At Imbibe HQ, our desks are lined with tasting glasses. We're constantly heading out to boozy, beery events, and we nose more wine than we could possibly write about. In Imbibe's Favourite Things, our editors trawl through their liquid memories from the past month to pick the bottles, books and drinking experiences they're loving at the moment
Hayman’s Small Gin
Chris Losh, editor
Unsurprisingly, my pick from this month is something I came across at Imbibe Live. Equally unsurprisingly – given how much of the stuff there was there – it’s a gin.
But I’d say that this one is a bit different.
The Hayman’s Small Gin is a normal-strength gin (43%) but flavour-wise it’s stronger. Like Lionel Messi or a Duracell battery it packs a lot into a small frame.
The result, they say, is that you only need tiny amounts of it with your tonic to make a perfectly decently-flavoured G&T. Tasting like proper G&T, but with only 0.2 units of alcohol per serve, it’s great if you’re driving, watching your booze intake or wary of dehydrating in the sun.
I’ve been testing this theory to destruction – particularly since it’s been steaming hot – and I can confirm that it works. Good gin, made by a company that cares about gin’s soul and yet ticking all the mindfulness boxes too. Good job!
£26, Hayman's Gin, firstname.lastname@example.org for sales info
Laura Foster, regular contributor
Somewhat restricted by the fact that I’m unable to really drink alcohol at the moment, I’ve been delving further into the NA category. The recent launch of Nonsuch Shrubs’ products targeting the on-trade, consisting of ‘shrub aperitifs’, or neat drinking vinegars, are my latest favourites. (It’s worth noting that the company launched a range of RTDs where the shrubs have been mixed with sparkling water in 2018; these are the neat version.) There are two flavours – blood orange and bitter lemon; and bittersweet apple and cardamom – and both boast incredible depth of flavour without the mouth-puckering vinegar character that most shrubs have. They’re great simply mixed with soda water, or will do great service as a cocktail modifier. We experimented with the bittersweet apple and cardamom, adding a touch to a highball of blended Japanese whisky and Merchant’s Heart Ginger Ale, and loved the result.
£15.99/70cl, Cask Liquid Marketing, caskliquidmarketing.com
Fugitive Motel’s low- and no-abv commitment
Millie Milliken, managing editor
When I visited musician-owned Fugitive Motel in Bethnal Green (David Burgess of The Lights and Liam Tolan of The Light Assembly have swapped onstage for on-trade) I was intrigued to see whether its claim of championing low- and no-abv offerings would be all talk and no trousers. Thankfully, and not for the first time, I was wrong. Instead of being an afterthought, they are an intrinsic part of the bar’s offering. The cocktail menu is split straight down the middle – half alcoholic serves (the Nitro Espresso Martini is a must-drink), half low or no (think heavy on the spritzes) – and the 14 changing craft beers on tap range from lowest abv to the highest (there’s even Jarr Ginger Kombucha on tap). But it’s the takeaway fridge I was most drawn to: customers can help themselves to a few tinnies of Something or Nothing Yuzu Seltzer (0% abv), Mikkeller Limbo Series (0.3% abv) and The Original Small Beer Lager (2.1% abv).
199 Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, London, E2 0EL, fugitivemotel.bar
Jacopo Mazzeo, news editor
I’ve got a serious crush on Campania. The region is yet to take the world by storm but it’s undeniable that it makes great wines at a ridiculously convenient quality-to-price ratio. Campania really has it all: Volcanic soil, tick. High altitude, tick. Millenia-old winemaking history, tick tick. Indigenous grapes, tick tick tick.
The most recent bottle I had from Campania is Terredora Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Bianco DOC 2016, particularly well-suited to the unusually clement British summer weather.
The Terradora estate was founded by Walter Mastroberardino back in 1994, when he split from his brother Antonio taking with him many of the family’s best vineyards (while Antonio took the renowned ‘Mastroberardino’ brand and the winery). Walter works exclusively with indigenous grape varieties, including Aglianico, Fiano, Greco, Falanghina, Piedirosso and Coda di Volpe. It’s with the latter, cultivated on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, that he makes his white Lacryma Christi (meaning ‘Christ’s tears’).
The wine deploys an intense nose of ripe fruit, freshly squeezed lemon, wet stone and liquorice root, then moves on to custard cream, more ripe fruit and a hint of mineral salinity on the palate. Despite its generosity it retains great crispness so it’s best drunk young, on a sunny day, possibly accompanied by some beautiful white fish or a light seafood risotto.
Terredora Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Bianco DOC 2016, Winetraders, winetraders.eu
Kanpai x Beavertown saké-fermented beer
Kate Malczewski, editorial assistant
I recently paid a visit to the taproom of saké producer Kanpai in Peckham. While I was sampling the range – including a tokubetsu junmai, a nigori and a hopped nama, FYI – one tap in particular caught my eye. It poured a lovely, rich beer called Onna-Bugeisha, which I came to find out was a collaboration between Kanpai and craft brewer Beavertown. The producers teamed up to create the saké-fermented, barrel-aged dry lager as part of Beavertown’s experimental Tempus Project. To make it, the brewers used pilsner malt, torrified rice and wheat with Sorachi Ace hops, fermented it with saké lees from Kanpai and aged the liquid in burgundy barrels for a few months. The result was a deeply flavourful beer with tropical fruit and a round finishing note of umami-rich rice – a fascinating lager, and one to sip out of a wine glass. I’ll be back for more.
Nate Brown, regular contributor
Champagne is a synonym for special. But a recent adventure in the rolling vines has introduced me to an entirely different kind of special champagne: the humble world of ‘grower’ champagne houses. These tiny producers aren’t located in spiralling chateaus with Michelin-starred chefs. Instead, these farmers are more ‘gravy’ than ‘jus’. I tried a 100% Pinot Menuier from Moussé Fils that blew me away, as did a Vazart Coquart, bottled for a community of growers called Tresors, that was all cherry and yoghurt. I even had a blanc de blanc of 100% Pinot Gris! The production quantities here are microscopic, but that won’t stop these plucky characters trying to change the game.