Frozen in Erin Rose

What a beautiful evening!

We’d finished the William Grant and Sons portfolio party and we were thirsty. There had been no alcohol at the party and after having worked it and finished at midnight, we wanted to get back out.

Where was everybody though? It was as if Tales had gone to bed. We started off in Santos; beer and a shot, and then walked over to Erin Rose. It felt good to be allowed to take our cans on the streets of New Orleans!

We made it to Erin Rose where unbeknown to me at the time, I met the most adorable person attending Tales. Walking in, I see my friend Carlos from Puerto Rico with a huge smile on his face and he says, “Tes, this guy brought his Mum to Tales!”.

Jeremy Johnson had received an invitation to speak at a seminar at Tales to which his mum said, “oh, it’s been such a long time since I’ve been to New Orleans!” For Jeremy to reply, “well why don’t you come with me?”.

He showed us a selfie that she’d sent him saying she got home safely and that his friends were wonderful. My heart melted. I missed my Mom! He spoke a lot about family, showed Carlos and I a photo of his son and it turned into a pretty soppy evening over iced Irish coffees – Erin Rose’s speciality!

Unfortunately I didn’t get a snap of the drink, but here’s one taken on our way out of the bar, taken at 6:24am. Oops.

Cheers!

-Erin Rose, New Orleans, USA

ETA: 1am, location: NOLA

Me “Where are you?”

Ben “Tonique!”

Me “Be there soon.”

About two weeks ago, I received an email titled “Your Complimentary Tales tickets are here!” and I was equally baffled as I was over the moon. Free cocktail festival tickets?! Yes!!! Being the unorganised mess that I often am, I completely forgot that on top of the honour of being invited to be a Spirited Awards judge, a Tales of the Cocktail ticket was also graciously included in the deal.

I’d been to Tales the previous year, and it was just like a really fun holiday of all my international friends in the industry getting together for loads of fantastic parties! And a great opportunity to learn from some of the best in the industry too. This year there weren’t as many friends especially from Mexico, mainly because many had invested in the Brooklyn Bar Convent instead, but we sure did have as much fun.

My Tales 2018 started in Tonique on North Lampart Street at around 1am on the Wednesday morning. I met up with the guys from Don Papa, a Filipino rum. Ben from NYC and Mick from Massachussetts were joined by Chris from the UK and we made one more stop after Tonique before arriving at “Saints”.

Now, I’ve previously lived in the States – San Antonio, Texas to be exact – where everyone was super friendly! But let me tell you that the guy on the door was anything but and it took us a little while for the four of us plus my huge suitcase to get to the beer and shots on the other side of the door. But once in, we were surrounded by a fun atmosphere of boogying locals and boozing industry folk starting their Tales 2018 journey. Ben gave us his best Elvis impression over the karaoke whilst we enjoyed shots and beers and beers and shots… admired the interesting RnB moves pulled by the guest and even more interesting artwork in the outside bar area.

A great introduction to the 4 days in the US to come!

Cheers!

-Saints, New Orleans, USA

A bit of Hanky Panky

“I am a strong, independent woman.” I repeatedly told myself when moving back to Mexico City alone in April 2017. I set out to find an apartment for myself and Angie, my pet beagle, and set my heart on a 125m two bedroom flat on the corner of La Juarez and El Centro. To win over the landlord and beat the tough competition, I wrote an extensive email detailing how well-behaved I am and how, as I work in the alcohol industry, home to me is a refuge and escape from the party-life my work leads me to live. Haw haw. In all fairness I’ve only had one party there in the whole year – it was a Piña Colada party and it was excellent.

If I do feel like a good cheeky cocktail after a tough day outside of my comfy four walls however, I need not go far at all. Two blocks from my house and on the corner of the Juarez fruit and veg market is Hanky Panky; Mexico City’s answer to an elite speakeasy bar with a menu boasting drinks from the best bartenders of Mexico. Although I admittedly end up there for a nightcap of mezcal, there is something to tickle anybody’s tastebuds – even my Mother’s who “doesn’t even drink”! Please see below the Caramel Manhattan 🙂

Back in November 2017, my parents and sister came to visit me in Mexico. Now, I’m a bit unsure of their honest opinion of what I do for a living… in fact a lot of that is because I think they don’t really know. Once we went to Dandelyan in London (<3) and my mum’s feedback was “I just don’t understand why people want to go to a fancy bar to drink expensive things and chat.”. Obviously, my heart sunk and I was therefore apprehensive of bringing them to my beloved neighbourhood bar.

However! On this evening I sat my parents in the middle of the bar in front of Ismael “Pollo” Martinez, in my opinion one of the best bartenders in Mexico, and they were mesmerised!

-“But, how does he remember all the recipes?!”

-“How did he learn how to use his tools like that?”

-“How long does it take to learn how to do that??”

It was amazing.

