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Spirits

The King Of Soho – A Pornographer’s Tale

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

king of soho london dry ginWith the recent release of The King Of Soho London Dry Gin, I thought it would be a good idea to explore the fascinating story behind it. The gin is the brainchild of Howard Raymond and is dedicated to his late father Paul Raymond, the infamous ‘King Of Soho’. Paul was one of the richest men in the UK, having built up a vast fortune from soft porn magazines, strip cubs and Soho real estate. He opened the UK’s very first strip club named  Raymond Revuebar in 1958 and Steve Coogan starred in ‘The Look Of Love’, a film detailing Paul’s extraordinary life.

Paul was born on November the 25th 1925 in Liverpool. His birth name was Geoffry Quinn but he later changed it to Paul Raymond when he embarked upon a career in the entertainment industry. He left school at the age of 15  and tried to dodge his National Service with a fake ailment but was caught out and was enlisted in the RAF as a drummer. After leaving the military he turned his hand to several pursuits, including selling goods on the black market during World War 2. He eventually ended up working on Clacton Pier after billing himself as a mind reader with his girlfriend Gay Dawn; it was during this time that he changed his name and became interested in nudes and striptease acts. This came to an end when the couple separated whilst Gay was pregnant with Paul’s estranged son, Derry. Paul only ever met his son once when Derry was 25.

Paul made his fortune in the difficult years following the end of the war. He realised that people wanted glamour and excitement and the old prudish values were beginning to change. At that time, nudes were allowed in theaters but had to be completely motionless, a far cry from what Paul wanted from his adult shows. He opened Britain’s first ever strip club in 1958 and cleverly circumvented the law by making it a private members club, meaning that he could show what he wanted. Within the space of two short years he had 45,000 members and was publishing soft pornographic magazines such as Mayfair, Club International and Men Only. He is widely known as the man who bought the sex industry from the seedy backstreets and basements of London into more respectable establishments.

It was as a real estate mogul that Paul really made the big money, buying properties in Soho when prices slumped in the 70s. He ended up owning a jaw dropping 60 out of 87 acres that make up the London district of Soho! This maintained his net worth even as sales of the magazines diminished due to the rise of the Internet in the 90s. It is estimated that his empire was worth around the £1.5 billion mark.

Despite his success in business, Paul’s personal life was not quite so idyllic. He married Jean Bradley, one of his dancers, in 1951 and they had two children together, Howard and Debbie. By all accounts he lead the life of a playboy, having numerous affairs and indulging in a party lifestyle that his money afforded him. He was known as the ‘richest man in Britain’ and he reveled in the limelight with his trademark long fur coats and flash cars. His marriage to Jean finally ended in 1974 after a long running and ongoing affair with Fiona Richmond, a British porn star and model that starred in a number of his adult plays.

Paul planned to have his cherished daughter Debbie take over the running of his business empire until she tragically died of a heroine overdose in 1992. The loss devastated Paul, who became more and more of a recluse in the years after Debbie’s death. He stopped running the Revue Bar in 1997 and it closed shortly afterwards. He died in 2008 at the age of 82 after a period of declining health, leaving the lion’s share of his vast fortune to India and Fawn, his two grand daughters, propelling them into the list of Britain’s top 1000 richest people.

Paul Raymond was a man who was not scared of getting what he wanted and his tale is a great example of a true rags to riches story. He made history and pushed the limits of the reserved British institution to its breaking point. His legacy lives on in the very essence and culture of Soho, which would be a very different place today if it had not been for Paul.

You can buy The King Of Soho London Dry Gin here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Simple Cocktails We Can All Make (No PhD Required!)

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Who wants to make cocktails at home? I bet we can all recollect a few occasions over the last year where we would have loved to of made a few cheeky cocktails; maybe it was a BBQ this Summer, a dinner party with new colleagues or a birthday bash for your other half. Some of the more adventurous of you may  even have had the urge to kick back in the evening with a relaxing cocktail or two after work!

