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The week in pictures

A British team of four rowers has been crowned the winner of this year’s Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge after travelling 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in 32 days, 12 hour and 35 minutes.

Fortitude IV, which was made up of teammates Ollie Palmer, Tom Foley, Hugh Gillum and Max Breet, rowed from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to English Harbour, Antigua, where they crossed the finish line on 13 January.

The remaining teams are expected to cross the finish line soon, however some solo boats could be set to spend up to eight weeks more at sea.

On Sunday, London bar Lyaness hosted its first Sunday Lyan session of the year, inviting six of Australia’s best bartenders to mix up signature serves for the Southbank venue’s guests.

Lyaness partnered with Scotch whisky brand The Balvenie to welcome six Australian bartenders, including Alicia Clarke of Jangling Jack’s, Sydney; Jessica Arnott of Foxtrot Unicorn, Perth; Nicola Dean of Maybe Mae, Adelaide; Kayla Reid of Nick and Norah’s, Melbourne; Chelsea Catherine of The Black Pearl, Melbourne; and Alissa Gabriel of Mjolner, Sydney.

Each inspired by the experiences and personal stories of Balvenie apprentice malt master Kelsey McKechnie, the six bartenders mixed up cocktails using Balvenie The Sweet Toast of American Oak 12-year-old whisky.

After it’s event at Lyaness, The Balvenie and its team of Australian bartenders continued on a tour of UK bars, stopping off at London’s Artesian and The Kelvingrove Café in Glasgow, Scotland.

During The Kelvingrove Café takeover, the six bartenders were joined by Glasgow-based McKechnie who was on hand to share her experiences of creating The Sweet Toast of American Oak 12-year old whisky.

Following the takeover, the group of bartenders traveled to The Balvenie distillery in Speyside to find out more about the single malt Scotch brand.

This week, more than 2,000 Diageo employees took part in a series of events across Scotland to champion inclusion and diversity.

Taking place as part of the 2020 INC Week, which promotes inclusivity across LGBTQ, gender, disability, ethnicity and cross-generational workforce, Diageo staff attended workshops, panel discussions and TED-style talks at various company locations.

Employees also took part in a training workshop on Neatebox’s Welcome app, which is aimed at enhancing the quality of customer service available for visitors with specific accessibility requirements. The app is being trialled in Diageo’s new Scottish HQ throughout 2020.

On-trade charity The Benevolent unveiled its plans for 2020 at this year’s Vintners’ Company Annual Lunch, which was held at London’s Vintners’ Hall in aid of the charity.

During the annual lunch, The Benevolent chairman Michael Saunders said the charity was “at a cross roads” and that “much more needed to be done to reach the 600,000 people” in the UK that make up the hospitality industry.

Saunders said the charity would look to build a community of “tens of thousands of confident industry professionals”, all of whom would receive support and access to knowledge as well as information about services traditionally offered by The Benevolent.

London bar Little Yellow Door has partnered with alcohol-free ‘spirit’ brand Three Spirit to create a menu of no- and low-alcohol cocktails for Dry January.

Cocktails mixed up at the London bar include Eat Pray Love (pictured), made with Three Spirit Social Elixir, lemon juice and egg white; the Night Cap, which combines Three Spirit Nightcap, apricot juice, maple syrup; and the Livener, made with Three Spirit Livener, apple juice, pineapple, spinach, cucumber, and mint.

Little Yellow Door will also host a plant potion masterclass as part of its Flatmates Sipperclub, which will offer guests the chance to learn more about “the power of plants”.

This week, The Spirits Business hosted the first round in the 2020 Global Spirits Masters series of blind-tasting competitions.

A team of industry experts assembled at London’s Cafe Pacifico to taste their way through everything the agave spirits world had to offer. From super-premium extra añejo Tequilas to smokey blanco mezcals, judges awarded Silver, Gold and Masters medals to the best bottlings across the category.

To find out all the results from the competition, look out for the February edition of The Spirits Business.

To celebrate the return of renowned acrobatics troupe Cirque du Soleil to London’s Royal Albert Hall, The Ivy Kensington Brasserie has created a trio of cocktails in honour of the performers.

Cirque du Soleil has brought its Luzia show to London for its European premiere, and the spectacle is being replicated behind the bar at The Ivy Kensington Brasserie with three “vibrant” serves.

Drinkers at the London venue can sample the Pambolero, which combines Tequila, limoncello, honey, lemon juice and ginger juice; Desert Flower, which incorporates chilli and pineapple-infused Tequila, Angostura Bitters, ginger beer and lime juice; and the Luzia Espresso Martini, made with honey Tequila, Tosolini Express Coffee Liqueur and honey.

UK-based gastropub operator Whiting & Hammond has unveiled a Scotland-inspired alcohol-free cocktail for drinkers looking to cut down their alcohol intake.

Served up at Whiting & Hammond venues across the UK, including the Blue Ball at Tadworth, Surrey, abstaining imbibers can order the Iron Fruit Brew, which is made with Iron Brew Tonic Cordial, lime, strawberries, ginger, blueberries and the Mr Fitz Aqua Spritz.

The alcohol-free cocktail will also be served up to drinkers looking to celebrate Burns Night on 25 January.

Drinks agency Cask Liquid Marketing this week named Claire West as its new managing director.

West joins the company with more than 25-years experience in the drinks industry. Previously, she held positions with Jameson owner Pernod Ricard, where she worked as head of prestige leading its luxury spirits and Champagne portfolio.

West, who was made a Keeper of the Quaich in 2017, said: “It is a really exciting time to be joining Cask and its passionate team in the role of managing director. Cask has a wonderful portfolio of brands and an ambitious campaign for growth. I am very much looking forward to playing my part in this next chapter of its dynamic story.”

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