Archive by Author | vivdevlin

The Tempest Brewing Company celebrates ten years of passion, innovation and creativity

The Tempest story reads like the plot of a jet setting, romantic movie!.

Gavin and Annika Meiklejohn first met, most appropriately, in a brewpub in Canada, and then set off travelling together in search of a dream. While based in New Zealand for a while, Gavin worked as a chef as well as taking up the challenge of home brewing in his garage.

We were making beer in New Zealand and my friends would come over from Scotland and ask why they couldn’t buy beer like this back home.”

This success kick started the idea for their own drinks business. In April 2010, they moved across the world to the Scottish Borders to set up The Tempest Brewing Company, a ten barrel brewery in a disused dairy in Kelso.

Within four years they were struggling to match production with demand and needed to develop the business with larger premises. The Tempest team moved across country to Tweedbank, near Melrose with space for improved facilities and a bottling line.

The non-stop Bottling Line, Tempest Brewing Company, Tweedbank

Developing a business against stiff competition from other craft beer makers needs entrepreneurial business skills, brand identity, imagination and creativity.

“Dry hopping, specialist malts and sourcing expensive New Zealand and American hop varieties. This was purely about making the best beer we could imagine, smoky beers, chilli beers, fruit beers… nothing was off limits. The line between creativity and gimmickry is a fine one.” 

The creative team with Gavin and Annika Meiklejohn

In Victorian Britain, a typical dish served in a Tavern was oysters accompanied by a strong dark beer – the original, cheap, fast food as Sam Weller remarks in Dickens’ novel,  The Pickwick Papers, “poverty and oysters always seem to go together.”  Having an “oyster stout” referred to eating oysters with a pint of Porter. Later on, someone had the idea to add oyster shells along with the barley and hops to enhance the flavour. Then, in 1929 an innovative brewer in New Zealand added the juicy, salty molluscs into the boiling beer wort and the true Oyster Stout was born.

Double Shuck Imperial Oyster Stout

Inspired by this classic beer, in 2015 Tempest created Double Shuck, Imperial Oyster Stout, made with 200 fresh Lindisfarne oysters. If this Stout is sipped with a platter of oysters, that would be a powerful aphrodisiac.!

The key to their success is innovation, launching topical, seasonal products with catchy names and colourful logos, such as Brave New World, Long White Cloud, Vermont Sessions, Cold Wave, Dios Mio! Lime Jalapeno, as well as enticing series, The IPA club, Discovery and Easy Rider packs of 24 cans.

For instance, Mexicake, a Chile and Chocolate Imperial Stout comes from a passion for Mexican culture and food to create a rich, boozy stout (11%ABV), infused with vanilla beans, cocoa, cinnamon, chipotle and mulato chillies.

The spicy Mexicake Stout inspired by a love of all things Mexican

The specialist, slow crafting of each distinctive ale, beer and stout is based on quality ingredients – their own strains of yeast, locally sourced malted barley and natural water. As their logo expresses it so well, “Designed and built in the Scottish Borders.”

Tempest Brewing Company has won numerous trade and business awards, including Scottish Brewery of the Year, (Scottish Beer Awards, 2016), and recently listed in RateBeer’s top 100 breweries in the world, a prestigious achievement.

Tempest Brewing Company – Awards galore + Scottish Brewery of the Year, 2016

So it’s time to taste and test, sip and savour the three beers in the Fruit Series featuring Peach, Mango and Blueberry, to entice and tease the taste buds with their distinctively different styles, strength and flavour.

Mango Berliner – 4 % ABV

What Tempest say:  “Sunshine in a glass no matter the weather!   The perfect summer beer. We brew it with a lager fermentation to give it that crisp, refreshing drinkability, but jam pack it with plenty fresh mango and dry hops to give it a super fruity, zingy punch”.

The verdict:  Refreshing.  So, so refreshing; a somewhat tart and fruity weisse Berliner-style beer which one starts sipping and ends gulping.

It’s light, very easy drinking and packed with fresh mango. That mango is immediately evident on the zesty tropical nose, with just a little dry, grassy hops. In the mouth it’s also light and balanced with easy-going tartness and a hint of shortbread.

Some people might hope for a more bitter or more hoppy experience but that is not really what this style is about, and this is just what it should be, a really refreshing Summer beer.

Other drinkers are equally impressed:

Mango ice cream taste. Surprisingly yummy.

Floral and ripe tropical aromas, notes of mango, papaya.

Lots of exotic fruity mango sweetness in the aroma, Great Berliner Weiss!

Peach Sour – 4.5% ABV

What Tempest say:

You’ll want to use your good can opener on this tin of peaches. We’ve mellowed out the fresh acidity of the peach with creamy, delicate vanilla.”

The verdict: Another Summer in a can in the form of peaches and cream.

Again, a Berliner weisse style beer that is big on fruit, this time an initial tart peach balanced with a dollop of vanilla cream.

A surprisingly full mouthfeel leaves an acidic finish with lasting peach flavour. Easy drinking and refreshing, it will be down to palate as to whether the sourness wins out over the fruity Mango Berliner.

Blueberry Pastry Stout – 9% ABV

What Tempest say: “An outrageous blueberry stout, hot from the pastry section”.

The verdict: Even after a great meal there is probably always time for dessert; perhaps even second helpings. No surprise then that gastropubs favour their roasts and speciality burgers but also feature the perennial and ubiquitous Sticky Toffee Pudding.

When the Summer fades we can start to long for some “comfort” food and it’s time also for the zingy, fresh stone and citrus fruity and hoppy IPAs to give way to something a little richer, more indulgent – perhaps even decadent.

Step up Tempest Brewing Company’s Blueberry Pastry Stout bearing the legend “… the bluer the berry, the sweeter, the thicker, the roastier, the chocolatier, the boozier, the stout”.  Stouts of this kind should be the liquid equivalent of cake or pastry; over-the-top in terms sweet, distinctive and clearly identifiable flavour.

Tempest’s offering hits the spot with this big, intensely blueberry, deeply dark stout. On the nose, the fruity blueberry aroma is instantly there against a background of malty dark chocolate. Rich and thick with a creamy, velvety mouth feel, that sweet blueberry flavour is to the fore with just a little bitterness in the background. The finish is long and, just when you think it has stopped giving, the blueberries rush back in with a smooth and warming last bite.

The ABV. of 9.0% vol provides a big slice of booze – Just make sure that you have room for pudding.

This richly flavoured dark stout could work well paired with a hearty dish such as a spicy Chilli, a Beef and Ale Pie, or a juicy Burger.

A spicy Chilli, Steak pie, Burger perfectly paired with Tempest Stout

Nothing is so traditional as a Ploughman’s Lunch, so why not pair a Tempest beer or Stout with a mature Cheddar Cheese and crusty bread.  Highly recommended is the awards winning Cheddar Gorge Cheese, the only cheddar cheese actually made in the village of Cheddar, Somerset. (

This Blueberry Pastry Stout is a winner:

Sweet taste at first, very boozy, strong blueberry, bittersweet flavour with well-balanced hop in the finish. Exquisite.

