Peter Spanton Drinks launches two new premium flavours

May 2019

Premium soft drinks producer Peter Spanton Drinks is expanding its range ahead of the key summer sales season with the launch of two new authentic flavours, Peter Spanton No. 2 Lemonade With Italian Bitters and Peter Spanton No.16 Cream Soda.

As with the other varieties in the range, they can be enjoyed alone, as a mixer with spirits, and in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails. The new launches build on the established success of the drinks range created in 2012 by entrepreneur Peter Spanton, former owner of Vic Naylor’s restaurant in Clerkenwell.

Spanton said: “We wouldn’t bring anything to market that didn’t deliver something different, and these new recipes do exactly that. I initially devised our range because there simply weren’t enough genuinely adult non-alcoholic choices, and despite the growth of the market, there is still a real need for distinctive soft drinks choices for consumers and operators.”

• Peter Spanton No. 2 Lemonade With Italian Bitters is described by Spanton as “more Talented Mister Ripley in style than the sugary kids’ soda everyone knows. The flavour is inspired by the romance of the Riviera, and is a homage to Italy’s aperitivo culture.” It can be enjoyed served simply with a slice of orange, or pairs well with a premium vodka. Tasting notes: Combines the fizz and punch of sharp sherbet lemons with the oily swagger of a fine negroni. Refreshing Sicilian lemon in the mouth subsides into warmer, richer aromatics on the nose.

• Peter Spanton No.16 Cream Soda is a reimagining of the classic cream soda, originally patented as a temperance drink in Vienna, New Jersey in the 1850s. “It has a really sensual mouth feel and rich flavour, capturing the spirit of sultry summers,” said Spanton. As well as working very well on its own, it mixes superbly with American Whiskey. Tasting notes: Soft, rich, buttery bubbles fill the mouth with vanilla and cream. A refreshingly rich quencher, as satisfying as the first ice-cream of summer on a warm pebbly beach.

Spanton adds: “Consumers are seeking out authentic flavours, and they want to know that there’s a genuine story behind their drink. Alongside a classic cocktail or spirit-and-mixer serve, they increasingly expect a soft drink to deliver the same premium, engaging experience, without leaving them feeling that a non-alcoholic choice is second best.”

The two new products bring the core Peter Spanton Drinks range to nine, and are available in 200ml glass bottles in cases of 24. For more information see email or call 020 3763 5665.

Direct Seafoods urges chefs to stay up to speed on sustainability

May 2019

Direct Seafoods is encouraging chefs to keep up to date with the latest advice on sustainable fish and seafood species, as it increases its support with new online resources and increased access to specialist advice in its network of local businesses.

With guidance changing regularly according to factors such as the time of year and the quantity of specific species being landed, Direct Seafoods’ director of sustainability Laky Zervudachi warns that chefs and hospitality operators need to be committed in order to stay up to speed.

He said: “A sustainability programme isn’t something operators can simply sign up to and ‘tick the box’. Any list of fish and seafood species is a snapshot, as the situation changes all the time. It can depend on the breeding season, changes to quotas and simply the size of the catch, among other factors.

“As just one example, wild caught sea bass has become widely used on menus, and the advice now is to switch to farmed varieties or alternative species. We’ve been making this kind of up-to-date guidance available to our customers through our local businesses for some time, and we’re expanding that to ensure the information is also regularly updated online.

“The Marine Conservation Society Good Fish Guide provides up-to-date guidance on which species should be avoided and which are ok to eat. We use this as a main reference point for our teams to advise customers on sustainable species.”

Direct Seafoods brings together 10 hospitality-focused, regional fish businesses covering Cornwall to Scotland, under a national brand within the Bidfresh group, supplying thousands of chefs and restaurants, hotels, pubs and other hospitality sectors.

