Saturday, 30 April 2016

Get Your Freakshakes On!

Molly Bakes
Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears... and your saliva glands... because we need to talk about freakshakes.

In case you haven't heard of them, freakshakes are big, creamy, ice cream-based milkshakes which HAVE CAKES ON TOP OF THEM. And pretzels! And doughnuts! And brownies! And ice cream sandwiches! All with lashings of whipped cream and syrup.

Apparently the idea originated in Australia (darn those Aussies with their nice tans and their beach sports and their much better metabolisms) but it's recently made it over to our fair isle of the UK, and everyone is rightly going nuts-bananas over these gooey, frothy, dreamy milkshake delights.

WHERE CAN I GET ONE? I hear you scream, pawing at your computer screen with longing and trying not to hyperventilate (I'm just presuming your reaction was identical to mine here).

Molly Bakes, London
Molly Bakes in East London is your answer, my sweet-toothed friends. She makes them using locally sourced ingredients AND she makes all the cakes and sweet treats adorning these freakshakes beauties herself.

Here's another two of hers:

Molly Bakes

Yep, told you.

You can also get freakshakes in several other UK locations, including Maxwells in London, the Great British Cupcakery in Newcastle and Fabio's Gelato cafe in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Special props goes to the Great British Cupcakery for giving their freakshakes amazing geordie names like Canny Caramel and Vanilla Thrilla:

They have also taken things to a new level recently with CHEESECAKE FREAKSHAKES:

Bonny Blue indeed.

And don't worry, OF COURSE they make boozy ones. In fact, just yesterday Baileys announced they'd partnered with our favourite Molly Bakes and this is what happened:

What in the name of chocolate sprinkles are you waiting for? Go forth and multiply your body fat by eating as many of these bloody marvellous freakshakes as your fear of diabetes will allow.


Friday, 29 April 2016

#VinspirePOTW: Our Fave Boozy Pictures #4

Put down your pens; it's only the bloody Bank Holiday Weekend! 

Okay, I know the weather might be a little crumby (probably more than a little - it's currently hailing as if the world's going to end), but rain or shine, a three day weekend is nothing to be sniffed at. 

That extra day is yours to indulge in - stay in, go out, do whatever you want - but most importantly, have a Sunday Funday without the worry of Monday morning! Bliss. 

If you need a little Bank Holiday inspiration, we are here to help. We have some great food and drink recipes from previous years *here* - the Whisky Maple French Toast is a definite winner! Though we now also have our Top 10 boozy snaps of the week; #VinspirePOTW

Fizz, cocktails, coffee and carbs… Weekend, let's be having you!

We'll start as we mean to go on - FRIDAY FIZZ! Theofficialselfridges have started selling 'Skinny Prosecco', which seems perfect for the weight conscious fizzaholics. What makes it skinny? It has 50% less sugar, meaning it's under 70 calories per glass. Practically guilt-free. 

Theofficialselfridges have also given us what might be required when we go back to work on Tuesday - a healthy dose of juice. I don't really care about all the ins and outs of what's in it, it was the pineapples that drew me in; bang on tropical trend. (I also broke my phone this week, so my Instagram viewing pleasures have been a little limited, hence two from the same account.)

Our friends over at murraymcdavid held an evening of cocktails, canapés and jazz in Cheltenham this week. The heart shaped chocolate shells, filled with rich chocolate ganache and a pipette of their 35yo Crafted Blend, Bodach Aislig won us over. Special mention to LoveBites catering for these! 

Csagerwilde is one of the many queens of wine in the UK right now. Her Insta feed gets me every time; beautiful snaps, beautiful wines... Follow her and get green with envy. 

We've featured sandowslondon on Vinspire a few times before (look here), and this stunning mid-pour shot made us crave more. Cold Brew & Tonic made with Fever-Tree is just the kind of grown-up non-alcoholic drink we like... However, if you want to add in a splash of gin for a CBG&T, that's totally acceptable too. 

