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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Talisker and the first Sail-in Cinema in the world

Aug 15, 11 Talisker and the first Sail-in Cinema in the world

Posted by in Spirits

Standing by the sea with a glass of Talisker 18 year old in hand, the faint taste of seaweed rolled around my mouth and it was difficult  to tell where it ended, the salty seaweed tang of the sea air seemed to swirl around my glass both inside and out. We were standing by the quayside in Cowes with Talisker Brand Ambassador Colin Dunn who wanted us to experience the true taste of Talisker, which comes from the Isle of Skye and is “made by the sea”, as they say. As an added bonus, we had fresh, locally caught fish & chips from the nearby chippy. Why is it that fish & chips always tastes best by the sea? Talisker was sponsoring the first ever “sail-in Cinema” and to show off a bit, had arranged a small tasting of Talisker’s range. My favourite was the cask strength 57 North so named because the alcohol level is 57.1% alcohol. It’s a new release from Talisker and is aged in barrels that are heavily charred and 8 – 14 years old. As Colin said, “…it’s pure Nirvana – smells like teen spirit  and tastes like it, too.” Creamy and sweet, notes of brulee, vanilla and then a peppery kick to finish, which is the signature of Talisker. Add a drop or two of water and it’s some smoooooooth sailin’. Finishing off the fish and chips and we headed off to the boat where we would be watching Master and Commander on the big screen. A gigantic screen had been set up on the esplande of Cowes facing the sea so that boaters could sail up, drop anchor and enjoy the movie. Talisker even thoughtfully provided radio earphones so that every one could individually hear the movie. It was a lot of fun to be floating off the coast of the Isle of Wight, munching popcorn and the special Talisker cocktails that were whipped up for us to enjoy with the movie. It did get a bit...

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Mardi Gras Drinks at Universal Orlando

While I am sure that it is possible to find good wine in Orlando, Florida, I didn’t have time to go looking on my whirlwind trip to Universal Orlando recently for their Mardi Gras festivities. I was there to 1) learn about gumbo 2) ride the rides and 3) have a good time. Eat like a Girl (Niamh) and I were were covering Mardi Gras (she food, me drinks) and what kind of a Mardi Gras is it without at least some alcohol? I have to admit I didn’t drink anything while in the parks because I knew if I had so much as a beer, I’d be spewing and making a lot of enemies on the rides. But after dark, well, we hit City Walk. City Walk is Universal’s strip of restaurants, bars and clubs lining the path to the park entrances. It’s free of charge to enter City Walk and it even boasts a 20 screen cinema. Since you don’t have to pay to get into City Walk it’s very popular with the locals as a fun night out, as we discovered when we tried to get something to eat on Saturday night. 90 minute wait  for a table at 10pm? Where were we? Argentina? We finally opted for Bubba Gump’s as the wait there was only 30 minutes. Bubba Gump’s as you might imagine, is a spin off from the Forrest Gump movie and serves lots of shrimp dishes as well as some mighty smooth margaritas. At this point I was so tired and jet lagged that anything would have been good but that margarita most certainly hit the spot. A proper American sized drink, it came with it’s own full sized shaker so we could serve ourselves. I like my margaritas on the sweet side to play up against the salt on the rim and they have to be on the rocks, no brain freeze for me, please. One thing I love about American bars, they free pour, meaning, they...

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An evening of Islay, Bowmore Single Malt 12 – 25 yrs old

At the moment I´m sunning myself in summery Buenos Aires but before I left a wet and windy London, I spent an Evening on Islay, a single malt Scotch whisky tasting featuring the Scotch whisky of Bowmore at the Malmaison Hotel in Clerkenwell. I do like single malts. I was introduced to them when I worked for Oddbins and since then, I´ve never looked back. I prefer the smoother, softer Scotch whiskys of Dufftown, Balvenie being one of my favourites but when aged, those smoky, peaty single malts can also find a place in my heart, or rather in my belly. Bowmore belongs to that class of smoky peaty single malts. The Bowmore distillery was founded in 1779 and is the oldest distillery on the isle. They have been making whiskey on the same spot ever since and use the pure waters of the Laggan River which carry with it peaty notes, still hand turn their malted barlet and use the same Islay peat to fire up the malt drying kilns.  You could say they like to stick with tradition. The whiskys are ages in old sherry, bourbon, and claret casks which give them each a distinctive flavour and all the barrels rest in Vault No 1 which is below sea level. Most people like to drink their single malts on their own or as an after dinner drink but Bowmore wants us to look again and consider single malt as a companion to dinner, not an afterthought. John Woodward, Executive Chef of Malmaison was tasked with matching the 12 and 15 yr olds with savoury food while the 18 and 25 year olds were matched with chocolate. The 12 year old was served w ith smoked salmon that had been marinated in the whisky for 6 hrs. and the 18 yr old was served with a roast porchetta sandwich. The smoked salmon was a very good match, the whisky being quite smoky and lemony with a slight honeyed sweetness. Whisky and smoked salmon seemed to go best together....

