Friday, 28 September 2012

When It Comes To The Wine Glass, Shape Really Matters

Riedel Vitis Comparative Wine Glass Tasting, by Nina Koo-Seen-Lin.

I drink wine in any vessel I can get my hands on, be it the typical wine glass at a trendy wine bar or my favourite mug from my kitchen cupboard. Hell, I’ve even just pulled the cork out with my teeth and glugged away from the bottle itself.

So, I was curious to hear what Georg Riedel had to say about wine glasses and how the shape of them can affect the aroma and, more importantly, the taste.

Everyone from polished and prim Penelope to raucous rah-boy Rupert is there. One dude has really dressed up for the occasion and is wearing a boating jacket. The event is being held at Lord’s Cricket Ground. The room smells of red wine and the private education system. It’s a little too much for me so I resort to sitting outside the ladies loo with a steward for the next 30 minutes until the tasting class commences.

When it does I’m ushered to Row R, Seat 330 (right on the end). Before me is a paper mat with three Riedel Vitis glasses (0403/07, 0403/30, and 0403/0), three plastic cups of red wine (Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cabernet), and a bottle of water. “Today you are going to learn very little about wine but a lot about wine service,” Mr Georg Riedel, our host for the evening, informs us. The tasting commences with everyone drinking from the (water) bottle because we need to cleanse our palette completely.

“We are dealing with physics, ladies and gentleman,” continues Georg Riedel. The right shape of glass can make all the difference to how the wine tastes. The Vitis glassware is designed on the basis that each grape variety have their own exceptional characteristics and it aims to translate a wine’s message to the human senses. The shape, size and the rim diameter of the bowl is taken into account. Machine-blown in Bavaria, Germany, Vitis glassware is executed in lead crystal. They are rather magnificent glasses before me. But do they really change the taste of a wine?

The answer is a big fat wine splotched yes. Testing each of the three wine in each of the glasses there is a significant difference. Here’s the results table:

Wine – Pinot Noir 0403/07 (winner) 0403/0 (loser)

Wine - Syrah/Shiraz 0403/30 (winner) 0403/0 (loser)

At this point it’s obvious to us all that glass 0403/0 is a troublemaker – so far it’s proven to be only good for drinking water as the narrow rim of the glass makes the liquid fall every part of the tongue. I think a good Cabernet wine also suits this glass (I’ve hastily had to pop to the loo at this point so I may have missed something).

I gather that glass 0403/30 is a good substitute if you don’t know what glass to use or indeed you don’t have the right one. Georg stands at the front of the room. Everyone gazes at him with slightly glazed eyes. Any cynics who doubted his beliefs have converted. We all much munch on pieces of Lindt chocolate while he takes questions from the floor.

Why have we looked at red wine and not white wine asks a young chap. “Because I wanted to look at red wine,” Georg responds. No further explanation is required. This man is a modern-day Dionysius. Forget the lords and ladies. I’ve just been in the presence of a merry-making God.

To discover the best wine bars in London, click here.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Vintage Cocktails & Catwalks: Some Things Will Never Go Out Of Fashion

By Nathalie Bonney.

Purveyors of retro chic nights out Bourne and Hollingsworth turned their attention away from cocktails (well, a little) to concentrate on fashion at its London Fashion week night Retrospective. Held at the Bloomsbury Ballroom, the event treated guests to a catwalk collection comprised of vintage pieces from favourite vintage shops Peekaboo, Lucy In Disguise (no Lilly Allen sighting), Violet’s Box and Vintage Modes, with the aim of giving a taste of next season’s looks through past fashions.

Sporting textured beehives and heavily painted black eyebrows, to the tune of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, models strutted down the runway in a flurry of black velvet, tulle, silk and leather for the opening ‘Gothic Beauty’ section. ‘Monochrome’, hippy chic ‘Wild!’, ‘Come to Bed, and ‘Showcase’ were the other strands to the show with Monochrome a personal standout.

But enough with the fashion chit chat. Being Bourne and Hollingsworth - the company behind the chintzy Fitzrovian basement cocktail bar drinking establishment of the same name, as well as the Blitz Parties and 1920s Prohibition parties - and this being a Fluid blog after all, the Bloomsbury Ballroom bar served up a delicious cocktail menu.

