BN1 Booze News – August 2016

ABV Media’s Sam Bensontakers a look at all the latest booze news in and around Brighton & Hove this month.


Arbikie Bartender’s Brunch & Bloody Mary Competition

After the popular cocktail competition thrown down in The Plotting Parlour, our friends in the North, Arbikie Highland Spirits, decided to put on a second event to see if Brighton’s bartenders could utilise the Smoked Chilli Vodka that Arbikie have become well known for. The challenge was on, this time at The Cocktail Shack on Regency Square, to create an original Bloody Mary after being treated to some tasty bites from The Set restaurant and guided through all three of Arbikies delicious beverages – Potato Vodka, Kirsty’s Gin and Smoked Chilli Vodka – by Arbikie ambassador, Alex Forsyth.  A huge turnout, the people of Brighton were eager to see what creativity the bartenders could showcase!

The Bloody Mary

In the 1920s, Fernand Petiot, an American bartender at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, had absolutely no idea how famous his creation of vodka, tomato juice and spices would become. To be honest, there are various claims who really invented it, but it’s nice to pick one and celebrate this drink’s popularity. Cue last week’s Bartender’s Brunch & Bloody Mary Competition by Arbikie! Being quite a popular drink in pubs, it was nice to see some of the pub tenders getting involved and challenging the mixologists. Able to choose from any of Arbikie’s range, they were mostly favouring the Smoked Chilli Vodka, but not all. Some interesting combinations were served up including gin and avocado, gin and pineapple juice and an Asian inspiration using the classic Potato Vodka with soy sauce/pickled ginger & Kimchi! The Bloody Mary also allows the ‘flamboyant-garnish-door’ to be not just opened, but kicked down. There was the usual herb garden-sized greenery going on, but they were also accompanied by delights such as ox tongue, pickled eggs and even a whole tortilla wrapped around the glass of Nathan Bayfield’s entry, the winner of Arbikie’s last cocktail competition. It was Cocktail Shack’s own Lauren Shaw, however, that took home first place with a simple yet classy serve in a wine glass with samphire and a pickle. Opting for the classic Chilli Vodka and tomato juice base, Lauren also added a homemade mango and scotch bonnet shrub, Vermouth, Sriracha and others while smoking the mixture with Cabernet Oak chips. Impressed, the judges awarded her Tartan Mary first place and everyone left with food for thought and not just for their stomachs.

Look out for the next boozy event in Brighton by searching for Brighton Bartenders Association (BNBA) on Facebook, or chat to your nearest cocktail bar. Cheers!

Bison To Bristol Bike Ride

There’s a lot to do in Brighton: shop, eat and of course experience a cracking cocktail. But one of my favourite past times is to watch the interaction between blissfully unaware tourists and the beachfront cycle lane users. OK, it isn’t generally something easy to spot, but you can’t deny the huge numbers of (frustrated!) cyclists going back and forth. And, although this summer’s weather hasn’t been great, perhaps grabbing a few mates (with decent tastes in booze) and going off on a long distance ride out of town for a couple of days might be just what the two-wheeled doctor ordered!

This is the idea behind the Bison2Bristol Bike Ride! Soon we’ll be able to amuse ourselves at the King’s Rd bike path anarchy from a comfy window-seat at The Bison Arms. But until then we, the discerning beer-drinkers of Brighton, are duty-bound to support the Bison Beer shop in opening said establishment! Bison’s current crowdfunding project, which has thankfully stopped a well-known corporate monster stepping in, is well on it’s way to opening up shop at the seafront location and has decided to organise a bike ride from Brighton to Bristol in the name of ‘beer research’ for The Bison Arms. Departing our shores from our beloved East St craft beer shop and finally arriving in Bristol’s Good Chemistry Brewery during Bristol Beer Week, the bikers will get to visit other breweries, Stonehenge and even a festival at the end while enjoying culinary delights from the talented chefs at 64Degrees and camping in the beautiful British countryside. A special collaboration brew is being done at Good Chemistry called ‘Ryde With Us’, which will be available at Bison’s new watering hole and everyone involved is super excited to see if this can be an annual event! “We’re not sure where this can go so we’re keeping it quite limited, but hopefully we can start doing it every year,” says Bison Beer’s Jack Cregan. “The folks we’ve chosen to get involved with this project are all like-minded people, I think it’s just what’s needed to get The Bison Arms off to a cracking start!”

Kicking off on the August Bank Holiday Monday, the Bison2Bristol Bike Ride will pass through Portsmouth, New Forest, Stonehenge, Poole, ‘Valley Fest’ in Chew Valley and Bristol. For more info or details on how to get involved drop an email to or visit Bison Beer shop on East St….conveniently located in the BN1 postcode!

Champagne Tasting

Perrier-Jouët Champagne Tasting

Drinks suppliers, Pernod Ricard, have their annual BEAT training day later this month and, in the lead up to it and as a taste of what’s to come, they’ve put their best grape-based foot forward and held an afternoon’s expression session at Bar Valentino on New Road. Hosted by Pernod Ricard drinks rep and wine expert, Aimee Knight, the brand on show was Perrier-Jouët and the event included not just a short history on the well established Champers brand but also an explanation on the production method of this famous French product and a tasting of their three best-sellers; Grand Brut, Blason Rosé and Belle Epoque. Popular in all kinds of drinking establishments, there were bar folk from all round Brighton & Hove and from a plethora of different styles of bar from boutique hotels to gastro pubs to cocktail bars. “It’s a great chance to chat to people about a subject I love,” explains Aimee, “The best thing about my job is talking to people!”

Not the biggest bar in the BN1 postcode, Bar Valentino looked positively packed for 2pm on a Monday! The presentation was thoroughly interesting with slide shows, flavour wheels and a huge box full of 80 different aromas to try and guess. Afterwards, when the very un-French weather descended upon our British coastline, everyone decided they weren’t going anywhere and the host bartenders mixed up some simple yet innovative Champagne serves with the left over Brut and Rosé bottles. They were all delicious and left the crowd wanting more, which was when other bartenders were invited to jump behind the bar to experiment and showcase which Champagne cocktails pull in the most punters in each other’s venues. This is what is so great about these events. Along with the fantastic vibe of this city, it makes working behind a bar here so special. It’s not just the free booze, it’s the opportunity to meet and chat about ideas with other like-minded and passionate people. This results in your work becoming more and more exciting, creating things that really make a difference on a night out for your guests. With a newfound respect and taste for French bubbles, everyone left happy, fuzzy and full of knowledge to impress! Vive La France!

Words by ABV Media’s Sam Benson

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