It’s a problem many of us have faced during our lifetime – you’re out socialising down the pub with friends and it’s your turn to buy the round of beer. However, while you may be skilled enough to carry 3 or even 4 pints of beer in one go, when it comes to carrying more than 4 pints out comes the dreaded tray! It’s very rare to make it back to your table without the tray being knocked and your beloved beer being spilt, which is why James May and Simmy from James May’s Man Lab have found a solution.
They have come up with a prototype carrying device which relies on atmospheric pressure – a rubber disc seals the beer glass, while a pressure gauge allows it to be carried or hooked to a carrier. This allows you to carry a whole round of beer back to your table without spilling a drop however busy the bar is. Genius!
With St Valentine’s Day soon upon us, no doubt many of you love-struck couples will be reaching for the Champagne or Prosecco to accompany that special meal and help your wooing along with an added touch of class and elegance.
Before making that impulse purchase there is a whole etiquette to sparkling wine and in particular Champagne serving to consider which is often overlooked, even in the service industry. A fine sparkling wine is a delicate drink to befit the care and balance in the way it is served.
First and foremost, store your wine laid flat in a cool and dry place before chilling. Continued contact with the bottle’s cork will stop it drying out and shrinking, allowing air to enter the wine and spoil it. Heat exposure will interfere with the taste and carbonation of the wine, continued heat exposure will ruin it completely. A storage temperature between 7°c and 13°c is recommended. Do not chill your wine until a few hours before serving, storing sparkling wine in a fridge for a prolonged period will sap the flavour. Obviously not everyone has the luxury of a wine cellar, but at the very least a Wine Rack is the best way to store your wine (as long as your wine racks not in the airing cupboard!).
Allow your wine plenty of time to chill before serving. It doesn’t need to be served freezing cold; a serving temperature of between 5°c and 7°c is perfect. A regular bottle of Champagne should be consumed within 2 years of purchase. A Vintage Champagne has a slightly longer lifespan at 3-5 years, never store a bottle of Champagne for more than 10 years; it will be no good by that time!
Your glassware is very important and is dependent on the variety of wine you are serving. A common wine glass is not designed to hold a sparkling wine and keep it carbonated. Champagne Flutes and Champagne Saucers (or Coupes) feature designs and nucleation techniques to allow the carbonation process to continue long after the wine is served.
Champagne glasses should be spotlessly clean before serving, smears and residue will affect the wine’s carbonation process and lead to flat wine. Clean each glass thoroughly before use and wipe dry with a clean towel. To help maintain the temperature of the wine once it’s served, you can store your glasses in a refrigerator to keep them chilled.
Flute or Coupe?
A lot of the time the choice of a Flute or Coupe is a personal one. Champagne Coupes were once regarded as the fashionable way to serve sparkling wine back in the early-mid 1900s this trend has become more and more popular over the years, especially for venues serving Champagne Fountains. There is a science behind the shape of your glass; Coupes have a larger surface area which effects the aeration of the wine and are better suited to sweeter wines and Champagnes that will maintain their body when exposed to air.
1: Arcoroc Cabernet Coupe Glass 300ml
2: LSA Wine Collection Champagne Saucer 300ml
3: Dartington Glitz Champagne Saucer 300ml
4: Urban Bar Retro Engraved Champagne Coupe 220ml
5: LSA Savoy Champagne Saucer 250ml
Champagne Flutes on the other hand are shaped to maintain the flavour of the wine while maximising the carbonation. The Flute is designed to be held by the stem to stop your hand cupping the bowl and warming the contents. Flutes are perfectly suited to strong flavoured vintage wines and Champagnes which are better appreciated with the minimum of aeration.
1: Arcoroc Grands Cepages Champagne Flute 240ml
2: Durobor Royal Champagne Flute 160ml
3: Riedel Vinum Cuvee Prestige Champagne Flute 230ml
4: Vera Wang Love Knot Champagne Flutes 120ml
5: Waterford Crystal Siren Champagne Flute 180ml
6: Royal Doulton Celebration Champagne Flute 160ml
7: Arc Domino Champagne Flute 170ml
8: LSA Yana Champagne Flute 160ml
Keeping it Cool
Keeping your wine refrigerated while it’s open is a great way of keeping your bubbly cool but it’s a little impractical when you are dining or entertaining as you’ll find yourself backwards and forwards to the fridge all too regularly. Thank heavens for Champagne buckets! Champagne buckets, as the name might suggest, are specifically designed to chill Champagne (and other Sparkling wines too!), they are larger than normal wine buckets to allow more ice, keeping your wine cooler for longer. Although considered a luxury item, there’s no substitute, you can serve your champagne from a mop bucket but be prepared for a lonely Valentine’s night!
1: LSA Bar Glass Champagne Bucket
2: Hammered Effect Stainless Steel Champagne Bucket
3: Pulltex Acrylic Champagne Bucket Blue
4: Bar@drinkstuff Stainless Steel Champagne Bucket
5: Elia Straight Wine Cooler
Champagne, Cava, Prosecco or Asti?
