The King of Soho is in the Pink with new gin launch

July 2018

The King of Soho is adding a new addition to its colourful line-up with the introduction of the King of Soho Variorum Gin, a berry edition of the original London Dry.

The King of Soho Variorum Gin adds a hint of pink and notes of strawberry to complement the essential juniper and citrus flavours of the classic recipe, making it ideal to be enjoyed over ice, in cocktails and mixed drinks; served with a strawberry garnish. The creativity and literary works of Soho are the inspiration behind the name – in literature, a variorum edition is an original work with notes.

With the original King of Soho London Dry celebrating its fifth anniversary in October 2018, the King of Soho Variorum is a new twist on the classic, with a lower ABV of 37.5%. It has been created to appeal to a broader audience and reflects the brand’s modernity. In its vivid red bottle, Variorum Gin is a vivacious and fun companion to the King of Soho London Dry; the perfect pair to stand out on the shelf or bar – day and night.

Like the original, Variorum is distributed in the UK & Ireland on-trade and off-trade by Hi-Spirits. The King of Soho brand is the creation of West End Drinks, owned by entrepreneurs Alex Robson and Howard Raymond, and styled after Howard’s father, the legendary Soho theatre impresario and businessman Paul Raymond.

Alex Robson, managing director of West End Drinks, said: “The King of Soho Variorum Gin is a celebration of the colour and style of Soho; a pink berry spirit inspired by the creativity and literature of London’s iconic district, to join our smooth and premium drinks line-up.

“We launched the original King of Soho classic London Dry almost five years ago, and the King of Soho Variorum Gin builds on that success with an appeal to a gin consumer who is looking for a slightly lower ABV and berry notes in their drinks and cocktails. Crafted in London , it reflects the modernity and innovation of our brand and the ever-changing spirit that is Soho.”

The signature serve for The King of Soho Variorum is the Variorum Cooler:

• 50ml King of Soho Variorum Gin
• 120ml Cranberry Juice
• 120ml Pink Grapefruit Juice

Build in a tall glass filled with cubed ice, and garnish with a grapefruit twist and a strawberry.

The King of Soho Variorum launches in late July, with a RSP of £33.50.

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

Fernet-Branca challenges the bar trade’s bravest at the Barback Games

July 2018

Britain’s bravest and boldest bar workers will be put through their paces when the Fernet-Branca Barback Games come to London this September, with a trip to San Francisco up for grabs for the winner.

The games will test the skills and endurance of competitors with a series of physical challenges, as well as their knowledge and passion for classic Italian digestif Fernet-Branca.

Originally held in San Francisco in 2007, the Barback Games are now one of the biggest touring bar industry events. With the games being held in the UK for the first time this year, Fernet-Branca and UK distributor Hi-Spirits are offering the winner a trip to San Francisco as their prize.

Bars can enter a team made up of one competitor and one coach, with anyone who works in a pub, bar, restaurant or club whose role has included barback duties eligible to compete. The final will see four knockout rounds put competitors through their paces, with the final battle between two teams deciding the winner of the San Francisco trip.

The teams won’t find out what’s involved until the day of the Games, but competitors are being warned that they need to be fit and able to compete in some very physical challenges.

Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, said: “We’re delighted to be bringing the Fernet-Branca Barback Games to the UK this year. Barbacks are all too often the unsung heroes of great bars and the Games are an opportunity for them to step into the spotlight – if they’re up for the challenge!”

The Fernet-Branca Barback Games will be held at Village Underground, London on Sunday 9 September, with an invited audience from the bar trade cheering on the teams and a global judging panel of bar professionals overseeing the proceedings.

Entries are now open at and close on 10 August. Entrants need to explain why they should be selected, with the finalists announced on 17 August, 2018. Full terms and conditions are also online.

FCO & Drinkaware Alcohol Warnings For Travelling World Cup Fans

June 2018

Fake Spirits and large measures among the dangers of Russian drinking

Counterfeit vodka and generous spirit measures served in Russian bars and restaurants, are among the issues facing British people travelling to the World Cup, warns the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and alcohol education charity Drinkaware.

As supporters make the journey to the tournament following England’s victory in their opening game against Tunisia, Drinkaware and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) are offering support and advice on sensible drinking during the tournament.

An infographic featuring the advice is available on the Drinkaware website at Key messages about potential problems facing fans are also being widely circulated on social media using the FCO’s #BeOnTheBall hashtag. Warnings include:

  • Vodka is Russia’s most commonly counterfeited spirit, and fakes may contain cleaning fluid, nail polish remover and antifreeze. Fans are advised to be wary of unusual brand names and never drink alcohol that tastes or smells bad.
  • The spirits measures served in Russian bars and restaurants may be larger than those served in the UK. Fans should be wary of drinking too much when toasting their team.
  • Fans who overindulge are in danger of missing the match; all venues and fan zones can refuse entry to anyone who appears intoxicated or disorderly.

