Thursday, 26 April 2012

Kofler & Kompanie - Italians Do It Better

The pop up bar and restaurant launches on May 9th and is slated to run through till June 30th.  The bar will be run by 69 Colebrooke Row, who are taking applicant now. Visit their Facebook page HERE for details or email a C.V to

Kofler & Kompanie returns to 50 St James’s Street, in one of the most prestigious areas in London this May with the next instalment of the internationally acclaimed dining experience, Pret A Diner. This specific series of dinners, named Italians do it Better, will be spearheaded by Michelin-starred chef Giorgio Locatelli who will create traditional-style Italian menus.

Locatelli has also selected five other Italian Michelin-starred chefs and set them the challenge of creating fresh innovative style dishes, which will give guests a chance to compare old-world Italian cuisine to newer forward-thinking dishes. Marrying both concepts will be the authenticity, passion and, of course, the fresh ingredients of Italy. “There is a great wind of new young talented Michelin starred chefs that are revolutionising Italian food today, bringing their new creations to St. James’s under the umbrella of Pret A Diner." Says Locatelli. 

Hosted at the iconic 50 St James’s Street, Pret A Diner "Italians do it Better" will be the final event within this beautiful Grade II listed building before it is closed for a full transformation this autumn. 2011 saw Pret A Diner host numerous series of experimental dinners spanning from a skyscrapper in Frankfurt, a coin mint in Berlin, a historic film casino in Munich, and down in the Old Vic Tunnels with Lazarides Gallery’s Minotaur exhibit during London Restaurant Week. In 2012, Pret A Diner aims to redefine what to expect from a dining experience by selecting the world’s best chefs, the most unusual locations and exquisite thought-provoking art pieces to turn blank canvases into unforgettable evenings. 

Overseen by Creative Director and Pret a Diner co-owner Olivia Steele, Pret A Diner will also be collaborating with the acclaimed Gazeli Art House on a cutting-edge exhibition of contemporary Italian artists, including Monica Bonvicini, Aron Demetz, and Jacopo Miliani. Gazelli Art House is a commercial art organisation dedicated to providing a new setting for the creation of contemporary art and delivering the message of the finest international artists to a wide audience of both new and established collectors.

To book, or for more information to to -

django Reinhardt - The Two Fingered Guitar Genius

Django Reinhardt has astounded and thrilled numerous generations of guitar players and jazz lovers with his amazing command of the guitar. January 24th, 1910 at Liberchies Belgium, Django was born into the open air, rambling lifestyle of his gypsy parents. At the age of eight, his mother's tribe settled near the belt of fortifications that surrounded the old Paris, near the Choisy gate. Though born into poverty Django had the soul of a nobleman and this natural elegance of bearing and attitude expressed itself in his music.

 It was at an early age Django became attracted to music. When twelve years old he received his first instrument, a banjo/guitar that was given to him by a neighbor who had noticed his keen interest in music. He quickly learned to play, mimicking the fingerings of musicians he watched. He was soon astounding adults with his ability on the guitar, and before he was thirteen he began his musical career playing with popular accordionist Guerino at a dance hall on the Rue Monge. Since Django could not read or write at the time "Jiango Renard" was how his name appeared on these records.

On November 2nd, 1928 at one o'clock in the morning the 18 year old Django returned to the caravan that was now the home of himself and his new wife. The caravan was filled with celluloid flowers his wife had made to sell the following day. Django heard what he thought was a mouse among the flowers, bent down with a candle to look. The wick from the candle fell into the highly flammable celluloid flowers and the caravan was almost instantly set alight. Django wrapped himself in a blanket to shield him from the flames. He and his wife made it across the blazing room to safety outside, but his left hand, and his right side from knee to waist were badly burned.

Django was bedridden for eighteen months. During this time he was given a guitar, and with great determination Django created a whole new fingering system built around the two fingers on his left hand that had full mobility. His fourth and fifth digits of the left hand were permanently curled towards the palm due to the tendons shrinking from the heat of the fire. He could use them on the first two strings of the guitar for chords and octaves but complete extension of these fingers was impossible. His soloing was all done with the index and middle fingers! Film clips of Django show his technique to be graceful and precise, almost defying belief.

1934 proved to be the most important year of his life. The Quintet of the Hot Club of France was born! As the fates would have it, the Quintet was formed by a chance meeting of Django and Stéphane Grappelli. A band of fourteen musicians including Django, Stéphane, Roger Chaput, and Louis Vola were commissioned to play at the Hotel Cambridge at teatime. During intermission Django would find a corner backstage and play his guitar. One day Stéphane joined in and both were so pleased with the exchange they went on to play together more and more frequently joined by Roger Chaput (guitar), Louis Vola (bass), and eventually Django's Django played and recorded throughout the war years substituting Hubert Rostaing's clarinet for Stephen's violin.

He avoided the fate of many of his kinfolk who went to their deaths in the Nazi concentration camps. After the war he was rejoined by Stéphane and they again played and recorded. He toured briefly with Duke Ellington in America and returned to Paris where he continued his career until 1951 when he retired to the small village of Samois sur Seine and subsequently died in 1953.

White Lady Cocktail

Despite often having a slightly tainted reputation in some modern bars for being over sweet or sickly, sours do have an extremely rich history within the cocktail world. They were first described, in print, by Jerry Thomas in 1862 within his book How To Mix Drinks.  A sour is described as a mixed drink containing a base liquor, lemon / lime juice, egg white and a sweetener. You scan broadly say a sour should be 2 part liquor, 1 part souring agent, 1/2 part sweetener. 

There are many variations including Margaritas and Sidecars which include a second liquor such as cointreau or triple sec.  The White Lady (aka Chelsea Sidecar, Delilah and Lillian Forever) can be equated with a sidecar but with the brandy substituted for gin. 

