Archive | Food & Drink

No booze, no problem?  A look at Non Alcoholic Beers

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No booze, no problem? A look at Non Alcoholic Beers

Posted on 12 January 2018 by Chris Ford

Around this time of the year, not only is everyone a bit broke, but people embrace something called Dry January where they abstain from booze for the month after the excesses of Christmas and New Year.

One thing that goes alongside Dry Jan are non-alcoholic beers and in recent years they have become massively popular to the point I know a fair few people that enjoy low or no alcoholic beers on a regular basis.  Having never tried one before I thought I’d take a look at what’s out there in the supermarkets and most important of all how do they taste?*

Budweiser Prohibition

From Budweiser’s website it says Prohibition is brewed in exactly the same way as regular Bud, with exactly the same ingredients but without the alcohol – but does it taste the same? Well I’d say this was my least favourite of the four, very thin-tasting like something is missing (yeah I know the booze! ).  Saying that this was my girlfriend’s favourite out the bunch so it obviously isn’t terrible. Again the Budweiser taste is there but I wouldn’t rush back to try it.


San Miguel 0.0%

San Miguel is one of those beers that tastes great on a hot sunny day and I associate with many a Spanish summer holiday on the beach, but will it live up to that memory? The first thing I noticed about this one is its very sweet, there’s certainly that San Miguel taste there and I’d say the most beer-tasting out of the four I sampled. While it isn’t as full flavoured as regular San Miguel there’s certainly flavour there unlike some of the others that taste really thin.


Heineken 0.0

I drank a lot of Heineken in my youth so I know it well, and the Heineken 0 0 is a great non-alcoholic beer!  There’s a slight malty taste here, which isn’t unpleasant, I think this one is the closest tasting to its regular counterpart. My only complaint it was quite gassy compared to the others.  I was actually torn which I preferred the San Miguel or this it was really close.


Brew Dog Nanny State

Well first off if you are into Craft Beer or not a lager drinker and looking to go No Alcohol then this is the obvious choice.  Looks and smells like beer, has a tamed hoppy taste with some of the floral fruity notes you might expect and slightly bitter. My one criticism would be it does seem to leave a slightly artificial after taste, which can be a bit off-putting. To be honest I’m really surprised with this one as I thought it would be my favourite, I don’t think I’d drink it again. So not for me but I think some would get on well with this, especially if you don’t drink lager.




So in conclusion if I had to go down the Non Alcoholic beer route it would certainly be either San Miguel 00 or Heineken 0.0 – both are close enough to the original to have a pleasant enough drink and not feel left out.



*I was sent all these beers  on the basis that I’d give an honest review which I have.

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Makers Mark Whiskey Cocktail ‘The Road Less Travelled’

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Makers Mark Whiskey Cocktail ‘The Road Less Travelled’

Posted on 22 November 2017 by Chris Ford



Last week I had a lovely evening at The Athenaeum Hotel THE BAR with Makers Mark Whiskey UK ambassador  Amanda Humphrey learning about the history of the brand.


It was a really interesting evening in a stunning venue, and fascinating to learn how Maker’s Mark still employ a very old-school approach to their business despite the size of the brand. Each bottle is hand-dipped in their signature red wax and the labels are still printed and cut the same way they have always been despite the obvious advances in technology.  This makes owning a bottle that little bit more special, now I know this.

The bar staff at The Athenaeum Hotel held a competition to come up with a new cocktail to showcase Maker’s Mark’s latest expression Makers 46. We tried the winning cocktail on the night, which was amazing! Here’s the winning recipe for that cocktail ‘The Road Less Travelled’ for you to make at home if you can’t make it to The Athenaeum to try it in person.



The Road Less Travelled


20ml Maker’s 46

20ml Mancino Chinato

20ml Rinomato Aperitivo

5ml Maraschino

2 dashes of aromatic bitters

4 dashes of rhubarb bitters



Stir all the ingredients, strain into a ginza rocks

glass over a chunk of ice and garnish with an

orange twist.


‘The Road Less Travelled’ cocktail which is available now for £15 at THE BAR at The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences

You can buy some Makers 46 here.

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The Botanist Gin Dinner – London Cocktail Week

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The Botanist Gin Dinner – London Cocktail Week

Posted on 20 November 2017 by Chris Ford

We always enjoy London Cocktail week when it comes around but the highlight for us this year had to be the wondering dinner we attended at SAGAR & WILDE in Bethnal Green hosted by The Botanist Gin. Here’s a insight into the food and drink pairings we had on the night along with recipes so you can try them for yourselves.

