Château La Grâce Dieu des Prieurs: Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Art Russe – a unique story of art, architecture and wine-making = a modern masterpiece.
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.
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.
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:
With its colourful, Impressionist style, this is a superb Still Life of a vase brimming with delicate summer flowers.
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.
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.
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 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
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 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:
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
In “For 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.
“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.
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.
‘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.
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.
Find out more about visiting the home of MARTINI here:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Stir ingredients gently with ice in a mixing glass, strain into a chilled martini glass
75ml CAP Gin
15ml Noilly Prat vermouth
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
2 oz. Gin
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.
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
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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.!
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.
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:
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”.
The World came to Edinburgh thirteen years ago ..
Well to be more accurate, the quirky, cool and ultra contemporary boutique hotel, Le Monde opened on George Street.
This was a really exciting concept when it launched, offering guests the choice of eighteen superior bedrooms and suites each inspired by the world’s most cultural and cosmopolitan cities, from Barcelona to Rio, Berlin to Reykjavik, Casablanca to Sydney. In 2006, my partner Ken and I stayed for a review visit, jetting off (as it were) to Los Angeles, a Junior Suite, in the process.
This really oozes Hollywood glamour, featuring dozens of portraits of famous movie stars, stunning white leather sofas, bedroom, bathroom with a round tub designed for two.
Le Monde was named Scottish Design Hotel at the Scottish Hotel Awards in that first year of of opening, as well as a runner up for its Paris Bar and as a Boutique Hotel. Its international themed décor and design lead all the way around from bedrooms to the Bars, Brasserie and Shanghai nightclub.
Fast forward to September 2019
Le Monde welcomes drinkers and diners to experience the revamped, restyled Bars and Restaurant following a major £1 million, four month renovation project. The original, traveller’s tale around Le Monde has been enhanced with great imagination to take you on a culinary and cultural journey.
Just beyond the entrance hall is the ab fab Champagne Bar with velvet draped booth seating and high backed claret-coloured stools around the half moon Bar.
It’s not the wizard’s yellow brick, but follow the colourful zig zag, marble road through to the Cocktail Bar with an amazing Island Bar in the centre, where you can sit on tan leather stools all around. Smart and spacious, it’s rather like a First Class Airline Club Lounge and ideal choice of seating for either couples or a party of friends.
Let’s have a taste of what’s on offer …
At a sneak preview, Ken and I had an inspiring tour around to sample a few innovative cocktails and tasty tapas. Generation X & Millennials might think cocktails were invented in the 20th century, but 2019 is celebrating the centenary of the Negroni invented in 1919 Florence, named after a Count who concocted the tipple.
A book entitled “Fancy Drinks and How to Mix Them” of 1896 features a recipe for Martini, which resembles very much the classic we love to this day. The decades from World War 1 to the 1930s was the era of the cocktail, as Cole Porter would sing about in 1924 with his perfect talent for rhyming:
"Too many parties and too many beaus They have found that the fountain of youth Is a mixture of gin and vermouth .."
It’s departure Time at Le Monde Cocktail Bar – remember it’s 5 o’clock somewhere in the world so time for a drink. Browse the enticing menu of fancy drinks inspired by classics and cities around the world: “Saintoge Sidecar”, the classic was invented at the Ritz Paris – the version here is a blend of Tequila, VS Cognanc, Cointreau and fresh lime juice with a dash of champagne.
“S’Bigliato” is a famous drink in Milan and means The Mistake. The story goes that a barman was trying to make a Negroni with Martini rosato, Aperol, Campari and Prosecco, rose vermouth and bitters, creating a rather different pink drink.
Also try the “ Gin Gin Cosmo” a celebration of hip New York cocktails, the Cosmopolitan, Clover Club and Gin Mule, with Gordons Pink Gin, Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur with fresh lime and cranberry juice. I think Carrie & the gals would love it.!