With more consumers than ever expecting operators to put sustainably caught and managed fish on the menu, Direct Seafoods will now offer regular online updates not only on which species are being caught sustainably, but which are ‘red rated’ and should be avoided. This includes downloadable posters that can be used by chefs as a simple reference guide when ordering, backed up by a range of information and resources.
Recognising the need to put responsible sourcing at the heart of its service to operators, the business has recruited a specialist team led by Zervudachi as director of sustainability.

Brian Hall, managing director of Direct Seafoods says: “For us, it’s not simply a question of advising operators on sustainability; there are species we simply won’t sell. We’re committed to working with customers to ensure their menus reflect the latest sustainability advice, and we have specialists at all our sites to help ensure that.”

Direct Seafoods works with a range of organisations including The Marine Stewardship Council, The Marine Conservation Society, the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative, The Sustainable Seafood Coalition, Sustainable Restaurant Association, Global Aquaculture Alliance, Global GAP, Sustain and the Blue Marine Foundation.

For more information and resources for operators see

Case Study: Ibérica Restaurants – a sustainable approach

Among the operators working with Direct Seafoods is the seven strong Ibérica Restaurants group. Group head chef Cesar Garcia says: “Guest awareness around sustainable eating has grown hugely in recent years, and is continuing to become more and more important to people. They are more interested than ever in knowing where their food comes from and many make choices based on sustainability of the ingredients and produce.

“We focus our menus on seasonal produce wherever we can, which means we use ingredients that are naturally abundant at the right time of year. We use free-range meat and eggs from trusted suppliers and all of our fish such as hake, prawns, and sea reared trout comes from Direct Seafoods. We look to work with responsible suppliers across all of our food and drink purchasing and our fish is no exception. We then reflect this in the dishes we serve on our menu.

“We have worked with Direct Seafoods for four years, and trust their commitment to responsible fishing. We work with them because they promote sustainability, which, in turn, means we can offer our guests a dish made with sustainable and excellent quality fish.”

On Your Farm starring role for Hogs Back Brewery

May 2019

The Hogs Back Brewery hop garden in Tongham, Surrey, is to be the star of the show on BBC Radio 4’s On Your Farm programme later this month.

The edition of the popular long-running farming show to be broadcast on 19 May, focuses on the brewery’s successful move to a new, larger hop garden and plans to build a hop kiln on its Manor Farm site, as well as the revival of the Farnham White Bine hop variety.

On Your Farm presenter Sarah Swadling spent a day at the brewery and hop farm, where she spoke to Hogs Back managing director Rupert Thompson, hop garden manager Matthew King, and head brewer Miles Chesterman.

Swadling also heard from members of the Tongham TEA Club, who had been drafted in for the all-important Hop Twiddling process, which helps ensure the hop shoots grow strongly up the garden’s network of strings. TEA Club member Ted Block said: “Sarah was interested that we’re all volunteers working for the love of it – as well a couple of beers – but it’s great to get out in the open, as well as to feel that we’re part of the story of our local brewer.”

Thompson said, “We were delighted to welcome Sarah and On Your Farm to the brewery and hop garden. Hogs Back is one of a growing number of ‘farm brewers’ in the UK, with a rural, farming heritage that gives them a deep understanding of the ingredients used in brewing.

“We talked to Sarah about our decision to carefully transplant the hop plants from the original garden to the new site to ensure continuity, as well as our revival of the Farnham White Bine, which was once highly prized by brewers, but declined at the start of the last century. These are great farming stories which we’re sure will appeal to the programme’s audience.”

Hogs Back’s new hop garden occupies 8.5 acres of prime farmland on Manor Farm, where the brewery was founded 27 years ago. With anchors, posts and several miles of hop wire in place, 2,000 hop plants were lifted from the old garden and a further 4,000 new ones planted. Three varieties grown on the new site will be harvested this summer: Fuggles, Cascade and Farnham White Bine.

Hogs Back’s original hop garden featured in the BBC TV Countryfile programme in 2016.

The episode of On Your Farm recorded in the hop garden and brewery will be broadcast at 6.35am on Sunday 19 May, and will also be available on BBC Sounds.

