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‘From Spring to Spirit’ 1881 Distillery at Peebles Hydro: natural, hand-crafted, refreshing Gins

Peebles Hydro Hotel

The 1881 Distillery, located in the grounds of Peebles Hydro Hotel in the Scottish Borders, is named after the year when the Hydropathic Spa first opened here, offering Therapeutic treatments using water from its own Shieldgreen Spring.

Peebles Hydropathic Spa before 1905

The Victorian Spa tragically burned down in 1905 but was rebuilt, and with an ethos for health and wellbeing, became a popular tennis destination.  In the 1920s, Peebles Hydro had more tennis courts than Wimbledon and hosted tournaments and the Scottish Championships.  

Peebles Hydro Resort the home of Tennis championships in the 1920s

It was this tennis heritage when G & T was served on the lawn in the summer sunshine, which inspired the idea a few years ago to create a Gin distillery at the Resort.  Built above the former swimming pool, the 1881 Distillery opened in October 2019. 

Gin makers, Lauren Appleyard and Dean McDonald with “Felicity” the copper Still

Charlie Leckie, Brand Manager, is a sixth generation member at the family hotel: “We’re proud of the heritage of Peebles Hydro which is embodied by the 1881 Gin, a blend of carefully chosen Scottish botanicals and distilled in the heart of the Borders.”

Stephen Leckie (CEO,Crieff Hydro hotels) with his son Charlie

With the tagline, ‘Spring to Spirit,’ water is sourced from the local Shieldgreen spring which had traditionally been used for the Hydropathic Spa treatments. ‘Felicity’, the copper Still makes five distinctive gins – London Dry, Pavilion Pink, Honours, Rafters and Tiffin, each with their own logo and bottle illustration paying homage to the heritage of Peebles Hydro.  Tonic 81 is also made at the Distillery, Premium, Light, Pink Grapefruit and Elderflower, the perfect mixer for each gin.

Floral, fruiity and spicy botanicals for the diverse range of gins

Hydro London Dry Gin (40% ABV)

The botanicals include juniper, bay, hawthorn berries, cardamom, cassia, birch bark, fir needles, grapefruit peel, grains of paradise, milk thistle – many grown in the Peebles Hydro gardens – then blended with the pure Spring water.

Distillery notes:

Nose: Fresh, piney juniper and fir, with grapefruit citrus and aromatic cardamom.

Palate: Hawthorn, birch and fir back up an initial wave of juniper, giving way to warming cassia and bay.

Finish: A long, smooth, citric finish with bay leaf and subtle earthiness from our local botanicals.

Serve: a large measure with a wedge of pink grapefruit and a splash of premium tonic water.

RTD 1881 Hydro Gin and Tonic in a can

The Hydro G&T is available RTD in a can, perfect from summer picnics to Christmas parties. 

The Taste Test:  If popping a cork of Champagne should sound like a maiden’s sigh, my ice-chilled can of G&T opens with a loud fizz, which I poured into a large glass over ice and slice. A subtle flavour at first with floral and earthy juniper notes but then an underlying aromatic ginger spice kicks in, which is sharp and refreshing.

1881 Pavilion Peebles Pink Gin (40% ABV)

The 1881 Pavilion Pink Gin is a classic gin with the addition of wild Scottish red berries and a hint of floral hibiscus, named in honour of the hotel’s historical tennis pavilion.

Distillery notes:

Nose: Silky red fruits, juniper, spice and citrus

Palate: Fresh raspberry complemented by strawberry, hibiscus and gentle spice from cardamom and grains of paradise

Finish: Creamy fruit fading to citrus, pine, red Berries

Serve: A few fresh raspberries, a sprig of mint, tonic and ice.

The 1881 Pavilion G&T is also available ready to drink in a can.

The Taste test: Floral, fruity and fragrantly perfumed with a honeyed sweetness. An ice cold summertime drink or served with dessert: raspberries / strawberries & cream, Eton Mess, Strawberry Pavlova, or Scones and jam for a decadent Afternoon tea.

The tragic fire of 1905 at Peebles Hydropathic Spa

Rafters Subtly Smoked Gin (40% abv)

In the Summer of 1905, a spark in the roof space caused a devastating fire at Peebles Hydro. But within a few years the hotel was thankfully restored with grand Edwardian architecture and art deco style. To commemorate the Phoenix rising from the ashes is Rafters Subtly Smoked Gin, with its stunning image depicting the hotel billowing with smoke.

Distiller’s notes:

Nose: Subtle but distinct sweet oak smoke, followed by our signature profile of juniper, cardamom and grapefruit.

Palate: Warming smoke and spice intermingle to create a savoury gin suitable for sipping or mixing. The palate develops into juniper freshness backed by citrus.

Finish: A lengthy finish of warm citrus and wisps of smoke draw you back for another sip.

Serve: Sip neat, over ice, or in a G&T with a wedge of lime and a slice of chilli pepper.

The Taste test of pure, neat gin: The aroma of oak smoke followed by earthy juniper and citrus sweetness. Then the first taste – distinctive bonfire wood smoke and a blend of spices to create a savoury gin with a lingering juniper freshness. Warming cardamom, fruity citrus and delectable smokiness.  

Wow! This has the X factor, utterly divine and one of the most delicious, dynamic, dramatic gins I have experienced.

The verdict from the Masters of Malt

Distilled using a variety of gin botanicals including piney juniper and tart pink grapefruit. An undertone of smoke supports vibrant grapefruit citrus, a touch of cinnamon and a strong juniper finish. Best served over ice with a classic tonic to enjoy the complex, smoky spirit with a garnish of lime and ginger.  Subtle hints of smoke on the palate make this a distinctive spirit which stands up particularly well in cocktails, including a Negroni.

1881 Rafters Negroni

50ml Rafters gin, 25ml sweet Rosso vermouth, 25ml Campari.  Orange garnish.

1881 Rafters Gin for a distinctively different Negroni

The simplest of cocktails to make at home without the need of a shaker – just pour all these ingredients into a chunky Rocks glass with a large ice cube. Stir gently and add a wedge of orange.  The bittersweet aroma of the Campari blends perfectly with the Rafters gin to make a delicious and very special smoky Negroni.  The Count would certainly approve!.

1881 Dry Gin Martini

50 ml Rafters gin, 15 ml dry vermouth.

1881 Rafters Gin Martini has an elegant, sophisticated flavour

Add to a cocktail shaker with lots of ice and stir or shake gently. Pour into a cocktail glass or champagne saucer with a garnish of olive.  The smokiness enhances the typical bone-dry punch of a Martini with such an elegant, smooth taste. 

As we are heading into dark, chilly nights of winter, why not ring the changes of a Whisky hot toddy and add Rafter’s gin instead ?

Hot Gin Toddy

300ml water, 1 ginger teabag, 2 cinnamon sticks, 4 cardamom pods, 4 whole cloves, 1 tablespoon clear honey, freshly squeezed orange juice, 100ml 1881 Rafters gin (serves 2)

Hot Gin Toddy – the perfect winter warmer

Add the water, ginger teabag, cinnamon, cardamom pods and cloves to a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes; stir in the honey and citrus juice and gently heat for few more minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the gin. Strain off the spices, if preferred, or keep the cinammon stick to stir and pour into two large mugs, with an orange or lemon garnish.  A winter warmer after a bracing walk in the snow.  

1881 Distillery news:

Gift box sets of four gins (5cl and 20cl)

This festive season, the 1881 Distillery offers gift boxes of four gins in two sizes, 5cl and 20cl. – Hydro London Dry, Pavilion Pink, Rafters and Honours Navy-strength Gin.

Silver award for 1881 Tiffin Gin, Scottish Gin Awards 2021

1881 Distillery won Silver award for Flavoured Gin of the Year at the recent Scottish Gin Awards 2021. Tiffin Gin incorporates light aromatic, warming spices to achieve its distinctive taste, with notes of cumin, cardamom, and kaffir lime.

Visit the 1881 Distillery and Gin School

The 1881 Distillery gin school

The 1881 Distillery at Peebles Hydro has the largest residential Gin school with a classroom of 26 mini-stills, offering a range of day and overnight Experiences to learn about distilling gin and craft your own spirit, Tours and tastings.  

