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Archive for April 2017

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Diageo’s Man On Global Cocktail Search

Travelling around the globe to identify the ultimate cocktail sounds like the ultimate job. Carey Watkins, 27 is the lucky seeker and his exploits are filmed in new travel series, World Class List. Anna Bass

Our host, aspiring Australian musician and drinks enthusiast Carey Watkins, who lives in Los Angeles, was selected from hundreds to become the host of the new travel series, to be released on Amazon Prime in selected countries from next week. The series champions the rise of global cocktail culture and seeks to inspire people to drink better and create unforgettable experiences in the process and is created by World Class, the organisers of the world's biggest bartending competition.  World Class is an initiative created by leading spirits company Diageo, the makers of Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky, Tanqueray no. Ten Gin and Ketel One Vodka among others.

During the five-part series, Carey explores the best of what to see, do, dine on and drink in five cities - Sydney, Taipei, Barcelona, San Francisco and Mexico. Led on his journey by the world's best bartenders, the result is a travel series with a twist, and the creation of the ultimate drinks list.

The five renowned World Class bartenders - each a winner of their national World Class Bartender of the Year Competition - share their inside knowledge of their city and passion for better drinking with Carey, presenting their cocktail inspired by their experiences, to feature on the World Class List.

Among the list is a smooth digestif from Australia made with whisky and freshly brewed coffee and a Californian brunch-time alternative to the Bloody Mary combining vodka, carrot juice and fennel.

Show highlights include an energetic introduction to Mexican wrestling, spearfishing his own seafood to pair with Tanqueray gin and grapefruit in Sydney and celebrating New Year's Eve drinking cocktails under fireworks on a boat in San Francisco Bay.

Carey Watkins said: "When I found out I'd be the host, I was just really overwhelmed. I didn't comprehend the fact that I was about to travel around the world for six weeks, and by no means did I realise just how good this job was. The whole thing was incredible, and I got to do things I would never normally do.”

World Class global director Johanna Dalley added: "World Class List is a global tour delivered by the world's best bartenders who are the ultimate concierges in their own cities. This is their little black book of what to see, do, eat and drink, making it a must-see for anyone interested in food, drink or travel. We created the series to showcase incredible bartender talent and to inspire people to drink better - to try the amazing drinks on offer in bars all over the world, or to up their game and have a go at making them at home." 

World Class List will be released on Amazon Prime in selected countries from 1st May and is available to watch now on MakeItWorldClass.com/List 

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Tom's Kitchen Birmingham

Tom's Kitchen Birmingham Restaurant-5

Tom’s Kitchen has paused from its rapid colonisation of London to make its debut in Birmingham. Sat Bal dropped into the new location at The Mailbox.

 

The Layout

Glass lift doors open to reveal an airy reception space with the restaurant edging out into The Mailbox as if to remind itself that it’s part of the complex. First impressions are that the restaurant’s design is relatively spartan amid the high-gloss glam of its Mailbox neighbour Harvey Nichols, although both venues can safely lay claim to the ‘reassuringly expensive’ tag.

 

Toms Kitchen

 

This conflation of traditional and contemporary is something of a hallmark of Tom’s Kitchen where familiar British food favourites are treated with Tom’s twist. Settling into our places, the quality of the venue’s fit-out is obvious, even if the close spacing of neighbouring tables threatens diner privacy. Like its sibling restaurants Tom’s Kitchen Birmingham is unashamedly meat-driven as depicted by olde butcher’s shop wall tiling and an earthy colour palette of brass pendant lighting, oaken tables and caramel Chesterfields.  

On this Wednesday night business looks reasonable with alternate tables across the restaurant populated by predominantly middle-aged diners. With predominantly Wolverhampton twangs. Elsewhere, corporate types drop in for some after work tie-loosening at the cosy bar which serves craft beers, classic cocktails, champagne and alongside fine wines from around the world.

 

The Menu

 

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The meat dishes feature an array of steaks, burgers and lamb variants. Fish options include poached monkfish and traditional fish and chips. We decide on a starter of seasonal parsnip and honey soup which nicely whets the appetite for the meaty prospects ahead.

When we do get to the main course, a disappointment awaits. There’s no Daylesford seven-hour confit of lamb! We wonder whether this is a mid-week omission.

This epic dish which, by definition, takes most of the day to cook had wowed us at the opening of Tom’s Kitchen, Somerset House many moons ago. Back then, the seven-hour lamb was the star of the media launch party. Even Michelin-starred Tom was present to explain his concept but tonight, in the absence of Tom Aikens or his confit, we opt for the lamb cutlets. We soon get past our bias with the help of a bottle or so of cabernet franc.

The real food success story of the night was the steak. The steak fans in our party positively cooed over the chunky cooked-to-order Cumbrian rib eye with peppercorn sauce.

Dessert raised more cooing. Dark treacle sponge arrived with ice cream was kindly presented with requested off-menu custard. The chocolate and peanut butter fondant all but silenced the table.  New dishes have been added to the Birmingham menus include spiced pumpkin with burrata, savoury granola and hazelnut dressing.

For less indulgent, healthier fare the restaurant serves weekend brunch, with dishes such as superfood granola served with honey and Greek yoghurt and Bircher muesli.

The bill weighed in at around £60 per head including drinks.

 

The Facilities

 

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The restaurant features two private dining rooms, one accommodating 12 guests and the other, 16. There’s also the Veranda, a semi-exclusive area that has capacity for 36-40 people and is useful for networking events. Then there’s the deli area in the Urban room that’s available for a networking event of 50-200 guests.

Diners might be surprised that the restaurant features only one unisex toilet but there is a more adequate set a few steps away from the restaurant.

 

Stop press…

Atul Kochhar, the two-Michelin-starred chef and TV personality is also about to open a new restaurant at The Mailbox.  

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Moët Machine Sparkles At Amfar

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A one-off guest appeared at Moët Hennessy’s recent amfAR gala - Moët’s unique vending machine containing hundreds of mini- Moët bottles. The promo item was sold for the first time ever in Asia Pacific at the gala’s auction.

The gala, which took place at Shaw Studios in Hong Kong, celebrated Moët Hennessy’s continued partnership as wine and spirits supplier to AIDS Research organisation, amfAR. Some 600 guests attended the black-tie night which began with a cocktail reception serving magnums of Moët & Chandon Impérial and Belvedere Vodka’s Grapefruit Spritz, the featured cocktail. A dinner, live auction, musical performances and afterparty followed.

The Moët & Chandon vending machine made its entrance during a live auction and the machine holds an impressive 315 mini bottles of Moët & Chandon. The coolest customer in the house was the winning bidder who paid $80,000 USD for this most exclusive of vending machines.

 

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Closer to home, the mini-Moët vending machine was originally designed as a promotional item for Selfridge’s in London. The Moët machine has since wowed audiences at red carpet events such as the Golden Globes after party and amfAR events around the world.

Human waiters, however, served the rest of the gala guests with Belvedere vodka, Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège, Glenmorangie The Original, Boroli Barolo DOCG 2011 and Boroli Bel Ami Langhe Chardonnay DOC 2014.