Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New uber-luxe golden clad decanter from Hennessy is a bit a show stopper.

Here's more information from Atelier 29

"A collector's item indeed! This crafted luminous decanter sheathed in gold by Hennessy would be an exclusive hand-gift for Christmas or New Year Celebration and even perfect Chinese New Year Present for those looking for something different!

An exquisite packaging design by Italian designer Ferruccio Laviani, Paradis Horus is an exceptional cognac developed from a masterly assemblage of hundreds of rare eaux-de-vie, perfectly aged for 25 to 130 years. It is has been described as the fruit of a noble alliance between man, the land and the heavens.

'A divine name for divine perfection. Its name is derived from the mythological god representing the sun. Emerging from the cellar's obscurity, its luminous eaux-de-vie irradiate. They embody the sun's power and warm light, forming a cognac beyond compare.

For this exquisite elixir, Hennessy has chosen the most magnificent cognac decanter ever envisioned. The Italian designer, Ferruccio Laviani, crafted a luminous decanter sheathed in gold to glorify this one-of-a-kind ambrosia. Reminiscent of ancient statues, the Paradis Horus decanter is as singular as the cognac it contains. It commands respect, topped with a majestic oversized cap, plated in 18 carat gold.'"

I'm very partial to mythological references and ancient legends. And a spot of gold bullion never hurt anyone. If anyone feels like sending me a decanter of super-smart cognac, feel free!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

For cooling your cognac.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Refreshingly light hearted. My favourite is the one where they throw their keys into the Christmas hat.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Your eyes are not deceiving you. These bottles of Ballantine's are indeed flashing. And not just flashing randomly, but pulsing to the beat of the music.

Why? Well, rather than me trying to work it out, here's what Marketing Magazine wrote about it:

"Designed by London-based packaging agency The Core, the Ballantine's Finest self-illuminating bottle, which can be powered by batteries or mains, is only available to the on-trade.

The bottle design is modelled on a graphic equaliser, the dark blue spray coated bottle appears to react to the tonal quality of audio passing through it, by lighting up intermittently to achieve back-of-bar standout.

The working bottle forms part of an on-trade campaign for Ballantine's Finest, entitled ‘Listen to Your Beat'. Rolling out across bars and nightclubs in the UK and other markets, the campaign is based on the idea that ‘by listening to your own beat and following your own instincts, you will make choices that leave an impression on others.'

Global marketing director for Ballantine's, Peter Moore, said "The ‘Listen to Your Beat' campaign will energise our on-trade accounts by engaging consumers in a creative and eye catching manner.""

I'm lost for words.

I'm a big fan of these labels. It's good to see designs that aren't just about looking nice but actually engage the mind.

I particulalry like "Puzzle Time" on the left. You can see that within the word search there are terms like "blackberry" and "toast" that presumably are part of the tasting notes that you discover as you drink it. There's something brilliantly playful about it that's a million miles away from the normal "dry, elegant and crisp" tasting notes that adorn the back of most bottles.

You can see from this blog post by Budget Vino that the label has worked a treat. It gives a reason for people to engage with the wine label and learn more about what makes it different from its rivals. I'm intrigued to see their other labels and whatever else they are up to.

(Via Bev Law blog)

Sensational video showcasing Brew Dog's successful attempt to make the world's strongest beer.

Tactical Nuclear Penguin from BrewDog on Vimeo.

There can't be many alchohol brands out there with a stronger brand behavior. For a taste of what they are up to have a look at their site. Or better still buy some equity in the brand!

Monday, December 07, 2009



Map of Fluid State

Angella and Hayley, masterminds of the Tasting Sessions and most recently architects of Towards a Fluid State, have moved the goal posts so far that most booze brands planning a tasting experience won’t be able to see them.

Over the course of the last year they have continuously raised the bar with their artistic mash-ups of art, booze, culture, flavours, music, theatre and entertainment. They are the drinks version of what Shunt is to traditional theatre. The whisky and cheese pairing at Bart’s was terrific. The white wine event was dazzling. And by all accounts their gin event was spectacular.

Having arrived in an alleyway in deepest darkest Dalston we were greeted by a scene out of a Soviet dystopia mixed with a touch of Mad Max. Russian versions of the Enigma machine checked us in before we entered the experience. In another life the venue doubles as a photographers studio for Vogue fashion shoots and used to be a mechanic’s garage.