I still dream about that Venison Ragu and the Islay Martini was quite possibly the best gin cocktail ive ever had!


Venison Ragu

Venison haunch

Chicken stock

Red wine






  • Dice mire poix
  • Salt venion haunch and grill.
  • Sweat mire poix, add red wine and reduce. Add chicken stock and bring to boil.
  • Put venison and liquid in gastro and braise for 4 to 5 hours in low oven
  • When meat is ready and can be pulled from bone, shread meat and reduce liquid.
  • Check seasoning and finish with sherry vinegar


Cocoa Pappardelle

1240g ‘00’ flour

200g semolina

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

7 eggs

360g egg yolk


  • Mix dry ingredients and add yolks and eggs and knead until soft
  • Roll pasta through machine to 1 mm thickness and cut to 1cm ribbons



Lamb belly

  • Salt lamb bellies over night
  • Wash and vac pack pack with thyme garlic and olive oil.
  • Cook at 84C for 6 hours
  • Remove from bags, take out bones and press between grease proof and chill
  • When cold, portion
  • Grill and cover with mint sauce



Wild Mint Sauce


  • Make a gastrique by boiling together equal white vinegar and demerara sugar.
  • Chill and add chopped wild mint and pour over lamb bellies


Beetroot salmon


1 side of salmon, skinned


30ml Botantist gin

500ML beet juice

50G brown sugar

30G Caster

130G salt

10G pink Salt


  • 1 side of salmon, skinned
  • Combine ingredients and cover fish.
  • Cure for 48 hours turning each day


Apple Cake

250 grams unsalted butter

300G sugar

4 eggs

300 G flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 tablespoons cream

6 braeburn apples peeled

demerara sugar (for sprinkling on top)


  • In an electric mixer, mix butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at the time and stir
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together, mix some of it onto the batter, then add some of the milk, then some of the batter like this until all blended. Don’t over work
  • Smear half of the batter in a buttered gastro, cover with cake batter and add apples all over mix.
  • Sprinkle with Demerea sugar
  • Bake at 180 C for 25-30 mins



Islay Martini


Glass: Martini


50ml Botanist Gin

5ml Dulce Infused Dry Vermouth

2.5ml Port Charlotte Whisky


Garnish: Sea Aster


  • Stir in mixing glass over cubed ice, strain and garnish.


For more info on The Botanist Gin head over to or to buy yourself a bottle click here.

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BREWDOG – Craft Beer For The People

BREWDOG – Craft Beer For The People

Posted on 04 October 2017 by Chris Ford

BrewDog are I think most will agree  have played a massive part in bringing craft beer to the mainstream and that’s certainly true for me, my first proper craft beer was their flagship ‘Punk IPA’ and I haven’t looked back since.

Saying that I’m still far from a expert when it comes to beer which is why I welcome this new book from the guys behind BrewDog  ‘Craft Beer For The People’ aims to cover everything from how beer is made looking at the ingredients and decisions brewers make to how to understand the different styles, how to cook with and match beers with food and even how to brew your own!

To celebrate the launch we have two copies of the book to give away, if you fancy one just drop us a email at  we will pick two lucky readers at random to win.*

Craft Beer For The People is available from November 5th and you can grab yours here.


*Competition closes on Monday 9th Oct at 9am when two winners will be selected at random to win.  Open to UK residents only.




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Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch: Johnnie Walker Introduces Latest Limited Edition

Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch: Johnnie Walker Introduces Latest Limited Edition

Posted on 23 August 2017 by Chris Ford

Johnnie Walker is launching three new experimental whiskies from its Blenders’ Batch range for both whisky aficionados and cocktail lovers. The limited edition whiskies are being introduced at the Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year Final in Mexico City.

Johnnie Walker blender Aimée Gibson and Johnnie Walker Master Blender Jim Beveridge pictured at the Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year Final in Mexico City. Aimée led the development of Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Wine Cask Blend, which is being introduced at the prestigious cocktail competition this week and will be available in selected countries from September 2017.

All three new blends – Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Wine Cask Blend, Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Rum Cask Finish and Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Espresso Roast – were designed to form the foundation of exceptional Scotch cocktails and yet, like all the brand’s classic whiskies, they can also be enjoyed straight up over ice.

