An Anti-Wine List I Once Made – Tasting Notes: Hint Of Sarcasm

An Anti-Wine List I Once Made – Tasting Notes: Hint Of Sarcasm

So, I’m not a wine guy. I’ve a sweet tooth, I’ve had some Reislings that I’ve liked and the odd dessert wine, but that’s it. I can’t even go near red… bad experience (haven’t we all??) in my brief uni days. So back when I was managing White’s Tavern, the usual deal was, the company that we signed a deal with to be our wine distributor, would design the wine list. They’d also cover the cost of printing, which for someone like me (no clue about wine and stingy as fuck), was perfect! They get some professional sommelier to write the tasting notes and job’s a good’un. We’d been at this for a few years and I gradually grew sick of the pretentious tasting notes – just guff after guff after guff. I’m sure they genuinely did reflect an accurate description of the wine at hand, but my issue was mainly the following: White’s Tavern is (one of) Belfast’s oldest pubs, it’s a traditional Irish bar – low ceiling, peat fire, great Guinness… for the same reason I never did a cocktail menu, I wasn’t keen on going mad with wines. If you’re a wine aficionado, there’s places you would go to first… This was reflected in the sales too, on the proper wine lists, before my kinda-joke-but-not-really wine list, we sold massively more 1/4 bottles of wine than regular bottles – again, in my experience, wine aficionados aren’t clamouring for a 187.5ml bottle of house plonk. So I thought ‘Fuck It’. I’m going to have fun with this, it’s going to be a bit of light entertainment. Most...
A round-up of Easter Licensing social media ire

A round-up of Easter Licensing social media ire

This is just a sample of course, from those of us in Northern Ireland who are sick, tired & embarrassed of our Easter opening hours.     And here’s one of many bars that will have had to close due to the opening hours…   Of course the views of the general public seems fairly obvious… Industry body Hospitality Ulster was on the case all weekend, sharing messages from its members calling for normalisation of the hours…...
3 Great Crowdfunding Drinks Projects You Can Join

3 Great Crowdfunding Drinks Projects You Can Join

Crowdfunding… you know what it is by now, it’s been one of the biggest changes in the way the world does business in the 21st century. Got a good idea? Could take it to a bank and do the leg work, maybe even have a go at Dragon’s Den… or use a crowdfunding website and get the added benefit of testing if there’s a market for your product at the same time as raising capital. Superb! Locally, the success story of Brewbot, beer and technology wizards who combined to make an automated brewing system that can be controlled via an app and who have since gone on to open their own bar on Belfast’s Ormeau Road, these guys raised over $100,000. Brewbot units are popping up in some of the world’s leading technology companies for staff to use and many, many other places. This makes professional scale and consistency brewing possible for anyone! Here’s a list of some great crowdfunding projects ongoing in the drinks business The Stone Cup Made from metamorphic black marble, each cup is unique – these aren’t made, they’re crafted. Keeping your drink at a more sustained temperature, there’s a practical side to it… also, it looks AWESOME. You can just imagine sitting there with an Old Fashioned in your black marble stone cup, watching some fine documentary about prohibition! Alcohoot Edge A palm-sized bluetooth connected breathalyzer that uses police grade breath sensor technology to accurately track and measure your blood alcohol levels. According to the manufacturer, the Alcohoot Edge allows you to make safer and smarter decisions and also it can improve your health....
2016 – NI Year of Food & Drink: The NI Cookbook

2016 – NI Year of Food & Drink: The NI Cookbook

Earlier in the year I attended an event at St Georges Market promoting NI producers, both food and drink, I met James McIntosh – a local chap doing fantastically well as an ambassador for Aga cookers and by all accounts, big in China as a TV chef. James spoke at length about his love for what we have here in the province and he quite clearly has a passion for it. 2016 is to be the, “Northern Ireland year of food and drink,” promoting what we have here in NI both to locals and people abroad, we could and should try to become a destination holiday for foodies, why the hell not, look at what we have! James McIntosh is putting together the NI Cookbook where local farmers, artisan producers, brewers, distillers, fishermen, butchers and the rest of the field (so to speak), can share their stories, have a light shone on their creations – both to be marketed at home and abroad. The Year of Food and Drink is something I will hopefully be writing about a lot over the coming year, and I expect I’ll spend a lot of that time reminding people of the ‘Drink’ element of this… Hopefully the local producers will come out of the year a league beyond that which they started in, already local success stories are getting traction elsewhere, Hannon’s Meats, Keen Nut Butter, Finnebrogue Venison, Hilden Brewery, Ruby Blue Liqueur to name but a few – who knows what brand leaders we’ll be talking about next December, but initiatives like McIntosh’s should contribute to that list being longer and longer....
Tis The Season: What December Means To Me

Tis The Season: What December Means To Me

Christmas has always been an odd time for me… familial instability, constant upheaval and extremely anti-social work hours… this is the first year since I moved back to Northern Ireland that the festive season isn’t overshadowed by work and chaos. I moved to England when I was 11 or 12, I spent every christmas back in Belfast on school holidays with my grandfather or occasionally in Canada with my uncle, I’m not sure I’ve spent a christmas day with my mother since maybe age 10 or 11 – given the constant chaos (for want of a better word) of ‘home life for me in my teenage years, it was preferable. Eventually I moved out and off to Uni in London (that’s another story for another time…) where I spent one christmas day alone in a house (everyone else went home for the holidays) and the other christmas day of my time in London, I have no clue whatsoever what I did… I sometimes think my mind is a series of locked boxes with the keys lost – such little memory of growing up and even now I’m incredibly forgetful. So yeah, I have no clue what I was up to for Christmas 2007 – an entire holiday season remains a mystery. Eventually I wound up back in Belfast and working in the bar trade, and what a burden that is at times! Overall, hospitality is a great industry to work in but never underestimate the effect that unsocial working hours can have on your life. In February my partner and I will celebrate our 8th year together, yet this...