Our first encounter (depicted by an octagon in the map above) featured a flight of sake from Akashi Tai paired with Japanese nibbles from Tsuru. The sake progressed from the expected through to an almost whiskyish brown spirit that paired exceptionally well with a ball of sesame crusted ice cream.

But the oral tasting itself is only a small part of the experience. Drag queens chilled out next to us as an amazing artists doodled Japanese Animae on a wall. It all set the scene for a mind bending introduction.

Animae cartoon

Japanese Art

Drag Queens

We turned a corner and all of a sudden we’d translocated from Tokyo to Jarnac. The Courvoisier experience featured a bar serving Exclusif cocktails ranging from the classics like the Sazerac and Sidecar through to the more experimental blackberry jelly shot flecked with gold leaf that is best consumed from a spoon.

Courvoisier Bar

Courvoisier Future 500 menu

Courvoisier Jelly Spoons

Courvoisier’s Le Nez experience was in full flow, showcasing the incredible aromas held within the cognac. It was a very special moment for me to see an idea I worked on come to life, and in such style. A flight of Napoleon, XO Fine Champagne and Initiale paired with caramel lollipop, lavender crème brulee and port and stilton truffle was phenomenal. I’m biased, but you’ll just have to believe me. It took me back to the food and cognac pairing we developed with Alexis from Roussillon.

CV Le Nez aromas

The experience also included a chance to watch Courvoisier’s 3D film which helps to explain what makes their cognac so special. The whole experience was artfully curated and looked spectacular.

CV 3D screen

We slipped out of Jarnac and landed up in the midst of a Lady Gaga video-shoot. Philip Li, who is renowned for his weird and wonderful ceramics performed an incredible piece of art which mainly involved him being wrapped in cling-film, clay and bin bags. For anyone who saw Lady Gaga on X Factor on Saturday, you’ll see the connection. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Performance art clingfilm

Performance art squat 2

Performance art from behind

Performance art standing

Philip Li’s performance along with a surreal Telly-Tubby-esque grass floor that moaned and suggestively glistened with jewels formed a bizarre backdrop for a tasting of biodynamic and natural wines paired with raw food from Saf.

Moaning grass slit

Joe McCanta, is one of the leading sommeliers and mixologists in town. And like Angella and Hayley is a member of the Courvoisier Future 500. His collection of wines were all wonderfully obscure. Our favourite combination was a pairing of Burgenland Pinot Noir with beetroot cannelloni – which I think I may have had when I visited Saf. The wine was light and supple and formed a perfect marriage with the beetroot.

We didn’t get stuck into the whisky and cheese tasting- for which I can only appolgise. But it looked very similar to the “Throw Away your Prohibitions” event I raved about at Bart’s. The waft of phenomenal cheese from La Fromagerie was sensational. Highland Park and The Macallan featured alongside Connemara, Singleton, Clynelish, Dalwhinnie and Lagavulin.

Instead I headed upstairs to a secret speakeasy bar that was serving Maker’s Mark cocktails to a crowd of adorers. The bartender, from Zuma, whipped up a cracking array of cocktails starting with a Blueberry Smash infused with mint for the ladies and a State Mule for the gents which was like a fizzy Old Fashioned. We missed the music but apparently Plaster of Paris and the Dulwich Ukulele Club put on quite a show.

We then found ourselves in the Rich or Ruin experience being wowed by Sipsmith’s Gin which was served as a warm punch a la crachit with a tickle of ginger beer. Sipsmith’s Gin opened very recently in Hammersmith, making them the first gin distillery with a copper still to open in London for 189 years. Their approach is a breath of fresh air. They have embraced the blogosphere (Dinner Diary and Cheese and Biscuits) and are very active on Twitter. If anyone is looking for a spirits brand that is using social media in a smart way, then have a long hard look at the chaps at Sipsmith's.


Sipsmith punch

We then dived into a molecular cocktail courtesy of Chase Gin. They make vodka using English potatoes and have now launched a gin made from apples! Bonkers. But brilliant. To make things even more special it turns out they were launching this new apple based gin at Towards a Fluid State, so we were some of the first to try it. Their cocktail featured Herefordshire cider, molecular balls of apple juice and gin. It was designed to be paired with a feast of roast pork expertly cooked by the good folks at Bacchus and accompanied by a the sounds of a baroque harp and violins.

Gin and cider cocktails

Pigs head


Hayman’s Gin showcased a collection of three gins ranging from their standard gin, their Gin Liquer that’s like an old fashioned Genever) to the uber-botanical Old Tom that was served through an ice sculpture of a Tom Cat, much to the delight of a very over the top Japanese TV presenter.