Rich Woods (aka the_cocktailguy) is one of London's best bartenders. Always pushing the boundaries, you can find his extra-special cocktails high in the sky at the 24hr restaurant Duck & Waffle. His current menu, 'Drink Your Greens', showcases how the humble veg works just as well in cocktail form. Try a Celeriac & Bee Pollen Bellini, an Artichoke Negroni, or a Pina-Kale-Ada amongst others. You'll never look at cocktails in the same way again. 

Did you know that rhubarb is technically a vegetable too? Bellitabristol treated us to this pretty in pink photo this week; bunches of British rhubarb which were destined to become a rhubarb and blood orange shrub. Vinegary shrubs are super popular at the moment, particularly when mixed with booze. Bellita's Pinky & Perky Shim is a mix of Campari, vodka and the said shrub. Give me one NOW. 

Possibly the most perfectly poured coffee ever. Thanks for the photo twizz_3seas! Also, whilst we're here, you coffee geeks should probably check this out - genius. 

Borough Market has a new carb-y hangout; Padella Pasta. Despite not including the fat worms of pasta that seems to be everyone's favourite dish (Pici cacio e pepe), this photo by hungry_anja says it all. THAT burrata, THAT bread and olive oil, THAT marble table top and THAT gorgeous wine glass (plus the actual wine). So so desperate to go! 

Lastly it's our Friday Cocktail! This time from the best cocktail bike boys, travellingginco. New season means new drinks, and here we have an Earl Grey '75. Mix 50ml Earl Grey infused Plymouth gin with 15ml lemon juice and 15ml maple syrup in a flute. Top with 100ml Champagne and add a few dashes of rhubarb bitters. 

Monday, 25 April 2016

Wine Bar Review: Shepherd Market Wine House

Shepherd Market in London's Mayfair is a rather refreshing oasis of calm and old-school refinement, sheltered from the pomp and swagger of the rest of this sometimes over-the-top neighbourhood. Set within small covered streets and piazzas there are beautiful shops, bars and restaurants where the discerning city chap or chapess can while away their time with plenty of aplomb. Nestled within this collection of chic establishments one can find the rather appropriately named "Shepherd Market Wine House", which opened a few weeks ago and I was lucky enough to be invited along to see what they were up to.


From the outside the bar looks like it has been transplanted from the side-streets of Bordeaux and plonked down into Mayfair. It has a welcoming yellow facade along with some green awnings that shelter a small number of outside tables that allow people to take an al fresco glass of wine or two.

Inside, the bar is not overly large, on the top floor there are about ten tables that sit variously between two and six people. There is a downstairs area with a few more tables and a semi-private room that has a table that can sit eight people around it; this table is the only one that can be pre-reserved (for an agreed minimum spend), all others are strictly walk-in only. 

The whole bar is tastefully decorated with plenty of wine memorabilia, French film posters and arty photographs adorning the walls. In the main room, where the till is, there is a presentation table that when I was there was proudly displaying a very fine looking leg of Jamón Ibérico.

The concept  

We met with Ben, the bar's manager, who spoke with great passion about his love of wine and his determination to make Shepherds Market Wine House a success. The concept is a relatively simple one: he stocks a wide range of wines, but with not too many of each one (I'm guessing that storage space is at a premium, particularly when you imagine how expensive property in Mayfair is!). Once a wine is sold out he sources new wines to take its place. This way the wine-list is always changing and evolving. The majority of his clientele are people that live and work around the area and as such they will visit relatively regularly and will want to taste different wines. All of the wines that are on the list can be bought to be taken away from the shop. 

On the menu there are a selection of wines available to buy by the glass (125ml glasses). The selection was nicely thought out; on the bubbles front there was a Champagne and a Nyetimber, on the whites it was an intriguing, eclectic mix (dry Furmint - yes!), the reds were slightly more traditional featuring French and American classics. They also serve some rather special wines from the Coravin wine system, which allows you to taste something truly spectacular.