So what is putting you off? It’s probably the same thing that has dissuaded me making the effort to go beyond a beer or straight spirit and that’s the perceived complexity of cocktail creation. There’s no way you can quickly knock up a cocktail if it contains eleven ingredients (some of which need to be prepared days in advance!) and you need a PhD is chemistry to make the damn thing! This is the realm of highly skilled bartenders  and it’s just not practical or affordable for the amateur cocktail enthusiast to achieve.

It was with this in mind that I decided to write what will hopefully be a series of articles detailing simple yet effective cocktail recipes we can all make easily at home. The idea is that none of the recipes presented here require more than 3 ingredients. By ingredients I mean alcohol and mixers, not garnish or decorations that can be left out if so desired. The only equipment you will need is some glasses, a spoon, vegetable peeler and a cocktail strainer and shaker. Got all that? Good, lets get going then!

Delicious cocktail called courting two sistersCourting Two Sisters

Time: 5 minutes

Equipment: Mixing glass, spoon, cocktail strainer, vegetable peeler

Ingredients: Dolin Blanc Vermouth, Dolin Red Vermouth, La Fee NV Absinthe

What To Do: Add 45 ml of Dolin Blanc Vermouth and 45 ml of Dolin Red Vermouth to a glass, then add 10 ml o f La Fee NV Absinthe. Fill the glass with ice and stir until cold which will take about  15 to 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist and serve straight up.

 

barbados cocktailBarbados Cocktail

Time: 5 minutes

Equipment: Cocktail Shaker and strainer

Ingredients: Velvet Falernum, Gosling’s Black Rum, Lime Juice, Crushed Ice

What To Do: Fill a mixing glass halfway up with crushed ice. Add 30 ml of Velvet Falernum, 45 ml of Gosling’s Black Rum, and 10 ml of lime juice. Shake for 15 seconds and strain into a cocktail glass to serve immediately.

 

grapefruit and ginger sparklerGrapefruit & Ginger Sparkler

Time: 5 minutes

Equipment: Champagne glass

Ingredients: Domaine De Canton Ginger Liqueur, Fontessa Prosecco Brut, Grapefruit Juice, Grapefruit Wedge

What To Do: Pour about 30ml of  grapefruit juice and 15 ml of Domain de Canton into a champagne glass. Gently pour the Fontessa Prsecco over top until glass is nearly full. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge.

 

Orange CannonOrange Cannon

Time: 5 minutes

Equipment: Cocktail Shaker and strainer, glass

Ingredients: Amaro Montenegro, Aperol, Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

What To Do: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add 30 ml of orange juice, 30 ml of Amaro Montenegro and 15 ml of Aperol. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

 

carpenters handCarpenter’s Hand

Time: 5 minutes

Equipment: Old Fashioned glass or tumbler, spoon

Ingredients: Janneau Armagnac, Harvey’s Amontillado Sherry, Drambuie, Orange Twist

What To Do:  Place a large ice cube into the glass and add 60 ml of Janneau Armagnac, 15 ml of Harvey’s Amontillado Sherry and 15 ml of Drambuie. Stir for 15 seconds and garnish with orange twist and serve.

 

So there you have it, 5 easy to make cocktails that taste delicious and take literally minutes to make. Look out in September for more Simple Cocktail Recipes on this blog. Mix them fast and drink them slow, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Celebrate Life With KAH Day Of The Dead Tequila

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Kah Tequila Skulls

OK, so you’ve got an award winning authentic premium tequila made from 100% blue agave and are wondering what kind of bottle to put it in. Do you go for a bottle with a little sombrero hat for a lid? No, that’s a bit naff isn’t it! How about chucking it into a slinky bottle with curves in all the right places, that’s what everyone else is doing? Tequila in a piece of modern art, that’s not very authentic is it! OK, so we’re looking for something a little more cultural are we…. how about Dia de los Muertos? The Day Of The Dead? Winner!

The nucleus of the idea behind Kah Tequila stems from the ancient (3000+ years old!) celebration known as The Day of the Dead, where the living gather together to remember and celebrate those who have departed the mortal coil. The holiday is observed throughout all of South America and similar traditions are undertaken in Asia, Africa and Europe. It is seen as an especially important tradition in Mexico and is celebrated on October 30th and the 1st and 2nd of November.