The standout in the cocktail collection was undoubtedly the Gatsby. Served in a coupette and comprising of raspberry, grenadine and vodka ‘charged with fizz’ the cocktail was far too easy to glug down. Gin cocktails Re-Bourne and Gin Fizz were, if not couture at least of a good qual, vintage standard; the Re-bourne a refreshing elderflower, gin, lime and lemonade mix, Gin Fizz a tangier concoction of dry gin, fresh lemon juice and sugar topped with club soda.

Being a fashion event there were no canapés on offer, but dancing from 20s-30s lindy hop, through to the 80s Mods and old school hip hop kept the crowd entertained as did the enthusiastic DJ. And, of course, all the gorgeous outfits on display. Here are a few that caught my attention:
Fashion journalists manage to bagsie front row seats. Floral headband was homemade natch.
Fashion blogger chanel-ing 90s rave with tartan jacket, cross earrings and erm her mum.
Glamorous goth girls show you don’t need a vat of black eye kohl and a lip ring to make this trend work.
Milliner Sarah Irvine (the tattooed one) wears her own creations along with her friends. (Go to if you like)
Only a brave person would attempt ankle socks and buckled shoes but thankfully this fashionista’s second hand lemon prom dress and amazon petticoat makes them work.
My friend keeps it chic and simple – but with a bright splash, in this Orange number
This girl thought it was acceptable to wear an old dress from C and A because it came from a vintage fair. You can call C and A vintage – we all know it’s just naff.

To discover London's best cocktail bars, click here

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Restaurant & Bar Design Awards: London’s Winners

By Christian Rose-Day.

60 countries, 620 entries, only a handful of winners. The world's coolest bars and restaurant, no doubt. The 4th annual ceremony for the independently judged Restaurant and Bar Design Awards was recently held in celebration of hospitality design at The Royal Institute of British Architects in Fitzrovia.

Below you will discover the cream of hot new designs from London’s bar and restaurant scene. As this was an international competition, the creativity involved drew from many corners of inspiration, and to view a full list of winning entries, click here.

The overall world’s best design for a restaurant was won by A Cantina in Spain, designed by Estudio Nomada.

The overall world’s best design for a bar was won by Graffiti in Bulgaria, designed by Studio Mode.

That’s all well and good for the bar and restaurant-hopping people of Spain and Bulgaria, but you fine Londoners want to know which bars and restaurants in London won prizes, so you know where you’ll be heading the next time you have a spare evening. So, of the UK category winners, these London venues triumphed for their design.

Best standalone restaurant was won by Viet Hoa Cafe and Mess in Shoreditch designed by Vonsung. 

Best standalone bar or club was won by The Drift bar in the City of London designed by Fusion Design and Architecture

Best restaurant or bar in a hotel was won by Wolfgang Puck’s Cut restaurant in Mayfair designed by Thierry Despont

The best pub award was handed to The Plough in Clapham designed by Harrison

And the best multiple bar or club award was given to Dirty Martini bar in Mayfair designed by Grapes Design.

All images courtesy of Flickr user Restaurant and Bar Design Awards.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Love rum? Love RumFest

By Claire Williams.

This October will see the sixth annual RumFest return to the UK to celebrate rum in all its glory. The festival is hosted for the first time at London’s Excel Exhibition Centre on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th October, and promises to deliver the ultimate in carnival vibes and atmosphere. Live reggae music, rum-infused delicacies, a tropical food market and a whole host of information about the most exotic of spirits, rum, will be on offer over the weekend.

“Rum is not just a drink; it’s a way of life,” states the RumFest website. The festival will create the ultimate tropical sun-drenched paradise, sure to banish all those nagging winter blues. It will showcase over 400 of the rarest and most diverse rums from across the world, bringing together the industry’s top blenders, distillers and mixologists for a vast array of masterclasses, talks and seminars. The carnival atmosphere that accompanies the laid-back, relaxed Caribbean vibe will get you in the spirit of things, with live music playing reggae rhythms, salsa and samba, accompanied by traditional souk dancers.

There’s even the opportunity to win an all-expenses paid trip to a Caribbean island for one lucky Sunday visitor.

Tickets start from only £20 and are on sale on the website:


Monday, 17 September 2012

London's Latest Rooftop Pop-Up

By Christian Rose-Day.

