THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Haig Club Whisky Masterclass at The Folly

whiskey 3

Ever since seeing David Beckham looking effortlessly sophisticated and cool around the Scottish Highlands in the advert for Haig Club whisky I have been itching to try it, despite my reservations regarding celebrity endorsements. I had the opportunity to this week when a friend and I went to The Folly Bar in Monument to take part in a cocktail masterclass using Beckham’s brand of Scotch.

The masterclass was held in a private area in the Folly, which felt warm and intimate. Both my guest and I had our own cocktail stations with the necessary equipment set up and waiting for us when we arrived. Our friendly ‘mixologist’, Alessio, then talked us through how to make two different cocktails using Haig Club. The first a classic Old Fashioned, which is a favourite of mine, is made slowly using only sugar, bitters, orange peel, ice and of course, whisky. The end result was deliciously smooth and flavoursome, with the whisky not overpowering the orange or the bitters.

After a brief interlude to drink our first cocktails, we were taught to make one of Alessio’s own creations. Ice-cold Haig Club was added to a glass containing orange marmalade and grapefruit bitters, before being topped off with lavender and a blackberry. With no ice to dilute the whisky this had more of a burn to it, however the delicate flavours still shone through and the scent of the lavender added another element to the cocktail.

The masterclass was a very enjoyable experience and I definitely learned a few tricks for the next time I try my hand at cocktail making. The atmosphere in the Folly was very pleasant and our cocktails delicious, with the Haig Club providing a good base for the added flavours. The Folly runs masterclasses on request and I would definitely recommend one for an unusual night out.

whiskey 2

Information of The Folly’s masterclasses can be found at:

All photos by Gabriel Kenny-Ryder.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MISSY: Sushi masterclass at UNI Restaurant, Belgravia

‘Fusion’ has long been a bit of a buzzword in the food world. Things like ‘tex-mex’ and ‘cronuts’ (look them up) have been conjured from this world of hybrid cuisine. Whether these are successful or not I will let you decide. One fusion that I must encourage the reader to try is ‘Nikkei’ – the increasingly popular marriage of Peruvian and Japanese food. At first this combination sounds unlikely, however, as you start to compare cuisines, similarities start to show; both involve a lot of seafood. Raw seafood. Japan has its sashimi, Peru has its ceviche.

People are more and more bent on ‘experiences’ rather than ‘just’ good food and UNI delivers both with great aplomb. Not only does UNI have a winning cuisine combination, an enviable Belgravia address and friendly, attentive staff, it also offers one of those sought after ‘experiences’ with sushi making classes led by their talented, witty sushi chef, Christian. Arriving at the restaurant, a stone’s throw from Victoria station, I was greeted by one of the charming restaurant staff who was invariably cheerful and helpful as she led me down to the ‘classroom’. The layout of the restaurant works perfectly to allow for the multiple facets of the eatery- you enter at a street level bar/restaurant; one floor lower is the intimate yet elegant ‘classroom’ with tables skirting the sides of the room and a central teacher’s table; a flight of stairs lower still and you reach the restaurant’s most enchanting area. Is it going too far to say it was an ‘Aladdin’s cave’ of culinary delights? Yes? Well, it was: atmospheric vaulted booths lined with a metallic wash and one square glass table in the middle – perfect for the sharing style of UNI’s menu. The menu? It’s wonderful. Of the many dishes we had including delicate seared salmon tacos and succulent ceviche I could not fault one.

Though the food was undeniably brilliant, it was the sushi masterclass that really made my experience at UNI. As sushi has exploded across the capital with Wasabis and Itsus opening on every corner, our masterclass taught us the delicacy and skill it takes to make every single one of those thousands of maki rolls in those hundreds of sushi restaurants. Christian taught us with ease and paid attention to each of us to help us perfect our technique (in saying that, I confess my technique is far from perfect). From the beginning we were told about how to make the famously sticky sushi rice before getting stuck in (quite literally) to making our first nigiri. The hour and a half goes by in the blink of an eye or a click of a chopstick and by the end of your lesson you will have an array of homemade sushi made with your own two hands. I could not recommend this experience enough – masterclasses at UNI are £35 each and with that you get to make three different types of sushi, drink plenty of Japanese tea plus a personal sushi rolling mat to take home with you. The next Saturday Sushi Masterclasses are on the 18th April, 16th May, 20th June, 18th July and 15th August. A perfect gift for a friend or, if you’re feeling particularly ‘shellfish’, a great treat for yourself.

More information and book a sushi class at UNI here.

Written by Thoroughly Modern Missy, Angelica Bomford.

Sake no Hana, Gin Masterclass, St James’

Sake no Hana is part of the prestigious Hakkasan restaurant group serving Japanese cuisine. I went along to the St James’ restaurant bar for an expert lesson in gin and cocktail execution.

Hendrick’s gin ambassador, Duncan McRae, gave an animated and passionate speech about this favourite gin brand, the history of the spirit and its important influence on Britain’s drinking culture.

Among the facts, he imparted several anecdotes and quotes including Kerouac’s insightful: “Take more from the drink than the drink takes from you.”

As I tasted the cucumber flavoured Hendrick’s Gin & Tonic, I smiled remembering that “drinking is merely a pause from thinking.” An hour later we had been presented with a further three cocktail tasters, each more delicious than the last. Finger food was provided to satisfy our stomachs while our taste buds were hard at work enjoying the cocktail concoctions.

After this intriguing gin lesson I certainly have a new-found interest and fondness for London’s most famous spirit.

More information on Sake no Hana here, and details for the cocktail classes here.