to a good meal with good friends.



Pure contentment

Finally, a huge thank you to Jolanda Thompson for the images (copyright), Patrick McAleenan and all of the team at Don Papa for the invite and to the incredible kitchen team. A true highlight of the DrinkingTwins year *loveheart emoji*


Adrian Smith delivering a Sherry sermon

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, 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…


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:

NYDC Family.jpg


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.



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 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.


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.


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.

Ice Sculpting for Cocktails with Jägermeister



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!).


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*


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.


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!


Ice diamonds are a drink’s best friend



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!


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.


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.”