We are  certainly interested to see how these turn out, making blends espeically for mixing as cocktails is an interesting approach and we look orward to trying these in the coming months and sharing our thoughts. with you all.

Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Wine Cask Blend is launching in selected countries from September 2017

Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Rum Cask Finish and Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Espresso Roast will be available globally at some of the world’s best bars from October 2017.

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The San Miguel Experience – London

The San Miguel Experience – London

Posted on 31 July 2017 by Chris Ford


Last week San Miguel invited me to San Miguel – The Experience in London.

Now this may sound like a chance to drink some of Spain’s favourite beer and it was but there was a lot more to it than that.

San Miguel have teamed up with some pretty inspiring people who we joined for an evening of inspirational talks, creative workshops and immersive experiences celebrating people from around the world who live life differently.

I’ve picked out a couple of my favourites here, the most noticeable one I guess was  the Virtual Reality simulator Birdly which makes you feel like you are soaring above streets of New York city, pretty dizzying realistic stuff!


Then there was Mike Kus, a British designer and photographer as well as pretty amazing Instagrammer.  Mike guided us through how he takes a photo for Instagram and generally how to take better snaps. It was the simple things like use interesting / different angles and the settings to use to enhance your image. Mike mainly uses the brightness, contrast and structure tools right in the Instagram app itself for his processing.  He also just uses a regular iPhone. I left feeling impressed and inspired that I can up my Instagram game (watch this space on that one!)

The other stand out session I attended was more interactive. We joined Belgian pastry chef and chocolatier Willem Verlooy for a really enjoyable class where we made our very own chocolate treats. I filmed most of the session in the video below, (sorry for the poor sound on this one my mic wasn’t working properly!)

After a few great talks we then had to of course check out the beer and food selections, being hosted by San Miguel there was course an array of their beer range on offer. I really enjoyed some of the less common offerings particularly like the 1516 which is made to conform to Germany’s strict purity laws and result in a fresh slightly smoky tasting spin which went down really well.  The other winner for me was the San Miguel Selecta 3 toasted malts and 3 specially selected hops creating a really smooth beer with a lovely slight hoppy finish. I really really liked this one!

I can’t wait for the San Miguel Experience to return to London next year, it was such a fun inspiring night.

For more info on San Miguel head over to , Mike Kus is on Instagram at @mikekus  and Willem Verlooy is at @willemverlooy

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The Regal Rogue boozy brunch

The Regal Rogue boozy brunch

Posted on 18 July 2017 by Chris Ford

Last month I received a curious invitation to join a brand called Regal Rogue for a bit of a boozy brunch on a Saturday morning to kick off London Wine Week.

Regal Rogue was developed by Brit-born Mark Ward. Mark realised, while living in Australia, that they produce some of the best wine in the world so why no vermouths?  Hence Regal Rogue was born.

I don’t think I have ever had vermouth before, so this was a bit of an education of me. We learnt that Regal Rogue was being used a base ingredient for an array of cocktails on offer and with the blazing sunny weather we were experiencing, they were perfectly refreshing while not too boozy for the early morning start.

On arrival we started off with a ‘Lively Spritzer’ consisting of Regal Rogue Lively White, fresh grapefruit, lemon, sparkling wine and a sprig of rosemary.  The grapefruit shone through on this one and really woke me up!


The brunch was served family style and to start we had a selection of five starters to try. I went for the Granola with Honey oaks, roasted buckwheat, quinoa and rosella yoghurt which was amazing, I would never ever normally order this for breakfast but it really was tasty, a game-changer for me breakfast-wise.

Then we went onto the main breakfast items, I particularly enjoyed the crispy haloumi as well as the smoked haddock and sea beet kedgeree. Again not things I would normally order for breakfast but this all felt like a real treat. To accompany our meal we had a choice of Regal Rogue cocktails.  My favourite was a mix featuring ‘Daring Dry’ with apple, celery, spinach and cucumber which complemented the strong flavours of the kedgeree perfectly.

The interesting thing about Regal Rogue to me is its actually quite low in alcohol making it an ideal mixer for summer cocktails. You can enjoy them and not worry about getting too tipsy in the heat. But as the brunch drew to a close we did up the alcohol game a bit and enjoyed a ‘Australian Rogroni’ which had Regal Rogue Bold Red mixed with gin, Italian bitter and a large slice of orange, and wow this really packed a punch! But so good on this roaring hot day.