For more information on Peebles Hydro, 1881 distillery, on line shop and the Gin School:

1881 Distillery,

Peebles Hydro, Innerleithen Road, Peebles, EH45 8LX

info@1881distillery.com

www.1881distillery.com

www.peebleshydro.co.uk

Peebles Hydro Spa Resort, Scottish Borders

Experience a fun, cultural, foodie, city break in Manchester this Festive season

Having visiting Manchester a few years ago, I planned another trip recently to find out what’s on, where to go and what to see during the festive season.  Instead of a seasonal sleigh, I had a smooth, comfortable journey on a brand new Nova Tranpennine Express electric train from Edinburgh. There are five carriages, with 264 seats in standard class, 22 in first class, complimentary wifi and a power socket at every seat. Trolley service for refreshments and snacks, and storage for 4 bicycles. The Nova 2 trains run between Edinburgh and Manchester Airport so the ideal route if planning to jet off somewhere exotic.

The sleek new Nova 2 Transpennine Express train from Edinburgh to Manchester Airport

As I headed south to Manchester, meanwhile my sister, June, was speeding north from London Euston on an Aviva train: the itinerary for our Christmas shopping and cultural city break began with perfect synchronicity, the two trains arriving on time, just four minutes apart at 1.23pm and 1.27pm respectively.

Take the train from around the country to Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester’s Christmas Markets have been attracting thousands of visitors to the city centre every year since 1998 to add a sparkle to the winter chill.  Staying at the Mercure hotel was a great central location on Portland Street, Piccadilly Gardens, which has been transformed into the ‘Winter Gardens’. This is a pop up village of Christmas market stalls and log cabin bars such as Apres Ski & Off Piste where you can warm up with an Alpine Ale, mulled wine, prosecco, cider, Nordic Glogg, Hot toddy and a Bailey’s coffee.

The Alpine ski-themed Winter Gardens, Piccadilly Square

The markets are also located across St Ann’s Square, Exchange Square, New Cathedral Street, King Street, Market Street and Cathedral Gardens which will entice the skaters to the ice rink. A central stage with a series of live music events will entertain the crowds.  Sip Gluhwein and sample apple strudel around the traditional German stalls, and, of course, Bratwurst – perhaps best to share the half a metre sausage!   

The half metre Bratwurst German sausage

Dine around the world from  Little Spain – paella, chorizo rolls, patatas bravas and hot sangria to Mexico Joes Ltd – Chicken flatbread, falafel, and halloumi fries. Eat Greek – halloumi fries, pitta bread, Elsie Mays for warm brownies and milkshakes. French, Sicilian and Dutch dishes too.  An American feast at Triple B -Pastrami Burger and a huge Turkey Reuben bagel.

The best of British at Porkys of Yarm serving Hot roast pork rolls, Hydes beers, local cider, English wines  and Clowbecks for Cumberland sausage, bubble & squeak, tatties, mulled wine and lager.  Porky Pig  Yorkshire puddings wraps. Battered pigs in blankets. For vegetarians and vegans, Panc is a plant-based stall offers meat free sausages, burgers, fried chick’n and more.

And of course, the Markets are the place to buy innovative gifts galore – from chocolates and cheese, to toys and games, arts and crafts, soaps, clothing, socks, hats, gloves, leather bags and wallets, jewellery.

The Markets are open until Wednesday December 22, 10am to 9pm daily with some stalls continuing around the Winter and Cathedral Gardens into the New Year.

A night at the theatre to see the musical, Waitress at the Opera House, originally The New Theatre, which opened on Boxing Day, 1912, then renamed the Opera House in 1920. It was a cinema in WW2, then a bingo hall before launched as a theatre again in 1984, renowned for touring musicals such as Barnum and Phantom of the Opera.  Waitress is a comedy drama set in an American diner and after the ten day run in Manchester, it’s now on tour around the country so do catch this heart-warming, feminist, feel good show if you can.  

The pantomime at the Opera House this year is Aladdin, starring Alexandra Burke, with flying carpets, a genie, an evil sorcerer, magical effects, song and dance.  

Warmly recommended for a pre-post theatre lunch or supper is Bill’s Spinningfields which is perfectly located a two minute walk away from the Opera House.

‘Our passion for great food, cooked with care in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Whether with friends, family or an intimate dinner for two, from breakfast to bedtime and everything in between.’ 

Bill’s started 20 years ago, when Bill Collison opened his Greengrocer’s shop in Lewes, East Sussex and soon added a café, a concept for seasonal local food which has gradually grown into a collection of restaurants across the UK.  

The modern, stylish menu changes seasonally – quality, gastropub, homely food with generous portions and is very vegetarian-vegan friendly.  I selected crispy calamari, perfect finger food, dipping the rings into the creamy aioli.  Then a veggie burger, Halloumi, avocado and roasted peppers, with sweet potato fries.  My sister nibbled a few olives to start and then enjoyed a real, juicy meat burger, cooked to her liking, with rosemary fries (we declined the bun to reduce the calories). With our meal we sipped one of the house wines, the South African, Journey’s End Chardonnay – deliciously crisp and dry.

This Christmas season, with the witty Wizard of Oz theme, There’s No Place Like Bill’s, you will be tempted by the enticing seasonal food and cocktail menu such as Pigs-in-blankets,  Christmas Truffle Cheese Fondue Burger,  Boxing Day curry, Truffalo sprouts and for dessert,  sugar-sprinkled Snow Nuts or Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, a red berry cheesecake with chocolate tree, stars and baubles.

Time for party cocktails: Gin-gle Bells (Whitley Neill Raspberry Gin, Chambord, fresh pineapple), Passion Fruit Spritz and the Strawberry Margarita.

After the theatre, it was back to the Mercure hotel for a nightcap at the Level 3 Lounge Bar overlooking the bright lights of the Christmas market.  The ‘seasonal’ cocktail list includes a Summer Mojito (not quite right for a chilly winter night!), and, disappointing that there was no Campari in stock for the Negroni. I chose a classic Gin Martini (but no olive garnish available), while June sipped a Nojito, a minty, fruity tipple without the rum.

Gin Martini and Nojito at Level 3 Bar, Mercure Hotel with city views

Art lovers should visit the Contemporary 6 Gallery, 37 Princess Street, owned by Alex Reuben who selects a series of inspiring shows of paintings, modern prints, (Picasso, Kandinsky, Matisse), ceramics and sculpture. Throughout November is the eclectic artwork of Jim Moir (as seen on Sky TV, Celebrity Portrait and Landscape Artist), ranging from a flight of birds to quirky portraits.

For a marvellous day out for all ages, take a trip to the Trafford Centre, five miles from the city centre, and easy to get there by metrolink tram. This is very much like This is very much like an American shopping mall with designer and high street stores, not least a large branch of Selfridges, as well as a cinema, bowling alley, Game arena and Legoland.  After browsing the shops or seeing a movie, time for refreshments, but signage needs improved as where to eat and drink is difficult to find. The Orient is designed around the replica of a pool deck on a classic ocean liner featuring numerous bars and bistros from All Bar One to Zizzi. A huge marble staircase modelled on the Titanic leads to the Great Hall and features the largest chandelier in the world.

The marble Titanic staircase at the Great Hall,Trafford Centre

Drink, eat and stay at the Kimpton Clocktower which was named recently in the Sunday Times as one of the best 100 hotels in the UK. Founded in San Francisco in 1981, the cool, quirky Kimpton brand focuses on art, wellness, modern cuisine and playful style while reflecting the heritage of each destination. 

The landmark clocktower above the Kimpton Hotel, Manchester

The majestic Victorian red brick and terracotta building was initially the The Refuge Assurance Company (1890), which opened as the hotel on 1st October 2020. In the lobby, a bronze horse sculpted by Sophie Dickens illustrates the turning circle for the former Hansom cabs and carriages; original features include ceramic tiles, stained glass and wooden staircases juxtaposed with contemporary furnishings.

The lobby at the Kimpton with horse sculpture

Bold colourfully designed bedrooms and suites are draped in velvet with bespoke decor and artwork by Scottish company Timorous Beasties, while vinyl records of Manchester’s famous bands from the Stone Roses to Oasis can be played on a turntable. Guests can take use of the in room yoga mat, the complimentary tuck box and many bathrooms boast a classic roll top bathtub.

Signature suite at the Kimpton Clocktower, designed by Timorous Beasties

Relax over a drink or Afternoon tea in The Winter Garden, an interior glasshouse blossoming with plants and trees and wine and dine at The Refuge by Volta. The Refuge Bar and Dining Room is a vast but elegant space of interconnecting salons where on a Friday night the lounge area was buzzing with happy drinkers and around the corner, the fabulous Restaurant with well designed, comfy banquette seating and half moon booths.  

Refuge by Volta – stylish, soul food for sharing

An innovative menu of Soul Food for sharing is neatly divided into Meat, Seafood, On the Side and Vegetables, inspired around the global travels by the DJ -Restaurateurs, Justin Crawford and Luke Cowdrey.   

