Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Imbibe London Bar Show 2012

Nothing brings out the countries best bartenders like a trade show. It’s a chance to research, learn and (the best part) try new products on the market. It’s also a great opportunity to meet with other industry experts and discuss all things drinking.

I’ve attended several trade shows in Australia, but this was on such a larger scale. There were many new products on display and I’d love to share my thoughts on all of them, but it would take me forever. I can however pick out a couple of products which have stood in my mind.

New flavoured vodkas seemed to be a popular trend this year. One which caught my eye was Belvedere Vodka’s new “Bloody Mary” flavoured spirit. This addition to the belvedere brand contains seven vital ingredients which makes the bloody mary cocktail such a popular drink today. It is a maceration of black pepper, horse-raddish, bell peppers, chilli, vinegar, lemon and (of course) tomatos. It also contains hints of other herbs and spices, such as celery. When I tasted this spirit straight, I could really pick up the smokey flavours of the black pepper instantly. The taste of the chilli’s was apparent too, but it didn’t make the vodka spicy. It was a nice spirit and I could see the potential of this flavour for home bartenders. It had strong bloody mary flavours, but not over powering. It is a spirit that has not been designed to replace the original cocktail flavours (like so many flavoured spirits try to do), it simply would compliment the ingredients which you’d use to make the classic drink.

Now something for the sweet tooth... Thunder Toffee flavoured vodka. Thunder toffee vodka is a triple distilled premium vodka, free of additives and preservatives. During the distillation process,  fresh toffee is melted down and added to give the vodka a smooth sweet taste. Thunder has been designed to be drunk as a shot or straight on ice. Although cocktails have been created with this spirit, it’s sweet and over-powering flavour can make it hard to use in drinks.  Thunder toffee has become a huge success amongst ski resorts mainly in France. I found it nice, but you could not have more than one or two. It is very sweet. In my opinion it must be served ice cold. Room temperature in good, but ice cold gives the spirit a clean and crisp taste.

As I walked around the Imbibe show, I came across several products which I’ve tried in the past. I can’t resist sampling them again. Some of my old favourites such as Ron Zacapa Rum and Courvoisier Cognac are always popular among us bartenders. I was also impressed with the wine component of the show. Wine often takes a back seat to the spirits and liqueurs, so it was good to see some of the top wineries from around Europe getting involved in a big way. I had the pleasure of visiting the French wine stand which had over 100 of the finest French wines on display for us to try.

By the end of the day, we were all a little tipsy. Trade show’s are always a lot of fun. I was able to learn a lot, try many new products and mingle with the UK’s industry experts.

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