Tom Cat

Frozen cat

We left Towards a Fluid State thrilled and in awe of what Hayley and Angella had achieved and gagging for more. It was exhilarating to have been part of something so far ahead of what others are doing. Girls, what’s next?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Inventorspot blog describes these two vital drinks innovations. Firstly, Playboy Wines offers "a once a month delivery service of unique vintages of wines which come with a label that features a vintage playboy magazine cover".
And not entirely unrelated, although it's not clear whether this is meant to benefit the wearer or her companions, is this wine rack bra, which really needs no further description.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Here at Notorious, we like getting involved in everything and when we can combine it with a worthy cause, well that's just the icing on the cake. This month, I've been growing a Mo for Movember - and this is how it's looking today.

Movember is a great idea. For those that don't know, participants grow their Mo for the month of November in order to raise awareness of Men's health issues, specifically prostate caner. Anybody can donate to a Mo - and the donations go to charity.

Movember is obviously a very appealing partner for a lot of Men's brands, from Wilkinson's Sword to Rockstar Games, and this year Finlandia Vodka have joined the list of sponsors.

Here's what they're doing:

"To celebrate Movember, Finlandia Vodka has created a menu of delicious Mo-inspired cocktails to tease and tantalise the tastebuds. This year sees the launch of Mo Academies across selected UK cities and we would like to invite you and a friend to hone your mixology skills.

The Academies are designed to give you a cocktail master class hosted by renowned industry experts, Soulshakers. The fun, hour-long course will help teach you some of the fundamental skills needed to be an amateur mixologist – from complimenting tastes to crafting stunning cocktail creations."

We're going to sign up and we'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2009 10 31 The Fluid State Secret from Towards A Fluid State on Vimeo.

Angella and Hayley from The Tasting Sessions are preparing to wow the world with their amazing brainchild: "Towards a Fluid State". I've been lucky enough to experience their whisky and cheese tasting as well as their white wine masterclass. If their super-slick spirits, wine and beer festival takes things to the next level as they've promised TFS is going to be out of this world.

The premise is to create "An immersive and informative food and drink experience profiling flights of Cognac, Whisky, Gin, Sake and Natural & Biodynamic wine matched with delicious morsels of food. Also a platform for some of the UK's hottest emerging contemporary artists, musicians, set and fashion designers this will be a truly unique experience and one not to miss."

They hosted a bloggers brunch last weekend which I, sadly, couldn't make. From what I've heard, seen and read it was a phenomenal event. It's clear that there's a lot of excitement and energy around the event. The video below, featuring a tasting of Courvoisier L'Essence should set the scene.

Press and bloggers have been recruited to "Join the Movement"...

... and to tie a ribbon to an objedct and share the photo.

This picture from Greg is is particularly good.

The whole event is being launched with amazing creativity and lateral thinking. If the event is as impressive as the marketing it will be ace. From what I've heard Courvoisier and Sipsmith are involved.

You can buy tickets here and join the movement here. It's all happening on 5th December in an undisclosed warehouse in the Dalston Territories.

It's great to be involved with people who are passionate about their food, their drink and more importantly about pushing creative boundaries. Good luck Angella and Hayley - I'll see you on the vineyard!

(All photos and videos are from The Tasting Sessions/Towards a Fluid State)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

 Beck’s has launched a multi dimensional campaign called “Music Inspired Art” that is intended to give consumers an emotional reason to actively choose Beck’s over other bottled lagers and command a price premium. In particular they are focusing their attention on the hipster crowd with the hope that this will have positive knock on benefits for those that look on.

They have a long association with art and music, having sponsored the Beck’s Futures modern art prize as well as designing limited edition bottles with up artists such as Damien Hirst and Dino Chapman.

This year they’ve stepped things up a level with their “Music Inspired Art” campaign.

This started with a competition on Flickr to “re-imagine” the album covers of the top 100 albums of all time.

It then moved into a collaboration with Hard-Fi and Ladyhawke who have created bottle artwork that is inspired by their music.

This mashed-up, lo-fi content has then been amplified into a 360 idea. It has been used in outdoor, print and taxi media, PR’ed widely on websites like Fused, Bitch Buzz, Virgin Music Shout, Holy Moly and merchandised on 16 million bottles. One person loved the poster so much they have pasted it up on their wall.



In addition they have used the exteriors of their flagship London pubs as canvases to promote their association with edgy rock bands. This has been picked up by Trendhunter Magazine.


