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.
I must admit, Christmas this year has crept up on me. The previous year’s promises of getting ready early this time have truly flown out of the window (this happens every year though). “It barely seems as if Halloween was yesterday, Christmas is ages away yet” but these honeyed words to myself are only my pathetic attempt at brushing the onrushing Christmas festivities under the carpet. Christmas is nearer than I think, less than 4 weeks away in fact, am I prepared? Am I hell!
Thankfully the saving grace in this day and age is the internet. Gifts can be researched and purchased in a matter of minutes and delivered within a few days and if you shop wisely, you can save yourself a lot of money and drinkstuff.com is a perfect example, a treasure trove of gifts from the quirky to the reassuringly useful. It makes a much less stressful (and let’s face it; warmer) alternative to the dreaded Supermarket, the veritable 24 hour bazaar of last minute treats filled with frantic shoppers and stressed-out mums in full-on festive frenzy mode. Besides I doubt Mum would be happy to unwrap a box of Mr Kiplings and a bag of onions on the big day.
Of course, there’s the other preparation, Christmas logistics. Where are you going for your festive fayre? Who’s coming over? Will Aunty Sue and her special dietary requirements or your Cousin David and his rag-tag feral children throw all your carefully laid plans to ruin? Probably; but at least you can be prepared in other areas to make the passing of Christmas day easier.
Getting the perfect Christmas table
By this I don’t mean going off to a branded furniture superstore and shelling out on some flat-packed coated chip-board (although if you don’t have a table you might want to consider it), I am of course talking about setting up and decorating your festive dining table.
Obviously good quality tableware is a good place to start and with a bewildering choice of patterns, shapes and styles to choose from it’s hard to settle on something for such a big occasion. To help; drinkstuff.com offer a wide selection of tableware ideas from crockery and creative tableware ranges which will hopefully give you some inspiration.
Matching ranges create a harmonious and eye-catching display without the clashing of mismatched patterns and shapes (unless that was the look you were going for? After all: “Vintage” is all the rage these days), personally as a former chef all my crockery is white, that way the food does all the work without competing against the plate for attention and there’s no chance of having mismatched crockery as everything’s the same colour, but then I am playing it a little too safe, some patterned crockery works very well depending on how you present your food.
If you're looking to jazz up your table, little touches like Napkins, Napkin Rings, Place Mats, Glassware and quality Cutlery make the difference between an average table and an amazing table. There are truckloads of Christmas centrepiece ideas online from the austere to the magnificent. I’ve compiled a selection of the best and most inspiring ideas here.
Raise your glass
I briefly mentioned Glassware earlier, I can’t reiterate enough that quality glassware makes all the difference, as well as having the right glass for the drink. Countless times have I raided the cupboard for glasses for a toast, resulting in the moment being soured as guests cheer with Champagne cantered in a “Keep Calm and Drink Tea” mug, not a scenario I’d want to repeat! Especially on Christmas Day!
If you're looking for Glassware, drinkstuff.com is most certainly your friend. There’s an astounding range of glasses in all shapes, sizes and colours to suit any occasion and budget from Champagne Flutes, Wine Glasses, Tumblers, Hiballs and more. For Christmas there are beautiful hand crafted ranges from LSA, especially their Moya, Polka and Bar lines which include some wonderful boxed glassware items that really are something special, even worthy of being gifts themselves.
Also take a peek at restaurant favourites; Durobor who produce a wide range of sturdy glassware in various shapes and sizes with some very contemporary lines available including their top selling Alternato and Cancun glasses. Don’t miss other wonderful ranges from Libbey, Arcoroc and Artis to name but a few, who offer some amazing quality glassware. Have a browse through the full selection of glassware lines here for some inspiration.
When it comes to Christmas drinks, your creativity is your only limit. Whether it’s a simple glass of Champagne, a round of festive cocktails or some speciality hot mochas, there’s plenty of ideas compiled online here.
So with the advanced preparation and general online procrastination all done you can now relax. The heat has been taken off you with the Christmas prep. Of course there’s still the food shop and the organising to do, but that’s the easy bit!
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!
If you love beer, sausages, yodelling and lederhosen, then it’s that time of year again! September 22nd sees the start of Germany’s (and possibly the World’s) most famous Beer Festival: Oktoberfest.
Every year over 6 million people flock to Munich to join in the annual Oktoberfest, the world’s largest fair and most renowned beer festival. Oktoberfest has a rich history, dating back to the wedding celebrations of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Bavaria in 1810 and have remained an important event ever since.
The modern Oktoberfest is a grand event with people from all corners of the globe attending and consuming over 7 million litres of beer in 16 days! The fair also boasts a funfair, live music from various cultures and genres and a huge selection of stalls and tents serving traditional Bavarian Fayre such as Schweinebraken (Roast Pork), Hendl (Roast Chicken), Pretzels and of course the international favourite: Bratwursts, so you’ll never go hungry.