The wine list itself makes for a very interesting read. Being in Mayfair, there is a strong presence of the classics which is entirely to be expected: Burgundy, the Rhone and Bordeaux are all well represented; their left-bank Bordeaux selection is particularly impressive. However, they also have some more left-field selections: Lebanese white anyone? I always judge a wine list on whether they have any German wine as I have always felt that you cannot be a serious wine bar without having some German wine; fortunately this bar passes the test with two interesting looking Rieslings.


The Wine!!

We tried a number of offerings and were mightily impressed with them all. We started with a glass of their by-the-glass champagne, the NV Lallier Grande Reserve Grand Cru (£10.50/glass, £65.00/bottle) which was very elegant with fine bubbles and a bright acidity. This was not a particularly "toasty" champagne, but one characterised by its brightness and tart fruit. 

Next up we tried a glass of 2013 Sancerre from Domaine Crochet (Loire, France; £46.00/bottle) which had a pretty elderflower and bright green apple flavour. I have said before that I much prefer Sauvignon Blancs from Loire to those from New Zealand, precisely for their elegance and their slightly under-stated nature. This was a great example of this quality.

For a red we tried a 2012 Chateau Ste Michelle (Washington State, USA; £32.00/bottle), this had a lovely white pepper Syrah nose and a smooth, velvety mouth-feel with beautifully integrated tannins. If I had been told that this were a Northern Rhone Syrah I would not have been surprised at all, this was a beautiful wine at a very good price.

We tried another of their by-the-glass reds next with a 2013 Chorey-les-Beaune (Burgundy, France; £11.00/glass, £42.00/bottle) which was a thoroughly decent Burgundian Pinot with plenty of fruit on it, but lacking in any more complex secondary profiles.

Last up I decided that I had to try one of the wines from the Coravin system as they looked too good to pass up. I opted for a 1995 Chateau Lynch Bages (Pauillac, Bordeaux; £29.00/glass, £175.00/bottle) which is a 5th growth wine. The aroma to this wine was something wonderful to behold, it started off with deep fruit notes of a blackcurrant jam and then developed more complex secondary and tertiary notes of truffles and tobacco. On the palate it had an amazing concentration to the wine with a noticeable presence of acidity, which belied its 20+ years in bottle. For me, this was exactly why Coravin is a great system - I would be reluctant to spend so much money on just one bottle of wine prior to having tried it, as I couldn't be sure that it would be worth it. Now that I have tried it, I would be much more inclined to splash the cash!

Food and nibbles

As with all good wine bars, Shepherd Market Wine House serves a small selection of charcuterie style nibbles to accompany their fine wines. We had a lovely platter with some Comte, Goats' cheese and a special French cheese called Pont-l'Évêque. On the meats front we had a delicious salami that contained fragments of truffle, but the star of the show was a beautiful portion of thinly-sliced smoked duck breast; simply divine! These little morsels of food were the perfect accompaniment to the beautiful wines.


If you find yourself in Mayfair and have an hour to kill I would heartily recommend giving Ben and the team a visit. They will help you find something perfect to sip on and, despite being in Mayfair, they have wines to suit all budgets. 

Many thanks to Ben and the team for looking after us so well. I certainly plan on returning!

The details: 
Shepherd Market Wine House
21 - 23 Shepherd Market
Website (under construction currently):
Open: 1100 - 2300 Monday to Saturday, Sunday open in the afternoon only

Disclaimer: I attended as a guest of Shepherd Market Wine House and only paid for the '95 Lynch-Bages, nonetheless the opinions contained within this article are my own and were not in any way influenced by the hospitality.         

Friday, 22 April 2016

#VinspirePOTW: Our Fave Boozy Pictures #3

In a week where we unexpectedly lost a couple of greats, and have barely had any time to mourn their loss, we have had cause to celebrate too…

If you didn't raise a G&T to toast The Queen's 90th Birthday, well let's just end this here. For the rest of us, here's our #VinspirePOTW!

