“It’s a personal statement by one individual for another”.

Adriano Di Giovanni

Adriano Di Giovanni

One day a week Adriano Di Giovanni spends a solid six hours just preparing for cocktails. Just three years ago Adriano left sunny Sicily with the express intention of becoming a world class cocktail specialist. For the last year or so he has been at Zilouf’s in Islington. “What I love about this bar is that whatever we can grow or make ourselves we do and that applies as much to sauces in the kitchen as it does to juices behind the bar and the decor on the walls”, he says. “There is a really positive, ‘yeah let’s do it’ attitude here. We are encouraged to try new things, to experiment”.

Adriano is Italian and in keeping with the national stereotype there is an energy and passion to the man as he explains what motivates him, “As a bartender, making a cocktail for someone is more than a job. It’s a personal statement by one individual for another. This is from me to you and I want it to be the best it can be. I want to see you enjoy my work”.

Outside Zilhouf’s windows it has stopped raining and by midday the sun is beginning to shine on Upper Street. Looking back from the scene Adriano says that this “Is the perfect time for an Espresso Martini”.

Espresso Martini

Vodka
Espresso Coffee
Giffard Noisette D’Anjou
Giffard Cherry Brandy

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Tattoos and bartending are a blend of two profound subcultures

Nathan Shearer

Nathan Shearer

“They’re a very personal scrapbook”, Nathan Shearer says of his tattoos. “I got my first when I was 19. It was a small act of rebellion and a bold step into a new subculture. Since then they have become markers from travels around the world, with two from Smith Street in New York City but most from Soho in London. I have always admired the talent and craftsmanship of great tattoo artists”, he continued.

Born and raised in South Wales, Nathan had a long-standing interest in cocktails before he moved to London to study Computer Science at King’s College. The discovery of London’s social scene led on to what Nathan calls the “seductive bartender subculture” and the point of no return. He trained at the London Cocktail Club and with a well respected reputation he is now creating his own art at uber cool Callooh Callay in Shoreditch.

A great cocktail requires many things but “chief among them are trusted brands with consistent flavours and the use of fresh natural ingredients is a must. I won’t have anything artificial on the bar” says Nathan. “Right now, my favourite cocktail is a classic Mai Tai. Happy to make one for you anytime”, he concludes.

Mai Tai
15ml Lime Juice
15ml Giffard Orgeat
15ml Cointreau
25ml Bacardi Superior
25ml Appleton VX
10ml Goslings 151, floated on top.

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Hanna Bixo & The Spirit of Art 2014

Hann Bixo

Hann Bixo

“My surname is Portugese, I was born in Gothenburg, to Swedish parents and raised in the chilly north of Sweden. I also have a native North American ancestor and I celebrate that with a geometric arrow tattoo”, says Hanna Bixo. “I guess you could say that I’m Native American, Portugese, Swedish – now mixing it in London”.

“My first tattoo was inspired by the Muse hit, ‘Sing for Absolution’. I am constantly reminded of the song and how I feel whenever I hear it. Then came the swallows representing coming of age and leaving the nest but the large snowflake is there to remind me of snow, skiing and home”, she enthuses.

Hanna arrived in London at 18 years old, straight out of school. “I had visited the city many times before then and fell in love with it every time. When I finally got to live here I was enraptured by the cocktail scene and immediately enrolled at Bar School”, said Hanna. Now a top bartender at the very popular Hawksmoor Bar in Knightsbridge, Hanna’s love for the city is stronger than ever but her choice of cocktail gives away the international heritage.

Aviation
Gin
Lemon juice
Giffard Maraschino Liqueur
Giffard Creme de Violette

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The Warmest Welcome in Islington

ziloufs_outside_dusk-1024x640The first things we noticed about Zilouf’s were the smiles. We were at the bar early on a Monday morning in November, not exactly cocktail hour but that time of the day when you see a bar for what it really is and the sound of a chair scraping across the floor cuts the atmosphere and echoes off every wall and fixture. We were there for Giffard’s Spirit of Art 2014 photoshoot and during the day renowned bartenders from across London slipped in and out, giving up their time at what is for many of them a seldom seen part of the day. It was an opportunity for us to hear from them about what is happening on London’s cocktail scene, the vibrant subculture of late night cocktails, bartenders and body art. More on that next month but right now let’s talk about Zilouf’s and why this bar is worth coming back to again and again.

