Tuesday, 10 September 2013


It's been a while since I put down my glass of sherry-aged whisky to sample some of the delights of the Spanish wine itself.
At Bar Pepito in Kings Cross I allowed myself a glass of Oloroso Seco, the drier variant known for its "walnutty character" (it says here).
The brand was Alfonso, Gonzalez Byass, at £5.50 for 100ml. It was coloured deep amber brown, proffered aromas of nuts and caramel, and tasted... really fucking lovely. Poured chilled, the glass (white wine style) delivered flavours of fresh honey (?) and raisins. It was dry but rich, elegantly silky, with a nice booze thrust and an impressive finish.
Second up: a Palo Cortado, Leonor, another Gonzalez Byass, £4.50 for 75ml. Average of 12 years old: nasally, salted almonds and oak, palatably, perfectly balanced between sweet and savoury. I'm trying to avoid writing "salted caramel" but may have just failed.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Coopers Beer

*Guest post by Nick Huxsted*

I was recently in one of my favourite bars in Shoreditch, enjoying a nice glass of Australian Boundary Line, when for a brief moment I had what the children of the 60s would refer to as a flashback. Now this wasn’t induced by long haired hedonistic days listening to the Stones in a campervan just outside San Francisco, but by the taste of Australia. Ever since I returned from living in Oz I’ve been craving a rather wonderful beer. The beer in question was Coopers.

Friends ask me what I miss about Australia, the beach, the sun, cute little fluffy things (some say Koalas), however my answer is always the same, I MISS COOPERS... and I wonder why I’m single. So powerful is my love for this beer that I thought I would share with everyone the secret beers of the world - or more simply - a really good beer from Australia.

A bit of background, Coopers Brewery Limited is the largest Australian-owned brewery,  based in Adelaide, South Australia. Coopers is known for making a variety of beers, the most famous of which are its Pale Ale and Sparkling Ale. Or simply known as Coopers Green and Coopers Red.

Coopers Green is an English-style golden ale. It has a distinctive cloudy appearance due to the sediment being left in the bottle. It's a crisp, fruity and refreshing ale with a very cloudy, golden appearance. Perfect to fill the gap between gassy lagers or ultra heavy ales. Highly recommend giving it a try at least once in your lifetime. The Sparkling Ale has a slightly different flavour and higher alcoholic content than the Pale Ale, and at 5.8% can be quite lethal.

Coopers Green is like any other beer, you can have a few and still remain relatively normal. Depending on your tendencies you may decide to discuss philosophy, sport or simply the merits of wearing corks on your hat. However after having a bottle of Coopers Red, one of two things will happen. You’ll either lose the ability to speak, jibber like monkey and try to eat the furniture. Or you’ll start to resemble an epileptic Kangaroo who’s eaten far too much sugar... whilst being electrocuted. I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s had a couple of Coopers Red and remained completely sane. It’s lovely, beautiful and refreshing, but you’ve been warned.

So there you have it, a top little international tip for the summer. I love England, I love the people, but I sometimes I crave a little piece of Adelaide.

Places to buy Coopers:

- Nick works with McQueen bar in Shoreditch

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Mezcal Margarita

Ever tried making a margarita with Mezcal instead of tequila? The gentle smoke and vegetal crispness of Ilegal's Joven (silver) made for an unbeatable afternoon refresher on a hot afternoon. Urgently recommended.

Mezcal Margarita

50ml Mezcal
25ml lime juice
25ml agave syrup

Shake well with ice and strain into cocktail glass over a couple of fresh ice cubes.

Sunday, 30 June 2013


A few months ago I took part in my first home brew at our friends' place. We were aiming for a Belgian style beer at around 8% abv, using Belgian hops. Today I got to try the results for the first time. Apricots and a yeastiness on the nose. On the palate, fruity, a slight spritz with the hops drying the back of your mouth. Probably more like 5% booze, and not quite as 'Belgian' as we were trying to achieve, but a refreshing drop nevertheless.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Kernel Table Beer

This blog ain't dead, it was just taking a nap. 

I like hoppy beers (predictive text suggests 'happy', which is also correct). I've had Kernel's pale ale a good few times, this is my first taste of the Table Beer. Only 3.2% abv, but packed full of hops (citra, amarillo, columbus), it smells and tastes fresh, light, with a bit of a bite. It does feel, slightly, like they're trying not to offend the Table. It lacks the crisp bitterness of Redemption's similarly flyweight Trinity. But £4.50 for half a litre (at Essex Road's most excellent Hops & Glory) is not a terrible investment, particularly when for some ungodly reason there's no IPA on tap.

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.