Imaginative re-mixes and shake ups of cocktails too from Casablanca, Rio, Havana and Berlin as well as Cocktail pitchers for a group. And of course, fine wines, champagnes, Prosecco, spirits, draught and bottled beers.
Around the corner from the Bar, there are comfortable banquette seats for dining. The new food menu is ideal for a romantic dinner a deux, or a night out with friends, sharing a few Tapas such as Chorizo & Cheese Croquettes, Aubergine Bruschetta, Roast Pepper and olive salad, Battered Haddock bites (like posh fish fingers), Serrano ham with broccoli, Sweet potato fries. Also a range of steak, burgers, vegetarian and vegan dishes, sides and desserts.
Appetising lite bites and seriously good food for the modern traveller – breakfast, brunch, lunch and supper.
Travel the World
Thirteen years since it first opened, this major design facelift has transformed Le Monde into a glamorous getaway in the city, perfect for any occasion. The refurbishment was created by RYE Design, an Architecture and Interior Design Studio. The original classic Georgian features are juxtaposed beside the new cool, contemporary plush, luxe décor.
And of course you can stay overnight. Each styled bedroom and suite, whatever the standard, has a 42” plasma TV screen, air conditioning, minibar, bathrooms with rainfall showers, Scottish toiletries, bathrobe & slippers, a safe, refreshment facilities and complimentary WiFi. Select your favourite city to enjoy a themed experience with well selected photography, art, fabrics, books, lighting and cultural style.
The Dirty Martini, upstairs is a Bar and Salon for private parties, festive celebrations and corporate receptions, and downstairs, is the popular Shanghai Night Club. Le Monde certainly is an all singing, all dancing international venue for drinking, eating, sleeping, leisure and lifestyle
Commenting on the re-opening, Darren Scott, the General Manager, said:
‘Le Monde has been a favourite venue in the heart of Edinburgh for many years now, and we’ve taken that wonderful idea of a trip to glamorous and exciting places and reinvented it. The newly refurbished bar and restaurant exude the warm cosmopolitan glamour and relaxed luxury that make you want to while away the day or evening.
Our food and drink menus delve into the culture, customs and cocktails of cities around the world to create a very special selection. Every dish and drink has been devised, blending global inspiration with ingredients in Scotland.
Celebrate a new era of Le Monde with us.’
Reviews from happy drinkers and diners who have visited in September 2019 :
A girls’ weekend in Edinburgh and came here for cocktails – so good we came back a second night! Highly recommended.
Luxurious setting. Love the idea of small plates allowing to try many dishes. Not a vegan but the decorative beetroot dish was to die for. Cocktails from around the world were fab.
The new cocktail menu is impressive, themed on different cities around the world. Looking forward to trying out the new champagne bar! Ching ching.
Take a trip to Le Monde soon to discover a world of possibilities in its new era with a sassy new look, classy, classic cocktails, delicious dining and luxurious interior – a place to eat, drink, sleep and party the night away.
Le Monde – Bar, Brasserie, Hotel, Nightclub
16 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2PF – https://lemondehotel.co.uk/
Lanzarote Retreats come to the rescue of stranded Thomas Cook travellers with a warm-hearted spirit of hospitality
The much loved holiday firm Thomas Cook, was founded in 1841, starting with a successful one-day summertime rail excursion for just a shilling per person travelling from Leicester to Loughborough. From these humble beginnings launched a whole new kind of tour company, devoted to helping Britons see the world.
The tragic news of the company’s sudden collapse, ceasing trading today has now required the urgent repatriation of Thomas Cook customers – the largest to be organised in peacetime. More than 150,000 British and around 400,000 international travellers on vacation around the world are now seriously affected by unpaid hotel bills and cancellation of return flights.
It was therefore most heartening to hear that ‘Lanzarote Resorts’ immediately rallied around to assist all stranded travellers. This is the welcoming message they sent out this morning, Monday 23rd September, 2019.
“ All available accommodation will be gifted to any families left stranded in Lanzarote by the collapse of Thomas Cook. We are happy to provide our services and all available accommodation to any visitors, free of charge, who have been left stranded as a direct result of Thomas Cook no longer trading.