bar_2_280214-1024x682The team spirit and ‘yeah, we can do that’ attitude from the Zilouf’s staff bowled us over. When service is this good you just know you are in for a good time and we had already decided to head back to Islington and enjoy the bar when the light was falling out of the windows and not streaming in but not before we got a few moments with owner, Andrew Zilouf. Before crossing over to the business side of the bar, Andrew was a financial journalist and he brought that attention to detail with him when he opened Zilouf’s and more recently 100 Hoxton, in Shoreditch. “My team and I wanted to create something a little different. The bar needed to be an expression of ourselves. Every detail, every fixture, every fitting was made or adapted by us”‘ he says. “The piano didn’t work as it was so we broke it up and hung it on the walls in pieces”, he points out. It is the same story with an old TV set and a myriad of other decorations. Overall they combine and complement the service to create the warm familiar feeling of a favourite pair of jeans.

sofa_280214-1024x682True to our word, we came back a few weeks later and tried a number of cocktails, all brilliant and we included the Espresso Martini, usually the preserve of Sunday Brunchers but very welcome at the end of the evening too. The classic cocktail menu was more than enticing and we can recommend the Apple & Pear Sidecar and Zilouf’s Hurricane without reserve. The strong food offering makes this bar a delight for day and evening and you should plan on spending more than an hour or two enjoying the fun and hospitality on offer.

Espresso Martini
Vodka
Hazelnut
Cherry
Espresso coffee

Apple & Pear Sidecar
Apple
Pear
Cognac
Vanilla

Zilouf’s Hurricane
Light, dark, overproof and gold rums
Curaçao
Pineapple
Lime
and ‘a storm damaged umbrella’

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Mum said, if you’re going to spend most of your life in a bar, you may as well get paid for your time

Iain Griffiths

Iain Griffiths

Born into a family line of bartenders, Iain Griffiths learned his trade in Brisbane, improved it in Melbourne, polished it in Sydney and brought it to perfection in London via a stint in Edinburgh. Why trek half way around the world? “Following a girl of course”, came his immediate reply.

Taking up the trade was a natural step. “Mum always said, if you’re going to spend most of your life in a bar, you may as well get paid for your time”, and did so knowing his Grandfather had been a publican for 3 decades with even his Father turning his hand a pint-pouring for a time when young.

“That still doesn’t mean they were too thrilled when it became my sole focus, though they definitely preferred it to the tattoo’s.” One stroke of genius to try and endear them to the idea was to start off with both family motto’s down either ribcage. From there and with rapid succession the rest has followed or due to follow, with the whole body planned out and mostly sticking to his preferred style of bold outline and few strong and clearly visible colours.

“London suits me. I love the energy and the vibe here. Endless opportunities”. Iain is now mixing it up with My Lyan, the company that owns the White Lyan and Dandelyan in London, as well as Henry at the Hudson in NYC. His cocktail of the moment? “The Banana Daiquiri” he says without hesitation.

Banana Daiquiri
50ml Bacardi Superior
20ml Lime juice
15ml Giffard Banane du Brésil
A bar spoon of sugar syrup

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“London’s shockwave of creative energy overwhelms and redefines you”.

Jay Doy at Zilouf's, London

Jay Doy at Zilouf’s, London

At 16 years old the image of a reclining lady started to emerge on Jay Doy’s forearm and a tattoo grand plan started to take shape in his mind. “I’ve now got cat like images of David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Adam Ant, Boy George and John Lennon”, he beamed. “I’m a great fan of the water colour style and I’m pleased that it’s becoming a growing trend”.

Jay only recently moved to London from his native Southampton. “The first thing that hits you is the sheer scale of things in London. Everything is bigger, faster, more intense”, he says. “London’s shockwave of creative energy overwhelms and redefines you. It’s inspiring”!

Talking of his past, Jay said “I originally trained as a chef but being locked away in the kitchen meant I didn’t get to meet people and I really missed that so, I switched into cocktail making as a more out front, creative role and I love it”. Jay has successfully started to compete in cocktail competitions and is currently working at the famous Library in Islington. “Consistent high quality ingredients with strong reliable favours are crucial to a great cocktail. Fresh natural ingredients are where the flavour is and for me, that’s where success is too”, his finger tapping out the key points as he talks. “My cocktail of the year is Edame’s Last Word”.

Edame’s Last Word
20ml Gin
20ml Chartreuse
20ml fresh lime juice
15ml Giffard Lichi Li
5ml Giffard Maraschino Liqueur
Edamame beans

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Sarah Mitchell and The Spirit of Art

Sarah set out “to be a top bartender at a top joint”.

Sarah set out “to be a top bartender at a top joint”.

“It was a gradual realisation that what I really wanted was to be a top bartender, at a top joint”, says Sarah Mitchell, a Sydneysider with all the enthusiasm and energy we have come to expect from Australians abroad. “I’m now a trainer and supervisor at the blues kitchen and I’m just loving it”!