First of all it’s time for finely crafted cocktails – the Drinks list is most enticing with a celebration of gin and modern twists on the classics. Like a revamped French 75, is ‘Glamour of Manchester’:– Malfy rose gin, lemon, hibiscus syrup, Champagne.  There’s an innovative selection of spirits especially speciality gins for the perfect serve such as Aviation, Gin Mare, Malfy Rosa, Monkey 47 and Ramsbury Single Estate Gin.

The pure, smooth taste of Ramsbury Single Estate Gin (Wiltshire) for the perfect Martini

My Gin Martini was a masterclass of the art which hit the spot with lip smacking delight. Across the table, June selected The Queen’s Peach – Spiced rum, peach, lime, mint with a splash of prosecco – for a refreshing taste of the Caribbean.   

Masterly curated Cocktails at Refuge by Volta

Advised to select four to five dishes for two, we chose the ras-el-hanout scented chicken, salt cod croquettes with tartare aioli, tenderstem broccoli, chargrilled cauliflower and chickpea daal, for an eclectic Middle Eastern, Asia and Spanish culinary journey.  The vegetables were perfectly cooked almost al dente and the creamy daal in coconut milk was mixed with apricots and dates. For dessert, a sticky toffee pudding was the perfect finale to a superlative meal. Hospitality by Jake and James was exemplary.  

As well as sipping a delicious Sartori Pinot Grigio, the wine list tours the world to France, Spain, South Africa, Australia and Lebanon.  With DJs in charge of the ambience, you can expect a lively vibe with a soothing, sassy mix of jazz, swing, funk, soul and house.

Superlative, modern cuisine at the Refuge by Volta: soul food for sharing

Experience the magic of Manchester this Christmas at the Kimpton Clocktower. Treat yourself to a stay in one of the gorgeously styled rooms or suites and enjoy a three course Christmas Day lunch with a glass of fizz and festive snacks in The Refuge, breakfast each day is included and chill out for a leisurely 3pm checkout on departure.  

Enjoy a fine feast of Brunch at Refuge by Volta

Hope this all whets your appetite to plan a magical, cultural and shopping trip to Manchester soon.

Links to help you research your visit.

https://www.visitmanchester.com/

https://bills-website.co.uk/restaurants/manchester

https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/aladdin/opera-house-manchester/

https://www.contemporarysix.co.uk/about-us/

https://traffordcentre.co.uk/

www.kimptonclocktowerhotel.com

‘Art and Soul – The International Art and Sculpture Fair’ presents a colourful, cultural experience at the Culloden Estate & Spa, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

This summer, Gormleys Fine Art is presenting a major arts and sculpture event ‘Art & Soul,’ at the Culloden Estate and Spa, near Belfast.

Founded in 1990, Gormleys has galleries in Belfast and Dublin curating exhibitions year round, taking part in global art fairs and organising garden sculpture events throughout Ireland.  Specialising in international & Irish contemporary art, this is their sixth major exhibition at the Culloden Estate taking place from 26 June to 18 July, 2021.

Culloden Estate & Spa, Belfast Lough

Ireland’s largest ever sculpture exhibition – complemented by a stunning showcase of unique artwork by such world masters as Andy Warhol, Picasso and Dali – has a combined value of an extraordinary 7 million Euro.

The Culloden Estate was built in 1876 as an official palace for the Bishops of Down, who picked an idyllic location in the Holywood Hills overlooking Belfast Lough on the County Antrim coastline. This grand sandstone mansion surrounded by 12 acres of gardens, offers traditional Irish hospitality with contemporary lifestyle.

Art in the Garden – a dreamlike, sculptural wonderland

The central highlight of the Fair is Art In the Garden, featuring sixty large sculptures and installations by Orla de Brie, Patrick O’Reilly, Paoli Staccioli, Bob Quinn, April Young, Ian Pollock, Eamonn Ceannt, Gianfranco Bosco, Anthony Scott and other leading Irish and international sculptors.

Let’s take a walk around the garden at the Culloden Hotel to venture into an Alice in Wonderland world of birds, animals, dancers and fairylike ‘Ariel’ characters.

Penair, Eamon Ceannt

Anthony Scott, born in County Fermanagh, is primarily known for his beautifully stylised, majestic bronze animals based on Celtic mythology and literature. “I come from a farming background, so animals have always been a source of inspiration. They possess a sense of timelessness, [appearing] in art from the earliest cave paintings”

Donn, Anthony Scott (Bull) and Un Cavallo, Paolo Staccioli (Horse)

The Italian sculptor Paolo Staccioli from near Florence began his artistic career as a painter in the 1970s, later diversifying to experiment with ceramics and pottery. His compositions feature warriors, travellers and horses as recurrent characters. This is a magical work with a tiny figure clinging to an elegant horse on red wheels.

Patrick O’Reilly from Kilkenny, Ireland, is a highly acclaimed Irish artist who studied at the Belfast school of Art. His personality and humour shines through in his unique bronze sculptures of the animal kingdom. Monumental large-scale public commissions have allowed his sculptures to become part of the local landscape particularly in Ireland but also worldwide including a Strolling Bear in Paris and a Dancing Bear wearing a tutu in Cape Town.

Bear with Jockey, Patrick O’Reilly

Patrick O’Reilly’s humorous larger than life-size Bears look as if they have jumped out of a story book and will certainly entertain children who can also take part in a Teddy Bears’ Picnic. There are also several other O’Reilly sculptures of small bears, Irish Wolfhounds and horses with a light hearted spirit of fantasy.

Freedom from the Treadmill, Patrick O’Reilly

Giacinto Bosco from Alcamo, Sicily, showed artist talent as a young boy moving to Milan aged just fifteen to be an apprentice caster at a foundry, a creative place to inspire poetic, dreamlike narratives in his figures.

I Promise You the Moon, Giacinto Bosco

Orla de Brí lives in her native Ireland working in bronze, steel, stone and fibreglass as well as recently experimenting in photography. She creates both Giacometti-esque, slender figures and the abstract human form. “ I am curious about human behaviour, how we relate to other people, a perspective on life, love, self and emotional landscape.

Seated She Stag, Orla de Bri


F. E. McWilllian (1909 – 1992), was a renowned Northern Irish surrealist sculptor, working chiefly in stone, wood and bronze. His early wood carvings were influenced by primitive and African art, moving on to develop more symbolic and imaginative work. This is a most enigmatic and powerful Picasso-esque deconstructed woman.

Umbilicus, F.E. McWilliam

A number of grand salons inside the hotel have displays of smaller, intimate sculptures. Here too are pop up galleries of to showcase dynamic work by the world’s Blue Chip artists: Warhol, Picasso, Dali, Lichtenstein, Damien Hirst and Banksy.

Andy Warhol was a cultural legend in his own lifetime as an influential leader of the1960’s Pop Art movement. His imaginative vision transformed the humble Campbell’s Soup and the glamourous blonde, Marilyn Monroe into such iconic illustrations which remain instantly recognisable worldwide. Warhol was certainly famous for fifteen minutes.!

Mickey Mouse, Andy Warhol (signed screenprint )

An exhibition of 15 works by Warhol in the Cameron suite of the hotel include his quirky caricature of ‘Mickey Mouse’ and portraits of ‘Mick Jagger’, (signed by both Warhol and Jagger), Chairman Mao and Ingrid Bergman.

Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, (screenprint signed by Warhol and Jagger)

Probably the most renowned 20th century artist, Pablo Picasso was an innovative pioneer as a painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, redefining, reinventing and shaping the direction of modern art through the decades. Today, auction prices are continually rising. Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse) 1932, recently sold at Christie’s New York for $103.4 million. This work was only acquired eight years ago for $44 million at a London sale.  

A wise investment indeed!.  Here, there’s a fine selection of etchings and drawings for sale to add a small original Picasso artwork to your own collection.

Le Cabinet Particulier, Degas et Le Fille, Pablo Picasso, (signed etching from a limited edition of 150)

As an urban graffiti artist, Banksy follows in the brushstrokes of these masters. His trademark imagery of children in strange, alien environments create a powerful message: With such poignancy, ‘Napalm’ is inspired by the photograph of nine-year-old girl running naked in fear down a road during the Vietnam conflict, ‘The Terror of War’.

Napalm, Bansky (signed screenprint)

Introducting children to a diverse range of artwork is so important to stimulate their own creativity. They are sure to be amused by ‘Triumphant Elephant Anniversary’ one of Salvador Dali’s surreal long-legged creatures, a recurring theme to depict strength and dominance.