Pours a deep mahogany black with a violet tint. Creamy pale tan head. Strong notes of Cassis  with dark chocolate, creamy vanilla and liquorice on the palate.  Cannot wait to try this at the next Tempest beer festival!

2010 – 2020  From a garage in Christchurch to a brewery in Tweedbank, Happy 10th birthday Tempest. Cheers! 

Tempest Brewing Company have hosted annual Springfest and Oktoberfest and continue to host regular Tempest Tap sessions at the Brewery.  Take a trip to Tweedbank in the stunning, tranquil Scottish Borders.

For all information on the range of beers, on line purchase, suppliers and events at the Brewery, see the website.

Address: 1&2, Block 11 Tweedbank Industrial Estate, Tweedbank  TD1 3RS

Telephone:  01896 759500

Tweedbank Station is just a six minute walk from the brewery, ideal for staff to commute and visitors travelling for brewery events and Festivals.

The re-launch of the Borders Railway in 2015 provides a vital transport link between Edinburgh and Tweedbank. Winner of the best new UK Tourism venture from the British Guild of Travel Writers, the route has brought much improved travel, tourism, social, economic, employment and environmental benefits to the Scottish Borders.

The Borders Railway campaign is now full speed ahead to extend the line to Hawick and Carlisle, which would be a further boost for Tempest Brewing Company.

The Borders Railway route through tranquil landscape from Edinburgh to Tweedbank

PURE Lite – the topical, trendsetting, low alcohol Vodka for cool, contemporary cocktails: half the calories, twice the fun

PURE Organic Vodka was launched onto the UK spirits market on 4th July 2019 with an exclusive boat party on the Thames. This exciting new product from WM Spirits soon made a splash around the country and secured drinks listings in bars and leisure venues such as the W Hotel, Cafe de Paris and Champneys Spa.

It was 2016, the time of the Instagram boom and the health and fitness, organic, vegan, ‘clean living’ craze. Drinks orders amongst the lads was moving away from pints to vodka soda & lime. I felt that there was more to this than just a change of drink and if it was happening in my local, I knew it would be happening elsewhere.”

Adam Player, Founder PURE organic vodka

The Founder, Adam Player with friends, at the launch of Pure Vodka, 2019.

PURE was inspired by a health-conscious, environmentally friendly, social lifestyle: Organic, vegan friendly, gluten free, with no additives, preservatives, carbs or thickeners and as minimal calories as possible. Pure, indeed.

After this early success, to celebrate its first birthday in July 2020, WM Spirits created PURE Lite, a low calorie, organic vodka with just 20% ABV compared to the standard 40%.

The launch of PURE Lite Vodka is timely and trendsetting, in response to an increased preference and demand for zero and low-alcohol beers, wines and spirits, with sales up 23% year on year. The growth comes as younger generations drink less alcohol and older people increasingly moderate their consumption.

PURE Vodka is an ultra-premium, clean, organic spirit, built on the foundation of high-quality raw ingredients and owing its unique taste to organic wheat.  The wheat is distilled to maximum purity removing any remaining impurities to create a light, smooth-tasting vodka.

This innovative brand has recently won a silver medal, competing against 83 entries in the 2020 Vodka Masters category at The Spirit Business Awards, less than two months after their 1st birthday in July.

So, time to taste and test this new Pure Lite low alcohol vodka.

The name vodka is a diminutive form of the Slavic word voda (water), interpreted as little water:  Russia and Poland both claim vodka as their own invention, with the word ‘wodka’ recorded in Poland as early as 1405, a strong liquor of around 75% ABV.

The slender glass bottle of PURE Lite vodka has a decorative, crystal-cut design, like a classic Low Ball, Old Fashioned tumbler, used for serving neat spirits or a cocktail on the rocks. Comfortable to hold and practical for a firm grip.

PURE Lite – an elegant, slender bottle with decorative cut-glass design

The term Martini was first listed Thomas Stuart’s guide, Fancy Drinks published in 1896, featuring a recipe for the Gin-based cocktail with vermouth and orange bitters.  This became a fashionable aperitif spreading from American bars to UK, France and Italy, notably promoted on the European travels of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

For four decades, Ted Saucier was publicist for the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City, and in 1951 published a book on cocktails, Bottoms Up including the first recipe for the innovative Vodkatini.

Bottoms Up, by Ted Saucier (1951)

PURE Vodkatini

60ml PURE Organic Vodka or LITE vodka

15ml Dry Vermouth

Fill shaker with ice and add the measures of Vodka and Dry Vermouth

Shake well, strain and pour into cocktail glass. Garnish with olives

I would normally order a dry gin Martini, believing that the lack of herbal botanicals in vodka would not be such a flavoursome cocktail.  I was wrong. My PURE Lite Vodkatini had such a clean taste, deliciously dry  which hit the spot.

Through the 1950s and 60s, Vodka was a relatively new spirit being introduced in the States, marketed and promoted by celebrity entertainers including Benny Goodman, Harpo Marx and Woody Allen et al.

The classic Gin Martini was then literally shaken up by Ian Fleming at the Duke’s Bar, London where the novelist created the legendary, literary-inspired Vesper Martini.

Duke’s Bar, Duke’s Hotel, London – where the Vesper Martini was invented.

The precise recipe for a Vesper is given by James Bond to the bar tender in the novel Casino Royale, (1953).

“A Dry Martini”, he said. “ In a deep champagne goblet.”

“Oui, monsieur.”

“Just a moment. Three measures of Gordons gin, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”

“Certainly, monsieur.” The barman seemed pleased with the idea.

from ‘Casino Royale’, Ian Fleming

Be warned, the Vesper is a tad strong and at Dukes Bar – where this famous house cocktail is crafted and poured with perfection from freezer-chilled ingredients – the rule is a limit of two per person. This special Vodkatini is named after Vesper Lynd, Bond’s beautiful Girl in Casino Royale.

Vodka is also, of course, the key ingredient of a Bloody Mary, said to be the finest “hair of the dog” the morning after the night before. Almost one hundred years old, it was invented at Harry’s Bar, Paris, by Ferdinand “Pete” Petiot, combining vodka and tomato juice, allegedly named after the Hollywood movie star, Mary Pickford.

By 1934, Petiot had become head bartender at the St. Regis, New York, where he was asked to spice up the Bloody Mary for a customer and so added a few drops of Tabasco. The recipe was adapted over the years with Worcester Sauce, horseradish, (optional), a garnish of olives, lemon and a stick of celery to use as a swizzle stick.

There is a fine tradition to sip a spicy Bloody Mary around 12 noon when at sea on a cruise ship. Tomato juice and lemon are an excellent source of Vitamin C and it’s either a refreshing, ice cold drink or a hearty, spicy drink, whatever the climate.

Bloody Mary time, 12 noon on the Silver Whisper – a seafaring tradition.