When deciding on a sparkling wine or Champagne; choose your wine carefully, stronger tasting wines are best as palate cleansers and aperitifs or digestifs . The lighter wines are perfectly suited to accompany flavoured dishes and some sparkling wines are best suited as an accompaniment to desserts. Read the wine label, and if you’re lucky enough to have a local wine shop that allows tasting of sparkling wines and Champagnes; try before you buy.
Revision done, exams nailed, results day has been safely navigated, your university place has been secured, you’ve successfully survived the clearing process, sorted your loans, found your digs and begged your parents / friends to lug your stuff halfway across the country to your new home for the next 3 years. What next? Well once you’re all settled in it’s party time!
Fresher’s week is often the defining week of your university life. You’ll meet hundreds of new people, attend numerous parties and freshers fairs, wake up in strange houses with stranger people, see cool new bands and sign up for loads of stuff you’ll never use or need and that’s just the first day!
It’s easy to get caught up in the week-long party that is Freshers Week but the most important thing to do is relax. This week will see you introduced to lots of new people, you’ll have course inductions, tutor introductions and mountains of paperwork to sign. But don’t let it daunt you. This week is merely to get you settled in before the real work starts so make the most of it!
No doubt you will at some point venture out to join the numerous parties that are laid on over the week. Make sure you keep your wits about you and drink responsibly. Drinking isn’t about getting so drunk you don’t recognise your own reflection! It’s about having fun and socialising. Always keep an eye on your drink; spiking is not unheard of and getting rushed to A&E is the last thing you want on your first week, never leave your drink unattended, don’t accept drinks from strangers and take a pocket full of anti-spike drink stoppers with you when you go out to keep your bottle safe.
Whether you’re going out or staying in, it’s always good to be prepared. Do you have a few friends round? Make sure that cocktail shaker is in easy reach and have a few drinking games at hand to keep the party entertaining. A pack of cards is the most basic game accessory you will need and will provide hours of fun but if you’re feeling adventurous; a round of shot roulette or a beer pong table will make your parties the talk of the town.
Having access to a cocktail book and shaker will open up a whole new world of possibilities to liven up a party. Fish bowls and shot glasses are an essential for the social enthusiast who wants to throw a party with a twist and don’t forget disposable glasses , it will save you having to wash up every glass in the house (or have a mountain of washing-up that sits festering on the side for several weeks!).
Those of you that are fans of American teen comedies will be familiar with those red solo cups that pop up regularly in party scenes. These cups are a great party-piece that are designed for holding beer, cocktails and spirits but also make great beer pong or slap cup containers. For a giggle, introduce your friends to fuzzy duck, for the educated drinker we stock the glass chess shot set and for the gamblers amongst you there’s the shot shot roulette. All are fantastic accessories for throwing an entertaining and unique party.
1: American Red Party Cups 2: Ultimate Beer Bong Funnel 3: Anti-Spike Drink Stoppers 4: bar@drinkstuff Home Cocktail Set 5: Chillquiet Mini-Fridge 6: Beer Pong 7: Plastic Cocktail Fish Bowl 8: Neon Shot Glasses
No room is complete without a mini fridge to keep your essential milk and beer supply chilled and out of the reach of light-fingered housemates and roomies! Make sure you have plenty of glassware, plates and bowls and stock up on your food essentials and missing furniture. If you’re planning a party have a look at our student deals as well as our student starter set which contains everything you need to get your party started.
If you’ve just moved into halls, keep your door open, have your stereo on with your favourite band playing and make sure you have the kettle on and a few mugs of tea ready to hand out as this is your chance to get to make new friends and you never know who’ll be coming past your dorm so be ready to meet interesting and varied people who will be the centre of your social life for the next 3 years.
Last but not least, relax and enjoy your first week, you won’t get another one! Party hard, make friends, enjoy the independence but most importantly; drink responsibly. But in case you don’t, have your new address written down and at hand and don’t lose sight of your friends or your house keys and phone!
Beer and technology don't often mix well...think inappropriate Facebook pictures and your phone drowned in a pint of beer. However, geeks can now rejoice with the invention of the Android Kegerator (not suitable for Apple users)! This Android tablet operated kegerator, known as the KegDroid has been designed by Google employee Paul Carff. The KegDroid uses a Motorola Xoom tablet running ICS for primary processing and an Ardunio board which links the mechancial pumping processes and an NFC reader to the tablet. Users then swipe their NFC badge over the reader, which pulls information from their Google+ profile to ensure you're old enough to be served by the KegDroid. The user can choose their glass size and beer type, then open the tap while the Android mascot dispenses the beverage straight into a glass. Now that's what technology was made for!
Question: What's better than beer? Answer: An chilled beer on tap! But there's no need to head down to the pub, because you can make your own draft beer system at home! Robert Hess has made a video giving you step-by-step instructions on how to turn your fridge into a beer kegerator! However, we recommend you ask permission from your partner/parents/flatmate/boss first!