Triumphant Elephant Anniversary, Salvador Dali, (Lithograph print)

A diverse range of work is also on display by contemporary artists across all genres – portraits, graphic art, abstract designs, landscapes and botanical studies.

Neal Greig was born in Belfast in 1965. He studied BA Hons in Fine Art at Edinburgh College of Art presents a series of seascapes.  ‘The elemental combination of earth, air, fire and water are my core subject matter.  Working outside brings an instinctive aspect to painting rather than a picturesque view of the landscape.’

Atlantic Port, Donegal, Neal Greig

Bridget Flinn attended the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and the Royal College of Art in London, where she studied natural history illustration.  Working from her studio in Sandymount in Dublin, subjects include landscape, life drawing and still life.

First Peonies, Bridget Flinn

Julian Opie graduated in 1983 from Goldsmiths, University of London, where he was taught by conceptual artist and painter Michael Craig-Martin. A major player on the British art scene with a series of painted metal sculptures, portraits and walking figures.

Summer Rain 3, Julian Opie

Stephen Forbes was born in Northern Ireland in 1973 and trained in London and Liverpool. “My paintings simply aim to give viewers pleasure and to celebrate the playfulness of life… without the obsessive introspection about life and self.”

Splash II is certainly the perfect illustration to reflect a sunshine escape this summer.

Splash 11, Stephen Forbes

A most enticing attraction is the ‘Bolli Bus’  parked in the gardens, a bespoke Champagne Bar-Bus created by Pattinson & Co. Wine Merchants, distributors of Bollinger Champagne. Outdoor seating for an afresco drink. Book the top deck for a private party (12 people) to turn a visit to the Art & Soul Fair into a special occasion.

The Bolli Bus, The Champagne Bar-Bus at Culloden Estate during Art & Soul Art Fair

Experience a leisurely Afternoon Tea which includes a curated art tour of the Fair or book a table for dinner in the unique Pop Art gallery of the Warhol Room. The Culloden Estate is offering special Art & Soul rates for overnight stays – (see more details below).

This is just a brief overview of this well curated exhibition of fine art and sculpture to enrich the mind and soul.  Do plan a visit if you can to the Culloden Estate.

Art & Soul: International Art & Sculpture Fair

Culloden Estate & Spa, Bangor Road, Holywood, Belfast BT18 OEX

Saturday 26th June – 18th July, open daily from 11am to 7pm.

Admission is free and prior booking is not required. Guided tours daily at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm.

Read more about the art fair here:

https://www.hastingshotels.com/artandsoul.html

The Culloden Estate is offering Art & Soul special rates for overnight stays. Please quote ARTSOUL when booking: Overnight accommodation, full Irish breakfast from £280 per room.

The Culloden Estate & Spa is part of the Hastings Hotels Group, one of seven luxury hotels across Northern Ireland, located 10 minutes from George Best Belfast City Airport and 30 minutes from Belfast International Airport. The five star hotel is a member of Small Luxury Hotels, a collection of 500 global boutique-styled, independent properties.

There are 98 guest bedrooms and suites, wine and dine at Vespers Restaurant or at the hotel’s own pub, The Cultra Inn. The Spa at Culloden is an oasis for therapeutic ESPA face and body treatments, with new thermal experiences and medi-spa for wellness and relaxation. Guests can use the Health Club, with swimming pool, jacuzzi and steam room. 

With its lavish parkland and gardens, The Culloden Estate is a popular venue for weddings and private and corporate parties and events.

Book your stay here:

https://www.hastingshotels.com/culloden-estate-and-spa/

Broken Heart, Patrick O’Reilly

Celebrate English Wine Week 2021: Sip Rathfinny Sussex Sparkling wines at your summer parties and picnics.

Vines have been cultivated across England since Roman times, with the Domesday Book referring to Southern English vineyards as early as the 11th century.

There are now more than 700 vineyards across England and Wales, backed by £6 million of government investment to develop modern methods and technology to protect the countryside and land. The climate complements the growth of slow-ripening grapes giving them their unique, delicate flavour.

Hundreds of vineyards across England and Wales

Today, sparkling wine makes up to 72% of all wine produced in the UK and is served regularly at Royal state dinners and government receptions. In the last couple of years, England has become one of the fastest expanding wine regions in the world and continues to gain international acclaim for fine quality.

English Wine Week takes place from the 19th-27th June 2021, so the perfect time to support local vineyards and try something different. 

Primarily made with the same grapes as Champagne (chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier), English sparkling wine is also produced in the “traditional method”,  so home-grown fizz can be as good as the famous French brands.  A few champagne houses, such as Taittinger, have been buying prime vineyards in the UK due to suitable climate and terrain.  

The Rathfinny Wine Estate in East Sussex was founded in 2010 by Mark and Sarah Driver taking on the challenge to produce their own brand of fine sparkling wine.  It occupies the main part of Cradle Valley just three miles from the sea, near Alfriston village.

After eighteen months of preparation Rathfinny planted the first 60,000 vines on a 50 acres site in April 2012 and now has 375,000 vines over 226 acres.  Further development will continue over the next few years with an environmentally friendly, sustainable ethos.

Mark and Sarah Driver, owners of Rathfinny Wine Estate

The principal grapes varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier – have been planted for the Sussex Sparkling Wine, with a few blocks of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris for their Cradle Valley Still wine. Sussex has limestone chalk soils, resulting in high-quality grapes similarly found in the area of Champagne, France. Also, the cool climate preserves the acidity needed to make quality sparkling wine. With the sea in such close proximity any frost risk is well mitigated while a breeze keep the fruit ventilated. Grapes are picked in late October for the perfect, very ripe, healthy fruit.

Rathvinny Wine Estate, Sussex

Rathfinny Estate has a knowledgeable team of staff with international experience: Cameron Roucher from New Zealand is the Estate Manager, and Jonathan Médard, is a French winemaker from Épernay, who has also worked in California. They both agree that this Vineyard has the perfect location, soil and climate to produce world class sparkling wines.

The first Still wine was released in 2015 under the Cradle Valley label, and the inaugural Sussex Sparkling, Blanc de Blancs launched June 2018. Summer 2020 unveiled an exciting full range of Classic Cuvée,  Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs and Rosé Brut.

 “We produce small amounts of still wine, but we’re predominately a sparkling wine producer. High quality ‘Sussex’ Sparkling wine requires at least three years to mature in the bottle to develop all those complex flavours, so I’ve had to learn to be patient, but we’re very proud of our first sparkling wines.

Mark Driver, co-owner of Rathfinny Estate

Rathfinny Sussex Sparkling has received glowing praise from wine critics including Will Lyons of The Sunday Times describing Rathfinny’s Blanc de Noirs as “decadent and world-class.”

Recently released, Rathfinny Blanc de Blancs Brut 2017 is the third vintage of Sussex Sparkling with a limited production of only 9,333 bottles, made from 100% Chardonnay and aged for 36-months on the lees. 12% ABV.

What Rathfinny say:

A luminous, flaxen-gold hue leads to a heady nose of ripe papaya and creamy lemon balm, a refined beading of white peach and fennel pollen with a silken, yuzu zest finish.

This refined sparkling wine meshes sublimely with the sweet delicacy of lobster, the velvet-texture of a goat’s cheese and fig tartlet or pairs perfectly with oysters.

THE TASTE TEST

Colour – translucent with a pale gold shimmer.

Time to serve: the sparkling effervescence is lively, but this settles quickly with delicate bubbles rising to the surface. 

Aroma: well-balanced, fresh, with the fragrance of crisp apple and citrus.

Flavour: an enticing basket of peach, apricot and apple fruitiness with earthy herbal tones; the ripe, tart, juicy chardonnay grapes is to the fore with lingering fresh zesty lemon and smooth honey tones. Underlying a soft subtle sweetness, a hint of buttery toasted brioche gives a delicately dry finish on the palate.  

Serve well chilled as an aperitif with canapés and this signature English fizz is just perfect for celebrations.

Rathfinny Blanc de Blancs is light in texture and perfect to complement seafood – smoked salmon, tuna nicoise, grilled lobster with garlic butter and oysters.

Seafood and Sussex Sparking will turn a simple supper into a banquet

The establishment of a Sussex wine PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) ensures that Sussex wines have provenance and quality and will continue to be considered amongst the very best in the world.

When at full capacity, the Rathvinny aims to produce nearly eighty thousand cases of Sussex Sparkling wine per annum, making Rathfinny one of England’s most significant wine producers.

