Forbidden Fruit (liqueur that is) at The Dorchester

Aug 23, 11 Forbidden Fruit (liqueur that is) at The Dorchester

Posted by in Hotels and Spas, Spirits

Although my remit is wine, I do like a good cocktail, my favourite being a perfect Manhattan on the rocks. I don’t however, restrict myself to Manhattan’s, which is how I found myself at The Bar at The Dorchester with the very charming and legendary Bar Manager, Giuliano Morandin explaining to me how he recreated the lost recipe for Forbidden Fruit liqueur. The Forbidden Fruit liqueur was first invented in the early 1900’s and was hugely popular in the US, of all places, until Prohibition came round and that was the end of that.  The original recipe disappeared in the 1950’s and no one has been able to replicate it since. The Dorchester of London cocktail  made with Forbidden Fruit was originally created by Henry Craddock and is even included in an old drinks recipe book but after the 1950’s, with the liqueur lost, it was impossible to make. Until Giuliano heard about it. He wanted  a special cocktail to mark the 80th anniversary of the Dorchester and thought recreating a “lost classic” would be perfect. He was fortunate to find a bottle of the original Forbidden Fruit at a private sale in the States and brought it back to London. He then  took it upon himself to recreate the liquor and, after 7 months of experimenting, was finally satisfied with the result. I really wonder what that forbidden fruit is or was. The liquor itself smelled like honey but tasted like a licorice grapefruit, very interesting indeed. It had a hell of a kick to it! I got to try the original Forbidden Fruit which was full of maple syrup flavours, much less honey but still very sweet. I can see why Giuliano tweaked the recipe as I think modern drinkers probably wouldn’t appreciate it as much. The resulting cocktail is quite simple once you have the liquor, just add Bacardi rum and gin, shake over ice and then serve straight up.  All the cocktails at The Bar are served straight up unless...

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Paris comes to London,winetasting at The Dorchester with Le Meurice

Jul 13, 11 Paris comes to London,winetasting at The Dorchester with Le Meurice

Posted by in Hotels and Spas

Walking into The Dorchester, I was on time for once. No, I was early! And why was I early? Well, when Le Meurice of Paris says don’t be late on the invitation, one does not want to risk being left out in the cold. Le Meurice is part of the luxury hotel group, The Dorchester Collection and the Head Sommelier of Le Meurice was in London to give us a taste of their monthly wine tastings, held on the first Tuesday of each month. This being Le Meurice, it’s not any old winetasting but a tasting led by Estelle Touzet, the aforementioned Head Sommelier paired with canapes created in conjunction with the hotels Executive Chef, 3 Michelin star rated, Yannick Alleno. They call it Les Nocturnes du 228 because the hotel is located at 228 rue de Rivoli and the event is held in the evening, obviously. Estelle was extremely friendly and easygoing, full of information about all of the wines we tried as well as the food paired with it. Originally from the Loire Valley, Estelle started out in the kitchen before switching over to be a sommelier. She told us that she and Yannick work closely together so that each pairing is a seamless mouthful. Where does the wine end and the food begin, is the question. As Estelle is French and the hotel is in Paris, I thought all the wines would be French but I was wrong. Estelle is a young, adventurous sommelier and she likes to push the boundaries of the wine world. She has not only an extensive list of French and European wines on her list but also goes out to find new and exciting wines from Australia, America and New Zealand amongst others. We blind tasted four wines, 2 whites and 2 reds, along with 4 matching canapes. Estelle would give us hints and try to draw us out but even us seasoned wine pros were hesitant to begin shouting out names and places but after...

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Cocktails at The Connaught

The Connaught Hotel has an eponymous bar tucked in back of the lobby which is a hidden gem. Sure, you might get sucked into the lush Coburg Bar which fronts the building but if you walk straight in through the revolving doors, past the lobby desk and make a left when you hit a dead end, you’ll be walking into a locals only kind of place, where you have to be in the know to find this watering hole. Silver walls and alligator coloured Art Deco inspired chairs and tables and marbled floors give the Connaught bar a cool vibe while still retaining a veneer of Jazz Era glamour. I can just imagine strolling in and ordering a perfect Manhattan. Which is what I did one afternoon when I was invited for drinks at the Connaught. Oh,the perfect Manhattan. Although I’m The Winesleuth, I do like bourbon and this American expat is always looking for the perfect Manhattan in London. I don’t know why but it is difficult to get a properly made one in London, although I have noticed that I am having to send them back fewer and fewer times nowadays. The Connaught passed the Manhattan test with flying colours. Made with Maker’s Mark, as requested, and even though there were no maraschino cherries, (they did have their own specially infused cherries) it was served on the rocks the first time around, or rather, one big rock. Yes, I encountered that big ball of ice again. This time it was explained to me that the round ball of ice actually melts very slowly and thus you get a cold drink without it being watered down, ah-ha! I also tried another American classic, the Mint Julep. Heaps of shaved ice, fresh mint and a mini strainer in the drink to sieve the bourbon as I sipped. Very well done but a touch too sweet after the Manhattan. I should have started with the Mint Julep and then gone on to a Manhattan. Live...