The social media campaign supported by Drinkaware also includes positive advice on sensible drinking for travelling fans, including the need to stay hydrated in the heat of the Russian summer by having water or soft drinks between alcoholic drinks, as well as downloading Drinkaware’s free mobile app to keep track of their drinking.

Julia Longbottom, Director of Consular Services at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said, “Through our Be on the Ball campaign, the FCO has been helping fans travelling to the World Cup to prepare for a safe trip. We are pleased to work with Drinkaware to provide this advice on sensible drinking.

“We want everyone to enjoy themselves in Russia and get to see the football. This advice should help fans avoid pitfalls with alcohol getting in the way of that.”

Drinkaware Chief Executive Elaine Hindal said, “We’ve worked closely with the FCO to ensure that travelling fans can access guidance on sensible drinking quickly and easily.

“We all hope that England will progress in the tournament, and more supporters are likely to head out to Russia if they do. We hope that all England supporters in Russia enjoy the football without putting themselves at risk.”

The FCO’s official advice for fans travelling to Russia is available at

Notes to editors

Drinkaware is an independent UK-wide, alcohol education charity with the objective of positively changing public behaviour and the national drinking culture. It aims to reduce alcohol misuse and minimise harm by helping people make better choices about their drinking. It achieves this by providing impartial, evidence-based information, advice and practical resources; raising awareness of alcohol and its harms and by working collaboratively with partners, including the medical community, public health, third sector organisations, local authorities, police and the drinks industry.

Drinkaware has more than 100 funders, including UK alcohol producers, retailers in the on-trade and off-trade and wholesalers.

For further information visit

Farm labour shortage may hit hospitality food prices, warns Lynx Purchasing

June 2018

The shortage of migrant labour facing UK farmers could hit both supplies and prices of seasonal fruit and vegetables this summer, warns buying specialist Lynx Purchasing.

With growers struggling to recruit overseas workers, the newly-published Summer 2018 edition of the Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast urges hospitality and catering businesses to monitor supplier prices carefully as the summer season gets underway.

Managing director Rachel Dobson says, “Our usual advice is to make the most of fresh, seasonal produce, but this summer that comes with an additional warning due to the labour issue. With fresh salad crops and summer berries now ready for picking, the industry is struggling to recruit enough seasonal workers.

“It’s not simply concerns about Brexit, although that’s a factor; EU workers now have a wider range of employment options and many have seen wages increase in their own country or can travel somewhere closer to home for seasonal work.

“Without enough migrant workers, there’s a risk that produce is simply left in the fields. Farmers and growers have asked for a commitment from government that they will have access to sufficient numbers of permanent and seasonal workers, and it’s an issue which needs a speedy resolution.”

The Market Forecast draws on exclusive data from a range of suppliers working with Lynx Purchasing to look at hospitality buying trends. Other produce areas highlighted in the Summer 2018 edition include:

• Seafood: With 75 per cent of the current UK catch exported, operators who can broaden the range of fish and shellfish species featured on menus and specials boards are at an advantage over those that restrict their offer to the most popular varieties. Using UK-caught species in season such as hake, plaice and lemon sole will help keep menus profitable.

• Meat: Beef will see a seasonal increase in the price of forequarter cuts of around of 15-20% as the summer barbecue season increases demand for burgers. Caterers who can switch menus to cuts such as topside and silverside should get better value. Lamb prices hit a five year high this spring, with the UK exporting more lamb due to the exchange rate, and New Zealand shipping more to far east.

• Dairy: The ‘spring flush’, which normally sees milk output rise, was negligible this year due to the cold conditions. Butter and cream prices are expected to continue to rise across the summer and into the autumn, as lower dairy production in the UK pushes up demand.

• Vanilla: Sharp price increases were initially caused by the loss of much of the crop of vanilla pods in Madagascar due to extreme weather, and the situation has been made worse by domestic unrest over control of the remaining supplies. Wholesale prices for vanilla extract, in high demand for ice cream and dessert production, are up by around 30% this year.

Dobson adds. “Although the two bursts of freezing weather at the start of spring caught farmers off guard, the supply chain has plenty of experience of extreme conditions.

“Growers have largely caught up, so it would be a shame now if caterers have to reduce the amount of fresh produce featured on summer menus due to higher costs caused by the labour shortage. We’ll be monitoring the situation and advising customers as the season progresses.”