Although the rituals involved differ between countries, they mostly involve the construction of a shrine to the dead (ofrendas) where families pray and leave the deceased their favourite food and drink, possessions and flowers. Sugar skulls, called calaveras, are used during the ceremonies and represent death and rebirth. It is common practice for the living to eat these skulls, in effect eating their own death; this shows that they are not afraid of their eventual demise as they believe that death is just the beginning of a new life. Historians believe that the celebrations evolved from an ancient Aztec festival honouring the Queen of the Underworld, Mictecacihuatl.

Each of the 5 individual Kah Tequila bottles are inspired by the various cultures that observe this fascinating holiday. Each bottle is forged from artisan materials and is hand painted and individually numbered, meaning that no two bottles are quite the same. The tequila itself is extremely highly rated and comes in Blanco, Reposado, Anejo and Extra Anejo varities. The word ‘Kah’ means ‘Life’ and these very collectable products aim to embody the very essence of life itself; this is shown through the captivating skull bottles decorated with traditional Latin motifs and the 100% blue agave that the tequila is made from.

Kah Tequila Blanco

kah tequila blancoThis amazing tequila was awarded 96/100 by the Spirits Institute, the highest score ever given to a Blanco as well as wining a Gold Medal at the Spirits of Mexico Tasting Competition. The liquid itself is initially sweet but is quickly followed with a peppery spice. This particular skull represents a particularly macabre Bolivian tradition where they keep the actual skulls of their loved ones and bring them out on November the 8th of each year. After taking the skull to the cemetery hey then proceed to feed the skull and give it cigarettes and tequila. They believe that this act immortalises the dead who in turn help to protect the living from evil spirits.

Kah Tequila Reposado

kah tequila reposadoThis smooth 55% ABV tequila is powerful and viscous . It’s aged in French limousine casks where it acquires subtle hints of vanilla and caramel that compliment the intense agave flavour. It won a bronze medal at the Spirits of Mexico Tasting Competition. This devilish bottle takes its cues from the Peruvian celebrations of Dia de los Muertos, where people perform a dance to Satan wearing long, dangling upturned crucifixes; it is their belief that Satan leads this dance Himself! They do this to honour the Devil and even pour tequila on the ground as an offering to appease him and keep themselves safe. They do this because of the large number of mines in the area and ancient Incan beliefs dictate that those who work underground are especially susceptible to his powers.

Kah Tequila Anejo

kah tequila anejoAlong with the powerful agave flavours you will be assaulted by chocolate, tobacco and coffee flavours that have been carefully developed whilst the tequila aged in American Oak casks. This is another medal winner, taking a Gold as well as the Best In Category Award. The bottle is inspired by the Nicaraguans who, whilst still following the standard traditions of shrine building and gift giving, also take things a step further. Rather than going home after the graveside celebrations, many people stay and sleep in the grave yard, believing that this act re-enforces the emotional connection between them and their departed.

Kah Tequila Extra Anejo

kah tequila extra anejoThis extra old tequila has been matured for 4 and a half years in American Oak.There is a light smokiness present that is accentuated by gorgeous lashings of vanilla, spice and honey. Of course, the series trademark peppery notes are still distinguishable through the lovely woody flavour. The bottle is covered in hundreds of sparkling crystals representing the splendour that Mayan royalty were entombed with during the performing of their ancient burial rituals.

Kah Tequila Los Ultimos Dias

kah tequila los ultimos diasThis is the same as the Blanco tequila but bottled at the cask strength of 55% ABV. This is a strictly limited edition bottling that is hand painted in 24 carrot gold.

 

 

 


Two Dead Men Sell Whiskey

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

When dead men return from the great beyond to sell whiskey you know it must be good! Two famous men who championed Jack Daniels when they were alive have been pressed into service once again in order to sell some very rare and sought after Tennessee Whiskey; Jack Daniels 1954 Gold Medal and Jack Daniels Sinatra Select. As we have acquired  a limited number of these bottles, I thought I would take the time to explain the story behind them and what makes them that little bit extra special.