If you want to visit this bar upon visiting Mexico City, which you definitely should, I would highly recommend making a reservation. They often have different amazing bartenders there, so even if you don’t end up having a chance to watch Pollo work his magic, you will have a great time. And may I say, the bathrooms have fantastic lighting for selfies.

¡Salud!

-Hanky Panky, Juarez, Mexico City, Mexico

Naked and Famous in Shoreditch

My cousin used to work in a bar in Brixton. I learnt a lot from him: how to stick a straw to the outside of a martini glass, how to chat up cute guys on his atheletic’s team at university, that kind of stuff. He also taught me a lot about music, and one song that was always on our uni playlist was by ‘Young Blood’, titled ‘Naked and Famous’.

This also happens to be the name of what I guess one of the most well-known classic mezcal cocktails. It’s a mix of mezcal with yellow Chartreuse, Aperol and lime juice, a twist on the ‘Last Word’ cocktail. Once I heard Joseph Mortera, kickass gin ambassador in Mexico, say it was the only cocktail he prefers made with mezcal instead of gin so there’s another testament of it’s greatness for you!

On this particular evening, I find myself at the upstairs bar at Hawksmoor Spitalfields in Shoreditch. This isn’t because I’m not a huge fan of the cocktail bar downstairs (I LOVE IT) but it’s because I’m hanging out with Johnnie. He’s an awesome Spanish bartender that I’d met maybe a year ago? And somehow we ended up in Barcelona at the same time last summer and had a night out there too. It’s always great seeing him because he always has a huge smile, lots of positivity and creative ideas. And today he was telling me about how recently he’s been told that he looks like a younger Saul Berenson from Homeland. I had no idea who that was but had to laugh out loud when we googled him:

Definitely go to Hawksmoor Spitalfields for the drinks on their menu, which changes by season. They also won ‘Best International Restaurant Bar’ at the Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail and are in the running to win again this year! And they do a pretty wicked mac and cheese too 😉

Best of luck to them for the awards and ¡Salud!

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-Hawksmoor Spitalfields, Shorditch, London UK

Aperol Spritz in a Beer Garden

England had gone mad.
London was sunny and over 30° every day, the English football team seemed to be headed for the finals and everyone was obsessing over ‘Love Island’.
-OK I need to pause and talk about this Love Island thing a second especially as I’ve noticed that most of my readers aren’t British… I have to admit that a programme where “single people get put into a villa and they have to couple up” sounded absolutely absurd so only possible explanation was that the sun had obviously got into my friends’ heads… But now I’ve found myself back in Mexico having downloaded a VPN and stressing out when I’m behind on episodes. Oops. #TeamLauraAndJack.

Anyway back to sunny England, and sunny Shoreditch to be exact. I have always loved Shoreditch and actually, some of my first experiences drinking alone have been here in a little underground cocktail bar called Hawksmoor Spitalfields, but we’ll come back to them in another post, perhaps the next.

On this day, I caught up with my friend Lizzie after she’d been showing off some scotch and gin around her accounts. I was half an hour late 😦 But when I finally did make it, we met up in a beer garden which belongs to ‘The Crown and Shuttle’ and it was PACKED. So packed that the actual beer garden was full, and we snuck up to a little balcony overlooking… the plastic covering the beer garden haha.

We were feeling bubbly, so Lizzie had a wine spritzer and I ordered an Aperol Spritz. I’ve been enjoying Aperol Spritz for about two years now, ever since I was having a chat to Luca Cinalli in Oriole, and when asking what his favourite cocktail was, that was his choice. The next day in a pub I couldn’t think of anything else, and on sunny days it’s high up on my list of thirst-quenchers.

Our chat circled about plans for the future. The near (where shall we go next?) and the far (I probably won’t ever get married!) but it’s a great little pub, such a fun vibe from the bartenders to the clients! I don’t know if it’s somewhere I’d go alone though actually – it’s a place more tailored for groups and no seats at the bar, but 100% recommended for groups when sunny or for evening fun.

Cheers!

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-Crown and Shuttle, Shoreditch, London UK

French me in East London

On the phone, me “Lizzie, Hesh wants to go to Satan’s Whiskers. Is it any good?”
Lizzie (London based, ex Pernod, current Remy Martin, my best bud and go-to on cool London joints) “Yeah it’s fab! One of the industry peoples’ favourites actually. How does he know about it?”

Satan’s Whiskers it is then.

I hadn’t seen Hesh for four years – just before I’d moved to Mexico was the last time we’d caught up over a beverage. And here we are again with me telling him I’m coming back.

This particular afternoon was extraodinary as English weather goes – as in, bare legs no jumper weather – and we had two plans. A couple of beers in a beer garden enjoying the sun, then a couple of cocktails in Santan’s Whiskers round the corner. We started off over a beer, and feeling daring he went for a smoked pale ale… and wasn’t that convinced, ha ha!