If you haven’t been to the Grand Marnier Bubble Bar rooftop pop-up above Brixton Clubhouse in south London, here’s what you’re missing (perfect spot for a date night; weather permitting).

Make sure you try order one of the Grand Marnier cocktails in a bubble - the Grand Ginger or Grand Esprit - then drink it in a bubble. You'll work it out when you get there.

If you’re lucky you might have the privilege of entertaining from one of the scheduled performers too, like the world record breaking bubbleologist Samsam.

The Grand Marnier pop-up Bubble Bar closed at the beginning of October.

Oh, and there's a hot tub up there too!. Yeh, deal with that.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Pleased To Meat You Restaurants: BBQ Is Making A London Comeback

By Ross Kerslake

Recently I was lucky to attend a BBQ Pork Bonanza in south London, a sumptuous feast paired with ciders and beer. This delicious event was made all the better by the pork itself, which was provided by Dingley Dell, the home of happy, well looked after pigs.

The event was held at The Leather Bottle in Earlsfield, a good pub with an amazing beer garden and pear tree to boot. I actually forgot I was in the middle of London. The event started with an amazing pig butchery demonstration, so we could see exactly where each cut came from and how it was done. It was truly fascinating, although my date for the evening didn't enjoy it as much as I did. The main event was, naturally, the giant spit roast pig that had been cooking for 16 hours. It wasn't just pork on it's own, though; each of the 6 courses had a particular Meantime beer or Suffolk cider pairing too.

This meaty gathering got me thinking about what there is available around London in terms meat and BBQ. While there are lots of restaurants that specialise in meaty treats, I don't think there's really enough. Hawksmoor restaurant is possibly the most popular. Opened originally in Spitalfields in 2005, it has expanded to two other restaurants in Covent Garden and Guildhall with a fourth restaurant in Piccadilly on the way. While it is more dedicated to steak and burgers, it does have delightful pork belly ribs and hotdogs. It's also the home to one of the best Bloody Mary cocktails I've ever had, which pairs very well with steak.

To book a table at Hawksmoor Spitalfields use the reservation calendar below.

Other prolific London restaurants in this steak category include the Argentinean restaurant chain Gaucho, the restaurant with a view of Borough Market Roast, the high-end restaurants popular with businessmen Goodmans in Mayfair.

BBQ restaurants are slowly on the rise in London, though I don't think there are enough of these restaurants either. Bodeans and Pitt Cue Co are the two well known BBQ joints providing ribs, pulled pork and beer all night. For a while now street food has been making a big comeback and there's one BBQ you should try: the Rib Man. Let us give thanks to the sheer genius of Mark Gevaux.

His playful and mind-blowing marinades/sauces have transformers the BBQ. He can be found starting the cooking process at 3am in preparation for 9am serving, which certainly displays his dedication. If you really like his ribs, then you can even buy his sauces and go meat crazy when you're at home. Sauces include the Christ on a Bike, Holy Fuck and Holy Mother of God hot sauces. Not in the mood for chewing meat from rib bones, then have a meat rib roll lathered in your favourite hot sauce instead.

While this isn't quite everything you can find, it's certainly the pick of the litter. I feel that if something is good, I will hear about it. It's finally time to change your preconceived ideas about BBQ from the terrible ribs found in TGI Friday’s to these London restaurants and street vendors.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

5 London Spirit Tastings To Fill Your Working Week

By Ross Kerslake

Want a Tipple, have a taste.

So many a time you sit in a bar and wonder what all the odd looking bottles are and quite what they taste like. Other times you know your preferred spirit category but you haven't had much of a chance to try them all. Unless you know a bar in London where you know everyone behind it, then you'll need to get yourself to the many tastings that are held around London. But beware, you'll have to keep on top of it as dates will vary and brands often educate the masses on their own.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Ewan-M (Share Alike).

1) Juniper Society @ Graphic bar in Soho
Aptly named after the main ingredient, gin, this tasting has to be one of the most popular in London. Every few weeks a specific brand offers a presentation and tasting of their gin for everyone to try. Included in these enjoyable evenings is a welcome GnT with the gin of the night (or gins, plural, in case of Old Toms and Sloes). Afterwards, you can try a gin cocktail for only 5 clams. As a really attraction factor, these events are free.