Jack Daniels 1954 Gold Medal

Jack Daniels 1954 Gold MedalThis special bottling commemorates the Brussels Belgium Star Of Excellence that Jack Daniels won in 1954 and the man who became a local hero because of it. A letter was sent to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg informing them of a whisky judging competition in Belgium. The job of sending the whiskey was given to Herb Fanning, the right hand man of the distillery’s boss’s son.

Herb was from simple country stock and had no appreciation of marketing finesse. He marched straight down to the production line and scooped up the first few bottles that he saw, sending them off to Belgium without a second thought. When word of this reached the marketing department, they were not impressed and asked Herb why he had not procured a special whisky to send to the competition. Herb was exasperated at the question and replied “Why all Jack Daniels is special!”

Herb’s future with the company looked bleak until a timely letter arrived congratulating the distillery on being awarded the Star Of Excellence. It was time for the hotshots in advertising to eat humble pie and they offered Herb the chance to star in an advert for the brand! He appeared in many such adverts over the years and became something of a local legend in Lynchburg and continued to have a very successful career at the company until he retired many years later.

This bottling celebrates Herb’s unshakeable faith in the brand and the honest outlook of the company’s employees in the Deep South. You can get your bottle of Jack Daniels 1954 here but hurry because there are less than a handful left!

Jack Daniels Sinatra Select

jack daniels sinatra selectWhilst Herb Fanning may only have been known to his local community (I had never heard of him before I researched the story), Frank Sinatra is a name that every single person in the world knows (near enough anyway!).

Sinatra was an avid consumer of Jack Daniels whiskey and it would always appear on stage with him throughout his career. He called it “the nectar of the gods” and favoured the traditional serve of ‘three rocks, two fingers and a splash of water.’ These days it’s pretty common for celebrities to endorse alcohol brands (see this Jim Beam article) or start their own but Frank was different – he never got paid a single penny by Jack Daniels!

It all started in the 40s when Jack Daniels was just a small local whiskey brand that no one outside of Tennessee had heard of. Sinatra and his friend Jackie Gleason were drinking in a bar when Frank asked Jackie to suggest a drink that would “get him smashed”. Jackie mentioned that JD would be a good drink to start with and Frank immediately fell in love with it. After that night, he was rarely seen without a glass or bottle of it nearby. He even took his favourite drink to his grave in 1998 as he was buried with a hip flask of the whiskey.

Due to Frank’s unparalleled success, his endorsement of Jack Daniels single-handedly raised the brand from a local commodity to America’s best selling whiskey. Again, remember that his recommendation was authentic and genuine, how many times do we see that today?

Listen to Frank and get your bottle of Jack Daniels Sinatra Select here.

 


That’s Not Dan Aykroyd!

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Crystal Head Vodka is an iconic premium vodka created by Ghostbusters star Dan Aykroyd and painter John Alexander. Founded in 2008, this quadruple distilled masterpiece is triple filtered through diamond crystals. It is so good that it picked up two Gold Medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. If you are wondering why that’s a big deal, the San Francisco comp is akin to the Oscars of the spirit world!

Any of you who know this product will be aware that it comes in a super distinctive bottle shaped like a skull, a brilliant piece of marketing if I do say so! But have you ever wondered who’s skull is it? No ….. well neither had I to be honest with you!

Luckily (really?) a Mr. Nigel Cockerton has put his Masters degree in Forensic and Medical Art to good use and created the skull bottle’s ‘real life face’ and let me tell you now that this does not look like Dan Aykroyd! Mr. Cockerton used advanced facial reconstruction techniques normally used for historical or forensic purposes and sculpted the facial muscles and skin using clay. He then submitted a fascinating but macabre step by step process to the guys at Crystal Head Vodka.

At present we don’t know what Mr. Aykroyd thinks about this impromptu reverse autopsy (kind of, isn’t it?) but I think that he would be missing a trick if he didn’t release a ‘special edition’ utilising this man’s work!

