Monday, 29 November 2010

Falmouth Beer Festival

Princess Pavilion
Melvill Road

What serendipity that the organisers of the Falmouth Beer Festival, back in October, should decide to hold their annual gathering on the same weekend I was visiting my parents in Cornwall! Now, enough joking around, here are the beers*:

Pennycomequick (4.5%) (on the pump pictured top): A Cornish stout of distinction from Skinners, smooth and malty.

Cornish Blonde (5%): Another suppable Skinners beer - wheat one this time - from the redoubtable Truro-based brewery.

Spingo Special (6.5%): From the Blue Anchor Brewery in Helston, Cornwall. Unforgettable blue cheese aroma with an intense, complex malty bittersweetness on the palate.
Choice fact: This beer was brewed for the first time to celebrate the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana. Special indeed.

Grandma's Weapons Grade Ginger Beer (5.5%) (above): From Wheal Maiden Brewery in Cornwall. Almost flat, cloudy in appearance. Supplies a fiery gingery kick, with a slightly syrupy sweetness on the finish.

Leveller (4.8%): From the Springhead brewery in Nottinghamshire. This one was dark and smoky with a toffee finish.

Rock Own (4.4%): Balanced and biscuity. Thanks, Sharp's.

Sam's Sweet Cider (6%): My token cider came from Devon's Winkleigh - a faint fizz, very appley and nicely sweet but not a great deal going on.

* Due to my less than intact tasting notes I've included a mix of programme notes and my own observations. The point is, I liked them.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Callooh Callay

65 Rivington Street

It was the start of London Cocktail Week (I know, I'm a bit behind with my posts), so I met up with the London Cocktail Society in a London cocktail bar to drink London cocktails.

The Society - a recently established circle of imbibers, who meet at a different bar each month - had secured the use of Callooh Callay's secluded and sumptuous Jubjub Bar. There, top mixologist Sean Ware offered up an array of delightful drinks on a London theme, including the following:

The Ale of Two Cities (pictured above)
42 Below Feijoa, Punt E Mes, nettle cordial, malt syrup, Granny Smith apple juice and bitters.
- A brilliantly cheeky cocktailian representation of a classic British drink. I had to stop myself gulping it down like a pint of Pride. Feijoa, btw, was described to us as tasting of agave, pineapple and a subtle TCP essence. So now you know.

Hot Gin Punch

A twist on a Victorian winter warmer, party starter punch, combining the curious flavours of Hendrick's Gin, Madeira Wine, winter spices, pineapple, citrus and honey.
- It used to be safer to drink punch than water, we were told. Safety first.

The Avenue (left)
Four Roses small batch bourbon, Laird's Apple Jack, passionfruit nectar, orange flower water and syrup.
- Popular around the Art Nouveau era. Tasted great.

Clayton's Special Cocktail
Clayton's Kola Tonic, Bacardi Superior rum, citrus syrup.
- First seen in print in the Savoy Cocktail Book in the 1930s. Clayton's Kola Tonic, described as Coke for grown-ups, used to be made in Battersea, apparently. These days they make it in Barbados.

I may have to go back to this Shoreditch bar to check out its standard drinks menu. Cheers.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Whisky Squad #8

Belatedly, or perhaps just in time (to whet the Squad's appetite for next week's meeting), I bring a brief account of Whisky Squad 8: Movember.

Movember is the month when men grow moustaches in aid of men's health (and against prostate cancer). Whisky4Movember, part of the Movember family, was set up to unite mo-growers and whisky lovers for the good of humanity. Not content with just drinking the stuff, Darren and others at Master of Malt went giant leaps further and organised some special bottlings to celebrate - and raise funds for - the cause.

Here are those we tried - including a couple of bonus bottles thrown in for good measures...

Whisky4Movember - Mo’land
(pictured top)
Blended lowland Scotch malt whisky. 40% abv. 10-year-old.
Smooth, biscuity, Manuka honey flavour with a woody aftertaste.

Whisky4Movember - M’Orkney (right)
One of last year's Movember bottlings. Spooned Orcadian malt whisky. 40% abv. 11-year-old. Sherry cask. (See the end of this post for an explanation of a spooned malt).
Aroma of oak, vanilla and fruit. Sweetish taste but with dryness. Tangy. ID'd as Highland Parkish.

Whisky4Movember - Smo’key
Blended Islay Scotch malt whisky. 40% abv.

Peaty Ardbeggian nose. Oily, citrusy taste. Could do with a little more oomph, perhaps.

Each of the Movember bottlings cost £34.95, with £8 from the sale of each bottle going to fight prostate cancer. Buy them here now.

In addition to the W4M bottlings, Squaddies were treated to some helpings of the following whiskies:

Dalmore 15yo
Highland single malt Scotch whisky. 40% abv.
Aroma of fudge and chocolate. Taste of oranges, cherries, sherry-richness, a little sweet. The (added) rich caramel colouring does influence one's perceptions.

Smokehead 18 Year Old Extra Black (left)
Islay single malt Scotch whisky, 46%.
Ardbeg without the Ardbeg name, someone noted. The Extra Black is older than the standard 10. Goes for £84, this one.
Nose of mild peat, nutty like pistachio. Taste of BBQ, with a sweet peaty tang.

Apologies to Billy for 'borrowing' his photos (our shadowy whisky attic was a little dark for my camera). Read his post here.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Tequila Sunrise

Despite my best efforts, tequila is still lacking when it comes to cocktails. The Margarita is king (queen?) and always will be, but the Sunrise is probably the best known alternative.

It's served with an attractive rainbowish (or perhaps sunrisey) thing going on, with the heavier grenadine sunk at the bottom (pictured top), bleeding into the orange.

It's also pretty much the only alcoholic drink with orange juice I like (fine, apart from this one), since juice should properly be a thing of goodness for breakfast rather than a vehicle for revelry, IMO.

If you can get hold of some fresh oranges to squeeze, so much the better. And if you like your drinks sweeter, up the grenadine. It's probably a good idea to serve with a straw to imbibers can mix the orange and grenadine to even out the sweetness as they go.

As for the tequila, you might as well go for a blanco. This one does the job just fine.

equila Sunrise

60ml (2oz) Tequila
120ml (4oz) Orange juice
7.5ml (0.25oz) Grenadine
Slice of orange or wedge of lime to garnish (if you like)

Fill a highball glass with ice, add tequila and orange juice and stir until mixed. Carefully pour the grenadine down one side of the glass so it sinks to the bottom.