In addition, once Lanzarote Retreats has no further availability, we will try and help by contacting other providers here to do the same for anyone we cannot accommodate. “
Launched in the mid 1980s by Michelle and Tila Braddock, ‘Lanzarote Retreats’ is now a well established family business. Their son Joshua has the marvellous dual role of General Manager and Surfing Instructor!.
There’s an enticing choice of holiday accommodation with well designed villas, cottages, apartments, and their innovative Eco Village “Finca De Arrieta” is a model for sustainable, responsible tourism.
Staying in environmentally-friendly yurts, cabins, cottages and surf shacks sounds like the perfect getaway, just a stroll away from the beach. The Braddock family and staff can certainly assure a truly personal service with their local knowledge to plan a relaxing break, outdoor sporting adventures or tours around the island.
Following the news about Thomas Cook, Michelle Braddock, explains why ‘Lanzarote Retreats’ immediately wanted to help visitors and the future of the island’s tourism industry.
” This is a devastating blow to the tourism sector in Lanzarote and we feel it is vital that the entire sector rallies here to ensure the minimum damage to the reputation of Lanzarote as a favourite destination for family holidays. As a trailblazer in eco holidays our ethos has always been based around the welfare of our island, its inhabitants and especially the environment on which we all depend.
If we cannot extend this to visiting guests then what would that say about us?!”
Compared to the usual tight-fisted, profits-first, capitalist, corporate attitude of many airlines, hotels and travel companies, their warm-hearted hospitality and generosity of spirit is to be applauded.
A winter sun trip to the Canary Islands would be perfect when you can expect mild temperatures of around 20 – 23°C and the eastern island of Lanzarote is warm year round with the best surfing between July and mid-December!
To plan your visit to Lanzarote Retreats, take a look here: https://www.lanzaroteretreats.com/
“Grazing by Mark Greenaway” at the Waldorf Astoria, Edinburgh: modern fine dining – artistic, imaginative, casual and fun.
“The essence of Mark Greenaway’s genius in the kitchen is his seemingly endless inventiveness.” Ian Rankin
It was the week of the Big Tease back in March before Chef Mark Greenaway revealed the secret location of his much anticipated new Restaurant. There was a relish of rumours and soupcon of social media messages: 1st March: “Goodbye New Town .. hello ??,” followed the next day by a video clip of someone walking along Princes Street with a view of the Castle and the tag line, “Where do you think the new Restaurant will be?”
The next big hint was the enigmatic line, “Fancy a meal in the West End?” and then finally, a quirky aerial shot of the planet zooming in to the actual location. And what a prestigious address it turned out to be!.
On 8th March, the news broke that the Chef was taking over the former Galvin Brasserie de Luxe at the Waldorf Astoria, The Caledonian, with an opening date in mid April. Having known his ingenious style of cuisine for over ten years, Ken and I recently went along to visit “Grazing by Mark Greenaway” to experience this exciting new venture.
In order to appreciate the enormous significance of this exciting venture, it would be timely to have a brief look back at Mark’s culinary and creative journey over the past 25 years. After school, he stared his first job in a hotel kitchen near Lanark, where he persevered as a KP until given the opportunity to train as a chef. The seed was sewn and moving on to another hotel, he mastered the art of a pastry chef, winning an award for his elaborate “Milk chocolate mousse, raspberries in caramel with lattice tuile”. This was the springboard for adventure down under, heading off to Sydney, for a steep learning curve under a tough task master – as he relates, “every plate had to reach absolute perfection 100% of the time.”
Back in Scotland, as Head Chef at Dryburgh Abbey Hotel, his imaginative dishes were rewarded with a Chef Médaille d’Or for Dinner Excellence (2009). Soon time for change, launching his own eponymous restaurant on Picardy Place, Edinburgh, showcasing seriously inventive dishes. (Rising Star Chef of the Year, 2011). Now as a renowned chef in Edinburgh, he was then selected, for two years. running to represent Scotland in “Great British Menu” on BBC 2.
