The food and drink scene in Britain has always had an illustrious history, though it sadly fell to the wayside for a little while. Thankfully, I think it's in a stronger place than ever. The beauty of Britain has always been its willingness to adopt influences from outside (note Chicken Tikka Masala as the nation's favourite dish, and bananas as our favourite fruit) and this has been apparent in the recent booms in food and drink.
I've regularly argued that London has the best cocktail scene in the world, and again, I put this down to the diversity from adopting different influences. Having spent a lot of time in the two scenes touted as having the best cocktails (London and New York), I can attest that London pips the post - much owed to the variety of the bars. Depending on whom you're with, or the night you want to have, London ticks the boxes better than anywhere.
However, although much seems London-centric within the UK, it's great to see more attention being shown to other areas - be it through fantastic venues in bigger cities; Bramble and The Bon Vivant in Edinburgh; Santa Chupitos in Liverpool; Liar's Club in Manchester - or in more rural settings - L'Enclume in the Lake District or Babington House in Frome.
This level of quality is great for those here, or visitors alike and it was incredible to see the UK perform so well at Tales of the Cocktail this year ("the 'Oscars' of the drinks world"). In the nominations, the UK dominated, and brought home some major awards. Notably Artesian took home an incredible 4 gongs, the aforementioned Bon Vivant in Edinburgh won "World's Best Restaurant Bar" whilst we were honoured White Lyan was crowned "Best New International Cocktail Bar".
Not only are there these incredible venues on our soil, but there's a host of amazing produce available. So in celebration, try some of these from the four nations.
Wales - Penderyn
An interesting Single Malt made in a unique still designed by a descendent of the great Michael Faraday. They also make a great gin, but it's worth seeking out their fruity single malt that's finished in madeira casks.
Given its fruitiness, it works perfectly in a hi-ball. Pour a good serve over lots of ice in a tall glass and top with ginger ale and the peel of a lemon.
Scotland - Kilchoman 100% Islay
Despite hailing from Scotland, many whiskies have to buy in ingredients from abroad. This wonderful single malt from Islay uses local barley and malts, ferments, distills, ages and bottles all on their little farm. Through their own maltings with local barley, this bottling subdues some of the intensity of the smoke, giving a gentler, rounded dram. Ideal alone, or in a julep. Churn over some crushed ice with fresh mint and some sugar syrup and savour.
Ireland - Bushmills 10 yo Irish Whiskey
The third whiskey in this line up (hey, we make it well over here!), but very distinct from the other two above. Lighter and easier in style, this Northern Irish distillery has had license to distill for over 400 years. Best served long to open out the layers of flavour. Try in a simple whiskey sour with some lemon juice, egg white, bitters and sugar.
England - Dodd's London Gin
An organic gin made with local honey, and distilled in the heart of London. To tick more of a British feel, the distillery made an exclusive edition for purveyor of fine goods - Fortnum and Masons. Made using their teas and their own honey, the gin is rich and luxurious with a subtle honeyed edge. The regular version also makes a wonderful martini - great dry, but also a treat in an older, sweeter style:
Sweet English Martini
50ml Dodd's Gin
Stir all over ice, strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a fresh pea pod