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The Bottle Bar and Shop – and a Negroni

The Bottle Bar and Shop came into being in December 2017, thanks to the husband-and-wife team of Xhulio Sina and Natalie John.

A friend and I have been known to indulge in an occasional cocktail, especially, it has to be said, when on holiday. Consequently, over recent years we have returned to the UK with a serious liking for caipirinhas, caipiroskas, and mojitos, but getting them made here for our rather fussy tastebuds has always been something of a gamble, and making them at home has seemed like too much effort.

Negroni had passed me by

In spite of many a visit to Italy a Negroni cocktail had escaped my attention. This I now realise was a serious error, especially as it includes one of my favourite aperitifs – the Italian liqueur Campari with its distinctive bitter/sweet/spicy flavour.

The origin of a Negroni, the cocktail, is somewhat shrouded in mystery, but a popular version tells of an Italian count, called Negroni, who had developed a taste for gin. In 1919 he was visiting Florence, and requested a barman at the Caffe Casoni to omit the splash of soda water from an Americano (Campari and red vermouth) and replace it with gin –it’s called a Negroni.

In all honesty making a Negroni at home is very straightforward and easy as Matt Hranek in his excellent book, The Negroni – A Love Affair with a Classic Cocktail points out its equal parts gin, vermouth and Campari. But even easier as I subsequently discovered is to open a bottle of ready-made Negroni.

Not too sweet!

It has to be said that initially I was rather dubious about a ready-made Negroni, I don’t have a sweet tooth and most cocktails, ready-made or made by a barman, contain far too much sugar for my liking. So it was with some trepidation that I tried the Negroni made by the Bottle Bar and Shop. As it turned out I needn’t have worried.

The Bottle Bar and Shop

The Bottle Bar and Shop can actually be found fairly close to Catford station in South east London. I’ve not been there yet, but as Covid 19 restrictions ease and I can get out and about again I hope to set forth.

The Bottle Bar and Shop came into being in December 2017, thanks to the husband-and-wife team of Xhulio Sina and Natalie John. Xhulio knows a thing or two about bars and cocktails having worked in places such as the Royal Opera House, Quo Vardis and Sketch, whilst Natalie cut her teeth in the hospitality industry in the food and beverage division of a major international consumer goods company.

Award winning cocktails from…

The Bottle Bar and Shop provides a fully functioning well-stocked bar and shop, including a selection of craft beers, plus some appetising sounding snacks and light meals. By the way, they also hold wine tasting evenings.

But really their speciality is cocktails – and some of them award-winning cocktails at that – plus they also sell their own hand-crafted bottled cocktails.

… high quality ingredients

The bottled cocktails are all made in the shop in small batches from high quality ingredients. The gin they use is Rock Rose Gin, the vodka – Holy Grass Vodka and for the vermouth – In The Loop. And much to my delight they are not stuffed full of sugar or additives. The bottles even display their bottling date!

Not content with making classic cocktails, like my beloved Negroni which includes along with the gin, Campari and vermouth, the zest of pink grapefruit and orange, the couple are also experimenting with their own original cocktails like Mocha Martini and the award-winning Remedy made from Fernet-Branca, brandy, orange liqueur, bitters and honey. Or, if you want something a little different the couple are also producing a range of alcoholic infusions.

More information

Depending on bottle size prices start from £9.50 for 10cl, and are obtainable from the Bottle Bar and Shop, or ordered from their website for nationwide delivery.

Recommended reading

The Negroni – A Love Affair with a Classic Cocktail

The book tells the story behind Matt Hranek’s appreciation and fascination for this famous cocktail.

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