The next bold step was the launch in 2013 of Restaurant Mark Greenaway with an intimate setting for his distinctive style of cuisine. With the honour of 3 AA rosettes, it was placed #13 in Square Meal’s list of the UK’s Top 100 Restaurants and named runner up as Best Restaurant in Observer Monthly (2013, 2015, 2016). An enticing review too in the Michelin Guide, 2016: “The well-travelled chef employs interesting texture and flavour combinations. Dishes are modern, ambitious and attractively presented.”
Branching out, with a new challenge, he also opened Bistro Moderne in Stockbridge. As I wrote in my review in January 2014: ” .. a touch of Blumenthal in this scientifically-inspired, smoke-filled, deconstructed, unique cuisine.”
With his passion for local, seasonal produce on his menus, he decided to promote the best of Scottish food and compiled his beautifully designed cook book, “Perceptions: Recipes from Restaurant Mark Greenaway” (Relish Publications).
With mouthwatering illustrations and step by step recipes, it’s aimed at the masterchef and keen amateur, with culinary tips and a list of his own suppliers so that you can create the quality of his fine dining food at home. A few months later, much to Greenaway’s surprise, “Perceptions” was named the best cookbook in the world at the Gourmand Awards, 2017.
The success of Restaurant Mark Greenaway and “Perceptions” must have been an incredible boost to morale and further ambition. It might be a short walk from Castle Street to Princes Street, but this is a truly impressive step up, opening his own Restaurant at the five star, Waldorf Astoria – The Caledonian. Enter either through the Hotel lobby and Peacock Alley loung, or the main entrance around the corner on Rutland Street.
“Grazing by Mark Greenaway” is a classic Brasserie in design with comfortable, blue banquette seating and well spaced tables with smart crimson & blue plaid chairs. Appetising suggestions for food & drinks and sharing plates are listed on blackboards around the walls.
Diners can also sit on stools at a couple of high tables at the front, or the central island bar for a quick, casual meal.
Guests are invited to “relax, unwind and graze. You can share a starter, main or dessert, or indulge and have something all to yourself.” This is a fresh new concept, showcasing a blend of traditional, modern and sharing plates based on seasonal Scottish ingredients. “Fine dining” has been reinvented here to create a casual, leisurely ambience without linen tablecloths and uniformed waiters. The attractive, welcoming space accommodates 170 for lunch and dinner as well as private dining and a Chef’s table.
The Grazing menu is well laid out and so flexible to suit all tastes and appetites, divided into various sections: Snacks, Small and Big Plates, From the Grill, Grazing for Two. The set price for each Plate is very reasonable. As dishes are designed for sharing as well as for one person, it is wise to ask your server to explain the sizes of different portions.
Under Grazing for Two, all dishes are for sharing such as Barbecue truffled Shiitake mushrooms, a cured meat and choux pastry Picnic served in a basket, and Fish Pie. From game and haggis to seafood and steak, this is modern Scottish cooking such as 11-hour Slow Roast Pork belly with apple and mash, and a rich dessert which has already become famous, Sticky Toffee Pudding Souffle.
So where to start and what to choose.? Our charming waiter Gwen suggests that we share a few Snacks to enjoy with a Cocktail. As a simple twist, sip a Scottish Martini and a Scottish Negroni, both served with a Scottish Gin. (Edinburgh, Daffy’s, Rock Rose, Hendricks et al).
Perfectly shaken and ice cold, my Martini hits the spot and Ken’s pink tipple, (gin, campari, red vermouth) was created for Count Negoni, exactly one hundred years ago. Cheers!
With these we were presented with four gourmet canapes to share: Puffed cod skin, Potato chip with caviar, Carrot tartlet, and Smoked Salmon mousse (in an egg shell), a light as air fishy foam, which just melts in the mouth. Each of these snacks is elegantly exquisite.