Sarah majored in Combined Sciences and had every intention of returning home for postgraduate studies but she fell in love with London’s hospitality industry. “Meeting new people every day and being surrounded by them having a great time is so seductive”, she says. “I became a flair bartender and then my interest in chemistry took me down a more traditional route. I believe cocktail making is an art. Science is understanding flavour at molecular level. My favourite cocktail is the Perfect Lady”:

Perfect Lady
Gin
Giffard Crème de Pêche de Vigne
Lemon juice
Sugar
Egg white

Sarah’s first tattoo, a doodle, was designed by her sister which the two of them then had done together. The centrepiece of Sarah’s collection today is a peacock perched upon a throne of roses, that stretches from her right shoulder to her right ankle and the impressive work was done in London. Sarah’s left hip features bold frangipanis display, which reminds her of a scent so unique to home in New South Wales.

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Jake Blanch & The Spirit of Art 2014

“Swallows started it. I fell in love with classic ‘40s and ‘50s American tattoos.” - Jake Blanch

“Swallows started it. I fell in love with classic ‘40s and ‘50s American tattoos.” – Jake Blanch

The first of 11 featured bartenders in this year’s Spirit of Art is Jake Blanch. Jake has been interested in cocktails for as long as he can remember and as soon as he hit 18 he turned his interest into his profession. Now working at the renowned Hawksmore bar in Covent Garden, Jake talks about his love of cocktails, tattoos and the Devon coast.

Leaning forward, onto the bar he says, “Swallows started it. I fell in love with classic ‘40s and ‘50s American tattoos.” A Londoner born and bred, Jake spent his childhood summers with his grandparents in Devon, where he learned to sail and believes “that’s what inspired the nautical theme” to his tattoos.

Jake still has his drum kit at home in Shoreditch, a reminder of his days in an indie rock band but now most of his creative energy is consumed by experimenting with new flavours and perfecting classic cocktails. His cocktail of the moment is the Corpse Reviver No.2.

Corpse Reviver No.2
Gin
Lillet Blanc
Absinthe
Giffard Orange Liqueur
Lemon juice

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Introducing the New Giffard Spirit of Art

Giffard Spirit of Art 2014

Giffard Spirit of Art 2014

One Monday morning in November, as the rain poured down on Upper Street, 11 of London’s finest and most colourful bartenders met at Zilouf’s, in Islington, for a photoshoot with renowned photographer Theo Chalmers.

Last year the Giffard Spirit of Art brought back some stunning work for the Menthe Pastille brand, created by painters in the late 19th and early 20th century. This year we wanted to explore the Spirit of Art in the early 21st century and the images captured by Theo are absolutely stunning. In 2014, the bartenders have become both the artist and the canvas.

Over the next few weeks we will be posting the new Giffard Spirit of Art across social media, one shot at a time.

We hope you enjoy the collection as much as we enjoyed creating it.

Giffard Spirit of Art - Covent Garden 2013

Giffard Spirit of Art – Covent Garden 2013

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Why Winning The Giffard West Cup Is So Special

Studio 1939, Singapore

Studio 1939, Singapore

It is a one shot deal, no second chances, no “you’ll get ’em next time”, just one chance to win against true cocktail champions from around the world, a once in a lifetime opportunity win the Giffard West Cup. Just to make the challenge that little bit harder, the competition is only held every two years but the next one is looming large and heading our way in Spring 2015.

Make no mistake; the Giffard West Cup is one of the world’s premier cocktail championships drawing the champion bartenders from around the globe to Angers in France for two days of intense creativity. The national and regional heats are well underway and Asia has already found its champion in Kino Soh who won the Giffard East Cup last month.

Kino Soh (right) with Edith Giffard at Studio 1939, Singapore

Kino Soh (right) with Edith Giffard at Studio 1939, Singapore

What makes the Giffard East Cup final so interesting is that it is exactly the same format as the West Cup final. Each of the bartenders must make two cocktails. The first is along a set theme that is broad enough to allow creativity yet tight enough to bind each competitor to the challenge and to each other. Everyone has an opportunity to think, plan and perfect their offering ahead of the big day and then do their utmost to replicate their best offerings for the judges. No easy task but compared with the black box challenge of the second cocktail, it’s a breeze.

For the second cocktail, each of the bartenders is simply presented with a black box, containing a surprise selection of potential ingredients. They do not know what will be in the box, there is no opportunity to research and prepare, just a few moments to turn inspiration into a cocktail that will blow the judges’ socks off and win that coveted number 1 spot. Easy, huh?

