The week in pictures
In celebrity drinks, Tramar Lacel Dillard, known professionally as Flo Rida is working with a Florida-based drinks firm to build a vodka distillery in Fort Lauderdale.
Flo Rida, known for his hit singles Right Round, Club Can’t Handle Me, Good Feeling, and Wild Ones, will also serve as the distillery’s brand ambassador when it opens either at the end of this year or early next, teaming up with spirits entrepreneur Victor Harvey on the new project.
db‘s web editor took her commitment to Dry January to its logical extreme this weekend.
On Saturday, Edith took the train out to Wendover to meet David Begg, the founder of posh fermented tea brand Real Kombucha.
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Had a fun weekend at @realkombucha HQ learning all about the wonderful world of fermented teas. Launched a couple of years ago by David Begg who has masterminded brands like Tom Dixon & Booking.com about 5 years after he decided to stop drinking. They’re listed in 60 Michelin starred restaurants around the UK and just started exporting to fancy places in Belgium, Germany etc in November. The one at the end was enjoyed in lieu of a train beer. . . . . #realkombucha #lowandno #lowabv #drinks #foodpairing #restaurants #brewerytours #brewing
Begg, who is one of the founders of designer homeware brand Tom Dixon and booking platform Booking.com, is an oenophile who quit drinking in 2012, and started brewing Kombucha at home a couple of years later in an effort to replace his glass of wine at the dinner table. It wasn’t until after Seedlip launched in 2015 that he could turn it into a business.
Real Kombucha launched at the end of 2017. Today, it’s listed in 60 Michelin starred restaurants around the UK, and Begg started exporting to some parts of Europe in November.
Begg uses single estate teas to create the three sparkling Kombuchas in the range, each designed to perform the same function as a wine at the dinner table, but with none of the alcohol.
We found another good use for the Smoke House, which performed the same function as a train beer on the way home.
The next day, we endured the crowds in east London’s Brick Lane to check out the Mindful Drinking Festival.
Hosted by Club Soda, a community which celebrates mindful drinking and supports non-alc and low ABV drinks brands, the two-day event attracted dozens of new producers to the Old Truman Brewery, while big names also used it as a chance to launch new products.
We saw Heineken-owned Strongbow showcasing a 0.0% ABV version of its infamous Dark Fruits cider, Manchester brewer Cloudwater touring its range of hop-flavoured soda waters, and low-alcohol brewer Big Drop flogging its new collaboration beers brewed with the likes of Fourpure in south Bermondsey, and SALT in Yorkshire. Fortnum and Mason also sent a member of its team down to welcome attendees with a sample from its low ABV sparkling tea range.
Treasury Wine Estates’ 0.5% ABV range, Lindeman’s Alcohol Free, was the lead wine sponsor at the festival.
We started the working week with Blue Monday, widely touted by the marketing industry as the saddest day of the year.
While this is a dubious claim, January has become synonymous with boredom and low spirits, so Blue Monday makes for some easy PR wins.
And with that in mind, mixer maker Fentimans made the most of it by partnering with London restaurant Bourne & Hollingsworth’s to offer a ‘Fentimans Light Lunch’ menu on what is claimed to be the gloomiest day of the year.
Guests who opted in received a free bottle of low-cal Fentimans ‘Light’, which the group launched last year, and were seated within a specially designated area of the restaurant filled with serotonin boosting lights.
On Tuesday, Bacardi Brown Forman gathered a group of hospitality and bartending insiders at London bar Lyaness for the latest seminar in its Jigger Beaker Glass series.
Industry stalwarts Mark Shayler, and former International Bartender of the Year Joe Schofield joined the advocacy team for a talk on creativity. Naturally, a bar takeover followed, with trendeh bartenders Nicole Sykes (of Satan’s Whiskers in London), William Campbell-Roundtree (of Artesian, also London), Alex Godfrey (of Milk Thistle, Bristol), Ed Belshaw (from World Service, Nottingham), and Mathew Galloway (from Tigerlily, Edinburgh), serving up drinks that secured them a place in the UK finals of Bacardi’s Legacy cocktail competition.
In aesthetics, the art world gathered in east London for the annual Art Icon Awards on Tuesday.
Belgian artist Francis Alÿs was presented with this year’s prestigious award at the gala event, which has been held in partnership with Swarovski since 2014.
Castelnau being the event’s official fizz partner, guests enjoyed Champagne Castelnau Brut Réserve NV poured from magnum during the evening, all the while an auction raised £235,320 for the Whitechapel Gallery’s education and community programmes.
Iwona Blazwick and Saskia Sissons flanked Francis Alÿs in the promo photos before the glamorous gala dinner.
Wine blogger Kirsty Woodgate, Jo Thompson & Louise Hill from Phillips-Hill wine marketing, and Charlotte Kristensen from The London Wine Girl, meanwhile, were the lucky drinks industry guests in attendance.
Over 600 global wine and spirits professionals and industry influencers gathered at the City of London’s historic Guildhall last night to celebrate the annual Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Awards & Graduation Ceremony.
Hosted by WSET Honorary President Steven Spurrier alongside Chief Executive Ian Harris, the occasion saw The Wine Show presenter and WSET Alumnus Joe Fattorini open the ceremony with a keynote speech to the largest ever graduating class of Level 4 Diploma students.
The WSET Outstanding Alumni Award, sponsored by JancisRobinson.com, was one this year by Ferran Centelles, the website’s Spanish wine expert.
This year was also particularly special for us. Our very own deputy editor, Phoebe French, still has a month to go before she completes her Level 4, but was handed the Louis Jadot Burgundy Award for her for her paper on Light Wines of the World at a prizegiving ceremony at London’s Guildhall later that day.
In good reads, The 8th edition of Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson’s The World Atlas of Wine has been named the winner of the 2019 André Simon Award for best drinks book.
The winners of the awards were announced at a ceremony on Monday 20 January at the Goring Hotel in London.
It has grown to 416 pages and 22 new maps have been added to the already extensive cartography.
Drinks assessor Dan Jago said: “One of the key criteria for the André Simon book awards is ‘Will I still be referring to it in ten years’ time?’ With The World Atlas of Wine, I am certain that the answer is yes.
In barhopping, Banks Rums has launched a new bartender tour, featuring internationally recognised mixologist Jim Meehan, called What is Distinctive.
From 2-6 February, the tour will reach three cities – Hamburg, London and Edinburgh – at award-winning venues where Meehan is due to present alongside other industry stalwarts, including former Savoy head bartender Erik Lorincz, Iain McPherson, and Joerg Meyer hosted by Banks Rums’ European brand ambassador Alison Bartrop.