For my starter, Tempura Soft Shell Crab has an amazing delicate crunchy texture – a generous portion but Ken was happy to sample his share, while he quickly devoured a colourful salad of Mackerel with apple and beetroot, a fine balance of salty and sweet flavours.
Meanwhile we sipped a glass of one of the house red wines, Cuvee, Jean Paul Syrah & Grenache, France, South West (2017), a classic Rhone with notes of rich fruit and soft spice. I could not resist the Cod Cheeks, fat juicy goujons, lightly fried. Posh pub grub!
Ken selected for his main course, Heritage Beetroot Wellington, wrapped in a thick pastry parcel. We shared a side of Kentucky Fried Cauliflower with garlic aioli, and Ugly Potatoes smothered in melted gruyere. These extras are delicious, inventive veggie dishes in themselves.
After this feast, no space for dessert – a tempting choice for those with a sweet tooth, Frangipane Pear Tart, Ice-Cream, Chocolate Doughnuts, Sticky Toffee Pudding Souffle, as well as Farmhouse Cheese with oatcakes.
No wonder that within seven weeks of opening in April, “ Grazing by Mark Greenaway” was presented with the much deserved accolade of 2 AA rosettes. As he commented: “This is a huge achievement for such a young restaurant .. at the beginning of our Grazing journey … a great start as we make our make in the city.”
As 2019 is the centenary of Hilton Hotels, plenty to celebrate at the Waldorf Astoria.
Plan your visit soon for a light lunch, (Grazing Plates, £9 each. 2 Plates + 1 side, £20), a “Grazing for Two” romantic dinner, Cool Cocktails and canapes at the Bar, or a Sunday Roast with family and friends.
As always, Mark Greenaway is a culinary genius due to his signature slant – a touch of molecular magic in the kitchen, artistic vision on the plate with a sense of theatricality for a truly exceptional, exciting and unique dining experience.
“Grazing at Mark Greenaway”
Waldorf Astoria, Edinburgh – The Caledonian,
Rutland Street, Edinburgh EH1 2AB
Lunch: 12 noon to 2pm. Dinner, 6pm – 10pm.
Tel. 0131 222 8857
Postscript: There has been a flurry of 5 star reviews from happy diners:
Great concept, lovely design and warm, professional, friendly service.
Enjoyed it so much. A lot to choose from and all made with love. Desserts were outstanding,
Soft shell tempura crab, divine, and the icing on the cake, Sticky toffee pudding soufflé.
Sunday lunch: Roast beef platter to share ..the tastiest, juiciest roast beef, perfect roasties, big fluffy Yorkshire and vegetables. Amazing value at £28 for two for such quality.
The Balmoral, Edinburgh, a Rocco Forte hotel, has long been a destination to stay, eat and drink with superb hospitality at its Michelin-starred Number One Restaurant, Palm Court and Scotch bar. If you’ve not visited for a while, the former Hadrian’s Bistro has been completely transformed into a distinctively creative dining experience. As part of the influential Roux dynasty of chefs and restaurateurs, Alain Roux and his father Michel Roux, O.B.E. have collaborated in the launch of “Brasserie Prince by Alain Roux.”
To appreciate the importance of this significant partnership, it was in 1967 when Michel Roux and his brother Albert, co-founded Le Gavroche in Mayfair, London, which today remains a legendary institution with his son Michel Roux Jn. in charge. Michel’s Waterside Inn has held three Michelin stars for longer than any restaurant in the world outside France. After training as a Master Pâtissier in France, Alain joined his father at the Waterside, taking on the role as Chef Patron.
For the past decade, Scotland has long benefitted from the family’s culinary expertise, with Albert Roux overseeing “Chez Roux” at four hotels, Greywalls, Cromlix, Rocpool and Inver Lodge. The team of father, son and granddaughter, Albert & Michel Roux Jn. joined by his daughter Emily Roux, also opened two fine dining Restaurants at Inverlochy Castle and Crossbasket Castle.