All of the beer at Oktoberfest is brewed within Munich city limits and must be at least 6% vol to qualify, so be prepared! Oktoberfest beer is not to be taken lightly; you don’t want to turn into a "Bierleichen" (German for "beer corpse")
It’s also customary to see the locals (and quite a few visitors too!) dressed traditionally in Lederhosen or Dirndls (for the ladies) and quaffing large quantities of beer from Steins. You might even get to experience the ’Beer Boot’ which makes a Yard of Ale seem like a walk in the park!
If you’re thinking of attending; plan ahead. Needless to say Munich gets very busy this time of year, despite being a European hub centre. Flights around the festival date can become unavailable very quickly and hotels few and far between due to the massive influx of international visitors. For bookings and more information on Oktoberfest go to: www.Oktoberfest.de/en
If you can’t make it to Oktoberfest in Munich then you can easily host your own version at home. Just stock-up on Steins, cook up some sausages, pour yourself a Lowenbrau and if you’re feeling daring; dust off the Beer Boot and dance the night away!
Good uses for a Lay Z Spa - Hot tub Cinema!
“Hot tubs and cinemas together?” I hear you say. Well that’s the order of the day at London’s Hot Tub Cinema, a funky new endeavour that has popped up in various venues in London over the last year. Why queue up to sit in a dark cramped cinema, having your seat kicked constantly by the toddlers behind you when you can enjoy some of the coolest films on the planet from the comfort of a rooftop hot tub? And even if you don’t like the films, enjoy your drink and the company as you gaze out across the stunning views of London’s night-time skyline.
Hot Tub Cinema began privately about seven years ago. Since then it has grown in increments, reaching the stage of a handful of hot tubs in a garden in Stoke Newington about 18 months ago, at which point they realised it was time to find some new & exciting venues for their expanding endeavours.
They’re currently running from the rooftop of Netil360 in East London and parties regularly sell out very quickly so we recommend keeping a close eye on their future events if you would like to book tickets. For regular updates go to http://hottubcinema.com/ or find them on Facebook. General Entry tickets start from £22. Private tubs are from £25 per head (£200 per tub split between up to 8 attendees). Tickets include access to the rooftop, hot tubs, waiter service and film screening. Some events are B.Y.O. but soft drinks are often included.
We’re very pleased to see that Hot Tub Cinema are proud supporters of the Lay Z Spa inflatable Hot Tub. Although we’re not sure 8 to a tub is recommended! If you want to create your own Hot Tub Cinema night, the Lay Z Spa Premium Series 4 is currently available for under £400 from drinkstuff.com and includes a free bonus filter pack.
Bank Holiday BBQ Ideas
Summer is in full swing, the forecast is red-hot sun (with scattered showers!), the garden is green and the smell of the neighbour’s barbeque is wafting over your fence. It’s that time of year again; time to dust off the old barbeque for its annual airing. What better time than Bank Holiday Monday? With the roads and airports chock-a-block with red-faced motorists and holiday makers, get away from it all and take the time out to relax in the garden, throw a party and sizzle-up some bangers with friends.
Here at drinkstuff we have a mind-boggling array of barbeques and summer party accessories . Whether you’re looking for bbq accessories, disposable drinkware, party plates or napkins right up to cocktail sets and Inflatable Hot-tubs! We’ve also included a few recipes and Ideas but if you need a comprehensive collection of cocktail recipes then check out our cocktail books which are jam-packed with ideas for creating your own concoctions!
Food is quite rightly the star guest at any barbeque. Nothing can beat the smell of char-grilled meat filling the summer air. With so many choices available at the supermarket it can be easy to settle for pre-made burgers and sausages but if you fancy trying your hand at making your own burgers, it couldn’t be simpler with the Swift Burger Press . Mix up your mince and chosen ingredients in a bowl and spoon into the mould and press down to create your own authentic professional-looking home-made burgers!
Of course, barbeques aren’t limited to burgers and sausages. Be adventurous, try Lamb, Pork Chops or Steak and marinade your meat the night before. Also fish and shellfish are delicious barbequed and don’t forget old favourites like corn-on-the-cob, salads and nibbles like olives and nuts.
If you’re looking for inspiration; here’s a tried and tested marinade recipe from the drinkstuff team. It’s very simple to put together, using some basic food cupboard ingredients:
Smokey BBQ Marinade
300ml Barbeque Sauce
1 Onion, chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
2 Tsps Smoked Paprika
1 Tsp Chilli Powder
4 Tbsps of Dark Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Worcester Sauce
2 Tbsps Tomato Puree
1 Tsp White Wine Vinegar
This tasty and easy marinade is great for white meats such as chicken and pork, although it works just as well with Beef Steak and Fish. Simply mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and add your chosen meat. Ensure that the marinade is covering the meat, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight before cooking as normal on your barbeque. Once your meat is cooked, serve it up with a bowl of fresh salad, cous-cous or even more meat!
