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The week in pictures

Emma Thompson was just one of the A-list celebrities to top up Moët & Chandon’s seven foot Champagne fountain at the 17th Moët British Independent Film Awards this week. The actress was awarded the coveted Richard Harris Award for outstanding contribution by an actor to British film.

…while Benedict Cumberbatch took home the Variety Award, which recognises an actor, director, writer or producer who has helped to shine the international spotlight on the UK. Held at Old Billingsgate in London, the event was hosted by The Inbetweeners star Simon Bird with winners taking home an award designed by Fredrikson Stallard and created by Swarovski, as well as a personalised Swarovski crystal-encrusted magnum of Moët & Chandon.

db indulged in a feast of dim sum at London restaurant Courtesan, whose owner Hammant Patel Villa (left) has created what he claims is the world’s first wine list to feature only wines made by female winemakers. Matches included deep fried sea bass with Yealands Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013, made by Tamra Washington; squid ink and salmon dim sum with Champagne Duval-Leroy Femme de Champagne 2000, made by Sandrine Logette-Jardin and owned by Carol Duval-Leroy; and these delicious chicken dumplings with Chinese broccoli, which were served with Herencia Altés “Benufet” Garnatxa Blanca, made by Nuria Altés in Catalunya’s DO Terra Alta.

(L-R) Graham Hines, Jeremy Watson, Nick Room, Eddie Hart, Sam Hart, Allan Cheesman.

Around two hundred members of the UK wine trade gathered to celebrate 30 years of the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino – an order founded in 1984 to recognise individuals in the UK trade who have shown exceptional endeavour in promoting the quality wines of Spain. The milestone was marked with a tasting with many wines donated from the personal cellars of individual Caballeros. Highlights included a 1981 white Rioja.

Joel Persson, Rekorderlig Cider’s global brand ambassador, played the ‘Swedish Father Christmas’ dropping into London’s Translate Bar, The Drunken Monkey and Zigfrid von Underbelly to host an interactive masterclass using the brand’s seasonal Winter Cider to make the traditional Swedish winter drink, Glögg.

Each bar was given a hamper with six traditional spices, bespoke ginger bread biscuits and ‘Teaballs’ (infusion kits) to infuse the spices into the brand’s Winter Cider, all delivered by Joel in his festive jumper.

A book charting “the remarkable people, the joy, the pain, the stress, the strain, the bike, the tram, the train and the rain” encountered by Chris Porter, chairman of the drinks trade charity The Benevolent, on his ‘Around the Grounds in 14 Days’ challenge is now available to purchase in aid of the charity. The challenge saw Porter visit all 91 of the UK’s premier league football grounds in just two weeks raising more than £31,000 with donations to purchase the book set to go toward helping vulnerable members of the trade facing medical or financial hardship. The book, which carries a recommended donation of £25, can be ordered by emailing Chris at

Jim Beam has launched its Single Barrel at Auckland Airport in New Zealand, making the ultra-premium Bourbon available outside of the US for the first time. Known as the pride of the rackhouse, less than 1% of the distillers barrels are handpicked for its Jim Beam Single Barrel before being individually bottled, labelled and numbered. Available in 1 litre bottles, Jim Beam Single Barrel retails at NZ $64.99. Distribution will expand from Auckland to include DFS Changi Airport and DFS Hong Kong International Airport early next year.

The global press conference for The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies was held at Claridge’s which saw the cast assemble at an actual Hobbit hole constructed by Tourism NZ to answer questions from the awaiting press. Alex Layton, of UK negociants, thought a bottle of Sam Neill’s Two Paddocks Pinot would be an appropriate housewarming gift.

He turned out to be right, collaring actor Billy Boyd, who played Pippin the Hobbit in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, for a glass after he popped by for a tasting with New Zealand Winegrowers. Neill’s Two Paddock’s Pinot proved particular popular with the actor who said one of the things he remembered most about shooting the films in New Zealand was its Pinot Noir wines.

Lagavulin distillery manager, Georgie Crawford, was named Whisky Distillery Manager of the Year at the the 2015 Icons of Whisky Scotland Awards. Since joining Lagavulin in 2010, Islay-born Georgie has overseen the running of the distillery and the production of its popular Lagavulin 16-year-old single malt…

…while the The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery in Crieff was named Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year. Its manager Stuart Cassells took home a highly commended award for Visitor Attraction Manager of the Year.

Winners of the Guild of Beer Writers’ annual awards 2014

Beer bloggers Boak & Bailey were awarded Beer Writer of the Year 2014 by the British Guild of Beer Writers. Boak & Bailey took the top title for their book, Brew Britanniaan account of beer’s ‘rebirth’ since the 1960s. The couple – real names Ray Newman & Jessica Slack – have been blogging since 2007, but Brew Britannia, published earlier this year, is their first book.

The House of Martell announced a new partnership with acclaimed fashion designer Jason Wu to create a limited edition “Black Tie” design for its Noblige and VSOP Cognacs. The contemporary bottle has been designed to reflect Wu’s ability to create “designs of flawless simplicity and elegance with a black leather-like outer shell and modest gold markings.”

db was lucky enough to be invited to The Ivy’s little sister, The Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden this week to road test their cocktail menu, which takes inspiration from Covent Garden and some of the colourful characters that have made the area famous. As for the bar snacks, the truffle arancini has already become something of a signature dish, while the zucchini friti and deep fried prawns with wasabi mayo both come highly recommended.

Headed up by bar manager Jeremy Evans, many of the cocktails play on Covent Garden’s famous flower market, such as the My Fair Lady (pictured), a twist on a White Lady made with gin, Belle de Brillet, lemon and orange blossom, which tasted as pretty as it looked.

Taking a seasonal approach, a lot of the cocktails on the inaugural list are laced with warming spices, such as the Henrietta Maria Treacle (left), named after the restaurant’s location on Henrietta Street, which blends treacle with Havana Club Especial, Amaro Averna, fig honey and a dash of orange bitters. The Jubilee Julep meanwhile (right), twists on the Mint Julep with the addition of date maple syrup, making it an ideal winter warmer.

Bar manager Jeremy Evans was on hand to talk db through the cocktails and show us his new baby – a London Dry Gin made in collaboration with Herefordshire distillery Chase.

Keeping with the cocktail theme, db also found time this week to pay a visit to London’s oldest restaurant, Rules, which has made a couple of cameos in Downton Abbey. In a celebratory mood, we went for a Champagne cocktail that included Bourbon and pear syrup, which worked surprisingly well.

After the sharpener at Rules, we crossed Maiden Lane for more tipples at New Orleans-themed lobster and steak shack Big Easy, which has carved a niche for itself with its Sazerac slushies, our new guilty pleasure.

And finally… db’s deputy editor Lucy Shaw has fully embraced Christmas Jumper Day! If any of you are also taking part, tweet us your pictures to @teamdb

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