Time to take tea
Nothing beats a good cuppa, but the way we drink tea is changing; with more varieties available, a rise in loose-leaf tea brands, and teashops popping up across the country, people are beginning to give tea the attention it deserves (think ideal serving temperatures and precision brewing times). Bars are taking note too, with cocktails like the one opposite. Check out our guide to the UK’s best teahouses here.
3 of the best… bottled negronis
1. Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrook Row and Bar Termini is an industry legend. Now you can enjoy a cocktail from him at home with this Classico Negroni that has been quick-aged by sous vide cooking. £35.47/70cl, 18.9%, thedrinkshop.com
2. Made with Tanqueray, rosehip bitter liqueur, vermouth and bespoke bitters, this Bordeaux Barrel Aged Negroni from World of Zing makes for a wonderfully aromatic negroni. £23.95/70cl, 28%, worldofzing.com
3. Sacred is a tiny, three-person distilling operation. It’s known for its award-winning gin but, made using only Sacred’s ingredients (gin, rosehip cup and spiced English vermouth), the Bottle Aged Negroni is also worth a try. £30.33/ 70cl, 26.8%, sacredgin.com
Enthusiastic home-brewer? Always wanted to recreate your favourite IPA? Craft Brew by Euan Ferguson covers all the basics you’ll need including kit and techniques, and features 50 recipes from some of the world’s most iconic craft brewers including Brewdog’s Punk IPA, Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace, and Mikkeller’s Cream Ale. £14.99, Frances Lincoln
Cocktail of the month
The spritz has had a resurgence in popularity recently as drinkers embrace bitter flavours and lower ABV options. Most famous is the Aperol spritz, which was invented in Venice and is still drunk there today at cicchetti bars, but don’t be restricted to the classics. Any vermouth makes a good base to top with prosecco, tonic or soda but we love Cocchi – give it a bump with good-quality vodka, or try a spritz-inspired cocktail like the one below.
Where to be seen
Jason Atherton’s latest restaurant, Sosharu, opened in March, but downstairs, 7 Tales, a bar that brings a trendy Tokyo vibe to London, has quickly become a destination in its own right. Geoff Robinson (formerly of Happiness Forgets and Experimental Cocktail Club, both in the Capital) is the manager and Michele Mariotti has hung up his white jacket at the American Bar at The Savoy to head up the team. Focusing on sake, with a hip-hop soundtrack, the room is very cool with low leather seats, walls covered in black-and-white manga cartoons, and probably the most instagrammed bar sign in London – ‘drink sake, stay soba’. Try the Nikkei Martinez; aged sake, mosto verde pisco, vermouth, black salt, and rice-washed gin and sesame martini. There are great snacks, too. sosharulondon.com
The team at cosy Little Red Door, a bar in the backstreets of Paris’s artsy Enfants-Rouge district, has recently launched its ground-breaking The Evocative Menu where they ask you to choose your cocktail not by ingredients, but by image. 11 artists, in genres stretching from tattoo art to fashion design, have been invited in for cocktails and asked to create visual art inspired by the drinks to compile this stunning menu – think of it as an interactive picture book for adults. There are pullout lists of ingredients if you really can’t resist, but for us the multi-sensory experience makes this bar special. Pull up a plush blue velvet barstool and be seduced by Remy Savage and his charismatic team. It is Paris, after all. lrdparis.com (Words Alex Crossley)
Wines from the Eastern Med
The sun-soaked shores of the eastern Mediterranean, from Egypt into the Levant through Turkey and into Greece, are the cradle of both civilisation and wine; it’s been made here since those civilisations arose more than 6,000 years ago. The climate and landscape were as ideal for vines as they were for the arable crops that fuelled the ever more concentrated populations, and wine was a central part of ceremonial and cultural life.
Modern commercial winemaking took off in the late 19th century and by the end of the 20th it was largely in the hands of a few large companies who focussed on high-yielding international grape varieties for wines that were about quantity over quality. The international reputation of the region’s wines was justifiably low, while that of wines of Western Europe was dominant.
Despite the turbulent history of this region in the intervening years, winemaking has never ceased, and its future looks bright. An increasing number of independent producers celebrating local traditions through modern approaches are making wines of quality and character, often using indigenous grapes expressive of terroir.
As domestic consumption plummets and tourists stay away, winemakers in Greece, Turkey and the Lebanon are looking to export markets for their businesses’ survival. Prices and quality have never been keener, so the time is ripe to raise a glass to where it all began.
From high on the plains of Anatolia, where 700m of altitude keeps the plummy fruit fresh and the acidity bright, Kalecik Karasi, Vinkara 2013 (£8.95, Wine Society) a deliciously crunchy and herbaceous wine, works well slightly chilled, with robustly flavoured summer food.
Assyrtiko is a native grape that really comes into its own on Santorini’s black, volcanic soils. Hatzidakis Assyrtiko Santorini 2015 (£12.99, Waitrose) is light enough to drink alone, but its complex minerality makes it a corker with food, too. It would sing alongside the fried whitebait with artichoke and white bean dip.
High street bottle
Chateau Ksara is the Bekaa Valley’s oldest winery, but looks to the future in its wines to suit modern palates that prefer elegance over oak-heavy grunt. This wine is soft, but not floppy, with lovely spice and a seductive backbone that cries out for a well-grilled steak. Ksara Clos St Alphonse (£10, M&S)
Pide (pronounced pee-deh), a kind of Turkish flatbread pizza, looks set to become something of a trend. Oklava is one of a clutch of excellent pide restaurants recently opened in London and beyond, and serves most of its all Turkish wine list by the glass. 74 Luke St, London EC2A, oklava.co.uk.
Ruth Ball’s Rebellious Spirits: The Illicit History of Booze in Britain (Elliott & Thompson) gallops through the centuries with entertaining stories of smugglers, bootleggers, speakeasies and a host of other ne’er-do-wells devoted to avoiding the taxman and liquor laws. Historical recipes are woven through this refreshing read.
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