“Our ambition is that in twenty years’ time you will walk into a bar or restaurant in New York or Beijing and you’ll be asked, ‘would you like a glass of Champagne or a delicious glass of Sussex, I can recommend the Rathfinny.”  

Mark Driver

As well as a wine producer, the Estate is a popular destination for visitors, walkers and food and wine enthusiasts. Working with Natural England, National Trust and South Downs National Park,  a programme of improvements has enhanced the local habitat to encourage wildlife and The ‘Rathfinny Trail’ allows the public access to parts of the Wine Estate.

Visit Rathfinny Estate for wining, dining and short break experiences. 

Book a tour to learn all about how the harvested grapes are crafted into sparkling wines, concluding with a tasting.

Rathfinny Picnic Hampers for gourmet alfresco feasts of seasonal, locally sourced good food complemented by chilled Rathfinny Sussex wines. https://rathfinnyestate.com/summer-al-fresco-dining/

Picnic hampers for summer parties at Rathfinny Wine Estate

The Tasting Room with scenic views overlooking the Vineyard and South Downs, serves a menu of modern British cuisine and awarded a Michelin Plate in 2020.   Head Chef Chris Bailey has worked in London and Spain, receiving a Michelin Star at The Black Rat, Winchester and now at Rathfinny, he works closely with local farmers and suppliers for seasonal quality produce.

The Tasting Room overlooking the Rathfinny Vineyard

The Tasting Room is open for Lunch, Wednesday – Sunday, 12 – 3pm, and a Tasting Menu Dinner, Friday and Saturday, 6.30 – 8.30pm, with the option of a Sussex wine flight.

The Balcony is also open for impromptu walk-ins to enjoy wine and nibbles overlooking the Vineyard.    

https://rathfinnyestate.com/tasting-room/

Stay, wine and dine at Flint Barns 

Rathfinny Wine Estate offers homely accommodation at Flint Barns

The stunning landscape of the South Downs, Sussex is ideal for a relaxing getaway staying at Flint Barns in the heart of the Wine Estate. Summer weekend and short break experiences are very popular and selling out fast due to the rush to book UK Staycations in 2021.  

 ‘Tour and Tasting Package’ from £229.50 for two guests includes an overnight stay, tour and tasting, Vineyard picnic lunch, bottle of Classic Cuvée sparkling wine and breakfast.

‘Dine and Unwind Package’ from £200 for two guests, which includes bed and breakfast, tea, homemade cake with a glass of Classic Cuvée; three-course dinner at the Flint Barns Dining Room and breakfast.

Flint Barns Dining Room serves simple, tasty gastropub dishes, open to the public from Wednesday to Saturday. Breakfast for residents only.

https://rathfinnyestate.com/weekend-short-break-offers/

Flint Barns accommodation and Dining Room

Guest reviews of Flint Barns

‘The most wonderful all round staycation experience. The food and wine were fabulous. The accommodation was excellent, great value for money. Viva Team Rathfinny!’

I can’t recommend Flint Barns highly enough – we had a wonderful few days of delicious food, stunning countryside, excellent service and first class accommodation.’

Fish and Chips with a bottle of Blanc de Blancs at the Flint Arms Dining Room

Check out the range of Sussex Sparkling: Classic Cuvée, 2016, Blanc de Blancs, 2016 & 2017 Blanc de Noir 2016, and Rosé Brut. 2016.  By the bottle and choice of Signature, classic, portfolio and vintage cases – the perfect gift for friends and family.  Also Cradle Valley Still wine and other food and drink.

Rathfinny wines can be purchased from various retails including Harvey Nichols, Lea and Sandeman, DBM Wines and Rathfinny online shop.

The Wine Estate Cellar Door shop, is open daily, 10am-5pm. Click and collect service too : shop.rathfinnyestate.com

Happy English Wine Week!

Rathfinny Wine Estate

Alfriston, East Sussex, BN26 5TU
Tel.  01323870022

https://rathfinnyestate.com/

Destination Sussex Sparkling – visit, wine, dine and stay at Rathfinny Wine Estate

Château La Grâce Dieu des Prieurs: Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Art Russe – a unique story of art, architecture and wine-making = a modern masterpiece.

Chateau La Grâce Dieu Des Prieurs, Bordeaux

When the renowned chess player, businessman and philanthropist, Andrey Filatov became the owner of Château La Grâce Dieu Des Prieurs, his entrepreneurial vision was to combine a love of fine wine with his admiration of Russian Art.

Located between the medieval villages of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol in Bordeaux, the Estate was founded in 1885 within this ancient wine making region.  In December 1999, the Appellation was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO, as a “cultural landscape.”

Andrey Filatov acquired the 19th century ‘La Grâce Dieu des Prieurs’ in 2013, commissioning Jean Nouvel, the acclaimed French Architect (Le Louvre, Abu Dhabi; Cartier Foundation, Paris; New York’s 53W53 Tower, etc) to bring the estate into the 21st century.

The major refurbishment, between 2014 and 2017, had a simple objective – to respect the vineyard heritage whilst introducing modern, innovative production facilities.  Jean Nouvel created an architectural complex that is at once functional and a work of art in itself. 

The cylindrical exterior design represents a panorama of an allegorical fresco to illustrate the historic Château and vineyard Estate.  Inside are stainless steel fermentation and blending tanks and a series of wine cellars provides storage for all vintages simultaneously on the underground level.

‘Château La Grâce Dieu des Prieurs’ (Preserved by the Grace of God’s Priors), is an 8.5 hectare Estate, cultivating two red grape varieties, 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, with one hectare allocated to Chardonnay white grapes

Successful wine making is a complex business, a blend of history, geography, viniculture, viticulture and economics. Saint-Émilion with its own microclimate can boast an exceptional terroir due to its fertile limestone, sand, clay and chalk soil producing the finest quality grape vines.

The green, fertile landscape of Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux

Grand Cru (French for ‘great growth’) is a regional wine classification that designates a vineyard known for its favourable reputation and is the highest classification of Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wines

At ‘Château La Grâce Dieu des Prieurs’, the Director of the Estate, Laurent Prosperi, works in collaboration with a team of experts including Louis Mitjavile, their Merlot specialist who is descended from a family of Bordeaux winemakers. His philosophy is centred around healthy vines, harvesting slightly over-mature grapes and slow ageing in 100% new, fine-grained, French oak barrels.

Andrey Filatov selected green glass bottles inspired by Russian Ancestral traditions with Amorim natural cork stoppers – the wide diameter shape of the bottles was in fact used 250 years ago in Saint-Émilion.

Vintage 2015

The Château has partnered with the Art Russe Foundation, the largest private collection of Russian Art of the 19th and 20th centuries, for the design of bespoke labels – a unique, cultural branding concept.  The images of twelve paintings have been chosen to illustrate each Vintage, covering the genres of religious icons, mythology, portraits and scenes of daily life.

Three of the paintings specially selected for the inaugural 2014 Vintage Collection are:

Nikolai Fechin, Daisies (1930)

With its colourful, Impressionist style, this is a superb Still Life of a vase brimming with delicate summer flowers.

Ilia Répine, Sadko in the Underwater Kingdom (1876)

This narrative painting represents an ancient legend about Sadko, a Novgorod merchant, who is forced to descend under the waves to pay his respects to the Sea Tsar.

Nicolas Roerich, And We Are Not Afraid (1922)

The encounter between two monks and a bear in the bleak winter landscape has a surreal, mystical atmosphere.

And so having researched the artistic theme, time to taste the wine.

Saint-Émilion, Grand Cru Art Russe – 2014 Vintage

90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc; harvested October 2014. Aged 21 months. Bottling date, May 2017.  33,000 bottles

Dark ruby red in colour; Ripe, perfumed berry fruit and floral aroma with notes of slightly smoky oak and vanilla.

While, at first apparently light on the palate, there is then an intensity of flavour – sweet, juicy plum, blackberry and apricot; the initial slightly dry texture mellows into a velvety smooth aftertaste.

Sipped slowly, there is also a subtle detection of soft warm spices, cinnamon and nutmeg with a hint of aromatic herbs.

Overall, a very well rounded, full bodied wine with a complex character; delicately refined yet richly expressive and a long lasting, lingering flavour. This is a gustatory wine tasting experience to be savoured at leisure.

Art Russe Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Vintage 2014

Since this first Grand Cru 2014, the Art Russe Collection now presents 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 vintages.