The Giffard East Cup finalists. From left to right, Sam Wong, Kino Soh, Jeremie Tan and Mike Cheong

The Giffard East Cup finalists.
From left to right, Sam Wong, Kino Soh, Jeremie Tan and Mike Cheong

There were 4 finalists for this year’s East Cup Final, Kino Soh of the Hopscotch Bar, Jeremie Tan from Jekyll ‘n Hyde, Mike Cheong from the Woo Bar and Sam Wong from the Ah Sam Drink Stall. Each of them had won several highly competitive local rounds to have the honour of representing their country or region at the final and then entered the final 3 knockout rounds that saw Kino Soh emerge victorious and heading to the Giffard West Cup final in April. This competition was tighter than a bank manager’s smile so, while we look forward to enjoying Kino’s cocktails in Anjou next year, we thought everyone’s recipes should be out there for everyone to enjoy.

Winner Kino Soh with her Menthe Paradis

Winner Kino Soh with her Menthe Paradis

1st Place – Kino Soh from the Hopscotch Bar

‘Menthe Paradis’
Ingredients:
45ml Blackcurrant infused gin
10ml Lemon juice
1 Whole passion fruit
15ml Simple syrup
10ml Menthe Pastille
6 Drops Elekumale bitters

Shake and double strain

Garnish:
Garnish with a cinnamon stick, star anise and crushed pink peppercorn

Glassware:
A wooden bowl.

From the Black Box – ‘Pink Jam’
Ingredients:
45ml Ron Zacapa Rum
25ml Cinnamon Orange Dragon Fruit Syrup
15ml Fresh orange juice
10ml Fresh lemon juice
10ml Giffard Rhubarb Liqueur

Method
Dry shake + Shake with ice and strain

Garnish:
Dragon fruit slice, orange flame and grated cinnamon

Glassware:
Coupe

Mike Cheong's Chai of Life

Mike Cheong’s Chai of Life

2nd Place – Mike Cheong from Woo Bar

‘Chai Of Life’
Ingredients:
30ml Absolute Pear
15ml Chamomile infused gin
25ml Passion fruit puree
10ml Menthe Pastille
30ml Chrysanthemum tea
Fresh muddled cucumber

Garnish:
Sliced cucumber

Glassware:
Persian Tea Set

From the Black Box – ‘Back in the days’
Ingredients:
30ml Ford’s Gin
20ml Giffard Pear Williams
10ml Parfait Amour
10ml Fresh lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Muddled Lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaves

Method:
Shaken and strained

Garnish:
Cinnamon, lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaves

Glassware:
Crafted orange bowl

Jeremie Tan's Gold Rush

Jeremie Tan’s Gold Rush

3rd Place – Jeremie Tan from Jekyll and Hyde

‘Gold Rush’
Ingredients:
45ml Don Papa Rum
20ml Menthe Pastille
20ml Homemade Gula Melaka, ABC stout, 70% dark
10ml Lime juice
1 egg yolk
Ground cinnamon

Garnish:
Gold flakes, dehydrated Thai mint powder, gold coin chocolate

Glassware:
Asian teacup, banana leaf, plate, brown sugar

From the Black Box – ‘My Secret Garden’
Ingredients:
45ml G’ Vine Floraison Gin
30ml Giffard Green Melon Liqueur
15ml Fresh lemon juice
15ml Simple syrup
1 egg white

Method
Shake and Strain

Garnish:
Pandan leaves, Lime leaves and a lemon wheel

Glassware:
Rock glass

Sam Wong putting the finishing touches to his Secret Garden

Sam Wong putting the finishing touches to his Secret Garden

4th Place – Sam Wong from the Ah Sam Drink Stall

‘Secret Garden’
Ingredients:
30ml Vodka
15ml Giffard Menthe Pastille
15ml Giffard Cacao White Liqueur
150g of Vanilla Ice Cream
2 teaspoons of Oreo bits
1 teaspoon of orange peel

Garnish:
Oreo bits, mint sprig and hand whipped cream with Giffard Menthe Pastille

Glassware: Old Fashioned

From the Black Box – ‘Mata Hari’
Ingredients:
40ml Tanqueray 10 Gin
20ml Dolin Sweet Vermouth Rouge
20ml Noilly Prat
20ml Giffard Maraschino Liqueur
20ml Fresh limejuice
1 whole mangosteen
½ Kaffir Lime Leaf
Dash of chilli

Method:
Muddle and shake

Garnish:
Mangosteen shell, cinnamon, a clove dragon fruit and pandan

Glassware:
Tiki

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