We may as well start with HM's birthday, and of course it has something to do with gin! I wasn't aware boodlesgin had brought out a mulberry version, but here it is with some right royal gin-infused treats made by the not-so-British duaneparkpatisserie… To Lizzie! 

The Real Wine Fair was earlier this week, and it's no surprise that Fiona Beckett (food_writer) scouted out some awesome wines there. I saw this one pop up on a number of people's feeds; 'I wish I was a ninja', a gently sparkling wine from Craig Hawkins in South Africa's Swartland region - "pure joy" she says. Can we have a pool party now? 

Hotbarchick informed us of London's biggest gin bar opening at holborndiningroom. Over 400 bottles of gin, and 27 different tonics, mean there are way too many G&T combinations to try in just one trip. If I go, I fear I may never leave...

E5bakehouse are hosting squarerootldn's Cucumber Soda launch on Saturday 23rd. Lashings of soda with any of e5's amazing baked goods is going to be a sure fire hit. Also, telling your friends that you're off to 'East London's Cucumber Day' is just too good. I advise you wear green. 

I'm constantly ogling Chris Coulson's photos (cwiss). Food, booze and snaps of the strange - definitely worth a follow. Here's a bottle-top-shot of this happy little guy from London's claptoncraft. Pretty much my face every Friday. 

Bompasandparr - the duo that gave us the Alcoholic Architecture last year - have come up with a genius gin. Created exclusively for warnerleisurehotels, 'Anti-aGin' is inspired by the unending quest for the fountain of youth and is a tounge-in-cheek tribute to laughter lines and a lifetime of accumulated wisdom. Not only is it pun-tastic, but it's made from 40% proof gin distilled with pure collagen. 

All the wine buffs have been judging at the International Wine Challenge this week, captured perfectly by drjamiegoode. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it. 

Streetfeastldn are in full on Friday mode, and I'd happily join in on that bubble bath - turtle included or not. Check out our post on Street Feast's Dinerama

California dreamin' with this sunrise snap over the vineyards in sonoma_valley. Shall I just meet you at the airport?

451life quoted polpo_restaurants' Russell Norman: "for a cocktail born of a mistake, the Negroni is a pretty fine drink." Abso-bloody-lutely. Here's our #FridayCocktail - 1 oz (1 part) Gin, 1 oz (1 part) Campari, 1 oz (1 part) Sweet Red Vermouth. Stir into a glass over ice, garnish with a slice of orange and serve... Oh, and I should probably tell you that Polpo are introducing a Prosecco Bar at their restaurant in Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge! ALL THE FIZZ. 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

'The Periodic Table of Cocktails' book: Gin Monkey genius

If you like gin, and you’re on Twitter, then you’ll probably already know Gin Monkey. If not, Emma Stokes (the monkey’s alter-ego) is a well-known boozy blogger, bartender, masterclass leader, and World Gin Day (the greatest day of the year) queen. When she’s not run off her feet with all that, she finds the time to work in science communications.  

From this magical mix of booze and science genius, ‘The Periodic Table of Cocktails’ book was born. 

Don’t panic! If you haven’t thought about science since learning that ‘mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell’, you’ll still be able to work your way around this slightly geeky, boozy bible. 

It’s perfect for the enthusiastic home bartender: most of the cocktails are easy to make, with a few trickier ingredients and recipes for when you’re feeling ambitious.  

How does it work? 

There are 106 cocktails in the book, ranging from classic to modern, carefully laid out into a ‘periodic table’ (just like the title!). However, there’s no carbon or boron in sight, just Cuba Libres and Bourbon Smashes. 

You’ve got cocktail styles in the columns (starting with a Martini and getting longer), and base alcohol across the rows (light to dark/heavy). 