Inspired by the culture and gastronomic traditions of France and the artistic heritage of Russia, the unique concept of the Grand Cru Art Russe wines has received global recognition.  A wine sipping, art lover would surely be enticed to collect a full Vintage Collection of twelve beautifully designed bottles (or several vintages!), for a most distinctive Wine Bar gallery.

At the Château there is an undergroud gallery with the Grand Cru Collection of Art Russe paintings.

The Art Russe gallery at ‘Château La Grâce Dieu des Prieurs’

The Grand Cru Art Russe wines have been selected by many Michelin starred restaurants and luxury hotels of Paris, Courchevel and Cote d’Azur.  At Seta, Mandarin Oriental Milan, this is the only Bordeaux wine on By the Glass list.  The wines are also available at prestigious establishments in Monaco, London, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Russia. 

Cuvée Elena from Château La Grace Dieu des Prieurs

In 2020, the Château became the first wine estate in Saint-Emilion to produce a Chardonnay white wine, the result of a meticulous experimentation phase led by winemaker Louis Mitjavile and the team.  

The inaugural vintage has been produced in a limited edition of 1,300 magnums, handcrafted and decorated with a floral motif, produced by French glassmaker Waltersperger.

A refined, exquisite, gourmet white wine with intense aromatic notes and a rich structure on the palate”.

Laurent Prosperi, Director of the Domain

Tasting note for Cuvée Elena 2019:

‘An intriguing wine with aromas and flavours of caramel, baked apple, honeydew melon, apricot, toast and charred oak. The wine, while ripe in terms of fruit, doesn’t feature the buttery richness that can beset Chardonnay. A lingering, salty, smoky, fresh finish. Persistent, interesting and delicious, even in this youthful state.’

The individually, hand painted Magnum bottles for Cuvée Elena are not available for retail sale.  The 2019 and all subsequent vintages of Cuvée Elena will be donated to selected Auctions with the proceeds going to charitable foundations to assist children. In the UK, 10 magnums are to be offered for sale through the new luxury website Lymited.com for £1,300 each, with proceeds going to the Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The Global Chardonnay Masters 2020

Held annually by the European drinks trade publication The Drinks Business, this is a prestigious competition.  Chardonnay wines from more than 20 countries, including France, Italy, Spain, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa were judged in a blind tasting by Masters of Wine, Sommeliers and UK wine buyers.

Competing in the Premium Category, Cuvée Elena received the Gold medal for a Chardonnay Aged in Oak Barrels.

The Red Dot Award 2021

For more than 60 years as the largest global design competition, the Red Dot Award has recognised design trends and innovation. In March 2021, the jury selected the Cuvée Elena Magnum as the best in the Product Design category.

The Red Dot award-winning design for the Cuvée Elena bottle and box

The packaging case for Cuvée Elena is made from transparent acrylic, protecting the magnum in transit, and highlights the unique bottle shape and colour of the wine. Stylish, practical and high-quality, the attractive box can be used as a table setting or a decorative Objet d’Art.

Over the years, Red Dot Award winners in various categories have included, among others, Apple and Ferrari.  

Andrey Filatov is clearly a most innovative entrepreneur. This cultural collaboration across architecture, design, fine art and wine-making has preserved the heritage of the Château and created a modern masterpiece of gourmet taste and artistic vision.

Read all about the Château, Art Russe, Gallery, Wine Vintages and purchase options:

 https://lagracedieudesprieurs.com/en/

Tom Savano hand-crafted Cocktails – a story of innovation, creativity and passion: just taste one and see!

For a new business idea, product and brand to succeed, you need to be an entrepreneur with both a financial mind and imaginative vision.  The original germ of the idea for a Cocktail company, began ten years ago when James Kerslake was on holiday in Ibiza, sipping a Mojito at the Café Mambo and watching the sunset.

Cocktail Hour at sunset, Cafe Mambo, Ibiza

Back in London, while working in Investment banking by day, he would shake up cocktails at home, as well as social drinking ideas such as BarPanda, an app to order drinks in a bar and split the bill with friends.  The world of hospitality, food and drink had always been an interest, but only as a side line to his full time career.  In 2007, aged 27, James launched a specialist food bar in London aimed at hungry, health-conscious office workers – artisan wraps, made-to-order salads, sushi, burritos and freshly made smoothies, a pioneering, new venture at the time. 

From making batches of Mojitos for parties and picnics with friends, this led to being asked to supply his speciality cocktails for a friend’s wedding and the idea for a professional Drinks business was sparked. A lightbulb moment indeed. 

James Kerslake admits he has always been a bit of a dreamer, a romantic idealist; the brand name, Tom Savano is his alter ego, fictional character who is in search of exciting, new experiences and “spiritual,” journeys of discovery.

Tom Savano reflects perfect moments with a cocktail in hand

Escape to your favourite travel destinations with Tom’s signature cocktail collection, perfected using artisan spirits from small craft distilleries.

Tom Savano Cocktails are ready mixed and bottled at bar strength and quality, using only artisan spirits from the best, local, small batch distilleries.  “When it comes to independent spirit makers, it is character, story and heritage, that are important in defining flavour.”  James Kerslake

The artistic labels represent a cultural sense of place as reflected through Tom’s sunglasses to illustrate the cocktail’s origin from Italy to New York and Mexico.

Having finely crafted the first four Tom Savano signature cocktails, Margarita, Negroni, Lychee Martini and Old Fashioned, they were entered for the global Speciality Spirits Masters Awards in August 2019. 

Three months later, James was informed that his brand new products had won no fewer than three gold medals and one silver medal. An incredible, auspicious start to his fledgling business which was officially launched in December 2019.  After nine years in the creation, the Award-winning Tom Savano handcrafted Cocktail company was ready to splash.  

Single Estate Reposado Margarita – Gold Award,  Speciality Spirits Masters, 2019

The attractive, squat bottle is for 2 servings; through the lens of the sunglasses, an idyllic image of a swimming pool, palm trees and loungers, just the place to relax with this cocktail.

The Jalisco Estate Reposado Tequila is blended with fresh Agave, Mexican herbs and lime.  This Ocho Tequila is made in the traditional way from hand harvested Blue Agave plants, and the piña, the succulent core, is roasted in brick ovens and crushed between stone wheels. The recipe is based on a Tommy’s Margarita, created in 1990 in San Francisco by Julio Bermejo at  Tommy’s, his parents’ restaurant.  Instead of Triple Sec or Cointreau, Julio added a spoonful of Agave nectar for a natural, honeyed flavour.

I kept the bottle in the fridge for a day or two so that it was well chilled. This is an authentic, ready made cocktail so it should not be diluted by adding ice.!

My first sip of the Tom Savano handcrafted Margarita was lip smackingly good. Wow is the word.! The sharp, tart citrus tang just sings aloud, and then savour the earthy, smoky aftertaste which is smoothly mellow with an exquisite, complex depth of flavour.  As suggested on the bottle, do dip the rim of your glass with salt – ideally Pink Himalayan – to create the perfect serve.  This is Mexican sunshine in a glass with a whiff of salt sea air.

English Garden Lychee Martini – Gold award, Speciality Spirts Masters, 2019

The image on this bottle reflected through Tom’s sunglasses, is an avenue of pink blossoming trees with oriental, painterly style with a backdrop of skyscrapers.

The Lychee Martini was invented in the 1990s in Clay, a late night Korean restaurant in New York. The story goes Han-jae Park used to make it for local bartenders after they finished work. Also known as “Lycheetini,” based on a lychee liqueur or syrup, is a beautiful, delicate, and unusual cocktail. Lychees have the sweet taste of grape, strawberry and melon, but with a slightly sour finish.

The Tom Savano Lychee Martini includes British elderflower vodka with a layering of lychee and a blend of vermouths.  The floral aroma is all about encapsulating an English Garden in Springtime.  The artisan brand of spirit is Jelly’s English Elderflower vodka made in Desborough, Northamptonshire featuring coriander, liquorice, cardamom, orris root, lemon and handpicked local elderflower.

The cocktail has a fruity, floral perfumed aroma and softly textured flavour with the Vermouth cutting through the sweetness to give the kick of a dry Martini. 

Devon Coastal Negroni – Silver award, Speciality Spirits Masters, 2019

Count Negroni famously invented his eponymous cocktail in Florence in 1919 and having celebrated its centenary last year, this remains a glamorously, fashionable, ruby red aperitivo.

‘Devon Coastal’ Negroni’ features Salcombe gin, a small batch craft gin from Devon, inspired by seafaring voyages from centuries past, with classic Italian vermouth, Amaro and a hint of orange.  