I guess the take home from the Rogues brunch though wasn’t the food. It was that Vermouth can be used as an excellent and light replacement for spirits in things like gin and tonics or negroni with surprisingly fresh and delightful results. Give it a go especially as we continue to enjoy this glorious weather!


for more info on Regal Rogue head over to







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Stagolee’s Hot Chicken, Fulham, London

Stagolee’s Hot Chicken, Fulham, London

Posted on 07 July 2017 by Chris Ford

Last week we went along to a press night at new Fulham restaurant Stagolee’s,  with the promise of fried chicken it seemed rude not to , so we trekked over from East London (actually it wasn’t that bad) to the lovely Fulham Broadway to check out what Stagolees had to offer.

Speaking to head chef and co-founder of Stagolee’s Ashley James you can see straight away there’s a passion for good food. Texas born James has a strong pedigree when it comes to food, having trained under Michelin starred chef Tom Aitken and worked as a sous chef at New Yorks famous Rainbow Rooms it’s a exciting prospect that she has chosen to bring us some of the southern staples from her homeland. In fact Ashley explained to us it was the lack of authentic southern food that inspired her and friend Jordan Harris to open Stagolee’s in the first place.

“I wanted to bring to London American food how we eat it not the over exaggerated way a lot of places do, I want to bring Londoners a piece of our home”.

So hearing that got me a bit excited, and from the moment the devilled eggs arrived for us to sample I knew Ashley was serious, I mean who does devilled eggs here?  I have only had these in the States and they were divine!

Hot Chicken

The main star of Stagolee’s though is clearly the hot chicken. Hot chicken or Nashville hot chicken is a type of fried chicken that is a local specialty of Nashville, Tennessee. it is a portion of breast, thigh, or wing that has been marinated in a blend of seasoning, floured, fried, and finally sauced using a paste that has been spiced, Stagolees bring this to us in three levels one plain, one spicy and one well so hot I nearly passed out, that one’s not for the faint hearted!

Key Lime Pie


Everything in Stagolee’s is made from scratch and it shows, from their biscuits to their home made key lime pie ( I still dream about that pie) in fact Ashley said the only thing she hasn’t been able to make from scratch was the crinkle cut fries , a small price to pay when you have such amazing food on the menu.

In fact Stagolee’s ticked all the boxes for me, they had good food, good beers ( all us breweries and some I haven’t seen on tap before) and very competitive prices.

To sum out Ashely and Jordon’s attitude to Stagolee’s they quote American civil rights activist Cesar Chavez,

“the people who give you their food give you their heart” and that’s exactly what they are offering with Stagolee’s.

Stagolee’s Resturant

453 North End Rd, Fulham, London SW6 1NZ

Nearest Tube – Fulham Broadway



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Whisky and Beef the perfect combo ?

Whisky and Beef the perfect combo ?

Posted on 07 July 2017 by Chris Ford

So recently Ive been drinking alot more whisky than I used to, not in a problem kind of way but Ive just been enjoy a dram of a evening alot more than I used to so when Scotish distillary  Balblair got in touch with some recipies to pair with their whsikies this one stood out to me, beef and whisky has always sat well with me and this recipie sounds like a winner, I will be trying it out this sunday so I hope so!


Smoked Highland Ribeye, Potato Rösti with Green Beans, Wasabi & Pickled Shallots &Brown Butter Béarnaise


A truly epic piece of meat that is a guaranteed summer barbecue showstopper. Let your guests carve at the table and get stuck into the sides family-style.


Ingredients (serves 8)


For The Beef:

1 Bunch x Rosemary

1 Bunch x Thyme

2 Heads x Garlic, Halved

2 Tablespoons x Smoked Paprika

2.5kg x Highland Fore Rib Beef, French Trimmed


For The Green Beans:

2kg x Green Beans, Top and Tailed


For The Pickled Shallots:

8 x Large Banana Shallots, Peeled and Sliced into Thin Rounds

250ml x White Wine Vinegar

200g x Caster Sugar

10 x Juniper Berries

1 x Bay Leaf



2 Teaspoon x Wasabi Paste

100ml x White Wine Vinegar

200ml x Highland Rapeseed Oil


For The Rösti:

4 x Large King Edward Potatoes, Peeled

2 x Large Egg Yolks

20g x Rosemary, Finely Chopped

10g x Cracked Black Pepper


For The Béarnaise:

300g x Unsalted Butter

120ml x White Wine Vinegar

15g x Tarragon Leaves, Finely Chopped

6 x Large Free Range Egg Yolks




The day before serving, cold smoke the beef over oak wood chips for 1 hour at 20 – 30C. Remove the beef from the smoker and place on a baking tray. Run the remaining ingredients over the beef and place, uncovered, in the fridge to marinade overnight. Make sure to remove the beef from the fridge at least 2 hours before cooking.