The Roux Scholarship, founded in 1984 by Albert and Michel, continues to be an important culinary competition encouraging young chefs to aspire and achieve excellence. Their astute recognition of talent began with the first recipient, Andrew Fairlie who soon became a renowned chef, running his eponymous 2 Michelin star restaurant at Gleneagles from 2001 until his early death this year.
Bringing his own distinctive flavour to Edinburgh, Alain Roux has the position of Signature Chef at Brasserie Prince located in a prime corner site on the ground floor of The Balmoral. This inspirational Forte-Roux alliance showcases authentic French cooking, inspired by seasonal Scottish produce:
“This exciting brasserie will be defined by irresistibly simple, delicious food led by fantastic Scottish ingredients. I want to serve the dishes that I love to cook myself at home and seek out with family and friends when we go out to eat. A menu informed by my French heritage but totally inspired by Scotland.’
Alain Roux, Signature Chef at Brasserie Prince
Tuesday 11 June 2019 celebrated the first birthday of this charming Brasserie and clubby Bar Prince, so time for Ken and I to check out the new summer menu. Arrive either through the ornate Hotel lobby or the direct entrance up a few steps from the street. With a fresh, colourful design, the first impression is of an open plan, free-flowing Restaurant and Bar.
The L shaped layout neatly divides the two casual and comfortable drinking & dining venues. The interior design was a partnership between Martin Brudnizki Design Studio and Olga Polizzi, Rocco Forte Hotels’ Director of Building & Design, and who is Sir Rocco’s sister.
On arrival at 12.15pm, we start with a leisurely cocktail before lunch in Bar Prince; (I agree with the late restaurant critic Michael Winner, who insisted that an aperitif is essential to the dining experience!).
The furnishings are akin to a traditional Lounge, with fireplace, bookshelves (with Roux cook books of course), vintage-style lamps, a sleek art deco chandelier, floral wallpaper from House of Hackney in a painterly pattern of verdant palm leaves, spacious booths and peacock- blue leather armchairs with marble-top tables.
The Bar drinks menu has a wide selection of gin, whisky, wines & Signature Cocktails such as Prince Royale (Mulberry Slow (sic) – this should be Sloe – Gin, Campari, cherry Marnier and champagne)
Classic Cocktails offer a Mary Pickford, (Bacardi, pineapple juice, maraschino liqueur), Lemon Drop (Vodka with Cointreau and lemon juice), and a Penicillin, (Lagavulin, ginger liqueur, honey water, lemon juice). Surprisingly, with a clientele of American and European guests, there is no mention of all our timeless favourites : Martini, Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Negroni, Margarita.
From this so-called choice of Classics, Ken selects a Morning Glory (Dewars, 12 year old, lemon juice, absinthe, soda water), which is light and refreshing. Going off piste, I order a spicy Bloody Mary, perfect for midday as a tasty appetiser before lunch.
The attractive Bar sweeps round the corner with a row of high-backed tan coloured stools; large communal dining tables in the centre are ideal for a quick office lunch or casual bar supper with friends.
It’s 1pm and time for lunch. The Brasserie itself is a long, slender, elegant dining room with banquette seating all the way around, with light flooding in from the extensive windows facing North Bridge and Arthur’s Seat beyond. The extensive use of mirrors around the walls reflect the light even more and add to the sense of space.
Contrasting the wood panelling, the soft colour palette is a crafted balance of blue, green and pink. Art deco lighting, natural timber, soft leather and mohair wool are inspired by Scotland’s heritage and the Edwardian architecture of this grand 1902 hotel.
A collection of artwork includes a classic travel poster, ‘North British Station Hotel Edinburgh’ depicting the former N.B. Hotel, before its re-launch in 1991 as The Balmoral. Also watercolours of the Highlands and Islands, from Duart Castle to Loch Fyne.