It is poetically described as “More mellow than a traditional Negroni with just the right amount of bitterness and a subtle hint of sweet orange. One sip and you’ll be transported to an overgrown villa in Florence, nibbling Cicchetti as the late afternoon lingers on.”

Kentucky Winter Old Fashioned – Gold award, Speciality Sprits Masters, 2019

Colonel James E. Pepper, a Kentucky distiller of bourbon and the bar tender of the Pendennis Club, Louisville, jointly created this cocktail around 1900.  It is immortalised in song, “Make it Another Old Fashioned, Please” by Cole Porter.

This Tom Savano recipe combines a smooth Kentucky bourbon and a spicy Rye, with dark sugar, a house blend of Bitters and a hint of orange peel.

“Carrying the heritage of more than a century of American whisky making, this timeless drink will take you to a porch in Kentucky at golden hour, watching the birds nest for the evening.”

The idea behind Tom Savano Cocktails is genius, based on an inspired recipe for success.  James Kerslake had all the ingredients to hand: financial knowledge, creative imagination, mixology skills and artistic branding with a colourful garnish of passion and pizzazz.

Tom Savano Cocktails celebrated its first anniversary in December 2020 and what a year it has been.  In March when the Covid-19 pandemic Lockdown began in the UK, James focussed on home delivery – two months of stock sold out in just eight days.  Production was increased to meet exceptional demand with continuing high sales through the Autumn and Winter, as well as an increase in gifts for the Festive Season.

Two new signature cocktails joined the collection this year, the Caribbean Dawn Mai Tai in the summer and the Smoky Maple Ragtime Manhattan has just been launched in time to toast Tom’s first birthday.

Tom Savano has now partnered with London’s Cinnamon Club and received more awards including the prestigious ‘Best New Product of the Year 2020’ at the Spirits Business Global Masters 2020.

 Join the fan base!

These cocktails are incredible! It’s like being in the best cocktail bar in London but in your home!

Absolutely delicious cocktails, gorgeous packaging and speedy delivery. We have already placed another order…

To find out more about Tom Savano Handcrafted Cocktails, where to buy, how to order and ideas for gifts. There’s a choice of six cocktails in two sizes of bottles for two or five servings.

https://tomsavano.com/shop/

Tom Savano cocktails – the perfect gift for you, friends and family

Tom’s Club is a place for cocktail lovers with a passion for travel. Sign up as a member for discounts on your cocktail delivery orders and receive invites to Tom’s Club events.

The Alcoholic Boozy Christmas Hamper

Christmas Hampers 2020

Tom Savano has teamed up with a few independent food and drink producers to create hampers in aid of The Trussell Trust charity.  There are five different hampers: a vegan/gluten-free variety, a healthy option, a chocolate hamper, an alcoholic version and a classic family hamper, with a fine selection of artisan food and drink, with all profits going to charity, to feed families in financial difficulty, who are in need this Christmas.

https://www.tomsavano.com/savexmas

Classic Christmas Hamper

Martini & Rossi, cool and contemporary since 1863, the creators of Cocktail time.

One of the most iconic brands in the world, MARTINI® is Italy’s leading alcoholic beverage producer and offers a range of Aperitivo, Vermouth and sparkling wines of the highest quality. The creation of Vermouth, today the essential ingredient in many classic cocktails, is a deliciously, decadent and inspirational story. 

While fortified wines date back to Ancient Greece, the concept is thought to have been first finely crafted by the distiller, Antonio Benedetto Carpano in Turin in 1786, with his aromatised herbal wine, called Vermouth. Wormwood, also known as absinthe, is the quintessential botanical ingredient of this wine, originally considered a medicinal drink. Wormwood, Wermut in German, translates into vermouth. 

Fast forward to 1847, Pessione, near Turin where “Distilleria Nationale di Spirito di Vino” was founded by Carlo Angelli, Alessandro Martini, Teofilo Sola and Luigi Rossi, to produce wines and liqueurs.  As a wine maker and herbalist, Rossi developed his own Wormwood recipe and is the actual inventor of the Martini brand of vermouth.

Vintage Vermouth bottles

The base formula for any vermouth must be 75% wine – all brands of Martini are dry wines from the regions of Romagna, Apulia and Sicily – with an essence of over 50 herbs and spices and sugar. This Absinthe herb provides the strong, bitter flavour which stimulates the appetite. Vermouths became popular as an Aperitivo, (French – Aperitif), after the Latin verb ‘aperire’, to open, the perfect pre-lunch or dinner drink.

Aperitivo is not a drink, it’s a state of mind” Roberta Mariani, global ambassador for Martini & Rossi.

Their successful export business established branches in Spain, France, Argentina, Romania, Great Britain and the USA and after Sola’s death in 1879, the company was renamed “Martini & Rossi.”   The entrepreneurs were always modern innovators and market leaders.  “Martini Extra Dry”, was first presented at the New Year’s Eve celebration in 1900, and the “Martini Bianco” launched in 1910.  

The famous modern logo was created in 1925, featuring the black name tag “Martini”, superimposed over a red circle, and registered as a trademark in Italy in 1929. 

The Rosso sweet vermouth was first produced in 1863 and it’s said that customers ordering a gin and vermouth would simply ask for a “Gin and Martini.” In America, it evolved into a lady’s tipple, Gin & It, served around 5pm as a pick-me-up.

The classic Gin Martini may have originated at the Occidental Hotel, San Francisco in the 1860s. The bartender, Jerry Thomas was asked to make a memorable cocktail in return for a gold nugget and Jerry named it after the drinker’s home town, Martinez.  The Bar-Tenders Guide, 1887 included the Martinez cocktail – gin, sweet vermouth, bitters, lemon and maraschino liqueur.

More widely accepted is that an Italian bartender, Martini di Arma di Taggia created it at the Knickerbocker Hotel, New York City before World War I. His recipe: dry gin and dry vermouth, in equal parts, and orange bitters.

‘I had never tasted anything so cool and clean. They made me feel civilized.” Ernest Hemingway

‘The aspirational cocktail Gin Martini, beloved by the rich and famous, has become a timeless classic and the epitome of an Aperitivo.  While the precise recipe is a matter of taste, Martini & Rossi believe this to be the perfect ratio: 50 ml Bombay Sapphire Gin, 15 ml Martini Extra Dry, Lemon peel or olive to garnish.

Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes, pour in the well-chilled vermouth and the gin and stir for about 20 seconds.  Strain into a well-chilled Martini cocktail glass. Twist the peel to release the oils and then add as a garnish – or an olive.

Vermouth has long been integral to other key cocktails shaken up by intrepid bartenders between the 1880s and turn of the century, such as the Adonis, Affinity, Manhattan, Bronx and Americano.

The Americano holds the distinction of being the very first drink James Bond orders in Casino Royale – Campari, Sweet Vermouth and soda water – followed by many strong Gin Martinis on his adventures.

James Bond, a Cocktail aficionado

Cocktail time – L’Aperitivo hour – continues to embody the essence of Italian culture, la dolce vita, worldwide. Always a fashionably cool and contemporary brand since 1960s, Martini & Rossi has now launched a new Vermouth.

Martini Fiero is said to “modernise vermouth for a new generation.” Fiero means proud, intense and bold in Italian and is a blend of crisp white wines and botanicals including Murcia orange peel, artemisia absinthium and artemisia pontica.

The perfect serve is with plenty of ice, a mix of 50/50 Fiero and tonic

Martini Fiero Tonic

75 ml Martini Fiero, 75 ml Tonic water

Pour into a large balloon (red wine) glass with ice. Garnish with blood orange wheel.

Martini Fiero with tonic – refreshingly summery

Fiero is a beautifully balanced vermouth, with sharp, tart citrus notes followed by a honey sweetness, the bitterness mellowed by the sparkling tonic.  A refreshing, ice cold long drink which just needs the final ingredient – a warm dash of Italian summer sun!

Just over a century ago in a small bar in Florence, Count Camillio Negroni asked the bartender to strengthen his favourite cocktail, the Americano. The soda water was replaced by gin, the lemon garnish with orange, and the Negroni was born.  

So now for an important experiment – a blind tasting of two Negroni cocktails, one with the usual Sweet Vermouth Rosso and another with Martini Fiero.

The Rosso-based Negroni is richly bittersweet, more herbal, woody and drier on the palate. The Fiero version has an orange fruitiness, hint of cloves and a complex citrus and spicy aftertaste. 

These two Negronis simply vary in subtlety of flavour but with the Campari shining through, both hit the spot.