You can buy a bottle of Crystal Head Vodka here, minus the excess facial tissue of course!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Super Xmas Wine Show 2013

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

On Thursday 7th November we held our annual Christmas Wine Show at the Merchant’s Manor Hotel in Falmouth. This heralded a return to tradition after last years show had to be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. There were over a hundred and fifty different wines and spirits from all over the world on offer spread across eighteen tables of representatives.  I will take this opportunity to say a quick thanks to all the reps as they did a splendid job of informing our guests about the products on offer and were very generous with their measures! We had a lot of interest in the event before it was even announced officially and our prediction of a good turn out was well founded.  Everyone was in brilliant form and I think it is safe to say that a good time was had by all involved! We enjoyed meeting our customers immensely and wish them all a Happy Christmas and all the best in the New Year.


The King Is Dead, Long Live The King

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

The cocktail resurgence is blooming at an exponential rate in the UK with an estimated 6% of all spirits purchased being drank in a cocktail. Although a great many classic cocktails are vodka based (Cosmopolitan, Bloody Mary), you would be forgiven for trampling this spirit underfoot as you clamber forward to marvel at one of the of  the gin/rum based infusions that are dominating the scene. It seems that the old stalwart has fallen by the wayside and is it any wonder? If you mix it with coke then you taste coke, if you mix it with red bull ….. you get the idea! By its very nature, gins production offers lots of scope to introduce different flavours through the use of botanicals  and rum has seen an explosion in popularity amongst the young and trendy, spawning and influx of sweet, spiced and flavoured varieties. So, that’s it then, vodka is dead and buried.

I wouldn’t count on it! Vodka has an amazing knack of adapting to new trends – just look at a few of the new flavoured vodka products that have been released recently;

Square One Cucumber Vodka Organic

Belvedere Blood Mary Vodka

Absolut Berri Acai Vodka

Skyy Infusions Raspberry Vodka

This is just the tip of an ever expanding list of vodkas that are adapting to their fluid climate like a chameleon; those lizards have been around for millions of years! Of the 171 new vodkas that were released last year, 122 of them were flavoured or blended. That is certainly a telling sign that this spirit has reacted to its more flavoursome cousins and has re-positioned itself accordingly. If you look over the pond to our American cousins then you will see that the vodka industry has experienced growth for the 17th consecutive year – that is pretty impressive considering the global recession! The US has also spawned a trend of savoury flavoured vodkas – bacon being amongst the most bizarre! Whilst this is not yet en trend here in the UK, don’t be surprised if we end up following suit, even if it is in a more typically reserved British fashion. A case in point would be Black Cow Vodka. The brain child of Jason Barber, a dairy farmer from Dorset, this full strength vodka is made from milk of all things! To some that may sounds like a stomach churning drink (it did to me to begin with) but I can assure you it is very smooth, creamy and delicious!

I’m not saying by any means that you should be discounting gin, rum or any other spirit. There are some wonderful innovations occurring across the board, many driven by the cocktail boom, that are worthy of your attention. Just do not make the mistake of thinking that vodka is a thing of the past, as it is constantly changing to meet the needs of today’s market. After all, their is no better blank canvas to create the cocktails from – the Cosmopolitan and its ilk are called classics for a reason you know!

 


Battle Of The Botanicals

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Gin is not a drink that you would associate with Cornwall; cider, mead and ale are the alcoholic beverages that this fair county is historically known for but that is rapidly changing. The past few months have seen the birth of not one but two Cornish Gin micro distilleries and they are a stones throw away from one another to boot (but then everything is in Cornwall isn’t it!?). Let’s have a look at the tale of the tape before we compare the rival products shall we?

In the red corner we have the Southwestern distillery who launched their product at the tail end of July, aptly named Tarquin’s Dry Gin after the head distiller. This unique gin has proved quite the overnight success story with high sales reported from the off. Each small batch of spirit is distilled in a traditional copper pot which is fired by flame. Only the heart of the batch is taken for bottling which is checked rigorously on the nose and by taste. The spirit is then diluted with authentic Cornish spring water taken from a source in Boscastle and left to stand for a few days. Tarquin then personally wax seals each bottle (300 are produced per batch) and hand writes his tasting notes on the label. This is a real labour of love but it is his vision to produce great tasting spirits with care and integrity. By all accounts it seems that he is succeeding in bringing this uncompromising vision to fruition!