There’s also an overproof and beer section. So far I’ve kept it classic with a Gimlet, but I’m very intrigued to try the Trinidad Sour (by New York bartender Giuseppe Gonzalez), which features a whole 25ml shot of Angostura bitters. 

Once you’ve found a cocktail you like, it’s highly probably that you’ll enjoy the drinks around it on the table, which have similar flavour profiles. 

Each recipe has brief introduction, a little bit of history, and some helpful chatty tips – Did you know that the key to a good Scofflaw is a good-quality grenadine. Did you know you can make your own grenadine? 

And if all that’s not enough, you get a handy pull-out colour poster, which has already taken pride of place on my desk wall. Perfect for a spot of boozy contemplation at 11am. 

'The Periodic Table of Cocktails' is not about pretty pictures, but it does a great job of helping you find some tasty cocktails, old and new.

It's been out since last October, and is available from the lovely chaps at Master of Malt for £9.99, and Amazon, for a whole penny less (stick with MoM and buy some booze while you're there).

Monday, 18 April 2016

"Fine, Rare and Aged Sherries" a masterful Masterclass

Last week I went to the "Wines from Spain: 2016 Trade Fair" which was an exciting opportunity to focus on wines that come from that wonderfully sunny part of the Iberian peninsula. I'm sure most people know and love Spanish wine, but I was keen to develop my knowledge and understanding of this celebrated wine-producing land. I wanted to test out different regions and grapes - after all there is so much more to Spanish wine than Rioja...

Wonderful Priorat

I was particularly impressed with some stunning wines from Priorat, including one astonishing bone-dry, yet aromatic Pedro Ximénez on the Buckingham Schenk stand. From Burridges of Arlington Street I loved their 2010 Mas d'en Compte Barrel Fermented White from Cellar Cal Pla, which was a blend of Garnacha Blanca, Picpoul, Macabeo and Pansa Blanca and was nicely poised and elegant. On the red side, I enjoyed the 2013 Clos de Bartolome from Cellar Bartolome Vernet featuring a blend of Garnacha Tinta, Samso and Cabernet Sauvignon and outshone some of the more expensive offerings on the table. 

Perfect Wines from Perfect Cellar

One of the best stands that I found was the very approachable and friendly people from Perfect Cellar - a relatively new operation who seem to be sourcing some excellent wines. I was very impressed with their offerings from Toro (fast becoming one of my favourite wine regions in Spain) and particularly enjoyed their 2013 Almirez from Teso La Monja (100% Tempranillo) which was big, juicy and bold - just like a Toro should be. On the other side I loved the elegance and poise of their 2014 Graciano Roble from Principe de Viana (100% Graciano) from Navarra - this was a very exciting wine and a great example of discovering the joys of a previously little-known grape (to me anyway...!) 

The main event - Fine, Rare and Aged Sherries; yes please!

One of the main reasons that I signed up to this whole event was that I saw that a Sherry masterclass was being run by the indomitable Beltrán Domecq, who is President of the CRDO Jerez-Xérès-Sherry y Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda; there could be no-one better to give this tasting! The theme for the tasting was a range of Very Old Sherries (that have been aged for at least 20 years through the Solera system) and Very Old and Rare Sherries (that have been aged for at least 30 years)! I knew from the outset that this was going to be a fascinating tasting. Señor Domecq's knowledge and passion for Sherry shone through all the way throughout his initial fascinating presentation on the history of Sherry and the subsequent tasting.

We started with wines on the drier end of the spectrum. First up was a  Amontillado Napoleón VORS  from Hidalgo La Gitana (100% Palomino Fino) which had a beautifully golden-amber hue to it. On the nose it was very deep and profound, there were equal notes of spice and nuttiness. On tasting it had a tartness to it which was unbelievable given its age, this was complimented with a saltiness that characterises this kind of wine. The finish was extraordinary and lasted for minutes and minutes in perfect harmony. A wonderful wine; 9.0/10.0.