With Pure Lite Vodka, you would never realise the low alcohol content so the perfect, healthy, vitamin-rich cocktail.  The ideal partnership for a Sunday Brunch.

Being in the contemporary,  youthful lifestyle business, PURE has devised its own playlist  covering music genres from soul to pop, hip-hop and raps. Cool Sounds as you sip your Vodka cocktails.

Search ‘PURE Vodka’ on Spotify.

To find out more about PURE Organic Vodka and the new PURE LITE vodka, places to drink and where to purchase, as well as cocktail ideas, take a browse around the website.


Beavertown Beers – Sci-fi fantastical, fun cans of refreshing tropical fruity, happy hoppiness

It was almost ten years ago in 2011, when Logan Plant, inspired by fine crafted beers and ales around the world, began experimenting to create his own brew using a 50 litre rice pan as a hot liquor tank, a camping cool box as a mash tun and a tea urn as a kettle.

Beavertown was born.

From small scale home brewing in Hackney,  the business has moved to state of the art premises in Tottenham Hale, employing forty members of staff, with two dozen tanks, canning line, distribution centre and an extensive Tap Room.

There is a popular Core range of six beers, Nanobot, Beavo, Bloody ‘Ell, Neck Oil, Gamma Ray and Lupuloid, each with their distinctive taste, style and creative inspiration.

“Every aspect of our brewing process is meticulously considered and our unique artwork is integral to our expression and philosophy as a brewery. We strive to attain the highest quality in all our beers which is why we introduced our core range into cans. Stability and freshness rules.

Logan Plant

Logan Plant, the founder of Beavertown (image courtesy of The Brewers Journal)

With this sense of focus, Beavertown fast developed to become a leader in the craft beer market, which can be attributed as much for the drinks as well as to its psychedelic labels.

Nick Dwyer started drawing labels for Beavertown Brewery not long after graduating from Central Saint Martins, where he’d studied illustration.  He didn’t realise at the time, but those initial drawings – which included the now iconic Gamma Ray –  gave Beavertown their strong brand identity.

While other craft beers have adopted bold packaging and wacky names, Beavertown very much set the trend. The stand-out, easily identified mind-altering labels came about at a time when, as Nick Dwyer himself admits,  “sticking spacemen, skeletons, skulls and weird shit exploding on cans was something unexpected”.

It’s one of those design moments that go on to influence others … similar in impact to the visual style of the genre defining Borderland the space western, science fantasy video game as well as the noirish calaca-like Day of the Dead figures of Grim Fandango the 3D computer graphic adventure.

At Beavertown, we believe beer is more than just a beer, it’s an experience”

Neck Oil Session IPA  4.3% ABV

What Beavertown say: “This started life as a home-brew. We wanted to create a light, crisp, punchy, go to beer! A beer that you know you can pick up and appreciate or simply kick back, relax and oil your neck.   The name Neck Oil comes from our founder Logan, fondly remembering his Grandad – “off down the pub for a pint of neck oil”.

Verdict: Very pale straw coloured, a tropical tang on the nose and taste and lightly hopped. Not too much carbonation, refreshing, slightly dry on the finish.  This is a classic American IPA, a superb balance of bitter grapefruit, hoppy flavour with subtle pineapple and peach sweetness. The ultimate thirst quencher.

Lupuloid IPA  6.7% ABV

What Beavertown say: “ …first straight up IPA, no funny business, just malt, yeast, water and hops. Lots of hops.”

Verdict: A slightly hazy, lemon colour.  Aroma is juicy fruity giving the taste buds a sharp zing of grapefruit, mango and citrus with an underlying herbal tone of grassy hops, Very drinkable and richly refreshing.

Gamma Ray  5.4% ABV

What Beavertown say: “ the concept was to create a juicy tropical beer. A brew you can sit on and drink all day, rammed with juicy malts and huge aromas of mango and grapefruit. Massive additions of American hops.”

Verdict:  A cloudy, orange-gold colour with some carbonation.  On the nose, tropical fruit, citrus and herbal hops. Enticing blend of passion fruit, tangy tangerine, lemon, pine and peppery spice. Smooth and easy drinking with a satisfying long bitter finish.

Bloody ‘Ell  7.5% abv

What Beavertown say: “ A smack of citrus with hints of warm blood orange aromas brought on by refined malt and loads of juicy hops.” 

Verdict:  Sunshine straw colour with fizzy head, sweet orange aroma.  Herbal hoppy and dry biscuit combined with grapefruit and blood orange zestiness underlying dark coffee  notes. Finishes with a dry bitterness softened with citrus.

Nanobot  2.8% ABV

What Beavertown say: “our low ABV IPA – a style we affectionately term the Super Session IPA  Nanobot is packed with power hitting citrus notes, a tropical twist of pina colada and a refreshing piney bitter finish to give you the full body and flavour of a 5% IPA. The addition of oats and wheat to the brew give a fuller, richer mouthfeel at just  97 kcal per can and around half the ABV as a regular IPA as well as 100% vegan.

Verdict:  A clear straw yellow pour with a bubbly white head, and fragrant scent of pine and tangerine; fresh citrus, grapefruit and mandarin flavours, light, crisp and easily sipped over a super IPA drinking session.

Beaverton received two gold medals at the International Beer Challenge for their core range beers Gamma Ray & Neck Oil with a Silver medal for Bloody ‘Ell.

Even before you crack open a can, the quirky, colourful, fantastical, fun design makes you smile; then the bittersweet aroma hits the nostrils, as you sip and savour the sunny, tropical island fruit flavours to ensure hoppy happiness.

Beavertown doesn’t just offer a cool beer, but a satisfying drinking experience.  Cheers.!

Read all about the Beavertown Brewery, Core Range, limited editions, where to purchase and visiting the Tap Room.

Check out Beer Finder here too for your local bar serving Beavertown craft beers.  

Visit the Beavertown Tap Room at the Tottenham Hale Brwery. 


The Artists’ Pool showcase an imaginative response to Lockdown in “Times Like These” @ Dundas Street Gallery

The Artist’s Pool was established in 2004  with the intention of embracing the power of art to bring people together and support their creativity. Each member brings their unique personality and skill set to the pool – a mixture of cultures and experiences with an harmonious goal – to promote the positivity, connectivity and healing power of art.’

In their latest showcase, “Times Like These”, group of nine artists give a personal response to finding their lives turned upside down by lockdown.  When the rushing abruptly ceased, all routines fell out of the window and living in the present became the only option.  There’s little normal about the ’new normal’.

There is extraordinary creativity here, a fascinating sweep of varied genres from contemplative seascapes and updated versions of classic works, to colourful abstracts and Graphic Art.  Here is look around the work of four of the artists.

During World War 2,  morale-boosting notices encouraged the British people to “Keep Calm and Carry On”,  which has in recent years been endlessly adapted into humorous phrases such as “Save Water, Drink Champagne”.

The wartime slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On”

At the start of lockdown in March 2020, the stark warning has been “Stay Home, Save Lives”.  This was the impetus for Adam Lucy to invent a series of Pop Art, public service announcements.

