I have had a very exciting and busy year, and thanks to all my readers and followers, I have had enough motivation and courage to keep on writing. Whilst you are probably enjoying a well-earned Christmas holiday I thought it would be a great time for us to recap some of the most popular posts in 2016.
Just click the title and the post will open in a new window, or just enjoy the short summary on the post.
10 Vienna: Schnaps, markets and smoky bars
I travelled to Vienna to visit some of their bars and to learn more about their drinking culture. Vienna is such a beautiful city, with great architecture and amazing parks – I can’t wait to go back!
Schnaps and shots are definitely popular – you see girls drinking them straight from miniature bottles, or tourists having vodka shots whilst scanning through the local markets.
9 Gin Cocktails
It comes to me as no surprise that this post has been successful. The gin market just keeps on growing! Here’s eight gin-based drinks for you!
8 Grappa – Moonshine or Just Fine?
Italian Grappa is taken like French Brandy or Spanish Sherry, but remains very much in their shadow as it is considered by many to be nothing more than branded moonshine. Italian restaurants all over the world serve this spirit made from leftovers, the vinaccia from wine production. This in itself doesn’t mean it has to be rubbish; many of the nutrients and flavours used in wine are found in the skin of the grape.
Having had a number of bad experiences with Grappa myself, I decided to travel to the roots of one of the first distilleries in Percoto, Udine, in the north-east of Italy. I wanted to understand why this horrid drink was popular in Italy and how much of a moonshine it actually was.
7 Love PINK?? Then you’ll love the chance to WIN a bottle of Heather Rose Gin!!
What did I say about gin earlier…
Heather Rose Gin is perfect for celebrations or to be enjoyed as an aperitif. It is fragrant and floral with subtle notes of rose. Seven botanicals – juniper, coriander seeds, orange and lemon peel, liquorice root, rose petals and purple heather flowers – all contribute to create a light, slightly sweet and floral yet spicy gin. A nice change from all the dry gins out there.
6 The process of making Gin
It seems every day a new Gin comes on the market and new micro-distilleries keep popping up faster than you can say tonic. So it’s about time for us to understand the different stages of Gin production. There are two ways to make Gin – compounding and distilling. Compounding is considered to be the Dutch method, whereas distilling is viewed as a British way of making Gin.
5 WIN A BOTTLE – Bimber Distillery’s Oak-Aged Vodka
This new London-based distillery has started with a bang – and even in a crowded market, they are offering something new, something different!
I am a big fan of all their delicious products, but it is the award-winning oak-aged vodka that’s the perfect drink to keep you warm during these cold autumn months. Serve it on the rocks with an orange twist or in a cocktail, or why not try it in an Old-Fashioned? I love a good hot toddy in the winter, and this oak-aged vodka is just perfect for the purpose; it fits like a hand in a glove (see how I used a winter reference there…)!
4 Cuban Rums and Classic Rum Cocktails
Cuba is the greatest sugar-producing country in the Caribbean so it should come as no surprise that despite its relative isolation, it is also big in the rum-making business.
At one stage, there were over 120 rum factories in Cuba but that number has since halved. After the Cuban revolution, the factories were confiscated by the government without any compensation for the original owners – taking over all the main production assets of all the well-known brands, including Bacardi (under a new name), Havana Club and Santiago de Cuba. The factories are now looked after by Corporacíon Cuba Ron and trade under the name of Cubaexport. I travelled to the island to research the history of Cuban rum as well as to find out what the locals drink and how they mix their cocktails.
3 My 7 favourite cocktail bars in Brighton
There are hundreds of bars and pubs in Brighton and Hove, but if you fancy a cocktail you might not be so sure where to go. I have listed seven venues I often go to when I fancy a great tasty cocktail. Personally, I’m a sucker for classic cocktails, and places where they try hard to create exciting new flavour combinations often leave me slightly disappointed. I also tend to enjoy cocktails either before or after dinner, therefore most of my favourite cocktail bars are linked to a great restaurant.
2 The Whisky battle – Laphroaig vs Lagavulin
A stone’s throw apart, these two distilleries have had their battles over the years and share a fascinating history.
Laphroaig was officially founded in 1815 by the Johnston brothers. Lagavulin, also founded by a Johnston but not related to the brothers, opened its doors in 1816. From 1847, Lagavulin bizarrely became an agent for Laphroaig by selling almost half of their production. Lagavulin used the Laphroaig for blending with their own grain whisky and therefore limited Laphroaig’s ability to sell their own pure malt whisky to a wider market. In 1907 (with the help of the courts) Laphroaig finally got the agreement dissolved; however, this was just the starting point of many more battles between the distilleries as their rivalry deepened.
Ron means rum in Spanish, and Ron is also a shortened from Ronald, and Ronald is the first name of the legendary pornstar Ron Jeremy. But what has he got to do with rum? I hear you ask.
When I learned about the story behind the Ron de Jeremy rum brand I was amazed and intrigued. Normally when someone wants to start producing any kind of spirit, they already have the key product in mind; what it tastes like, what flavours they want to use and so on. One of the many things that makes the Ron de Jeremy brand so different from other spirits is the way the brand and product came together.
Was your favourite post on this list? Which spirit would you like to read more about in 2017?