It's origin is, as always, under dispute. One story come from Harry MacElhone, a bartender at Ciro's Club in 1919. His original recipe called for creme de menthe, which was later substituted for gin when he worked in Harry's New York Bar in 1929. 

A slightly more popular version comes from Harry Cradock, of The Savoy. The recipe appears n his book Savoy Cocktail Book published in 1930. Further evidence came from a Channel 4 documentary where Joe Gilmore, who was also a head bartender at The Savoy, talks about how the drink was a favourite of Laurel and Hardy. 

The recipe that appears in The Savoy Cocktail book calls for 1/2 dry gin, 1/4 cointreau, and 1/4 lemon. This results in a fairly tart, dry drink that would be closer to a martini in style rather than a typical sour including egg white etc. The drink still acts as an excellent aperitif 

The recipe has not undergone much transformation in recent times. In the US during the 1940's it enjoyed a fleeting relationship with egg-white, as reported by Oscar Haimo in 1943 and subsequently reached the UK shores in 1954 in a book called Shake Again with Eddie where egg-white is included as a side note. A variation also exists called a Perfect Lady which substitutes peach brandy for cointreau. This version took first prize in the Empire Cocktail Competition, 1936. 

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Advertising in 1950's

The 1950's not only produced some of the greatest cinema classics that are still being watched to this day, but it also saw an evolution in advertising. Adverts in this time looked at utility, and would often feature statements, that now, it would be hard to call anything but sexist, or completely fabricated.

Adds were made for the entire family, within which everyone had very distinct roles. Showing off excess flesh was rare and most and women were often depicted as housewives, looking after the home while the man took care of money and business.

Alcohol was either depicted as a homely drink, to have amongst loved ones or as something that solidified your social standing amongst other business men.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Aviation Cocktail

Created by the head bartender at the Hotel Wallick, by head bartender Hugo Ensslin in New York reportedly in 1911. The cocktail was was first published in 1916, in Ensslin's book "Recipe for Mixed Drinks"

At the time the recipe went 1 and a 1/2 oz. El Bart gin, 3/4 oz. lemon juice, 2 dashes maraschino liquor and 2 dashes creme de violette. Although we take it for granted now creme de violette was not such an easy thing to come by in 1916.

"I only drink before and after dinner"

The drink really gained notoriety after being used in Harry Craddock's legendary book "Savoy Cocktail Club" published in 1930. The recipe had changed though. Creme de violette was omitted and the proportions changed slightly to simply 2 thirds gin, 1 third lemon juice and to two dashes on maraschino. This is the recipe that remains to this day, although due to our palettes a dash of sugar is often added to ease the sour and tart flavour the cocktail is so well known for.

The drink has never been held in high fashionable as teem, this is largely blamed on the loss of creme de violette which meant the cocktail became a very acquired taste. it was only in 2007 creme de violette resurfaced in the US after it was lost completely during the 1960's.

Though the cocktails history isn't mired in confusion like so many, it has raised a heated debate about original vs popular recipes. In this case it simply boils down to whether creme de violette should be included or not. Although the violette does add an interesting colour and depth to the drink, we are now blessed with so many different varieties of gin that the drink can have as many subtleties and taste desirable without it, if you so choose.

Thursday, 5 April 2012


The law of classic cocktail continues it seems, and the negroni makes no exception. Mired in various stories and accounts of its invention.

The most common, and what is now considered to the most likely account, states it was created in Florence in 1919 at Caffe Casoni which is now known as Caffe Cavalli. It began life as an Americano the favoured drink of Count Camillo Negroni.

The Americano had recently undergone a transformation of it's own. Previously it had been called a "Milano-Torino". A name which stemmed from its ingredients coming from both Milan (Campari) and Turin/Torino (Cinzano). The drink can be dated back to the 1860's however in the early 1900's, during prohibition, more and more Americans were enjoying the drink, which led to it being renamed as an Americano.

The Count asked the bartender to strengthen the drink. The bartender added gin instead of the soda. A slice of orange was also added to differentiate the drink from it's predecessor which would normally be garnished with a lemon.

This account gained further repute when Luca Picchi published a book called "Sulle Tracce Del Conte" about the life of Cammillo Negroni, someone many had argued may never have existed. The story goes the Count left Italy after fathering an illegitimate child so decided it was time to open a cattle ranch in the US.

The drink gained some notable success which led the Negroni family to set up the Negroni Distillerie in Treviso, Italy where they produced a ready made version of the drink.

As with some of the most famous classic cocktails, one of the earliest references comes from Orson Welles, who was working in Rome in 1947. He described the drink by saying "The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other" a true philosophy to live by.

Bond may be leaving the classic cocktails behind in his new film however both the Americano and Negroni were enjoyed in previous stories. The Negroni is mentioned in an obscure short story Risicio, which includes Bonds standard Gordon's gin. Contrary to popular knowledge the Americano is actually the first drink ordered in Casino Royale, then has subsequent appearances in From Russia With Love and then finally whilst at a cafe in From A View To A Kill. It is in the last film that we find out Bonds real attitudes towards the drink. He says "it is not a solid drink" and specifies Perrier instead of soda because "the cheapest way to improve a poor drink is with expensive soda water"

The drink also famously appeared in Tennessee Williams's novella, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone released in 1950 and then later expanded on in the film, released in 1961. Both feature a scene where character Warren Beaty is sipping on a Negroni, leading many to dub the drink a "playboys choice".

The Film Noir Leading Man Look

Effortlessly classy and well dressed men who were often portrayed as hardy, drinking womanizers, with a quick wit and undeniable cool factor, embodied the Film Noir leading man's role.

Essential pieces of clothing....
  • The Three Piece Suit
  • The Fedora
  • Trench Coat
  • A Cigarette