Caption to attached image: On Your Farm presenter Sarah Swadling with Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson

Hop hop hooray! Traditional Surrey ingredient used by county's pub chefs

April 2019

Diners in Surrey will have the chance to try an unusual, but traditional, ingredient in a handful of pubs across the county from this Saturday (13th) as contestants in the annual ‘Hogs Back Hop Shoot Challenge’ serve up delicious dishes containing hop shoots – or ‘Poor Man’s Asparagus’.

The competition, now in its fifth year, challenges chefs across the Red Mist Leisure pub group to create a recipe using the tips of the hop shoots. The shoots are being cut today (Wednesday) in the Hogs Back hop garden next to the brewery in Tongham, and delivered immediately to the pubs for the chefs to work their culinary magic. The winner will be chosen on Friday, but all participating chefs will serve their creations in their pubs over the weekend, for as long as their supply of hop shoots lasts.

Winning dishes in past years include a ‘Surrey Smorgasbord’ including hop-flavoured bread, a risotto and a ‘Real Ale Salad’. Last year’s winner was Adam Sullens from the Queen’s Head in East Clandon, who created a hop-infused tortellini.

Rupert Thompson, managing director of Hogs Back Brewery, said: “We’re delighted to be running the Hop Shoots Challenge again with Red Mist Leisure pubs and are looking forward to seeing the dishes produced by their talented chefs. Based on previous years, we’re expecting a range of impressive dishes, and choosing a winner won’t be easy.

“Hop shoots aren’t the easiest ingredient to work with – they don’t last long after cutting, so they have to be delivered to the pubs straight away and used quickly as they can only be served while they are new and fresh. We’d recommend diners visit their local Red Mist Leisure pub early this weekend to be sure of tasting a hop shoot dish.”

Thompson added: “The Farnham area was historically one of the most important hop growing regions in the country with hops such as the Farnham White bine prized for their delicate aromas. We’re delighted that, as well as restoring hop growing locally with our hop garden, we’re also reviving the use of hop shoots as a fresh, local ingredient in great pub food.” Hop shoots were a country delicacy in the 19th century and today are often served pickled in bars across Belgium.

Mark Robson, managing director of Red Mist Leisure, said: “Our chefs enjoy having new ingredients to work with and applying their culinary flair to create new dishes. The results in previous years have been delicious and popular with our customers so we’re looking forward to serving some hoppy delights on our special boards later this week.”The Red Mist Leisure pubs taking part in the Hop Shoots Challenge are: The Castle, Farnham; Temple Inn, Liss Forest; Red Lion, Odiham; Royal Exchange, Lindford; Cock Inn, Headley; The Exchequer, Crookham Village; Stag on the River, Lower Eashing; Duke of Cambridge, Tilford and Queen’s Head, East Clandon.

The winner of the competition will be posted after Friday on Hogs Back social media @HogsBackBrewery. Hogs Back Brewery planted a hop garden adjacent to its brewery in 2014, growing three hop varieties: Fuggles – used in its flagship TEA ale; Cascade – used in its Hogstar lager and Farnham White Bine, a local variety that it rescued from extinction. It has recently relocated and expanded the garden, siting it closer to the brewery within Manor Farm. The new site, at 8.5 acres, is close to three times the size of the previous one, and when fully mature will provide 50% of Hogs Back’s hop requirement.

Caption to attached image: Members of the Tongham TEA Club help to pick hop shoots in the Hogs Back Brewery hop garden, with estate manager Matthew King (centre)

New wine-focused bar and dining offer to open in Henley

April 2019

Hof’s offers handcrafted wines and education

Hof’s offers handcrafted wines and education

Hof’s, the newest addition to Henley’s thriving food and drink scene, is set to open its doors on Saturday 13 April on the site of the former Station House pub on Market Place.

The brainchild of South African wine guru Christopher Hof, the new Brakspear-owned venue will offer customers a unique selection of wines from smaller vineyards around the world, coupled with advice and education. Hof’s has been supplying handcrafted South African wines to restaurants across the globe since 2009, but the Henley site is its first retail outlet.