Me “Did you know that they use peat, a natural carbon often found in the Scottish islands, to add the smoked flavour during the malting process??” – whoops, I’ve just slipped into alcohol-related ramble again!
Hesh “What are you going to do if you leave the alcohol industry for good? You obviously love it.”
Me “I’m not going to leave entirely… I’m going to write a blog about drinking alone.”
Hesh *Plays imaginary violin*

Hahaha. I guess I’m going to be getting that reaction a lot, but that’s why it’s worth writing all this!

We arrive to Satan’s Whiskers and are greeted by Joe the bartender. This bar is amazing, I quickly spot the devil decoration on the drip rail (see both photos) and… is that AN EAGLE(?) WITH A SNAKE’S HEAD? (see photo of French 75).

Joe explains that they offer different cocktails every single day. How is this possible? They have a huge library of drinks and the bartender working the shift chooses which they would like to make on that particular evening. His favourite on the menu is the French 75 with cognac, yum! So of course I ordered that, and Hesh a martini which apart from yum was also super photogenic! Hesh re-ordered the French (big fan of the maraschino cherry) whilst I moved onto mezcales. In Mexico, there are over 200 registered-to-sell-commercially mezcales, however in UK I’ve only consistantly seen about 3 different brands. They did have a cheeky Minero style however which I enjoyed a lot, and needless to say we were the last in the bar.

We left with Hesh commenting how he now understood why I prefer to sit at the bar instead of taking a seat at a table. Great success!!

Cheers!

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-Satan’s Whiskers, Bethnal Green, London UK

A Negroni in Southampton

I’ve been trying to make some changes recently.

Getting up early, eating less meat, doing more exercise… you know, “good habits”. I guess the pressure of turning the big three-oh next year has got me thinking: Are there a few things that I need to do first?

Of course the answer is yes. That’s why I’m sitting, drinking alone in a city that I have never and probably will never live in contemplating how I will tell my boss that I’d like to quit my job in Mexico, move back to the UK and start travelling the world to visit different bars.

I’ve been a brand ambassador for four years now, the first three for a blended Scotch whisky in Mexico and Texas, and the last year back to Mexico to represent an artesenal mezcal. My job involves working between marketing and sales on a national level blah blah blah… Basically I get to meet a lot of really interesting people with loads of stories that not enough people get to listen to. The most interesting people that I’ve come across recently are definitely the bartenders. Why? Hopefully, with time, this blog will be able to help you understand that. Let’s get back to the current situation.

One of my new “good habits” is trying not to be late… Therefore I’m about two hours early. It’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m meeting my friend when they get off work in Southampton. Not knowing much about this city, I just Googled “hotel bars” – hotel bars are kind of my safe option when I don’t know where to go to drink. They’re always open on Sundays, they always have a variety of people and I like to hope that they usually know a thing or two about a good cocktail compared to your average English pub.

“Is there a seat at the bar? Thank you.” I asked, walking into a large restaurant and bar space overlooking the harbour. I’m instantly greeted by a friendly face and an accent… Italian I guess. I look at the menu but ask if I could order a Negroni. “For you, of course.” comes the answer from his younger colleague. They have a little conversation, confirming in my head that they are both Italian. I’ve never been served a bad drink by an Italian as of yet, and the way he dances his barspoon around the beautiful Old Fashioned to cool it, hints that again I won’t be disappointed. I choose The Botanist Gin as my friend has just started working with them and I had yet to try it – there isn’t such a large selection of spirits in Mexico as in England so I try to take advantage. My Negroni arrives and I whip out my phone to take a picture. Younger bartender looks disappointed, I know, it’s annoying when people take Instagram shots of every plate/drink/coffee/outfit before enjoying themselves, but still tells me that I might get a better shot from the balcony. He wasn’t wrong!

I come back and we start talking over my delicious Negroni and a couple of mezcales. I find out that his name is Oscar, he’s 22 (I’m surprised, he’s very mature, I mean, comparing to myself at 22), he’s been in Southampton for about a month with his colleague, he misses Italy and Italian food (mamma mia!) and finds English people undirect. And then this conversation happens.

Oscar: “You’re not a normal English person.”
Me: “Well… I’m only half English. And I live in Mexico.”
Oscar: “That must explain it.”
Me: “Why?”
Oscar: “Normal English people don’t sit at the bar alone.”

And you know what? He’s right.

So that’s it. I’ve decided I’m going to start this “shedrinksalone” blog, documenting experiences I have in bars, with drinks, on my own or with others. For some reason there’s a huge stigma about drinking alone – that’s it’s for depressed or alcoholic people.. But it’s really not. Don’t be scared to walk into a bar alone and sit in front of a bartender, take a few minutes to relax, let the drinks flow and the conversation even more so.

Alla tua salute!36796975_10160617407110494_3688012112686219264_n

-HarBAR on 6th, Southampton, UK