The Negroni revamped – Campari, Gin, Martini Fiero

Negroni with Martini Fiero

30 ml Campari, 30 ml Bombay Sapphire dry gin, 30 ml Martini Fiero

Add all ingredients into a stirring glass. Strain into a chilled Old Fashioned tumbler glass with a large chunk of ice. Garnish with an orange twist after expressing the zest.

This is certainly a cocktail to entice the taste buds – sip slowly before lunch or dinner. Saluti!

InFor your Eyes Only, while waiting in the Excelsior Bar in Rome, James Bond orders an aperitif, very wisely, the Negroni.

Martini & Rossi has been masters of the original Vermouth since 1863 and the historical home, Casa Martini, in the village of Pessione, near Turin Northern Italy is open to visitors.  Cocktail lovers will be able to see how the famous Italian vermouth and wines are made on an imaginative new tour.

Casa Martiini, Pessione, Italy

 “We are delighted to welcome guests to Casa MARTINI, the heart of the creation of our products for over 150 years. Discover the ingredients and production secrets of a history full of anecdote, entrepreneurial vision and innovation. The new tour consists of a totally immersive experience, an exciting journey to the origins of the Italian Aperitivo.  Marco Budano, General Manager of Casa MARTINI. 

Visitors will see the “Cabinet of Curiosities,” a display case featuring vintage artefacts, technical equipment and archival documents, a collection which links MARTINI to the world of wine.

The Red Circle is an exciting new installation – an illuminated pathway to give an immersive experience of the whole process from grapes and herbs for the finely selected ingredients.

The Red Circle

Take a trip back in time to the historic Still Area where the original copper stills to make vermouth and sparkling wines in the 19th century are preserved. The Mondo MARTINI Gallery and the Museum of the History of Wine is a comprehensive 360 degree tour to illustrate the company’s inspiring history.

Mondo Martini Gallery

 ‘The Heart of Martini’ today is the modern Still Room with its rows of towering tanks where visitors discover more about the finely crafted production process to perfect the delicious vermouths and wines.

The Heart of Martini in the modern Still Room

And finally, of course, it’s Cocktail time in the Tasting Room where you can try three Martini drinks, in the company of an expert guide. Then end the journey around Casa Martini in the Bar to sip a refreshing Martini Fiero & Tonic.

Martini Time in the Tasting Room and Bar

Find out more about visiting the home of MARTINI here:

www.visitcasamartini.com 

The Martini & Rossi company maintained full control of the brand until 1993 when it merged with Bacardí.  According to International Wines and Spirits Record, it accounts for more than 45 percent of the global vermouth market – Casa Martini sells more vermouth than any other brand in the world. 

www.martini.com

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.

http://www.wmspirits.co.uk

 

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.”

Martinez

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, www.capgin.com

Plan the perfect escape to Lough Eske Castle for real adventures, relaxation and romance

Lough Eske Castle, Donegal – a luxury Resort for leisure and relaxation.

Whether for a romantic retreat, active, outdoor adventures, gourmet getaway, relaxing Spa break or planning your Wedding, Lough Eske Castle, County Donegal is the destination for all manner of travel trips and family celebrations.

Surrounded by 43 acres of woodland, on the lakeside with the dramatic Bluestack Mountains as a stunning backdrop, this is a five star Country House hotel and Spa, voted the World’s Best Luxury Country House, (four times) and in the Top 10 of best places to stay in Ireland.  On the site of a 15th century Castle, the original turreted mansion, built in the 1850s, was recently refurbished with a 40 million Euro investment to restore, develop and create this luxury leisure Resort.

There are nearly one hundred guestrooms, from traditional luxury Suites in the mansion with 4 poster beds, clawfoot baths and fine antiques; the Tower Suite on three levels is beautifully furnished, giving fabulous views over the Lough Eske and Estate.

A taste of aristocratic tradition – luxury bathrooms at Lough Eske Castle

Modern-styled, comfortable Garden and Courtyard Rooms (within the former Stables) are dog friendly for a homely hideaway, and there’s ideal accommodation for families with children..

Garden Room – spacious accommodation for couples, families + and your dog.

Dinner in the elegant Cedars Restaurant showcases modern, gourmet Irish cuisine with superb, seasonal produce from land and sea.  This north west coastline is famous for its oysters, sample local honey and the chefs go foraging for wild, natural ingredients.

Cedars Restaurant for modern Irish cuisine with seasonal, local dishes.

For a more casual meal, a menu of hearty gastropub food is served in the Lobby Lounge.

Father Frank Browne (1880-1960) is renowned for his extraordinary collection of photographs due to an unexpected change of travel plans.  Browne, a young Irish Jesuist priest, boarded the Titanic in Southampton on 10 April 1912, settling into his first class cabin at the start of the maiden voyage to New York.

Father Browne’s First Class suite, A37, Panorama Deck, on the Titanic

But within a day or so, he received a telegram from his superiors with the message, “get off that ship” and was obliged to disembark at Cobh, Ireland.  Following the tragic sinking of the Titanic, his unique black and white images taken on board were published on front pages of newspapers around the world and preserved today as a valuable archive.  An avid traveller and prolific photographer all his life, his visionary eye through the lens is compared with Henri Cartier Bresson and Robert Doisneau.

Father Browne Bar, with collection of photographs showing life on board The Titanic

Today, a selection of his vintage images taken on board The Titanic are displayed in the Father Browne Bar. Relax here with a dram or two and raise a glass in tribute to a remarkable man who, having obeyed orders, unwittingly saved his life.

The smart, sophisticated spot for cocktails is the Gallery Bar, within what was the former Ballroom. The drinks menu is extensive with a fine list of Irish Whiskey, Bourbon, beers, wines, champagne and all favourite tipples.

Relax in the Gallery Bar for fine whiskies, beers and signature cocktails

In the former conservatory is the CARA Organic Beauty Spa, with a thermal suite with indoor and outdoor relaxation areas, infinity pool, sauna, jacuzzi and eight treatment rooms. Experience indulgent, therapeutic pampering with soothing beauty brands, espa and Anne Semonin for facials and massages.

Thermal Suite at the CARA Organic Spa, an oasis for wellness and relaxation

Lough Eske Castle is a prime destination for bespoke weddings, perfectly tailored for each couple.  International visitors, especially from North America, have enjoyed planning memorable three or four day events.  Whether a grand occasion for 280 guests in the glamorous ballroom or an intimate family party, the wedding planners will create your special celebration.

The restful, romantic natural beauty of Lough Eske & Bluestack Mountains

But let’s wind back .. first comes the Engagement and what could more romantic than a Helicopter trip and a picnic in this glorious countryside as part of a relaxing stay with fine wining and dining.

And of course (Irish) Oysters and champagne is the classic aphrodisiac.  14th February is Valentine’s Day and as 2020 is a Leap Year – ladies, you are free this year to pop the question.!

Beautiful, bespoke weddings at Lough Eske Castle in vintage style

What to see and do nearby?  Donegal is on the West Atlantic Way, the longest coastal route in the world. Visit the tallest sea cliffs in Europe at Sliabh Liag and explore Glenveagh Castle set within a National Park, nicknamed the “Coolest Places on the Planet”.

Outdoor sports galore: hiking, biking horseback riding, hill walking, fishing on the lake and golf.  Donegal Town is just ten minutes drive away, a place to browse around and shop for Artisan arts and crafts – especially Donegal tweed – to take home a slice of Irish cultural heritage.

‘The Journey not the arrival matters,’ said T. S. Eliot. The best way to travel to Lough Eske Castle is to fly into Donegal Airport, the second most scenic in the world with stunning panoramic views along the coast.

Flying into Donegal Airport, the second most scenic take-off & landing on the planet

This is the start of your cultural, culinary and romantic adventure and experience a true taste of Irish hospitality. Cead Mile Failte – 1000 welcomes – as they say.

Perhaps plan a tour around Ireland, visiting Belfast and Dublin or explore the West Atlantic Way from Country Cork to County Donegal.

Find out more and book your visit to Lough Eske Castle here:

http://www.lougheskecasatlehotel.com

Reviews by happy guests:

“Lough Eske was our third stop on our four castle tour of Ireland, a trip my husband and I took for our honeymoon.  Donegal Seafood Chowder, Guinness Stew, comforting, home food experience. Overall, Lough Eske was exceptional.”

 “Staff and Facilities 5*.  Spa, Sauna and Jacuzzi, amazing!”

 “We spent Christmas at Castle Eske in one of the garden suites with our two little dogs Ruby and Bella – our third visit to the Castle. All I can say is that we had the most wonderful time”.

Postcard from Lough Eske Castle and Destination Donegal, Ireland.