Chats with Charlie Stein #3: Spirits and Cocktails
Alongside food and wine, Charlie also loves to discover new spirits whilst enjoying old favourites, like his go-to cocktail, a Negroni. In the third ‘Chats with Charlie’ of the series you’ll find out which country he thinks make the best spirits, when he most likes to drink them, what he thinks is going to be big in the next 12 months and more. Pour yourself a glass of something short and click below to watch Charlie, or scroll down to read what he had to say.
Watch Charlie Stein talk about spirits
Which country make the best spirits?
That’s a very difficult question because there are so many countries that make good spirits, but I’m going close to home and saying the UK. We make unbelievable gin and the gin craze of the last 10 years has just cemented us as the best place in the world for making really really good gin. Like Tarquin’s just down the road from us in Padstow who make our own Rick Stein gin – which is absolutely delicious. Then whiskey from Scotland is a huge passion of mine. I absolutely love whiskey. These are two of my favourite spirits, both from the UK, so it must be the UK.
When do you most enjoy spirits?
I love a pre-dinner cocktail, my favourite being a Negroni. I love that idea of aperitivo – getting your stomach ready for a delicious meal by having something bitter like a Negroni (Campari, gin and red vermouth in equal parts).
I also really like, just as you take off on a plane when the seat belt signs go off and the trolley goes down the aisle, a gin and tonic. I don’t drink gin and tonic that often but that one is the best gin and tonic in the world. Then after dinner it has to be whiskey and plum brandy. Vieille Prune is my favourite plum brandy, so not Cognac or Armagnac, but very close in France. It’s a Christmas tipple for me as well.
What are your top three spirits to drink at home?
I’ve got a wide selection of spirits on the go at home. When I go to a different country, I always come back with something new. I went to Chile and I came back with Pisco. I’ve got Mezcal. I’ve got all this sort of stuff that I never drink – but the three I do definitely drink are gin, whiskey and Chartreuse. I love a Tarquin’s, I also love Tanqueray Ten, export strength Tanqueray. When it comes to whiskeys, I quite like a peaty whiskey, something like Laphroaig or Aberfeldy – both favourites of mine.
And then, it’s not a spirit but, chartreuse which is an unbelievable liqueur made by monks in the Alps and has an amazing history. I could drink a lot of that. I’m really trying to get into Chartreuse because there’s so many different bottlings going back to the time of the memorial and it ages really well too. They moved the monastery where they make it to Spain (for some reason) so if you can find a Spanish bottle it’s interesting – you’re always looking for clues on different bottles like where it’s from and when it was made. At the moment, I’m just drinking green and yellow Chartreuse because I’m on my journey of learning about, but I can envisage spending a lot of money on different bottles as I get more into it.
What’s going to be big in the next 12 months?
It’s a hard question because for the last five years or so everyone said rum is going to be huge. It has taken off quite a lot, but I’m not so sure as the UK hasn’t made rum that quite hits the mark yet. Gin is still really popular but I think we’re sort of on the descent if it’s a sort of bell curve. I feel like tequila could be the one.
But the problem with tequila is we all drunk tequila slammers with Jose Cuervo and it’s kind of ruined it for us – whereas you go to America where they absolutely love it and are drinking lots of different types like pure Agave, really good examples, so I feel like it should be tequila. I’m not a Nostradamus so I can’t predict it but there is that barrier of everyone thinking tequila tastes the cheap stuff we used to have in our youth, but I want it to be tequila because there’s some amazing examples of very good tequila out there. I went to Mexico and it really opens your eyes to actually how good a quality you can get when your experiences/memories of something haven’t been brilliant.
Thanks for watching or reading and keep an eye out for more Chats with Charlie soon.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT CHARLIE
Charlie leads our business with Rick, Jill, Ed and Jack – inspiring everything we do to make our guests smile.
From choosing all the drinks on our lists and hosting dinners in our restaurants to sharing his knowledge with our teams to develop their skills. There’s so much to Charlie’s role.