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German Grapeseed Spa treatments, The Wald & Schlosshotel Friedrichruhe

After a long hard day of wine touring, what better way to end the day then a relaxing rub down with crushed grape seeds. Crushed grape seeds? Well, these weren’t any old grape seeds and it wasn’t any old rub down. I was laying face down in a comfortably warm treatment room at the Wald & Schlosshotel Friedrichruhe Hotel and Spa, near the town of Verrenberg in southern Germany, getting a San Vino grape seed peeling rubdown. Let me backtrack a bit as to how I got here. I was on a trip with the German Wine Institute to discover the wines and cultural activities surrounding the southern city of Stuttgart. The visit and stay at the spa was all part of discovering all that this part of Germany has to offer. The Wald ( as I liked to call it, plus that’s really the only part of the name I could remember) is a luxury 5 star resort situated in a former castle. The main castle itself was built in the 18th century and throughout the centuries, it had served  as a family home as well as a royal residence. In the 1950’s the castle was converted into a hotel and in 2005, it was bought by the German company, the Wurth group because the chairman liked the place so much he decided he had to buy it. Beside the spa and indoor /outdoor swimming pool, the hotel also has a couple of restaurants, including a Michelin starred one, The Gourmet Restaurant, as well as a recently added Chef’s Table where you can watch the chefs in action. The hotel also boasts a cigar room where you’re free to smoke whatever you like (with in reason of course), private bungalows, and a golf course. The hotel has now expanded into 5 separate buildings and my room was in the spa wing. On walking in, the room was bigger then some of my old flats. On entering a huge bathroom greeted me off to...

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Lunching in Cheltenham Spa, The Montpellier Chapter

May 31, 11 Lunching in Cheltenham Spa, The Montpellier Chapter

Posted by in Hotels and Spas, Lifestyle

I love train travel, whizzing through the English countryside, I was on my way to Cheltenham Spa to sample the new menu and visit the recently opened The Montpellier Chapter Hotel and Spa. It probably helped that I was travelling in First Class courtesy of First Great Western. I’ve heard various things about train services here in England, but my trip was seamless and bang on time, with nice comfy seats and best of all, 2 electrical plugs at each seat so I could recharge both my laptop and iPhone at the same time on the 2 and a half hour journey there. The Montpellier Chapter Hotel is a new venture from the Swire Hotel group of Hong Kong. The vision behind the Chapter hotels is to have all their hotels in “striking buildings, rooted in their location and designed to reflect the skills and vision of the people who have inspired them.” The Montpellier certainly fits the bill, the entrance being an original Grade II listed building that has been renovated in a modern style and has  contemporary additional wings added onto the back of the building. There is a lovely courtyard in the middle of the hotel as well as a conservatory for tea. My favourite bit was the reception desk which consisted of a giant grooved wooden ball about 1metre high and a metre wide with a laptop sitting on top of it for check in, that was it, nothing else – very minimalistic. The entire hotel is all muted shades of gray, with each room having your own personal expresso machine, iPod (in keeping with the paperless philosophy of the hotel) free wireless throughout the hotel and a free mini bar. I was liking this place more and more. The best touch, I thought, were the persplex “cards” advising you to plop it on your pillow if you wanted your sheets changed. The hotel’s decor was curated by Jane Lee  of Central St. Martins. Jane guided Brian Williams,the Managing Director...

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Lunching at the Langham Hotel

Mar 21, 11 Lunching at the Langham Hotel

Posted by in Hotels and Spas

As much as I do love my little Blackberry and stay loyal to it despite all my evangelistic iPhone friends, sometimes the download speed is soooo slow! Which was why I was late, standing on a corner of Regent’s St. waiting for directions to the Langham Hotel in Central London to download, only to realise that I was standing right in front of it! Oh, Blackberry, sometimes I do contemplate trading you in….. Happily, I was not the last to arrive for lunch at The Langham with the good folks of Travel Onion. Travel Onion is a website that aims to gather the best  of the webs travel blogs in one spot. After looking at their Buenos Aires section, I wish I had known about them when I was there recently. But I digress (I think), I was there as their guest to visit the hotel and have lunch at Roux at the Landau, the hotel restaurant. The others were waiting for me in the hotel bar, The Artesian, so named because there is a 360 ft deep artesian well under the hotel. The decor was a mix of Oriental and modern lounge  decadent but also full of light, a great place for an afternoon drink. While we were waiting, I discovered that the Langham Hotel was where the concept of “afternoon tea” was first inaugurated. Turns out that the Duchess of Bedford used to be a regular guest and every afternoon, around 4 she would get a bit peckish and send her maid out to bring a few sandwiches, sweet pastries and a pot of tea to tide her over until dinner. Thus “afternoon tea” was born at the Langham back in 1865. Even today the Langham is still known for it’s tea service (they have over 50 to chose from) having been picked as one of the best of 2011 by the London Tea Guild recently. Seeing as it wasn’t late afternoon, I ordered a Manhattan to kick things off, which was...

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