Next up we moved to a Amontillado Tradición VORS from Bodegas Tradición (100% Palomino Fino) which had a slightly darker colour in the glass than the previous wine. The nose was more complex, with a deeper presence that reminded me of hazelnuts. On the mouth it had slightly more power (as it was higher in alcohol) than the previous wine, but interestingly had a more subtle and gentle finish. I preferred the first; 8.0/10.0.

We started to move up the spectrum with a Palo Cortado Dos Cortados 20yo from Williams and Humbert (100% Palomino Fino) which is a kind of Oloroso that uses the flor covering to age the wine traditionally, as opposed to biologically. This wine had a light mahogany profile and on the nose had a slightly warmer aroma with a touch of spice coming through. This was a bright and juicy wine with incredible power coming through (influenced by the increased alcohol content of 21.5%). Like a lot of sherries I think this wine really needed to be put alongside the right food and was not for quaffing. Decent, but not my favourite of the evening; 7.0/10.0.

Continuing along the theme, next up was a Palo Cortado VORS from Barbadillo (100% Palomino Fino). The aroma to this wine was surprisingly gentle and subtle, belying its 22% alcohol content. It had more body to it and I would describe the palate as pleasant, if a little underwhelming; 6.5/10.0.

Next up was probably my favourite of the tasting, an Oloroso Rich Old VORS from Fundador (100% Palomino Fino) which had a deep orangey-brown colour to it. At this stage we were starting to get some of the sweeter notes coming through, with lovely butterscotch notes emanating from the glass. On tasting I found that the wine had a beautifully rich and warming character with hints of coffee and treacle poking through. This was an excellent wine; 9.0;10.0.

We had another aged Oloroso up next, which didn't quite hit the heights of the previous wine for me; this was the Oloroso 1842 VOS from Valdespino (100% Palomino Fino). This wine had a colour that almost looked like cola in the glass. On the nose it was fragrant, with aromas of toffee coming through. On tasting it was nice and bright and juicy, but lacked the profundity or complexity of the last wine; 7.5/10.0.

Next up was a wine that I was a little sceptical about, a Cream Matusalem VORS from González-Byass (blend of Palomino Fino and Pedro Ximénez). I think for most people "Cream" represents something sweet, cheap and nasty; boy did this prove that stereotype wrong. There was a familiar raisin/damson richness to the wine with a toasty caramel note to it. On the palate this was nicely balanced, although perhaps had a little bit of a tacky mouth-feel. A decent wine (and great value at £19/bottle); 8.0/10.0.

Last wine on the tasting was a bit of a blockbuster, a Pedro Ximénez VORS from Lustau (100% Pedro Ximénez). This was a dark, brooding black in the glass and when smelled it was rich and dark with dominant notes of raisins, aniseed and a lovely burnt caramel. On tasting the first thing that you notice is the incredible amount of body the wine possesses, you practically feel that you can chew it! This is probably explained by the fact that it works out to around 600g of sugar per litre - dentists will not be a fan of this wine! It was an incredibly concentrated and persistent wine that probably needed to be cooled to heighten the tasting process. A thoroughly decadent wine; 8.0/10.0.

There you have it, a wonderful tasting with some stunning wines. I feel that I have learned a little bit more about the world of Sherry and will certainly look forward to tasting some more of these excellent wines.            


Friday, 15 April 2016

#VinspirePOTW: Our Fave Boozy Pictures #2

YAY! We've made it to Friday! I hope you've all got some exciting plans for the weekend. If not, here's some inspiration for you…

Our second #VinspirePOTW! See, I told you I'd see you here every Friday *smug face*.

I've spied a few interesting things for you to keep on your radar this week, whether you're a wine, whisky, gin, or cocktail fan… There's even something for the dog lovers amongst you - again!

You can find all our 'Picks of The Week' - the photos and their rightful owners - on Instagram using the hashtag #VinspirePOTW, or simply click on the links provided in the post below.