Occasionally there are special events but there's no order to those. An example of this would be from several months ago when we spent the night sampling various tonics and being shown that certain gins are best with specific tonics. Another example would be the anniversary event which was hosted by Master of Malt, sampling their 'Origin Gin' and presenting a special present: a single cask. Attendees each took their turn to fill the cask with ingredients making a Negroni. The cask was then sealed and placed on the wall to age for 1 year.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Ewan-M (Share Alike).

2) Tasting Tuesdays @ Jubjub in Callooh Callay cocktail bar in Shoreditch
Each month on a non-specific Tuesday Callooh Callay cocktail bar in Shoreditch holds tastings in it's private members bar, Jubjub, on the topic of absolutely anything. The best bet with these events is to subscribe to the newsletter then you've got a good heads up. But beware; despite it being free, Jubjub is small so capacity is limited to first come first served RSVP. Events so far have included La Clandestine and Butterfly Absinthe, Illegal Mezcal, Ocho Tequila and Martini. These tastings are probably the best in London, because it's always different and you can really diversify your palate.

3) Cigar Sampling Society @ Casa of Soho
If you don't already know, Casa of Soho is where cigar enthusiasts go to thrive. But most of you wouldn't ever consider it because, let’s face it, you probably don't smoke. This is chance to do something a little more wild and exciting. The sessions cost £15 that includes 1 cigar and a spirit pairing. In August the sampling consisted of a limited edition Partas D especial 2010 and Appleton Rum.
4) Tequila Tuesdays @ El Camion and the Pink Chihuahua
Enjoy tequila on a regular basis? Most people do, but do you know much about tequila, like that is shouldn’t be a shooter? Any idea where it comes from? While this event at Soho’s best basement bar, The Pink Chihuahua, primarily caters to those who already have a strong knowledge of tequila, it is more inclusive. If you're a newbie you'll learn enough to get you well on the road to becoming an Agave Academic. Each week a specific brand will present their tequila(s) and allow you to sample. This is one of the few tastings that charge but for one drastic difference; each session allows attendees to try a rare, one-of-a-kind tequila. This comes from a collection numbering over 300 bottles, worth around £10,000. The charge is £25 per person (includes food) but considering at the end of the night, you drink something you'll never have again, the juice is worth the squeeze.

5) Gerry's and Whisky Exchange.
Not in the same style as the others mentioned above, but very popular. On Fridays and Saturday's these two renowned purveyors of fine spirits provide a stage for various brands to show off their new or latest products. While Gerry's of Soho will only have 1 brand at a time, Whisky Exchange of London Bridge has had 3 at a time before. Highly convenient and it's great if you just want to stop in on your way by. If you catch a brand you like at Gerry's there's a tasting offer with a few quid off the rrp.

To discover cocktail, wine and Champagne master classes in London, click here.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Sexy Men & Ladyboys Compete In UK Final At London Restaurant

By Christian Rose-Day.

Whilst most of London was glued to their TV screens on Sunday night for the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, I was attending a very different type of competition and one that can hardly be topped (on a Sunday evening, anyway).

I was given the opportunity to bring out a whole host of “Wow!”, “No way!” and “For real?” comments of astonishment when I witnessed the Mr and Miss Mango Tree UK Ladyboy Competition 2012, as hosted by former Eastenders TV star, Michelle Collins.

Handsome muscle men and stunning lady boys strutted their stuff at Mango Tree Thai restaurant in Victoria whilst acts such as Geri Love, Mrs Moore, Tanya Hyde and The Mango Tree Spice Girls performed during the costume change breaks. And boy, were there some costumes.

In the end, the chiselled features and defined body of Ashley Rogers won the Best Body and overall Mr Mango Tree titles, whilst the beautiful Reya X from Thailand was awarded both the Best Female Body and Miss Mango Tree prizes.

Just to point out the obvious, because it might not be apparent from these photos, the Mr Mango competition was for men competing as men. The Miss Mango competition was for men competition as women. Some of the contestants were dramatically convincing.

An endless supply of Thai canapés kept the packed crowd’s energy levels up, which gave everyone a taste of the menu on offer at Mango Tree Restaurant. To book you table at the restaurant, use the reservations calendar below.

Mango Tree Restaurant, 46 Grosvenor Place, Belgravia, SW1X 7EQ