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Notting Hill Carnival? I’m thinking of Elements 8 spiced rum…

It’s Notting Hill Carnival this weekend and although I haven’t gone in ages, I think I just might go on Sunday, which is Children’s Day. Why Children’s Day?  Although it’s just as crowded, there seems to be less trouble on Sunday, all those families about. It’s called Children’s Day as all the participants in the parades and steel bands are under 21. The last time I went was back in ’06, I had great fun, wandering around with the crowds, watching the parades, listening to the steel drums, eating tasty jerk chicken and having lots of rum drinks from Beach Blanket Babylon. In honour of the Carnival, I’d like to mention Elements 8 spiced rum. I was at the launch recently and I can say it is some quality stuff. The rum is made on the volcanic island of St. Lucia and Elements 8 is a blend of 10 single rums which are then combined with 10 St Lucian fruits and spices (cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, star anise, vanilla, lemon, orange, coconut and honey) and  then aged in used Bourbon barrels to produce the Spiced Rum. The entire process gives the finished product a uniquely complex bouquet of aromas and flavours. I found it to be extremely aromatic and it reminded me of the beach, sun tan lotion, pina coladas and the sun coming at me from the bottom of the glass. Drink it on it’s own or in a cocktail as we did at the launch, it is extremely smooth and while it does have quite a few sweet notes, it was more akin to drinking small batch bourbon for me. I loved it and absolutely recommend it! I’m sure you’ll be able to find Elements 8 Spiced Rum at many of the bars and restaurants that will be lining the Carnival route. A few reminders for anyone else who’s planning on going to the Carnival, DON’T take any valuables, cameras, mobiles, cash, etc should be in different pockets and beware of pickpockets,...

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The green fairy at Callooh Callay

Some of you may remember my last foray into absinthe, when I downed it as a shot, instead of sipping it as is the more conventional way of drinking it. Callooh Callay got wind of my experiment and invited me down to partake of their Green Hour, drinking the green fairy in the proper fashion. Callooh Callay is a proper little bar hidden in the alleyways of Shoreditch, taking it’s name from the poem Jabberwocky, it’s “non-sensible” as they like to describe themselves. Walking in, the main floor is frankly quite unassuming, wood floors, bar, some tables and chairs but walk past the velvet curtain and you’ve walked thru the looking glass. Overstuffed, orange pinstriped chairs and sofas that used to be bathtubs along with various knicknacks, victorian paintings, tasseled lampshades, plenty of mirrors and ambient lighting made me feel like I was drinking in a Prague antique shop. Onto the second floor, which was reminiscent of a 1920’s speakeasy and a better setting for my absinthe sipping. Sitting down at a table, I was faced with a square jar filled with an equally square block of melting ice standing atop 4 metal legs with a tap on each side at the bottom of the glass to let the water slowly drip out. A bottle of Pernod absinthe was produced and slowly poured over a cube of sugar sitting on a slotted spoon over the glass. Then the dripping commenced. I was slightly disappointed that there was no fire involved, I think I may be a bit of a firebug, but the Green Fairy did appear after a few seconds. After waiting what seemed like forever for the water to drip, drip, drip, we got to try it. Licoricey, herby, it was like drinking Good-n-Plenty ( a childhood candy). I think I prefer the shot method. Perhaps I am too impatient but sitting around sipping watery licorice is just not my thing. Maybe I’m not bohemian enough! I didn’t leave disappointed though. Callooh Callay...

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