In the blue corner we have the new contender who has come out swinging! Elemental Cornish Gin is a family run company that is also distilling gin in the traditional way using a copper pot and naked flame. Again, only the heart of the distillate is used and is mixed with Cornish spring water to produce  a bottled strength of 42%. The company have stated that their vision is to produce a quality artisan product that is unique and classy. Similarly to Tarquin’s, each bottle is wax sealed by hand – I think that must be a perquisite of making alcoholic beverages in small batches! However, Elemental Cornish Gin is produced in batches of only 80 bottles so it appears to be even more hand crafted – whether this will be sustainable economically remains to be seen!

So you would like to know which of the gins is the best then? That is a difficult question as they are both very different from one another despite the similarity of their creation. Tarquin’s gin is very fruity with floral notes that are crisp yet delicate on both the nose and the palette. The Elemental Gin is considerably spicier and more robust with deeper flavours that are immediately obvious. So which one is the ‘best’ all comes down to a matter of personal taste – I would personally recommended them both as they drink so differently  and are both quality products. Obviously, Cornish Gin is a relatively niche market but hopefully both of these companies can make a success of their different gins.  We wish them both luck and may the best distiller win!

You can decide for yourself which gin should be the Cornish king! Buy Tarquin’s Dry Gin here and Elemental Cornish Gin here.


Is The Devil Inside You?

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Whether he is or isn’t, there is certainly one place that he’s not and that is The Bowmore Round Church on the Scottish Island of Islay. It is the oldest building on the island with construction starting in 1767 and finishing in 1769. Its construction was initiated by Daniel Campbell The Younger, the son and heir to a wealthy merchant family from Argyle.

Inspiration for The Devils Cask WhiskyAn inscription etched into a stone block above the entrance to the building has a Latin inscription which translates as;

“With pious intent, and to promote truth and honour, Daniel Campbell, lord of this island, built at his own expense in the year 1767, this church dedicated to the supreme God.”

The village of Bowmore sprang up around the church in 1768 and was originally built to re-house the inhabitants of Kilarrow who were not directly employed by the Islay estate. The church boasts commanding views of the village and Loch Indaal and is still open for weekly worship to the islands current residents. The round church was the focal point for the population of Bowmore and its legend is the inspiration for a very special whisky!

Bowmore Church Could Be Very Scary At NightLegend has it that the round church was built in a circular fashion so that there were no corners in the building. Why you may ask? To keep the Devil out of course! It is an old Christian belief that the devil hides in the corners of a room and the God fearing people of the time certainly did not want Lucifer inhabiting their new church (despite the fact that it could easily pass as the setting for a horror film on a stormy night!). That is why, in  Christian homes and religious structures, you often find crucifixes or statues depicting saints in the four corners of the room to ward away the Unholy One.

Thankfully, the Devil was not homeless for long as he found a nice place to stay when the famous Bowmore Distillery opened in 1779! He’s been very busy producing superb single malt whisky for the last 234 years (he must of hated the round barrels though!) and a limited edition whisky has been released to celebrate this local legend.

Bowmore Distillery's The Devils CaskIt is aptly named the ‘The Devils Cask’ and is being produced in extremely limited numbers with only 540 bottles available in the UK. Bowmore’s characteristic rich flavour is further enhanced by the maturation process occurring in the finest first fill sherry casks.

Here at Drinkfinder, we are lucky enough to be receiving a small quantity of this rare whisky and orders will be by allocation only. Please get in contact with us ASAP if you would like to own one of these unique bottles. After all, who doesn’t want to taste the Devil’s produce?

 

 

 


Who Wants To Auchentoshan One?

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Auchentoshan Virgin Oak Limited Numbers

 

Resident whisky maestro Mark has only got great things to say about this limited release from Auchentoshan. You will be delighted with the chocolatey, caramel, orange and cinnamon infusion which finishes beautifully with spiced brown sugar. Get yours before they are all gone!

Stock is limited so buy your Auchentoshan Virgin Oak Limited Edition now!