Artists’ Pool @ Dundas Street Gallery – featuring Adam Lucy’s poster on the right

” I would never have believed the extent of the disruption and turmoil the world would experience due to COVID-19.   A bundle of art and fashion magazines and a limited palette of acrylic paints I managed to grab from my studio, provided the materials for the work you see here”. Adam Lucy

There’s No Place Like Home, Adam Lucy

With reference to Dorothy’s dream in The Wizard of Oz, clicking her sparkly red shoes, “There’s No Place like Home” echoes BoJo’s plea to the nation on 23rd March.  This neatly-crafted collage of cut-out letters and pasted images, creates a witty and wise warning.

Likewise, in “You Have the Power” a God-like figure points his outstretched finger at Everyman/woman to adhere to the rules. Reminscent of Michaelangelo’s Creation of Adam, the meaning is about the spark of life and humanity.  These modern Keep Calm-style posters in the era of the global pandemic are effective, graphic illustrations to spread the word.

You Have the Power, Adam Lucy

Esperanza Gómez-Carrera also uses text in her artwork made from vintage books with imaginative vision. Her father’s family were in the bookbinder business,  and she grew up in a house filled with books.   With charming theatricality, she makes cut out, Intervened books, such as “Love Lyrics”, which features a tiny doll’s house-sized bride and groom at their wedding.

Love Lyrics, Esperanza Gómez-Carrera – a sculptured, Intervened book

 “ I work with sculptures, installations and performances” she explains. “For the most part, I enjoy exploring and re-interpreting everyday objects in humorous waysIt is always with a sense of respect that I give books a new chance at life and share a different message.”

Also on show are several atmopheric seascapes by Helen Campbell such as the dark, threatening rain clouds in “Evening Light.”  The fading glimmer of dusk shimmers on the rough waves, as the eye is drawn to the misty distant horizon.

Evening Light, Helen Campbell

The tiny figure, just visible to the left on the beach was apparently added at the last moment, to give perspective.  There is a real sense of isolation here, this lonely soul braving the elements.

During lockdown she spent a good deal of time embracing the natural world near her home in the New Forest.

 “ I learned birdcalls, studied the night sky, sat and watched the deer at dusk. I stopped and looked, slowly calming down and recalling why I love the changing seasons.  These paintings come from moments in my life when I was truly ‘there’ and remind me not to lose that connection so easily again.”   Helen Campbell

Against the Light, Helen Campbell

“Against the Light” is a mesmerising scene, where a bright, gold-flamed, surreal spectre stands staring out to sea, again denoting solitude away from humanity and society.  Some viewers may find a religious connotation in this haunting image.

Inspired by the work of the classic Masters, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Titian and Jacques Louis David, John Slavin has updated the narrative of historical, Biblical and legendary events for the present global crisis.

Belisarius Begging for Alms, John Slavin

As a homage to Jacques Louis David’s  original painting, “Belisarius Begging for Alms,” reflects the widespread situation of begging in city streets and metro stations today.  Slavin noticed that during the Pandemic, when the streets were deserted, homeless people in Edinburgh were given accommodation and financial support.

‘Babel Tower’ is his reimagination of Bruegel’s ‘The Great Tower of Babel’, 1563.

Babel Tower, John Slavin

 ‘I’m concerned with the fall of the tower, the aftermath of incommunicable shock and the silent nature of Babel.  What are the consequences of total collapse, …. that the state is compromised, as has been the case with covid-19.”

“Times Like These” is a thought-provoking and inspiring exhibition which reflects the artists’ personal emotions, experiences and vision of this brave new, socially distanced and disrupted world.

Dundas Street Gallery, 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

21 – 29 August, 2020

For more information on The Artists’ Pool, this exhibition and the artists:

Times Like These exhibition by The Artists’ Pool @ Dundas Street Gallery

Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA, a solo show at the Grilli Gallery: Sunny French landscapes and decorative Still Life studies

During the Edinburgh Festival season each year, the well-established Grilli gallery on Dundas Street has always presented a special exhibition to attract both city residents and international visitors. This year it’s a most inspiring solo showcase by Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA.

Jack Morocco was born in 1953 into a renowned family of artists, including his mother Rozelle, uncle Alberto and cousin Leon.  He studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, a broad-based degree course including graphic design, illustration, textiles, life drawing, painting, portraiture, still life and photography.

Cafe Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence, Jack Morocco

The prominent genre here are landscapes, especially around the South of France – the daily life around Uzes, Arles and Aix-en-Provence – as well as Spain and Venice.  Here are most evocative scenes of outdoor cafes with locals and holiday visitors, enjoying a coffee or a leisurely lunch in the warm sunshine.

Morning Coffee, Plaza de la Paja, Madrid

The figures in Morning Coffee, Plaza de la Paja, Madrid may appear to be rough sketches, but there’s fine detail in the colours and style of clothes, such as the girl in a jaunty panama hat, her long legs stretched out under the table. Faces are mainly just blank smudges, but you still get the impression of age and character, gesture and body language.

Dejeuner, Lourmarin, Provence, Jack Morocco

Here, and also in Dejeuner, Lourmarin, Provence, the masterly use of dappled light, softly shimmering through the leaves of the trees, creating the contrasting gradations of shade and shadow.

This technique is particularly well handled in Place aux Herbes, Uzes, Provence, featuring small vignettes of families and children, elegant couples and a dog.  Again, with just a simple splosh of colour, there is such accuracy to illustrate this disparate group of people in an array of shorts and hats on this summer day.

Place aux Herbes, Uzes, Jack Morocco

Take a stroll through tree lined squares, from Place and Plaza to enticing fruit and vegetable markets. These have a remarkable sense of movement as the shoppers stroll around the stalls.

Produit de Provence, Jack Morocco

Venice is also another favourite place where Morocco loves to capture the water and the tranquility, where its iconic ambience, he says, haven’t changed for two hundred years.

Ponte del Cavaletto shows an old hump-backed stone bridge with iron railings, where a girl in an orange T shirt has stopped to stand in the centre, looking down to observe a grey haired gentlemen, sitting on the walkway beside the canal.  He looks like an artist at his easel – perhaps Jack Morocco himself ?

Ponte del Cavaletto, Jack Morocco

So much to see here – the balcony brimming with flowers, the ochre and pink stone houses, the glimpse of a blue boat, reflected on the calm surface of the water.

In the back room of the gallery, there are several Still Life paintings, to show the diverse range of expertise, subject and genre of the artist in this exhibition.  Lilies, Lilacs and Silver Coffee Pot is a stunning composition, where the texture and material of each individual object – flower petals, shiny apple, the fold of a cloth, glint of wine glass and polished silver pot – is depicted with such clarity, care and precision.

Lilies, Lilacs and Silver Coffee Pot, Jack Morocco

There are also decorative, abstract studies of musical instruments, fruit, ceramics and mini portraits, in Picasso-esque style, as in the delightful Dried Flowers and Wally Dugs.

