Farewell 2011, it’s been real…

There’s no time like the first day of a new year for reflecting on the best and worst bits of the past 365 days. Seeing as we’re not ‘doing’ negativity (resolution one from a list that’s as long as your arm), we thought we’d take the time to highlight some of our favourite moments from 2011. Some were swanky, others were just a right old larf but each one made us really glad to be Cocktail Lovers. Here’s to more fun in the year ahead.

Slainte!

Hanging with the legendary Savoy Bartenders

It was an honour and absolute pleasure to be invited along to see four generations of Savoy bartenders get behind the stick at the American Bar as they created a cocktail to celebrate its 122nd birthday. As well as the gin-based punch the one-day only 122nd Anniversary of the Savoy Menu included cocktails from all of the legendary tenders including Ada Coleman and Joe Gilmore.

Daniel, Salim, Victor, Peter and Erik behind the famous American Bar

World Class action

There are cocktail competitions and then there is World Class. We were proud to be the official bloggers of the UK leg, culminating with filming and judging at the Final in London.

 

Grey Goose Taste By Appointment

Three reasons why this one rocked our boat: we got to mooch around the unbelievably swish penthouse at the St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel, had a bespoke cocktail made to our exact preference and enjoyed the company of Grey Goose Brand Ambassador Joe McCanta, what’s not to like about that lot?

Joe McCanta behind his Taste By Appointment cocktail bar

Becoming drinks geeks

We had huge larks playing drinks boffins at the Molecular Mixology one-day course at Shaker School. Our favourite bit? Making bitters from scratch. Result!

TCL bitters on the boil

Engaging our senses

For those who think cocktails are just thrown together, the Fluid Movement’s cleverly devised Drinks Emporium at the Worship Street Whistling Shop should help to change your mind. Taking in sights, sounds, tastes and smells of a specific spirit through the ages, we were extremely impressed by the research and execution that went into the first excursion, the adventures of rum. Great cocktails, tasty food, interesting anecdotes and some rather fetching outfits modelled by Tris Stephenson. Book up for the Story of Vodka, coming later this month.

Tris talks rum at the Whistling Shop

Bookish behaviour

We got down with the kids at Bombay Sapphire’s Book Slam in Shoreditch. To be honest, we were quite surprised just how much we enjoyed this ‘happening’ but with live readings from Submarine author Joe Dunthorne and free-flowing (rather spiffing) cocktails, this literary Victorian gin palace won us over completely.

Getting the lowdown on the new menu at Hawksmoor

Okay, we’ll admit it, we’re Hawksmoor whores. Which made being asked to sample the new menu for the latest venture at Guildhall even harder. Supposing we didn’t like it? What if they’d lost the ol’ Hawksmoor magic? We needn’t have worried though, the new cocktail menu is as clever as it is tasty. Just in case you don’t know, it’s a spirituous guide in the day in the life of a drinker, starting with light libations and ending with big, bad boy beverages to sip with a cigar.

The Sinking Spritz at Hawksmoor Guildhall

Trying our hand at flairing

Never let it be said that we take ourselves seriously. Why else would we take up the challenge to try our hand at flairing at T.G.I. Fridays? We knew we’d be pretty bad but even we were surprised how difficult even the simplest techniques were. Let’s just say despite the bruises on her leg Ms S still rates it as one of the funniest things we’ve done all year (and that’s saying something…)

On air with Erik Lorincz

Ah, lovely Erik, Global World Class 2010 winner, head bartender at the American Bar at The Savoy and 100% pure gent. He appears a few times in our 2011 good times list: on this occasion, he joined us on one of our appearances on Jo Good’s Late Show on Radio London. It was straight after the World Class UK Finals and it had been a long and intense day but we had a great time in the studio then went straight over to have wind-down drinks with fabulous Alex Kratena in the Artesian Bar at The Langham. Good times all round.

On top of the world

Having cocktails mixed for you by one Global World Class bartender is fortunate enough but two in an evening is pretty damned special. We had the good fortune to have drinks served to us by Erik Lorincz (see above) and Manabu Ohtake Global World Class 2011 winner – needless to say there wasn’t a dud in the house…

Erik and Manabu serve up cocktails

Wir lieben Berlin!

Everyone raves about the bar scene in Berlin and after our (first) visit this year, we totally understand why. We had an absolute blast being taken around the best bars in the east and west of this fabulous city. Read our highlights in the next issue of The Cocktail Lovers magazine, going live mid-January.

Stagger Lee, one of the best bars in Berlin

Spreading the word

Speaking of which, we were pretty pleased with the launch of our online magazine including features on a Gin Compass of London, The Esquire Handbook For Hosts and Tony Conigliaro and Camille Hobby-Limon glamming it up at Zetter Townhouse. Mind you, the next issue is even better (excuse us for blowing our trumpet but, toot, toot, toot!) We’ve got travel (see above) interviews, foodie bits and a cool fashion spread featuring the guys and gals from Callooh Callay. Sign up to receive a free copy in your inbox later this month.

Tea at the Gilbert Scott

Contrary to what visitor’s may think, tea for us Brits is usually a mug of builders with a chocolate Hob Nob on the side. The version served up at the Gilbert Scott is a much more genteel affair – nowhere near as heavy on the gooey cakes and finger sarnies as served at most hotels and instead of  fancy schmancy brews comes with some rather spiffing tea cocktails. We can’t recommend it highly enough.

Taking tea with George at The Gilbert Scott

On the box

Oh yes, we’ll be on the google box in 2012! We won’t give exact dates because we haven’t seen the transmission tape but if we don’t sound too ridiculous or look absolutely hideous, we’ll share the video with you right here on the site.

Learning about cognac

We’ll never know everything there is to know about cognac but we had a grand old time getting to grips with the basics. We were invited to Cognac earlier this year and visited houses including Hennessey, Frapin and Martell. Naturally, a glass or two was slurped, purely to be hospitable, of course. We were also treated to V.I.P. tickets to the annual Cognac Blues Passion festival with headlining acts including Aloe Blaac and Moby. This kind of research we like. A lot.

 

Cognac in paradise

 

Oh and we mustn’t forget the GQ Man of the Year Awards, Glorious Goodwood with Tanqueray, the Gin & Tales launch, all the fun of London Cocktail Week and our talk on the history of London cocktails at Selfridges.

 Bring it on 2012, we’re ready for you!

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