Seated at a Banquette table, we are given the set price Express Menu, 2 or 3 courses (£19.50/£25), with a choice of three dishes per course. First of all, a basket of freshly baked bread with slices of soft baguette and sunflower/ poppy/ caraway multi seed, served with a olive tapenade, as well as butter and Epoch organic olive oil. The soft cotton Brasserie Prince napkins are like small tea towels – an innovative idea.
First of all, drinks. Scottish Speyside mineral water is the house brand and we select Spanish dry white wine, a Sauvignon/Verdejo (2017), from the Castilla Y Leon region, Vina Garedo, with the fresh, citrusy taste of summer. The wine list offers six white and red wines by the glass, and by the bottle, the list is divided by country, from a most reasonable £ 22 – £24. Or why not kick off your meal with a flute of Champagne Michel Roux.?
I start with a generous portion of Smoked salmon, served simply with capers, onion lemon and rye bread, was of the utmost quality, thickly sliced and oozing subtle saltiness.
Meanwhile Ken had chosen Parisian Gnocchi, equally large for a starter, made from Pâte a choux gougères (cheese doughballs), and covered with rocket and slices of grilled red pepper.
I then sampled about half of a green mountain of Pearl Barley Risotto with edamame beans, grilled courgette and sauce vierge. Unfortunately, despite all the ingredients, no distinctive flavours shine through in this rather bland and gloopy dish lacking texture – rather heavy and hearty at lunchtime.
Across the table, Ken was tasting a white as snow fillet of Monkfish à L’Armoricaine, served with Camargue wild rice and broccoli, a fish stew from Brittany cooked in wine and tomatoes, traditionally flambéed in cognac.
A choice of three, overly sweet desserts, (Ice cream, Raspberry soufflé, Crème Caramel) so we finished with an Double Espresso instead – perhaps a selection of Fromage could perhaps be offered for those without a sweet tooth.
The Express menu is served Monday to Friday, 12 noon to 2.30pm, & 5.30pm-6.30pm. Recent selections have included Shetland Mussels, Beef Bourguignon, Lyonnaise Salad with poached egg and asparagus, Roast chicken & potato grenailles.
The extensive A la Carte menu for lunch and dinner is divided into bites, sharing platters, soups, salads and a feast of classic French dishes: Frogs’ legs, Lobster thermidor, Steak Tartare. Each day a selected Grand-mere Special – Coq au vin, Cassoulet de canard, Brandade de moru gratinee – recipes from the family’s country recipes.
The only quibble on this occasion, was the variable standard of service from a team of young staff with a few inexperienced waiters, (“Who’s having the salmon?), who lacked the personal, professional attention to detail.
Ken and I certainly enjoyed our initial taste of such authentic French cuisine created with passion by Michel and Alain Roux. Another appetising aspect of the Brasserie is the Raw Bar, where diners can sit on a stool at this theatre kitchen to sample the freshest Fruits de Mer – a platter of oysters from Gigha or langoustines from the Isle of Skye. Perfect with a chilled glass of fizz.
In case you are thinking, surprisingly the culinary French word “Roux” was not actually coined by the Roux chefs. The definition orginates from around 1805. Roux refers to the red brown beurre (butter) created when mixed with flour to thicken a sauce.
“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Borrowing its name from this classic French story, ‘Le Petit Prince’ menu welcomes children to this family friendly Brasserie, where younger diners are catered for and seen not heard with colouring books and crayons. The Balmoral has won an award for its Families R Forte facilities – kids’ passports, mini bathrobes, games and teddy turndown.
To celebrate the first birthday of Brasserie Prince there is a special Seafood Menu available for lunch and dinner from 28th June until 9th August., 2019. Bar Prince is a classic, classy joint and if you call in on Wednesday and Thursday evening, relax with a drink with live piano music served on the side.
So this summer why not plan visit for a taste of modern French cuisine, champagne and cocktails and feel as if you have jetted off to Paris or Nice.!
Brasserie Prince by Alain Roux
The Balmoral Hotel
1 Princes Street, Edinburgh EH2 2EQ
E. firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. 0131 557 5000