Preheat the oven to 190C/ 375F/ Gas Mark 5.


Lay a clean tea towel over a large mixing bowl and coarsely grate the potatoes into it and season with salt and pepper. Over the sink, twist the towel into a ball, squeezing as much moisture as possible. Mix the grated potatoes with egg yolks and rosemary. Heat up a 12-inch non-stick frying pan with an inch of oil, over a medium heat. Carefully fill the pan with the potato mix, gently pushing the mix down in the pan with the back of a spatula. Fry for 4 minutes and then place the pan in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Turn the rösti out onto a baking tray and set aside for later.


Drizzle oil over the beef, season generously with sea salt and roast in the oven for 1 hour 35 minutes.


To make the pickle liquor for the shallots, bring the vinegar, sugar, bay and juniper berries to the boil along with 200ml of water in a pot over a high heat. Boil for a minute and then remove from the heat and chill until cold enough to touch. At this stage add the sliced shallot rounds and leave to steep for at least an hour.


The wasabi dressing is simply made by whisking the oil, wasabi paste and vinegar until it combines. Taste, season and chill.


To make the Béarnaise sauce, melt the butter in a small pan over a medium heat. When the butter starts to turn a light brown, and begins to smell nutty, turn the hob down to its lowest temperature. Once the butter has entirely melted, set aside for 10 minutes so that the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pot. In a heatproof mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the vinegar and a tablespoon of cold water. Place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (ensuring that the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching water). Continuously whisk the eggs until they have doubled in size and become light and fluffy. Remove the bowl from the water and slowly add the clarified brown butter whilst constantly whisking until the sauce is thick and smooth. Add the tarragon, taste and season then set aside. Do not leave this sauce for more than two hours.


Remove the beef from the oven and place back in the smoker over oak wood chips at 30C for 30 mins, allowing the meat to absorb the smoky flavour as it rests and becomes tender.


Simmer the green beans in a large pot of salted boiling water, then toss in a large mixing bowl with the pickled shallots and wasabi dressing. Serve on a large platter along with the rösti. Pour the Béarnaise into a small gravy boat then finish the dish by carving the smoked beef and placing on a large board, finishing with a sprinkle of smoked salt.


Whisky Pairing: Balblair 99

A robust piece of beef like this needs the full-bodied finish of the 99. The warmth and fruity spiciness of this whisky will complement the sweet cherry smoke of the meat.


for more info on  Balblair and their range head over to

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The Moretti Gran Tour is back !

Posted on 04 July 2017 by Chris Ford

The Moretti Gran Tour has become a bit of a fixture in our summer calender and something we really look forward to each year and Im pleased to say that this week its  back and I might go as far to say  better than ever before with the introduction of an immersive sensory experience is intended to transport you  to different Italian regions, from the Tuscan hills to the Sicilian sea front, alongside four Italian street food vendors at Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park, London  until the 9th  of July.

The sensory experience offers visitors a guided tour of famous sights, scents, tastes and sounds from across Italy which will be brought to life by creatives Robin Collective through an experience that explores how taste is unique to an individual and how a wide range of multi-sensory stimuli can alter and heighten the flavours we experience.

Your journey around Italy will continue as taste buds will be indulged with foods native to each region, from molecular caviar to market spices, all paired with the Birra Moretti range.

You can tuck into four of London’s best Italian street food vendors each serving a range of authentic signature dishes inspired by different regions of Italy.

Returning again this year  Arancini Brothers will be offering its citrus, mushroom zucchini and spicy sweet potato with smokey cheese arancini balls – all served with homemade aubergine and tomato dipping sauce and garlic aioli. These were a total highlight for me when I tried them last night.

Also returning are the amazing Pizza Pilgrims who are  serving their classic Margherita made with tomato, fior di latte, parmesan and olive oil pizza.

Or you could try a  ‘Meatball Parm Hero’  from Cheeky Italian which is filled with fried chicken, pork and beef meatballs, oozy mozzarella, marinara sauce all in a toasted white bap.

For more info on the event head to

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