Hof’s will sell more than 25 wines, served by the glass, bottle and in flights of three or five glasses, chosen by the customer or recommended by one of the in-house wine experts who will be on hand at the venue’s tasting table, to guide them on their wine journey.

As well as wines, Hof’s will sell Brakspear cask ales and a full range of draught products. There will also be a good selection of bottled beers as well as a select list of expertly-served cocktails.
The kitchen at Hof’s will open on 26 April, with a focus on meat and fish dishes from South Africa, Germany, Switzerland and Japan, with a deli section offering hearty bites such as Salt Beef bagels, Beorewors and Biltong, all made on site. Sharing foods as well as individual serves feature on the menu. From opening day on 13th, a range of bar nibbles will be available.

Christopher Hof explains: “Hof’s is all about bringing the vineyard to the customer, helping them to further their wine appreciation. We have all the well-known wine styles, as well as some more unusual ones not widely available in the UK, so we have something for wine novices and connoisseurs alike.

“Although we’re serious about our wines, Hof’s has an informal, friendly vibe. People are welcome to join us for a glass of a wine they already love, or let us choose a flight of new styles that will expand their wine horizons. And we’ve a full bar to cater for customers who prefer beer, spirits or soft drinks.”

Ahead of opening, Hof’s is undergoing a refurbishment, designed to reflect its wine credentials, and training the 10 new team members, led by front of house manager Sophie Meldau, who has worked for Hof’s wine business for a number of years, delivering wine tastings and events around the world.

Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said: “We’re delighted to welcome Christopher, Sophie and their team to Brakspear and to Henley. Their proposition of handcrafted wines and wine education is quite distinct from anything else currently offered in the town and we’re confident Hof’s will quickly find an appreciate audience. We look forward to helping them grow their business with Brakspear.”

Hof’s, 34 Market Place, Henley
Telephone: 01491 578574
Opening hours : Tuesday – Sunday 12 noon – 11.00
Food served: 12 noon – 3.30 and 6.00 – 10.00
Further information:


RedLeg Caramelised Pineapple spiced rum adds to the mix

April 2019

RedLeg spiced rum is extending its range with the launch of Caramelised Pineapple flavour, available in the UK from May 2019.

The launch comes as the rum category, and spiced rum in particular, continues to enjoy double digit growth. The new flavour expands on the established success of the RedLeg brand, which is growing faster than the market. RedLeg is owned by Distil and distributed by Hi-Spirits.

RedLeg Caramelised Pineapple has 100% natural pineapple and caramel flavour. This brings a new dimension to RedLeg’s original combination of rum rested in oak barrels and infused with Jamaican ginger and vanilla spices, creating a very accessible, mixable spirit.

Jade McKenzie, marketing co-ordinator at Distil said: “RedLeg is all about relaxing with good friends. Pineapples have long been a symbol of friendship and hospitality in the Caribbean, with islanders traditionally hanging pineapples on their doors to welcome all inside. Taking inspiration from this tradition, RedLeg Caramelised Pineapple is a celebration of friendship and good times.

“We expect the flavour profile to attract new consumers to the RedLeg brand and to the spiced rum category as a whole. As the gin boom has demonstrated, consumers are very confident about moving between flavours and styles within a popular spirits category, and RedLeg Caramelised Pineapple is the perfect reason to gather friends and explore new and great tasting cocktails.”

RedLeg Caramelised Pineapple combines well with simple mixers as well as in more complex cocktails. The recommended perfect serve is a simple Pineapple and Tonic, made by adding a double measure of RedLeg Caramelised Pineapple to a Collins glass with plenty of ice, a dash of gomme syrup topped with tonic water, and a squeeze of lime.

RedLeg Caramelised Pineapple is 37.5% ABV, with an RRP of £20. Its vibrant, stand out packaging gives it a high profile on every shelf or back bar.

For more information, please contact Hi-Spirits on 01932 252 100, email or visit