Music and beer lovers rejoice! The Marshall Amp Mini Beer Fridge is perfect for the rock star in your life; it's shaped just like a classic Marshall Amp and holds plenty of cans and bottles of beer! It features the authentic Marshall signature, logos and even has control knobs that go up to 11. We think it's perfect for hot and sweaty rock stars to replenish themselves on stage; or prehaps just in your living room? Either way it will set you back $299 and you'll have to wait till October 2012.
What do you get if you cross a QWERTY keyboard with alcohol? No we're not talking about a drunk work colleague sending inappropriate emails, but in fact the ingenious Typewriter Cocktail Machine. Designed by 'Morskoiboy' just for fun (like you do), this machine mixes a cocktail as you type.
Each key is in fact a pump made from a syringe, which takes the corresponding liquid to the letter display before delivering it straight into your glass. Designed for use with syrups, the alcohol (or water if you prefer) is attached to the top of the machine and mixes with the syrup. We'd be interested to see how 'drinkstuff' tastes!
Below is the video where 'Morskoiboy' explains his contraption:
Typing has never been so rewarding!
The cocktail dress; a staple fashion item in every girl's wardrobe. However Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht, hacker Marius Kintel and sculptor Jane Tingley have taken things one step further with the DareDroid Dress. At first glance this dress could be mistaken for something out of Lady Gaga's wardrobe, and has been described by the creators as a "biomechanic hybrid cocktail robot".
Happy hour is any hour with this cocktail dispensing dress, which rewards players with a White Russian cocktail upon accepting and completing a game of Truth or Dare. The revolutionary design uses open-source hardware, pneumatic technology and human temperament, however it might not be for the fashion conscious amoungst you.
The BarBot combines two ultimate sins in one unique machine; it’s a gambling slot machine that dispenses alcohol when you win! Winner of a hacker competition, the creator NYC Resistor gave it a Fear and Loathing theme (very appropriate) and reprogrammed it to dispense cocktails.
The BarBot doesn’t just dispense any old cocktail however, you have to get a winning combination of traditional cocktail ingredients on the three wheels. A variety of spirits and mixers are connected via pressurized tubes powered by a microcontroller and solenoid valves. If you’re thinking you could do with one of these in your home bar, think again, the whole process took 320 hours and cost $3000!
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We’re getting hit with some 80s nostalgia in the Drinkstuff office. No we haven’t been playing Pac-Man, we’ve been sampling the newly revamped range of SodaStream! You’ve seen the TV advert and its official; SodaStream is back and everyone’s getting busy with the fizzy!
2010 TV Advert:
Those fizzing machines of the 80s dominated many a childhood, whether you ran round your neighbours after school or were lucky enough to own one yourself. Somehow, the simple act of adding CO2 to some tap water excited children all over the nation.
1980s TV Advert:
Well it’s out with the old and in with the new as SodaStream has brought out a range of modern, slim-line designs that blend perfectly with modern kitchens. And the best part is you’re old enough to operate the whole thing yourself!
SodaStream machines still feature the simple, electricity free, push button design that makes them so easy to use. They’re environmentally-friendly, quick, convenient, great fun and most importantly, great value for money. What’s not to love?
Obviously, we had to see what all the fuss is about; is it really worth shunning the fizzy drinks aisle at the supermarket and investing your money in a SodaStream? We decided to set one up and let the office sample the delights.
We've tested the aptly named SodaStream Stream Drinks Maker. Setting up the SodaStream is surprisingly easy, even for the technically inept out there. For the eco-conscious, there’s very little packaging to be disposed off and the instructions are printed on a simple single page leaflet. Impressive stuff.
To get fizzing, all you need to do is screw in the CO2 canister and then the bottle of water and you’re ready to get busy with the fizzy. The SodaStream needs about 5-10short bursts and makes a buzzing noise (that sounds strangely like a fart) to signal your water is fully carbonated.
If you prefer your fizzy water to taste a bit less like water, SodaStream offer a variety of rather delicious flavoured syrups that instantly transform your bottle of fizzy water into cola, ginger ale or lemonade to name a few.
So all this takes less than 5 minutes, which is a darn sight quicker than popping to the shop, but how does it taste? We tried out the Sugar Free Cranberry & Raspberry Mixer, which got a big thumbs-up from the office and warehouse team, who modestly admitted they were pleasantly surprised.
So whether you're a diehard coke addict or just enjoy a G&T at the weekends, SodaStream is perfect for creating drinks with minimum fuss. Just think of all the wastage reduced from buying plastic bottles, not to mention the shoulder ache from carrying them all!
For a smaller budget and small kitchen, the SodaStream Stream Drinks Maker or SodaStream Genesis Drinks Maker is ideal. Meanwhile, the SodaStream Pure Drinks Maker and SodaStream Penguin Drinks Maker represents the finer end of the spectrum, with the Pengiun being the only SodaStream to offer a glass carafe.
Don't forget to sample the range of mixers to liven up your drink! If you're having trouble deciding, why not try the SodaStream Taste Sampler Pack?
The Drinkstuff Blog