Hiya pals! This week we got wind that Erik Lorincz is set to leave the American Bar after nearly eight years, Stella Artois recalls bottles across North America, New York gets its first sake brewery, brown spirits are all starting to taste the same, and Ryan Chetiyawardana and Danilo Tersigni debate Michelin stars for bars. Prost!
People like to go all out on April Fools and this year was no different. The Drinks Business did a round-up of the best jokes for this year’s April 1. Our favorite was Pinkers Gin announcing Parfum Pinkster – “a fruity fragrance for the modern woman.” Director of Pinkster Will Holt said, “whilst we’re in the midst of a gin craze, the demand from our loyal customers for a ginspired scent certainly took us by surprise. Never one for shirking a challenge, our team of pink coated boffins swung into action.” Pink-coated Boffins indeed.
Erik Lorincz Leaves American Bar after Nearly Eight Years
This one rocked the bar world last week, with the announcement that “Erik Lorincz is to leave The American Bar at London’s Savoy hotel where he has been head bartender for nearly eight years.” Lorincz first joined the American Bar as a bartender in October 2010, and will be stepping down on May 2. “He is only the 10th head bartender in the bar’s 125-year history, following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Ada Coleman and Harry Craddock through to Joe Gilmore, Victor Gower and Peter Dorelli.”
Stella Artois Recalls Bottles for Fear of Broken Glass
Vinepair reports that “The Belgian beer brand, owned by global macrobrewery, Anheuser-Busch InBev, announced a voluntary recall on Monday for bottles of its beer packaged in the U.S. in Canada.” The bottles in question come from a production facility operated by a third party which produces less than 1% of Stella Artois’ bottled beers in North America. The company believes that the affected bottles will be “less than this amount.” The article continues, “any beer that is possibly affected will have one of several packaging dates. To check if your Stella Artois bottles might be affected, look for the production code on the back of the label (or the side of the cardboard box, if you bought a case).”
Inside NYC’s First Sake Brewery
New Yorkers are finally getting their own sake brewery, a real dream come true! Tasting Table reports that cofounders Brian Polen and Brandon Doughan are setting up shop in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park to make junmai-style sake made from pure rice. “Brooklyn Kura follows Japan’s ancient brewing traditions, ‘while using American ingredients and remaining open to experimentation,’ Polen explains of the company’s general east-meets-west ethos. Polen goes on to say that after apprenticing at sake breweries in both Japan and Portland, Oregon, he and Doughan ‘were surprised and pleased with the high-quality sake that [their] amateur homebrewing experiments yielded.’ This success gave them confidence to launch a sake lab of their own.”
Are All Brown Spirits Starting to Taste the Same?
Kara Newman is asking herself this very question. “Too many recent bottlings are going out of their way to taste like Bourbon. A recent tasting of rum has professionals asking, ‘What’s going on?’” It seems that, in her experience, the brown spirit otherwise known as rum is sneaking too far over into American whisky territory. But it’s not only rum. “Cognac is recalibrating to appeal to America’s whiskey lovers. Añejo Tequilas and even the swelling ranks of barrel-aged gins are often stored in former Bourbon barrels and taste like it.” Rum producer Cyrille Lawson says this is down to the climate. “The heat and humidity results in the rapid extraction of vanilla and spice tones from the barrels. Eight-year-old rum from Martinique can be compared to whiskey or brandy aged 20 years in European or U.S. conditions.”
Should Bars be Given Michelin Stars?
On The Spirits Business: “Would the prestigious award add kudos to bars or is it too difficult to pin down the elements of what makes a drinking venue great? Two experts go head to head to debate the issue.” Though, personally, I think the larger question is: should any type of food or drink establishment be given Michelin stars? Who are the gatekeepers here? Isn’t this all incredibly subjective, even as the jurors try to remain objective?
Ryan Chetiyawardana says “Awards have become a shortcut to success for a lot of people. People just see the final thing and think that is what makes it good. It’s looking at the final bit without looking at all of the background that’s gone into it. That, to me, is the worry for something like the Michelin star award, that it would just see the final bit without seeing all of the craziness that goes on behind the scene.”
While Danilo Tersigni’s position is that, “having a Michelin star will separate the high-end bars from others. If you’re The Savoy then you have the money to become that, rather than a bar that has just been opened by two people who may not have the money to do so. But chefs have been awarded Michelin stars without a lot of money, so anything is possible. That’s why I believe it’s a good thing because it will push people to do something inspirational, rather than copy. Right now it’s all about copying people to become the best. In a way, a Michelin- star system will define more or less what a real experience should be in a high-end bar.” As a culture, we should be discussing the need for this distinction overall.