The Summer 2018 Market Forecast is available to download free from the Lynx Purchasing website at Lynx-Purchasing-Market-Forecast-Summer-18-pdf

Lynx Purchasing works with more than 2,200 hospitality and catering operators to match them with the best suppliers and get the best possible prices on food and drink, as well as a whole range of essential products and services. Lynx’s buying experts help operators buy better and save time and money, year after year.

For more information on Lynx Purchasing, visit email or call 01325 377 845.

Hi-Spirits has the gin journey mapped out

May 2018

With gin continuing to grow in popularity, Hi-Spirits is helping on-trade operators and their customers to confidently navigate the category with an innovative new support package that maps out the gin journey.

Launching in time for World Gin Day on June 9, the Hi-Spirits initiative means that anyone can become a gin explorer, and discover the wide choice of flavours and styles the category offers.
Gin sales were worth £729 million to the on-trade last year, according to WSTA figures. Hi-Spirits gin portfolio offers a range of flavours, price points and countries of origin, each offering consumers something different.

Working with the specialists at Gin Foundry, Hi-Spirits has carefully segmented its gin range, as well as benchmarking it against the wider category. This information has been incorporated into a range of brand support available to pubs and bar, which includes:

• A gin flavour map which spotlights the wide range of flavour and variations that different botanicals bring to gin, not just amongst the brands which Hi-Spirits supplies, but also when compared to the category as a whole;
• Detailed flavour wheels and brand presenters for each gin, which gives more detail of their flavour and character, and also includes both a recommended cocktail serve and a twist on the classic gin & tonic for each brand;
• Tasting maps to enable bar staff and customers to compare and contrast the flavours of the different gins;
• Bespoke passport-style gin menus which encourage customers to board the gin flight and try signature serves from a global gin range.

Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, said: “On-trade operators now appreciate that consumers expect a choice of gin, but it’s just as important that every gin on the back bar earns it place with a distinct character and interesting signature serves.

“Whether they’re new to the gin trail or already seasoned travellers in the category, this new support programme for our gin portfolio will help both operators and consumers get maximum enjoyment from the gin journey.”

The Hi-Spirits gin portfolio includes:
• Blackwoods 40%: Made with Shetland botanicals infused with juniper, coriander and lime
• Blackwoods 60%: Bold, fresh gin made with Shetland foraged wild thyme and meadowsweet
• Broker’s: Five time distilled quintessential classic London Dry Gin
• Broker’s 47%: Premium variant with citrus and spice notes
• Brooklyn: Super premium small batch New York gin made with fresh citrus peels and hand-cracked juniper
• Distillery No. 209: Five times distilled super-premium gin from San Francisco
• Langley’s No 8: Made with 100% English grain spirit and classic gin botanicals
• Langley’s Old Tom: A classic recipe redeveloped for the modern era
• Scapegrace Classic: Artisan dry gin with a fresh New Zealand slant
• Scapegrace Gold: 57% ABV Navy-strength New Zealand gin with an added tangerine flavour note
• The King of Soho: A complex London Dry gin crafted with 12 botanicals for a unique flavour profile

Full details of the Hi-Spirits portfolio can be found at To start a global exploration of great gins with the new support package, contact Hi-Spirits on 01932 252 100 or email

Hogs Back Brewery and Moonpig Get Personal for Father’s Day

May 2018

Dads can be sure there’s a beer with their name on it this Father’s Day, thanks to Hogs Back Brewery’s exclusive personalised beer partnership with online gift retailer Moonpig.

Anyone looking for the ideal gift for a beer-loving dad can order a gift pack of Hogs Back’s award-winning bottled ales in an exclusive new design for Moonpig, and have the bottles printed with a personal message. 

Whether it’s Dad‘s Delight or Old Man’s Ale, when ordering online at Moonpig the gift-giver can create their own name for the beer and add their message. Moonpig offers a choice of three or six bottles of ale, and will feature the personalised beer gifts in its TV ads in the run-up to Father’s Day.

Rupert Thompson, managing director of Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery, said: “There’s no better way to toast dads on their special day than with a great beer from a craft brewer. As the only brewer offering personalised beers through Moonpig, we believe the quirky Hogs Back brand is a great fit, while also offering the guarantee of quality from a familiar brewer for people ordering online.

“Our popular, exclusive bottled ale features updated graphics with real dad appeal, creating an opportunity to present dad with a personalised message, whether for Father’s Day, a birthday, or any other special occasion.”

James Turner, creative director at Moonpig, said: “Personalised gifts are a great way to mark a special occasion, and we’re delighted to be promoting our partnership with Hogs Back Brewery in time for Father’s Day – there’s a Hogs Back beer with dad’s name on it at Moonpig.”