When it comes to cocktails the Cubans have been doing it right for years; The Mojito, The Daiquiri and The Cuba Libre each originated here, the hailed home of rum. Cuban bartenders were once hands-down the most celebrated in the world and their influence stretched far and wide. Feeling nostalgic? No need, Cuba's drinking culture lives on and it's just a cool as when it began.
Last week London's Merchant Taylor Hall was alive with the sound of whisky. A harmonious melody of fruit, spice, peat, malt, ice and wood filled the air at Johnnie Walker's decadent multi-sensory experience - Symphony in Blue - an event designed to celebrate the cardinal flavours of their most treasured blend.
Our industry is unrecognisable to what it looked like 20 years ago when I first started out in the licensed trade. Having good food, reasonably priced drinks and excellent customer service are no longer virtues to brag about, they are now the norm and the expectation of every customer who comes into our bars.
I applied for a job a few years ago and I got down to the last few candidates. I was very excited as it was a 'big brand' and at the final 'papal nod of the CEO' stage he began to ask me what I thought was an odd line of questioning. It started pretty early into what became the longest half hour of my life. "So Mark, have you always been overweight?" he asked.
My colleague Jess and I were in the pub talking to Michelle, our head of communications. It was her leaving do and many of the senior managers were there. Needless to say, enthusiasm was compulsory. She was being prompted to our New York office and we were learning about her move. It was a long winded tale of logistics and house-hunting, but we listened attentively.
Don't know about anyone else, but once the mercury hits above 20 - I shed the skin of a (semi) responsible person and get utterly side tracked by the pursuit of pleasure. That dead area at the beginning of the week (I think they call it Sunday-Tuesday) becomes a gin-sodden round of boozy picnics, 'just the one' after work drinks/dins and pub garden pick me ups...
You wake up blurry eyed, head pounding like the bass from the night before and the lingering taste of a regrettable kebab and tequila shots in your mouth... You turn your head away from the light streaming in through the gap in your curtains and lay there motionless as you attempt to recall last night's antics.