Enjoy (and don't forget it's World Malbec Day on Sunday)!

This weekend is the last chance to catch the Lyan Cellars Wine (sort of) pop-up at Lantana Café Shoreditch. The 6 day event has been popular on Instagram this week, and I'm hardly surprised seeing as the "wine" is by bottled cocktail gods whitelyanhxtn and food by those zero-wasters silobrighton. It looks awesome! 

If your weekend is likely to involve a hangover at some point, londonontheinside has your back. Victory Mansion in Stoke Newington have concocted a special Bloody Mary in preparation for St George's Day on the 23rd. The Full English; black pudding fat washed Black Cow Vodka with HP, Colman's Mustard. Worcestershire Sauce, Marmite, a quails egg, bacon, tomato and horseradish. It's a fine line; you'll either be perked up or pushed over the edge. 

Fancy some boozy baking? New York's prohibitionbakery have some excellent flavour combos for you to try out; sassy holiday vibes with a Margarita cupcake, straight up Pretzels & Beer, or channel your inner Dude from The Big Lebowski with a White Russian treat. 

A can of beer and a smily dog is what everyone needs in their life, right? Cheers the_beer_enthusiast!

There was a wine geeks dream dinner at Noblerotbar yesterday. An extra special Clos Rougeard event, where a vertical tasting of 'Le Bourg' 1976 - 2010 took place. The '89 Le Bourg was voted the top wine, with the '05 following in second. Not at all envious of those who attended. Not. At. All. 

That boutiqueywhisky company and Master of Malt shared some interesting news; they're adding age statements to their whiskies! Those of you that follow all this whisky transparency business will no doubt find this a refreshing change. As they state on their website, "the time is right to lift our skirts up and show you what we're working with." POW!

Our friends at cotswolds_distillery announced a new product that they've been working on - The 1616 Gin (a reference to the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare)! The distillery have used their malt spirit to make something other than their single malt whisky, and have taken inspiration from old Dutch genevers, Putting their malt wine into the Holstein gin still, with hefty quantities of juniper, cassia bark, nutmeg and orange peel (among others), the resulting spirit has been put into ex-red wine casks for three months. This barrel ageing process gives the gin a fantastic golden hue, and I cannot wait to try it!... Read more about Costwolds Distillery here

London's gin festival - junipalooza - have been spoiling us with some lovely gin illustrations this week. Taking place Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th June at Tobacco Dock, they're only just announcing some of the 40+ ginsmiths that will be in attendance. Follow them to keep up to date; it's already a fab line-up! 

Sagerandwilderestaurant (which used to be Mission) in Bethnal Green used this arty photo to ask their followers whether they wanted to learn more about tasting, drinking & spitting wine. They hold a weekly Saturday Wine School at the restaurant for anyone that's interested in becoming a pro. For more info or to book a place, email

Chilledmagazine gives us our Friday cocktail this week - The Cucumber Gimlet. You'll need 1.5 oz Gin, 1 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice, 1 oz Simple Syrup and 4 to 5 Slices of Cucumber. Muddle cucumber and a few pieces of crushed ice in a shaker until cucumber is pureed. Add the gin, lime juice, sugar syrup and a handful of ice, then shake - not too vigorously. Strain into a glass filled with crushed ice and sip away...

Monday, 11 April 2016

Monday Morning Mugs: Zero FOX Given

Oh hi there. It's been a while since I've posted.

Life didn't just get in the way, it rugby tackled me out of the blogosphere, but I've clawed my way back and I'm going to try and contribute more often. Baby steps.

Starting with, of COURSE, a new Monday Morning Mugs post. I love finding these so much because they genuinely do brighten up the dreariest of days - warming, invigorating caffeine has nothing on the pick-me-up you get from drinking out of a funny mug that makes you smile.

This time it's a pun-ny one AND a sweary one. Oh yes, double trouble.

