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The week in pictures

Stephen Webster, Bruno Paillard, of Bruno Paillard Champagne, and comedian Jimmy Carr

The Champagne Bureau UK awarded the ‘Prix Champagne de la Joie de Vivre’ to renowned jeweller Stephen Webster last Wednesday at a star-studded bash in London. The prize was given by the Houses and Growers of Champagne in recognition of Stephen’s contribution to ‘joie de vivre’. Previous recipients were internationally-renowned social photographer Richard Young and milliner to the stars Stephen Jones.

Lisa Snowden
Nancy Dell’Ollio












Friends of Webster, including Nancy Dell’Ollio, comedian Jimmy Carr and model and TV presenter Lisa Snowden, attended the event to celebrate his award.

Bruno Paillard, president of Comité Champagne’s Commission Communication et Appellation Champagne, attended as official representative of the Champenois. In the spirit of ‘joie de vivre’, guests raised a toast to the award with Champagne paired with crab in pastry, confit duck, lamb lollipops and mini berry pavlovas.

Paz Levinson, a 36 year-old Argentine sommelier at the three-starred Michelin restaurant Epicure in Paris, was awarded the title of Best Sommelier of the Americas by Möet and Chandon. The final contest was held on 24 April in Santiago, Chile, where Levinson beat Chilean Marcelo Pino of Casa Silva in Colchagua, and the Mexican Luis Morones of the Palm Restaurant in Mexico. Levison will represent her country in the contest of the Best Sommelier of the World in Mendoza next year.

(L-R) Benjamin Chan – Hakkasan ; Matteo Malquori – Hakkasan ; Maggie W.I. Mak – Maze ; Ben Porter – Pollen Street Social ; { Frédéric Panaïotis} ; Anna Mayr – The Ledbury ; Athila Roos – The Arts Club ; Quentin Bouillet – The Greenhouse ; {Gerard Basset} ; Hans Wejnefalk Larsson – Brasserie Chavot ; Artur Aronov – Jason Atherton Group. Not pictured: Anna Botting – Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.

Ten aspiring sommeliers were invited to take part in Champagne House Ruinart’s annual mentoring programme for sommeliers, selected from dozens of applicants by UK on-trade personalities including Gerard Basset MS MW OBE, Xavier Rousset MS, Ronan Sayburn MS and Laura Rhys MS. Hosted by Cellar Master Frédéric Panaïotis, the sommeliers were given an had an in-depth tasting followed by an experiential perfume blending session where they tried to recreate a blending inspired by Ruinart aromatic freshness.

Jim McEwan, who is due to retire as Bruichladdich master distiller in July, regaled guests at a tasting in London this week with a demonstration of how to siphon off whisky using a Heinz Salad Cream bottle concealed behind a cooper’s apron. The evening closed with a vigorous highland toast involving Octomore, “the world’s most heavily peated whisky”, a new expression of which is due to launch in June.

Antinori head winemaker Renzo Cotarella was in town to show off a vertical tasting of Super Tuscan Guado al Tasso. He outlined several important changes to the wine over its 25 year history, most notably the replacement of Syrah with Cabernet Franc from the 2007 vintage onwards, as the estate shifted its stylistic ambitions away from power in favour of greater elegance.

Brian MacAulay removes the “no visitors” sign from the Scapa Distillery

Brian MacAulay, distilling manager at Scapa – the artisanal Orcadian single malt Scotch whisky owned by Chivas Brothers – symbolically removed its “no visitors” sign this week as it unveiled its first-ever distillery visitor centre. It is the first time that Scapa facilities have been accessible to the public in its 130-year history.

Geoff Thompson and Nick James inspect the apples

Former managing director of Pol Roger, the UK subsidiary of famous champagne house Champagne Pol Roger, Nick James, has switched fizz for cider, becoming chairman of the Lambswick Drinks Company, maker of Oldfields Orchard Worcestershire ciders. James’ interest in craft cider stems back to his roots in nearby north Herefordshire, a famous cider making region.

(L-R) Andrew Tysler, Deschutes Brewery; Greg MacNeice, MacIvors Cider Co; Keith Lugton, C&C Ireland; Frank Mueller, Brauhaus Riegele; John Bryan, Oakham Ales; Emma Gilleland, Marston’s; Simon Yates, Marston’s; Ben Kehs and Michael LaLonde, both of Deschutes Brewery

Brewers and cider makers from across the world  gathered at London’s Guildhall on 29 April for the unveiling of the Championship winners in the International Brewing and Cider Awards 2015. Trophies were awarded to nine beers and one cider, with US brewer Deschutes scoring a hat trick with three Championship titles. The ceremony, which marked the end of the 2015 competition, was attended by more than 400 people.

