Upcoming – Cuban cigars & Caribbean Rum at the Bluebird

It’s that time of year again. That’s right, it’s time for the Bluebird’s summertime cigar extravaganza! Last year, Penny, manager of the Wine Cellar at the Bluebird put on a fantastic evening of fine aged Cognac and Cuban cigars (read about last year’s event here). It was held in the lovely patio of the Bluebird restaurant and was a great success and a lot of fun! This year, Penny has pulled out all the stops and is featuring Caribbean rum along with one of my favourite cigars, the Partagas series D no. 2. The event will kick off with a rum cocktail on arrival followed by a tasting of 4 premium rums: Chairman’s Reserve Golden Rum from St. Lucia, one of the leading golden rum distillers from the Windward Island of St.Lucia, the distillery was founded in 1932 by the Barnard family. It’s a double distilled pot still and column still rum for a refined and smooth lash… Elements 8 Rum is another St. Lucian, this one made up of 8 distinct elements blended together to create this super premium rum from a family that’s been producing rum for over 120 years. Trois Rivieres Rum, this one hails from the nearby island of Matinique, this is a smooth, fruity rum aged in oak barrels, sounds promising! And lastly, the Diplomatico Rum, a slight change of place for this one,whilst we’re still in the Caribbean, we’ve now moved onto Venezuela which is known for their quality rums. This one comes from Destilerias Unidas which has been producing top of the line rum for 45 years. All the rums will be paired with Galler ‘Elements’ Chocolates which are exceptional Belgium choccies developed by Jean Galler and his team of chocolatiers. We’ll also be able to puff on a freshly rolled Partagas throughout the evening. Light snacks will also be included, which you’ll be able to munch on whilst watching the live demonstration of the fine art of cigar rolling. So, 5 rums, fine chocolates, one Cuban cigar and light...

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First English wine, now English vodka

Whilst wandering around the London International Wine Fair, I took the second day to cross the hall to Distil which is the little brother event to the LIWF. Distil is a showcase for spirits- tequila, rum, whiskey, vodka, liquors, they were all there. The only problem with Distil is you can’t really spend a lot of time there because you’d be blotto after a couple of tasters, esp. if you got dragooned by the tequila people. I was there with Penny to source some aged rum for an upcoming event at the Bluebird but got waylaid by Chase Vodka. Seems I’ve become a big fan of anything English recently. Well, I suppose if you’re in England you should buy English, you know all that think global, buy local guff and as much as California needs my support, it is a long way away. First we had English wine and all the incredulous looks that came with that phrase and now we’ve got English vodka. Gin yes, but vodka? Watch me down a shooter of Chase Vodka ( and speak to the Master Distiller, Jaime Baxter). Ever wonder what they do with the potatoes that don’t make it into the award-winning Tyrell’s crisps? Well, wonder no more because the folks at Chase Distillery use them to make vodka. As Jaime explained to me, there is nothing wrong with the potatoes, they’re just not the right size for crisps so into the hand-crafted copper batch pots and 3 weeks later, ta-dah! English potato vodka. There’s a lot more that goes into them then that but that’s the short version. To quote Chase: ” From home grown Herefordshire potatoes, to…custom-made copper still, to a hand finished bottle…” they are true artisans of vodka. And some tasty stuff it is! Retailing on-line for around £32.99 Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Cuban Cigars and Delamain Cognac at the Bluebird

When Penny from the Bluebird wineshop told me she was hosting a cigar and cognac tasting, I was excited, a bit hesitant but also very curious to attend a cigar and cognac tasting because I’d never been to one. Although I love a good Cuban (cigar or otherwise), cognac has a rather fusty old image in my mind and I didn’t really fancy sitting around all evening with grandfatherly figures discussing the merits of cognac. But it turned out to be a smartly casual affair with plenty of mingling and good conversation. The event was presented by Amanda Laden from Delamain Cognac and Simon Chase the cigar expert from Hunters & Frankau. H&F also brought along the head of production for the Cohiba Cigar factory in Cuba, Eduardo Diaz, to demonstrate the fine art of cigar rolling. Eduardo spent most of the evening rolling cigars. I spoke to him afterwards and he told me that he’s here for 2 months doing demonstrations for H&F. I was curious about the tobacco leaves he was using and asked him if he had brought them with him. He told me that the unrolled leaves are imported by H&F for him to use specifically to make cigars during these demonstrations. We were treated to 3 XO or higher cognacs (XO signifiying that the cognac was aged for at least 6 years. No need to worry here as the youngest cognac was 25 years old) and 1 Hoya de Monterrey Especial cigar. Even though Eduardo was from Cohiba, we were smoking Hoyas because the big boss, Terence Conran -who was attending the tasting, prefers Hoya. Since there is an indoor smoking ban here in England, the tasting was held in the patio of the Bluebird. It was very nicely set up with small tables scattered about (adding to the informal atmosphere) and outdoor heaters nearby, although they weren’t needed because it was a balmy evening and the rain had miraculously stopped. We enjoyed champagne and canapes while we were...

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Miller’s Gin and Fever Tree Tonic

Usually I stick to writing about wine but this past weekend a rep from Martin Miller’s Gin was in the shop giving out samples. Now, I’m not a big fan of gin and tonic so I was a bit dubious of trying his gin but I screwed up my face and gave it go. In my mind, G&T’s conjure up the taste memory of a bitter, artificial tasting cocktail that smells like cheap, citrusy perfume. I’ll gulp down a G&T if that’s all that’s available but generally steer clear of them. That is until this last Saturday. Martin Miller’s gin is an English gin that was created by 3 guys in Notting Hill, west London. After some trial and error, they came up with a citrusy, crisp, smooth, clean gin, that just smells cool. They use only quality botanicals and it’s distilled in the Black Country before being shipped to Iceland (!) to be mixed with lava-filtered spring water. The bottle is all sleek lines flaring out at the bottom. It kind of reminds me of a cricket bat. I think that game has affected me somewhat. The mixer was another quality product, Fever Tree tonic water. If you check out the ingredients on most commercially sold tonic water, the main ingredient used to add sweetness is either artificial sweetener or high fructose syrup which either leaves that horrible aftertaste or a sugary gloopiness. No wonder I don’t like tonic. Fever Tree only uses all natural ingredients, cane sugar and spring water. That’s it. No artificial sweetners, flavourings or preservatives. Put the two together and this gin and tonic was like no other I had ever tasted. Cool, refreshing, tasty, no cloying, bitter, artificial sweetner aftertaste, just a long, tall, icy libation rejuvenating me for the afternoon ahead. Everything a G&T should be but so often is disappointingly not…fabulous! Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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