They also invited urban influencers in the music scene to secret gigs which you can enjoy in the video below

Beck’s have also claimed a media first. Their interactive bus shelters allow passers by to plug in their iPods and see a graphical visualisation of the music they are listening to which is then shared on Flickr.

Ken Valledy, Beck's Brand Director at InBev UK, said "This is a great way to get beer drinkers to plug into Beck's and interact on a whole new level with the UK's No. 1 imported lager. This fresh plug-and-play advertising initiative is about interacting with beer drinkers on their terms... this interactive media activity really helps to bring the campaign to life.”

Whilst it seems only 400 people have used the service, it has generated plenty of PR. You can see how it works by watching the video below from Electrolyte.

Becks interactive music installations - 002 from electro on Vimeo.

And the slideshow showcasing the bottle labels from the Flickr stream is below:

This is an impressive campaign that knits together very well. But it's not perfect. Many people have dismissed the interactive bus stops as "just buzz" and the collaboration with Hard-Fi has been far less popular than with Ladyhawke. We Heart Stuff refused to feature Hard-Fi in their article and on the Drowned in Sound forum Hard-Fi were slated, the secret gigs were scorned and the artwork was rubbished. On Twitter someone wondered, "Does Hard-Fi Becks taste as bad as Hard-Fi sound?" And on Nick Burcher's post about Beck's one commenter said that they would stop drinking Beck's because of their association with Hard-Fi.

Overall the campaign successfully cements Beck’s longstanding association with music and art in a way that's refreshing, worth talking about and ambitious.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

From Clubzone

Absolut is continuing its quest to capture the "spirit" of the world's most iconic cities (that happen to Absolut markets) with the launch of Absolut Vancouver.

Here's a good summary from Popsop:

"The Absolut Vodka brand seems to be the most active on the market of alcohol production. It’s always ready to introduce something new to its loyal customers and future buyers. Now, after presenting Absolut New Orleans, Absolut Los Angeles and Absolut Boston, it is eager to treat us to Absolut Vancouver!

The company is launching the product on November 10, 2009. It will be a limited edition, just 60,000 copies will be available in Canada stores. As the sale is beginning before Christmas, the new product is positioned as a gift from the company to its Canadian consumers."

There's more to the Absolut Vancouver than a stunt to sell lots of vodka as Christmas presents. Absolut has long been associated with the arts and hosted a competition with a grand prize of $120,000 to find an artist to create a work of art as a gift from Absolut to the city of Vancouver. They used facebook as a platform to engage the creative community in British Columbia and then shortlisted 5 of their favourite artists which the public were invited to vote on. Sadly for Absolut they only got around 30-40 submissions which they put down to the elaborate entry mechanic. Apparently only 16 were worthy of consideration. For more detail have a look at this piece in the Vancouver Sun.

We're looking forward to seeing what response is to this campaign. And when are we going to get a taste of Absolut London?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

We wrote about the launch of MYO Bar back in August last year. The concept is summed up in this press clipping:

It's a crowd sourced bar with communual ownership. Here's the spiel:

"A lifetime membership with MYO London will cost £175 (which includes a £25 administration fee) and the funds raised by this investment will be directed back into the society and into the creation of the very first MYO Bar.

We are looking at a minimum of 2,000 members of £175. A figure that gives us the minimum capital required to begin the process and purchase a lease on an existing licensed premises in Central London.
There is no maximum number of investors. Extra capital will mean a higher profile location, extra facilities or even a second or third venue."

Members get the chance to influence the "venue name, interior design, drinks and brands, staffing, music and art" with decisions being made by a vote. They have grand plans to expand to Brighton, Sydney and New York depending on what the members want to do. Members will be able vote on how to distribute the profits each year, just like you would with a proper company - surplus money can either be ploughed back into the company or drawn as a dividend.

Memberships are still available, so if you are interested, visit their site and sign up here.

The whole idea really captures my imagination. Whereas most members clubs are exclusive, this one is deliberately inclusive, not that Groucho Marx would approve. As Visit London say, part ownership of a cocktail bar in London would make an incredible Christmas present!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Absolut have been busy by the looks of things. According to Lovely Package (the essentail packaging blog), they have launched...

Absolut Naked

Via Lovely Package

And Absolut Rock

Via Lovely Package

Absolut Rock seems gimmicky. Much in the way that the Disco ball did. But Absolut Naked is beautiful. I know which one I'd prefer to have. It's a triumph for the original designers of the bottle. Much like the Coca-Cola bottle.


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