The zero fox given mug is the genius creation of Parkins Interiors on Not On The High Street. I love it SO MUCH because, as well as being a clever pun and a good excuse to have a mug with a cute animal on it, it is going to remind me not to let the idiots get to me EVEN ON A MONDAY MORNING. Zero fox given, indeed.

It's actually part of a series - there's also the Oh For Fox Sake mug, the I Really Couldn't Give Two Fox mug and the What The Fox Going On mug. That's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Parkins Interior's wit, but I'm going to save the rest for another day.

You can pick up a zero fox given mug for a mere £12 on NOTHS - money well spent, believe me.

It's good to be back.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Our Favourite Boozy Pictures: Meet #VinspirePOTW

We've been a bit too laid back on Vinspire over the past few months, and I'll hold my hands up, I've been really rubbish - sorry! My last post was bloomin' Pancake Day, and whilst it was good (you've got to try the recipe), it doesn't warrant me to have a couple of months off.

Anyway, I'm back - yay! And I have a new weekly feature lined up…

Meet #VinspirePOTW. Vinspire Pick of The Week. 

I don't know about you, but I'm a little bit obsessed with Instagram. I'm always scrolling through everyones photos, usually feeling incredibly jealous of someones food, drink, travels, etc. Basically it's a form of torture, but I still do it anyway. 

It occurred to me that we've lost our way with having a constant weekly feature on Vinspire - apologies to our Wine Wednesday and Friday Cocktails followers - so I thought I should bring something new to the table. 

Whilst I can't commit to spending hours writing a super-amazing post about the best booze I've been drinking lately, I can share with you some of my favourite finds on Instagram over the past week. In this new weekly 'top 10' round up, you can catch up with any goings on in the world of booze, ogle some stylish snaps, find new accounts to follow, and even get a cocktail recipe to try out for the weekend! Good idea, right? 

As well as posting the photos on here, I'll also be using the hashtag #VinspirePOTW on the original images on Instagram. That not only means you'll be able to find them easily, but it also allows you to tag any swish photos you think deserve a spot in a future Pick of The Week. Whether you have thousands of followers or just a few, it doesn't matter; you could still be featured! 

So let the alcoholic adventure begin. I'll see you here every Friday. 

Last week saw Chase Vodka reach their 8th birthday; what a wonderful eight years they've had! ImbibeUK posted this photo of the Quemado cocktail made at Sager & Wilde Restaurant. It contains the juice of a charred orange and Chase Smoked Vodka.

Mondomulia takes some gorgeous photos. Here is London seen through a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc at New Zealand House. What a view!

It was National Beer Day yesterday, so craft_beer_central constructed this crackin' craft beer tower.

GinfoundryUK teased their dog-loving followers with this German greyhound gin - swoon. Windspiel Premium Dry Gin is made from a potato base, and its botanicals include lavender blossoms, ginger and lemon, which are distilled separately and then blended in.

Remember when I told you about the natural wine pop up bar in Bristol? Well, Bar Buvette is back and it's now permanent! Thanks to lottie_storey you can see how beautiful it looks after their spruce up... Take me there now!

Cocktailsinthec gave us all the bartender essentials in the most colourful way.

It was our fave British Aperitif's 5th birthday this week. Kamm & Sons celebrated with an epic grapefruit drizzle cake made by beesbakery.

Maltreview went to the World Duty Free Whisky Brunch at Mews of Mayfair and had this boozy breakfast cocktail; a Spanish Springtime Sour made with Glenmorangie. I'm a sucker for an edible flower.

The Old Truman Brewery is home to the londoncoffeefestival this weekend. This cold brew action shot is awesome! Go get your caffeine fix.

Asterleybros (who we've featured on Vinspire before) gave us the perfect Friday cocktail; Quasi Negroni Bianchi. You'll need 2 basil leaves, 50ml amaro, 35ml gin and 35ml lillet. Muddle the leaves, stir down over ice and strain. As they say, not quite a White Negroni... But almost.