Dried Flowers and Wally Dugs, Jack Morocco

The fine art of “Nature Morte” dates back to the Egyptians, Roman and Greek frescoes and mosaics, later developed by the Dutch masters and then popular with the Impressionists, notably, Van Gogh and Cezanne.  As an evolving painterly tradition, ancient and modern through the centuries, it is essential that Still Life continues to be taught in art colleges in the 21st century.

If August 2020 has been spent in staycation mode, feel the heat of the Mediterranean summer, soft golden sand and sea breeze in a few beach scenes: La Plage en Famille and the atmospheric, Boats and Bathers, with suntanned holiday makers relaxing under a parade of parasols, shaded from the glare of the midday sun.

Boats and Bathers, Jack Morocco

Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA

25 July to 29 August, 2020

The Grilli Gallery, 20a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

tel. 0131 261 4264

Gallery opening hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs, 11am-4pm. Sat. 10am-1pm.

Lute, Lilies and Utamaro’s Girls, Jack Morocco

Configurate – a dazzling, colourful display of decoratively designed, wall sculpture @ & Gallery, Edinburgh

Configurate – four artists showcase their creatively, configured wall sculptures

The definition of the verb Configure means to “arrange, design, adapt or put together in a particular form or order.”

Therefore Configurate is the most apt title for this inspiring showcase of highly imaginative, creatively crafted and configured artworks by four international artists.

Ivan De Menis from Treviso, Italy studied both graphic art at the Vittorio Veneto college and then painting at the Venice Academy of Fine Arts.  Here is a selection of his colourful square boxes, rectangle and oblong blocks composed in Mixed Media – such as polystyrene and air ball bubble wrap – on a wooden board.


Retta, Ivan de Menis

A series of contrasting three-dimensional pieces called Tessera, each have a dominant colour – royal blue, pinky-coral, green and orange – on the front panel.

These have a marvellous silky smooth, luminous surface, in contrast to the abstract patterns on each sides, with the effect of dripping streaks of ‘wet’ paint.  For example, Tessera 1A9/y2 is mesmerising in its structure and surreal composition with the wildly expressionistic splash of purple, green orange like spray graffiti paint, splattered on an urban wall.

Tessera 1a9/y2, Ivan de Menis

It would be difficult to choose just one of these attractive objets d’art,  while a row of two or three together on your wall would create a stunning diptych or triptych sculpture, as presented in the gallery.

& Gallery – featuring the group of Tessera works by Ivan de Menis on the left wall

Jon Thomas is a contemporary artist & sculptor based in Swansea on the South Wales coast. Having studied 3-dimensional design at Sheffield Hallam University he now specialises in free standing, wall based sculptures using a range of industrial materials, Plaster of Paris, acrylic sheets, polystyrene and MDF board.  Recent work has been influenced by travelling to see and study the architecture of the Maya civilisation in Mexico.

Here is a diverse range of meticulously structured decorative artworks, illuminating sculptures in the true meaning of the word. Using translucent acrylic, Saturation Point is an amazing series of yellow and red square sheets on a marble base, like a row of CDs, which shimmer, glimmer and glow in the light.


Saturation Point, Jon Thomas

Also most impressive is Untitled, a translucent blue polystyrene 3D block, which you can study for ages, peering inside to observe the complex design of layered triangular shapes.   This could certainly be the conceptual architectural model for an avant garde modern art gallery in Barcelona or Milan.

Untitled, Jon Thomas

In more minimalist mode, Space Between, is a simple circle etched out of a yellow board of polystyrene and plaster, with dents and chips to denote its pliable texture.

Space Between Jon Thomas

Laura Jane Scott from London, is also immersed in experimenting with geometric form and interlocking sheets of MDF, Medium-density fibreboard, combining hard and soft woods with resins and wax to produce a hard-wearing but lightweight panel. For an artist, it’s the ideal adaptable material which can be cut to a preferred thickness and shape, with a smooth surface suited to painting resulting for a great polished veneer.

Form 20, Laura Jane Scott

Form 20 is a series of nine separate MDF blocks in muted shades of ochre, sand, sky blue, racing green, taupe and black.  Although physically solid, these compositions are akin to the precision of neat folds of paper in Origami craftwork.

Several objects are entitled Perspective which neatly sums up Laura Jane’s vision creating these extraordinary structural designs of interlocking colourful sheets like a box file or shelf of surreal books.

Perspective study 011, Laura Jane Scott

My aim is always to express an idea as simply and as elegantly as possible. To strip everything back to only what is necessary to communicate that idea. My work is primarily an exploration of balance, of positive and negative space, of presence and absence.” 

Laura Jane Scott

Andrew Clausen began his artistic training in his native California and then moved to Italy where he studied sculpture with artisan craftsmen. Currently living and working in the Netherlands, his selected medium is cast concrete layered onto resin bonded canvas for his architectural studies.

Bouwput, Andrew Clausen

As in Bouwput, stone-grey is the dominant colour for this design of a modernist building, with the linear accuracy of a draughtsman. The graduation of shade and shadow gives the tonal effect of a soft background light and the viewer may be tempted to touch these ‘concrete’ sculptures to feel its apparent rough brick-like surface.

Van Nelle, Andrew Clausen

The structural contour of what could be a bridge in Van Nelle clearly evokes the density and strength of steel and concrete girders, illustrated with such detail. Clausen adds inkjet and pigment transfer images and text to the canvas, such that artistry is blended with technical mastery.  As in IPKW 1 (below), these are dreamlike compositions which cleverly transform the notion of hard industrial concrete into softly focussed, decorative designs of style and substance.

Configurate – 1st August – 2 September, 2020

Clausen: De Menis: Scott: Thomas

& Gallery, 3 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6QG



IPKW 1, Andrew Clausen

Cap Gin – a taste of the luxurious, languid life of leisure along the Côte d’Azur, 1920s style.

The term Côte d’Azur was coined by the writer, Stephen Liégeard, whose 1887 travel guide to the French Riviera, “ La Côte d’Azur, described this ‘coast of light and warm breezes.”In the early 20th century, this sunshine coast inspired the Impressionist artists, Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Dufy, Bonnard and Picasso, who lived and painted around Nice, Villefranche, Antibes and Cagnes-sur-Mer to capture the luminous colour of land and sea.

The Riviera also became a glamorous retreat for wealthy travellers, celebrity writers, musicians and socialites of the Jazz Age.   Leaving Long Island,  New York, in 1924, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda moved to the Villa Saint Louis, Juan-les-Pins, their residence for three years.

“We were going to the Old World to find a new rhythm to our lives. ... driving along the High Corniche Road through the twilight with the whole French Riviera twinkling on the sea below. As far ahead as I could see was Monte Carlo…when life was literally a dream.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald

Villa Saint Louis, Juan-les-Pins, later became the Belle Rives Hotel

The so-called “lost generation” of Americans sought refuge here to escape Prohibition back home.  At the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc, luxury villas and super-yachts. along the coast, the Fitzgeralds, Gerald and Sara Murphy, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Cole Porter, Stravinsky, Gertrude Stein and Coco Chanel – gathered for extravagant parties where champagne and cocktails flowed through the night.

Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Antibes

Leisurely life and times here became the backdrop for his novel, “Tender is the Night”, opening with a description of the legendary Eden-Roc resort.

“On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, halfway between Marseille and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-coloured hotel. Deferential palms cool its flushed façade, and before it stretches a short dazzling beach. Lately it has become a summer resort of notable and fashionable people”.

In a letter to his friend Ernest Hemingway, FSF wrote ” ….. back on my beloved Riviera…I’m happier than I’ve been for years. It’s one of those strange, precious and all too transitory moments when everything in one’s life seems to be going well.”

It is also a beloved, magical place for three friends, Andrew Campbell, James Auld and Adam Payne who shared a dream to reflect its cultural, literary heritage in a distinctive, dry French Gin.

CAP Gin is an expression of the Côte d’Azur distilled in a bottle, created from local botanicals – juniper, coriander, angelica Root,  lemon peel, and pink peppercorns – blended with the iconic fragrance of Rose, Mimosa and Fleur d’Oranger synonymous with the coastline between Monaco and Saint Tropez.

An expression of leisurely life and times along the French Riviera distilled in CAP gin

The recipe for this premium spirit has been refined and perfected in collaboration with Dr David Clutton, who has extensive knowledge of pot stills and distillation.

 “CAP Gin encapsulates the true essence of the hills and coastal fringes of the French Riviera.  With citrus elements derived from lemon and sweet orange peels, aromatic Fleur d’Oranger buds and Mimosa flowers delivers a complex and elegant, yet perfectly balanced gin, of superior quality.”  Dr. David Clutton.

It was an immediate success, receiving two gold medals for both Premium and London Dry categories, from the Spirits Business Gin Masters 2020. With scores of 80-89, CAP gin was judged to be “floral and luxurious” and the must-have drink this summer.

So, no wonder that I have been very keen to try this award winning gin myself.  The chunky bottle is well designed with an attractive aqua blue and turquoise label.  On the stopper is tiny logo of a swimmer in a swooping dive, encircled by a clever tagline, “Cap – L’Esprit de la Côte,”  truly spiritual in both senses of the word.

Vintage travel poster – sunbathers, swimmers and an elegant diver.

The aroma on the nose is delicately perfumed evoking soft floral notes with a whiff of sea air, while the blend of herbal, floral and fruit ingredients are finely balanced, as tested in a dry Martini.

The initial sip is such a pure, clean taste, crisp, biscuity, bone-dry, and a garnish of a twist of orange draws out the sweet citrus tang. I often prefer an olive in a Martini, adding a touch of salty spice as a lingering aftertaste.  With complex layers of aromatic flavours, this is a smoothly textured, highly sophisticated gin to be savoured in leisurely, languid fashion.

Gin Martini

Stir ingredients gently with ice in a mixing glass, strain into a chilled martini glass

75ml CAP Gin

15ml Noilly Prat vermouth

Garnish: Orange

As a G&T, what could be a better companion that Fevertree Mediterranean Tonic, infused with the oils of local flowers, fruits and herbs such as lemon thyme from Provence.

A predecessor of the Martini, the Martinez is said to be the most classic of classic cocktails.  There are various stories about its origin, either invented by a bartender in Martinez, California or at a hotel in San Francisco.  The recipe was first published in O.H. Byron’s “The Modern Bartender” in 1884,  described as being the “same as a Manhattan, only you substitute the gin for whisky.”


40 ml CAP Gin

25 ml Sweet Vermouth

5 ml Maraschino Liqueuer

1 Dash of Angostura Bitters

Stir all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with orange zest.

This cocktail is perfectly suited for CAP gin as Hôtel Martinez is a landmark art deco building on the Croisette waterfront in Cannes. It opened on 20 February 1929 by its owner & founder, Emmanuel Michele Martinez, the son of a noble Italian family.

It was on the French Riviera where F. Scott Fitzgerald finished The Great Gatsby, and most appropriately the recent movie starting Leonardo DiCaprio, opened the Cannes Film Festival in May 2013 …….(with a post show party most likely at the Hôtel Martinez.)

Fitzgerald was enchanted by the Riviera .. ….its “diffused magic of the hot sweet South … the soft-pawed night and the ghostly wash of the Mediterranean far below.”

This was his playground for work, writing, pleasure and socialising leisure. While he commented that “too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” his favourite tipple was gin as he believed it could not be smelt on his breath.

His cocktail of choice was a Gin Rickey, as introduced in chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby.

Tom came back, preceding four Gin Rickeys that clicked full of ice. Gatsby took up his drink.
“They certainly look cool,” he said, with visible tension. We drank in long, greedy swallows.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Gin Rickey

2 oz. Gin

1/2  Lime

Club Soda Water

Add the gin to a tall glass full of ice with the juice from the lime half, and then drop the shell into the glass.  Top with soda water.

Scott and Zelda were known to frequent the Bar Américain at the Hôtel de Paris, Monaco, for a nightcap – most likely a Gin Rickey or a Gin Fizz.

Gin Rickey – one of Fitzgerald’s favourite cocktails

CAP Gin certainly does capture L’Esprit de la Côte, evoking the glamorous lifestyle of those decadant hedonistic days on the French Riviera, a century ago.   Whether you prefer a refreshing G&T, a Martini, Martinez or Negroni, do try this silky smooth, classy, classic and oh so, elegant Gin.  Yes, the must-have drink for summer 2020.

Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Zelda and Chanel et al, would have approved of CAP gin!   à votre santé

CAP gin is distilled and produced at Distillerie des Terres Rouges, Turenne, France, available to purchase in the UK via,

Bombay Bramble – 100% natural fruit with no added sugar, the “healthy” Pink Gin for summer 2020!

The best selling, Double gold award winning Bombay Sapphire Gin has recently launched Bombay Bramble, infused with raspberries and blackberries.  For the purist who might assume that tinkering with the clear fresh taste of classic Dry London gin, is a modern fad, in fact, flavoured, fruit-based gins are nothing new.

Foraging Berries from the Blackthorn bush to make home-made Sloe Gin was a country custom from the 17th century, and this ruby-red, sweet liqueur was soon served in London taverns as a poor man’s Port.

Charlie Chaplin cocktail – invented at Waldorf Astoria, 1920

The “Charlie Chaplin” cocktail featuring sloe gin and apricot brandy was invented at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York a century ago. In recent years, Sloe Gin has enjoyed a revival through many quality brands.

Angostura Bitters was developed in 1824 by Dr. Johann Siegert, of Angostura, Venezuela, as a remedy for tropical stomach ailments. Its unpleasant bitter taste was palatable when mixed with gin by Royal Navy seamen who, by happy accident, first created Pink Gin which then became a popular cocktail from the mid 1880s.  A very simple recipe – 60ml Dry Gin with a few dashes of Angostura Bitters.