Wines of New Zealand hosted a Sauvignon Blanc tasting high above London at the top of New Zealand house in London on Friday in celebration of International Sauvignon Blanc Day. Guests were not only treated to a tasting of some wonderful Sauvignon Blancs from across the country, but stunning views of the London skyline.

Michelin star chef Roger Jones, of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, provided a selection of canapés designed to highlight New Zealand’s flagship grape variety.

Rupert Thompson, owner of Hogs Back Brewery in Surrey, shows off his Hopping Hog IPA, the brewery’s first keg ale. The IPA has been added to its range of craft beers and will be available in the off-trade from this summer, through the Hogs Back Brewery shop and mail order service, as well as from a number of independent retailers. 

The Hendrick’s botanical garden is blooming beautifully at Mr Fogg’s bar in Mayfair






On a research mission for our recent exotic cocktails feature, we were lucky enough to be invited to Gong bar at the Shangri-La hotel on the 52nd floor of the Shard this week to try some of its more unusual concoctions. Watching the sun dip into the horizon, turning the sky a pretty pink, we were looked after by bar supervisor Will Yarney, who introduced us to Gong’s mascot, Romeo the fox.







Among the exotic drops shaken up for us were the Mantras (left) made with Haig Club whisky, coconut cream, cardamom, turmeric, limoncello and homemade saffron syrup; and the Koala’s Main Course, which blends Mancino Rosso amaranto, Zucca Rabarbaro amaro, manzanilla and cucumber foam served with a sachet of aloe vera.







As the sky turned from pink to black, the cocktails kept coming. Round two involved the Anaesthetic Crusta, a twist on a Brandy Crusta featuring Remy Martin VSOP, Mandarine Napoleon, homemade orange cordial, lemon and maraschino served with a poppy seed rim in a nod to opium’s soporific abilities. Finally came the Silk Road, a creamy blend of Asian Barley spirit, Prucia plum wine, lemon juice, fresh cucumber, maple syrup and egg white served in a steamer.

We bumped into Gus Gluck (right) of Vinoteca King’s Cross and Martin Lam, formerly of Ransom’s Dock but now in charge of the wine lists at the Grain Store and Bistro Bruno Loubet at the Wines of Germany tasting at the Oxo Tower where Lam hosted a master class on food matches for German wines.

Visitors to the Wines of Germany tasting were encouraged to unleash their inner Picasso via a series of blank canvases dotted around the room.

Always keen to keep on top of trends, we hoofed it to Hoxton newbie Bull in a China Shop this week to try the Charcoal Chicken Burger, which has already earned a cult following. Featuring chicken thighs marinated in lime, ginger, soy and sesame and twice coated in Panko flakes, it comes in a black brioche bun made from dough laced with bamboo charcoal. 

A joy from the first bite to the last, the Panko makes the meat deliciously cripsy, while carrots added crunch, the black bun a hint of smoke and mango salsa a fruity kick. The cauliflower cheese fritters almost caused a fight with our guest they were so good – order one each to avoid arguments. For the final fun flourish, our bread and butter pudding, made with dough from local baker Dusty Knuckle, came with warm cream housed in a white china cow that dispensed the sweet elixir from its mouth.

Continuing with the charcoal theme, we had to try signature sip the Chamomile Charcoal Old Fashioned. Created by bar manager Cristian Cuevas, the oil-black drink blends Nikka From the Barrel, chamomile syrup, coconut charcoal powder and bitters. Flavour-wise, it’s lighter on its feet than it looks, the smoky and citrus notes in the whisky weaving seamlessly with the zesty orange into a subtle coconut finish. 

“The inspiration came from my research into Japanese whisky culture, which is centred around the ideas of good health, nature and good whisky. I stumbled across bamboo charcoal powder, which helps your digestive system, and paired it with the chamomile for a floral taste, mixing it with one of our more peated Japanese whiskies making it a perfect after dinner drink,” Cuevas told db.

Finally, Carlsberg took a shot at Protein World’s advertising campaign currently running in London, and which has attracted much criticism for asking “are you beach body ready”. Turning the ad on its head, the brewer has hijacked sites at three major commuter spots erecting their own adverts alongside Protein World’s asking instead if consumers are “beer body ready”.

Protein World’s “beach body ready” campaign has sparked a petition calling for its removal which has so far received more than 60,000 signatures. 

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