For the presentation conscious our Royal Genware Square Plates are ideal for presenting a plate of food a chef would be proud of! For a whole range of tableware and presentation ideas check out our ever-expanding selection of tableware and crockery for more inspiration.
Drinks all round!
Drink selection is a vital part to any gathering of friends, why not throw a BBQ party with a twist and greet your guests with a tray of refreshing Mojitos or a bowl of homemade punch?
Children and designated drivers should never be left out so don’t forget to include a non-alcoholic punch or have a blender on-hand to wizz-up some ice-cream smoothies or fruit-based cocktails. Make sure you have the right glass for the job though; cocktails aren’t just about mixing drinks together it’s about the presentation too!
Another party essential which is a firm favourite here at drinkstuff towers are the Stack Cups . These ingenious lightweight cups have a hollow handle which allows them to be stacked together for easy carrying. They’re perfect for dishing out a round of cold beers when your free-hands are limited!
If you want to save on washing-up we now have a range of bio-degradable plastic cups and recycled napkins to minimise any harmful fallout from your party. Because let’s face it; who wants to be washing up after a few Sangrias!?
We’ve included a couple of our favourite summer cocktail recipes for you. For non-alcoholic ice-cream shakes just swap the Vodka, Baileys and Kahlua for flavoured Crusha or Nesquick, the kids will love it!
Summer Ice Cream Alco-Shakes (Makes 4)
4 Scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream
100ml Bailey’s irish Cream
In a blender or food-processor add all of the ingredients and simply wiz them together until they are blended into a smooth drink. Serve in iced hurricane cocktail glasses with a straw. For extra decadence top with a generous helping of whipped cream!
Sangria (courtesy of the ultimate bar book )
2 Lemons, sliced
2 Peaches, pitted and sliced
120ml Fresh lemon juice
90ml Licor 43 (If available)
75g Superfine sugar
75cl of red wine (Rioja is ideal)
Soda to top up
Combine the lemon and peach slices in a large glass pitcher . Add the lemon juice, Licor 43 and sugar, stirring to combine. Gently stir in the wine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, add the soda, stirring gently. Slowly pour into ice-filled wine goblets allowing some of the fruit to fall into the glasses.
Licor 43 is an ancient Spanish liqueur which has a distinctive vanilla and citrus twang. It’s not readily available in the supermarket and unless you spend a lot of time hopping over to Spain you’ll rarely see it. However several online stockists do supply to the UK for a reasonable price.
If you want to, you can replace the Licor 43 with another fruity liqueur such as Cointreau, Pimms or Flavoured Vodka.
We hope you take the time to relax and enjoy your summer barbeque. After all it’s the last Bank Holiday until Christmas! One last point to note is of course to drink safely and be careful handling your barbeque, don’t over-stock your coals or go mad with the lighter fluid, nobody wants to eat burnt sausages or worse; spend bank holiday in A&E!
Here at drinkstuff we always like to do our bit for charity. So in light of England's final group match against Ukraine (and hopefully not their last match of the tournament), what better than a football themed dress down day? We had football shirts, England flags, painted faces and painted nails! The big bosses put company money forward to sponsor any staff member that dressed up in a football theme and we have raised £150 for the charity Unicef!
At Drinkstuff we like to make things as easy as possible, which is why we've put together our range of cocktail making kits, which combine all the cocktail equipment and cocktail accessories you need while saving you money! Now it's your chance to get involved with our bundle competition!
We want you to design your dream cocktail kit - with all the equipment and accessories you need to throw a cocktail party! Simply choose from our great range of cocktail accessories, bar equipment and glassware on drinkstuff.com and make a list of what you'd put together in your cocktail set and you could win it!
To take part send your list of products (with full titles) that make up your set to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with your full name and address. If we like your set you'll be in with a chance of winning it and could even see it on our site!
Terms & Conditions:
-Only 1 entry per person
-Only entries submitted to email@example.com will be valid
-Entries cannot be duplicates of our current bundle deal sets
-Only entries which include more than 3 different products will be considered
-Winners will be notified via email and your name may be posted on our facebook page
-Closing date for entries is the 12pm on the 10th June 2011
As our business grows we're on the lookout for more staff members! We are looking for a new team member to assist with the daily administrative tasks to ensure the smooth running of the Buying Department. This is a varied, demanding role in a busy team that requires an organised individual with the ability to multi-task.
Tasks will include:
- Raising Purchase Orders for special order items, to go direct to customers or come into stock
- Placing Purchase Orders with suppliers
- Checking order confirmations and raising any queries
- Chasing deliveries and booking goods in with the warehouse
- Speaking to suppliers to sort out any delivery problems, e.g. Shortages, breakages
- Maintaining supplier database and ensuring the information is kept up to date
- Updating cost, retail prices and setting and managing some sale prices
- Competitor price monitoring, analysis and research into the market to ensure we are competitive.
- Helping out with the phones, taking orders, dealing with enquiries and some Customer Service work
We are located in the village of Melbourn on the border of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. If you're interested in this position please email your C.V. to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
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