1959 Angostura Bitters, Pink Gin advertisement

During the Prohibition era in the USA, creative concoctions – Asparagus and Carrot gins!?-  were distilled undercover, and by the 1930s, a plethora of lemon, orange and pineapple gins were produced as pre-bottled cocktails.

More recently, a range of fruit gins have been produced with sparkling success, especially the original Andalucian strawberry gin from Puerto de Indias, Seville, inspiring a new category.  Other refreshing summer drinks include Sicilian Lemon, Rhubarb & ginger and Elderflower.

Now, launched for summer 2020 is the colourful, fruit flavoured, Bombay Bramble Gin.

Bombay Sapphire, with its famous, classic blue label featuring a portrait of Queen Victoria, Empress of India, is credited with single-handedly leading the modern Gin Craze over the past decade.  The recipe of this top class premium gin dates as far back as 1761 with an innovative distillation process. The botanicals – angelica root harvested in Saxony, cubeb berries from Java, liquorice from China –  are vapourised individually then mixed and finally re-condensed, giving the gin a unique, balanced and harmonious character.

So what is distinctive about Bombay Sapphire?  On the nose, bright, piney juniper, earthy notes, a gentle, well rounded flavour of juicy citrus with touch of sweet violet, leading to a lingering taste of lime, lemon and grassy herbs. Perfect with a Mediterranean tonic and a sprig of rosemary, or in a classic dry Martini. A cool, classy, sophisticated gin.

Bombay Sapphire was awarded Double Gold at the 17th San Francisco World Spirits Competition.   It’s part of the portfolio of Bacardi Ltd, one of the founding companies of the Gin Guild to promote excellence in the production and promotion of gin worldwide.

Bombay Bramble is therefore an exciting new venture, combining the classic dry London gin infused with fresh blackberries and raspberries, and most importantly, there is no added sugar.

How to serve: 50 ml  Bombay Bramble over ice, 100 ml Premium tonic water,  a squeeze and garnish of Lemon.  With a vibrant, vivacious shade of ripe plum-soft cerise, this is a modern Pink Gin.

Bombay Bramble Gin

“The colour and flavour of Bombay Bramble comes only from botanicals and 100% natural fruit ingredients,  infusing the gin with an exclusive maceration of berries that have been harvested at their ripest moment, resulting in a unique, bold flavour.”

Ivano Tonutti, Bombay Sapphire Master of Botanicals & Dr. Anne Brock, Master Distiller.

The inspiration for this new style of fruit gin is the Bramble cocktail. It was created by the  legendary Dick Bradsell in the 1980s at Fred’s Club, Soho, a concoction of dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur), which gives it a deep, fruity and sweet taste. One of the most iconic gin drinks of the modern age.

Bramble cocktail – created by Dick Bradsell in Fred’s Club, Soho

Flavoured gin is a category that can’t be ignored, accounting for over a third of total gin value. Our refusal to add refined sugar ensures a less sweet and cloying taste, allowing the true nature of our gin to shine through by using a rich fruit infusion (in) Bombay Bramble”.

Natasha Curtin, global vice president of Bombay Sapphire

The aroma is like home made jam with underlying earthy juniper notes. Sampled neat over ice there’s a bitterness on first sip, but diluted with a splash of tonic, the blend of juicy sweet, tangy, tart ripe berry flavour shines through, with the underlying rich spicy, herbal depth of Bombay Sapphire gin.

There is a real hint of Campari too, the bittersweet Italian liqueur, so let’s see how they compare.

The Campari story begins in the early 1860s, when a bartender named Gaspare Campari started inventing bottled cocktails, with neutral alcohol, raspberry juice, citrus fruits, herbs, vanilla. Today, Campari is a blend of equal parts of alcohol, sugar syrup, distilled water and an infusion of oranges, berries, rhubarb, ginseng and herbs.

So perhaps Bombay Bramble Gin could be used in a classic Negroni?

Negroni cocktail – try with Bombay Bramble Gin

Crème de cassis, the blackcurrent liqueur from Dijon is famously used in the aperitif Kir, added to a flute of white wine, or with champagne, for a Kir Royale.

Likewise, a few dashes of Bombay Bramble to ice cold Prosecco would make a refreshing aperitif.

Bombay Bramble Royale (instead of Kir)

Life’s a Picnic with a feast of juicy berries this summer says The Sunday Times (2nd August).

Bombay Bramble time!

Life’s a Picnic – Sunday Times, a feast of Berries – with Bombay Bramble Gin

Bombay Bramble is widely available, at all leading supermarkets and off licences, with an RRP, £23 a bottle.

The Bombay Sapphire Distillery, located at an award winning heritage site, Laverstoke Mill, Hampshire, is now open again for visitors. Book the Discovery Experience for a guided tour of the Botancial Glasshouses and Dakin Still Room to learn all about the creative vapour infusion process, or take part in a Gin Cocktail masterclass. Gift shop to purchase Bombay Sapphire gins, gifts and personalised bespoke bottles.   A great day out or a weekend away with fine restaurants and accommodation nearby.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Laverstoke Mill, Hampshire

Check the website for all information on Bombay Sapphire Gins, Bombay Bramble and Distillery visits.

Halo Drinks: Cool Cocktails on the Go for happy summer days at work and home

Halo Drinks is a hospitality company in London created by Ben Hodges and Christina Kimeze, providing a specialist bar service and mobile cocktail van for a range of bespoke drinks and cocktails for private parties, weddings and corporate events.  It’s an innovative and time saving concept, supplying premium batched cocktails in smartly designed bottles.  Just open, pour and serve.

During lockdown, Halo Drinks had the bright idea to adapt their business by offering a cocktail delivery service.  With pubs temporarily shut, how enticing to be able to sip a professionally shaken, ice cold Margarita in the isolated comfort of your home.

We would never have thought about ordering cocktails at home before this.”, says Ben, “We knew that if we were going to launch a business tailor made for the current situation, we needed to do it fast… that focus helped us.”

They found a kitchen in West Kensington to experiment, craft and create a menu of colourful cocktails, including Tommy’s Margarita, Rosé all Day, Negroni, White Port Paloma, Old Fashioned and Lemon Drop with the choice of 50cl and 70 cl bottles.

Summer cocktails from Halo Drinks

The motto is “Expertly prepared and perfectly balanced cocktails. Exceptional ingredients, uncompromising quality.”

In order to test this out, I was kindly sent a chunky bottle of Rosé all Day, which is a soft shade of pink blush with a Tiffany turquoise wrapper around the cork.

Ingredients: Provence Rosé wine, Rum, Rosé Liqueur, Cointreau, Pama Pomegranite Liqueur, Rhubarb Bitters, Lemon.

The serving measure given on the website says “Pour out 100ml and stir well over ice. Garnish with an orange twist”.  However, on the bottle, it suggests a 70ml measure, which seems a large enough shot, so I poured this into a champagne coupe with ice and a slice.

On the nose, there is a fragrant aroma which is also detected in the first taste, mellow, a touch of honey sweetness, with a rather nice after taste of ginger.   All the ingredients have certainly been well blended together, so much so that you don’t actually distinguish the individual flavours of the Rum and Cointreau, more of a jazzed up glass of Rosé wine.

Refreshing and fruity, this is a very light, gluggable summer drink as the ABV is just 17% – more of a  Rum punch than a cocktail with a hard kick.

 “Rosé all Day” a mellow, fruity rum punch.

The fragrance is certainly like a delicious perfume.  A best seller from Jo Malone is “Lime Basil and Mandarin” which is a superb, subtle blend of herbs and citrus fruit.   Likewise, “Rosé all Day” could also be produced as a candle and a cologne!

As these cocktails are made from “exceptional ingredients,” it would be most interesting to know the name of the Provencal vineyard, and the brands of Rum and liqueurs.   And just an idea – a warning note that it must be kept refrigerated is in tiny print on the back label, easily missed – a tag around the neck of the bottle would be better.

Now that we can invite friends to our homes in restricted numbers, a selection of refreshing summer cocktails, all ready muddled, shaken and ready to serve and sip can be ordered on line.

The very popular, White Port Paloma

The new normal for many people is still very much WFH so that after-office drinks are off limits and business currently conducted via Zoom, GoToMeeting and audio conferencing. Why not organise Team Drinks for colleagues and clients.  With customised bottle design and personal messages to showcase a brand or product, Halo can supply drinks for a virtual corporate hospitality event.

The wittily entitled, “Working from Home” is a heady concoction of bourbon, gin, bitter lime, and ginger ale.

“Working from Home” cocktail for Zoom events – after office hours

“Add some va va voom to your Zoom”

“Thanks so much for all your help with getting the drinks to everyone, the feedback was amazing. Everyone enjoyed it and we all had a drink over Zoom together ” Lucy – Marshmallow.

The cocktails were so well received – thank you! The Working From Home cocktail was absolutely delicious. And thank you for turning it around so quickly.” Lisa – BrandOpus

With large social gatherings postponed for birthday and family celebrations, you can also organise a virtual cocktail party for your friends and family.  Cheers!

Halo Drinks is partnered with The Duke of Hamilton pub, Hampstead, London.  If you live nearby, why not call in to sample these specialist cocktails.  This popular tavern opened in 1721 – so next year will be a fabulous celebration on its 300th birthday!  With rich cultural heritage, it’s the hub of the local community.

Halo Drinks are served at the Duke of Hamilton Pub, Hampstead

Celebrated for for their extraordinary ability to consume copious amounts of alcohol, as much as their acting skills, Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole and Oliver Reed were regulars here. I think these serious drinkers would have approved of Halo Cocktails.

Oliver Reed, Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole – boozing buddies

To find out more about the range of cocktails and bar service, delivering drinks for parties at home and hospitality events at work, take a look at the website.

And to entice you, the good news is that £1 per bottle sold is donated to a charitable cause. This month Halo Drinks has selected to support Black Lives Matter.

Tommy’s Margarita from Halo Drinks – get the party started!

Quedubon – (just good things) by Michael G. Clark @ Doubtfire Gallery: a bon vivant tour from Paris to Provence

Doubtfire Gallery, NW Circus Place

Doubtfire Gallery was established in 2010 by design partnership Frame Creative and it’s most exciting that it has recently moved to the bustling heart of Stockbridge.  With light flooding in the front window, this is a contemporary, accessible and spacious venue with high white walls and polished wood floor.

The new freshly designed, spacious gallery in Stockbridge

To launch the new gallery, the summer exhibition is Quedubon by Michael G. Clark. The title roughly translates as “just good things” to reflect the French sense of  joie de vivre and observe the pursuit of pleasure and leisure in their daily routine.

Clark visited Paris for the first time in 1980 while studying at he Edinburgh College of Art: the city of light, culture and romance, must have been an exciting, enriching experience for a young artist.  Café society, the timeless French art of living, is captured with cool, charismatic style.

There is a certain je ne sais quoi about the inimitable ankle-grazing apron, style and stature of the traditional waiter, as seen standing here on duty with military precision.

Parisian Waiter, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

This is more than a simple sketch but a charming, impressionistic Lowry-esque figurative study.  Through the window, it seems there is a shadowy glimpse of a couple sitting inside the café, all part of a hidden narrative like a paused frame in an animation movie.

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”  From A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway (memoir)

Drinking wine is the decorative theme in several artworks to take you on a virtual journey around the vineyards of the Bordeaux, Rhone, Loire and Champagne regions.

Mostly Bordeaux, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

Mostly Bordeaux  – the half full (or half empty) glass of wine is a bright and bold Pop Art image set against a splash of Cabernet Sauvingon/Merlot red.

From oil paintings to unframed works, here are champagne flutes, clinking glasses and a fine array of bottles of all shapes and sizes.  White Wine is a most pleasing compostion like a Still life, with corkscrew, grapes and bottles within an abstract fertile green landscape of the vineyard.

White Wine, Michaell G. Clark, PAI, RSW

With an imaginative use of media, Wine Bibbing, is sketched in ink and a splosh of red wine, with a jolly, jaunty angle of the glasses.  Santé !

Wine Bibbing, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

As well as fine wines and cuisine, France is also renowned for haute couture.  Michael G. Clark has the expert eye of a leading fashion designer, specialising with such skill in drawing the most fabulous frocks and the ever fashionable LBD, of Coco Chanel fame.  This unframed illustration is delicately crafted in Conté crayon and oil on a gesso panel.

LBD, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

The Dressmaker depicts an elegant cocktail gown – perhaps cream chiffon – and a soft pink sundress, with such subtle shading to denote a light linen texture.

The Dressmaker, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

Paris in the Rain, reflects the damp chill in the air, the girl in her cloche hat hunched under her parapluie, trying to keep dry and warm.

Paris in the Rain, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

Here are many other quirky, quintessential snapshots of traditional French life and times – shopping in the market, a game of Petanque in the park, taking the dog for a walk, and the iconic, close embrace of two lovers in a city street.

Together, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

Again, like an animation movie, these are delightful, romantic vignettes, ‘caricature’ figures but with a depth of painterly expression to evoke a real sense of place and atmosphere – the use of light, leafy shade and dappled sunlight is most effective.

Early Evening Provence, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW

The beauty of the natural landscape too, such as Sunflowers, (see image below), with thick brush strokes and smudges of golden yellow oil paint like a slick of mustard: one blooming flower stands tall and erect to face the sun.

Quedubon – Just Good Things by Michael G Clark is the perfect exhibition to bring sunshine into our lives this summer.  Do visit the new Doubtfire Gallery soon.

Quedubon – Just Good Things, by Michael G Clark PAI, RSW

 Doubtfire Gallery, 20th June to 1st August, 2020

 28 North West Circus Place,, Edinburgh EH3 6TP     email:

Sunflowers, Michael G. Clark, PAI, RSW