20110915

Spike TV renews 'Bar Rescue' series

Consultant Jon Taffer
Gordon Ramsey had a great idea for "reality" programming when he came up with "Kitchen Nightmares." Take a failing restaurant business, give it a good shake, and, in most instances, make it a success.

The trouble is, Gordon Ramsey. The volatile, foul-mouthed celebrity chef relies too much on screams, insults, put-downs and manufactured drama to push his show along. Luckily, there is an alternative: "Restaurant Impossible," hosted by a pumped-up Brit named Robert Irvine.

While he is forceful with the owners and staff of the failing restaurants, he is rarely demeaning to them, and never foul mouthed. He's much more entertaining, his show more realistic -- except for the cliche of made-up pressure concerning deadlines -- and you don't feel as if you need a shower when you're finished watching an episode.

Now, along comes Jon Taffer with "Bar Rescue." The show, which has just been picked up by Spike TV for a 10-episode second season, started off well for a cable show and has steadily gained audience. Last Sunday, against televised NFL competition, it drew 1.3 million viewers, nearly doubling the July 17 premiere viewership of 742,000.

"Bar Rescue" is a bit of a misnomer. What Taffer, a noted New York hospitality industry guru, deals with is full-service eating-and-drinking establishments. And, his shows deal with the food as well as the drinks, along with service, decor and marketing. His on-camera persona is alternately gruff, encouraging, teaching and, ultimately, decisive. Another altogether satisfactory alternative to Ramsay.

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20110914

UK distiller, brewer make a new drink

NORFOLK, England -- Those frugal folks at St. George's Distillery, home of The English Whisky Co., are putting some used material to good use.

They've teamed up with St. Peters's Brewery to create The Saints Whisky Beer, made using the same peated malt that is used at the distillery.

Once the beer is fermented, a portion of Chapter 9 Whisky is added to it, resulting in a peated beer with smoky overtones.

Andrew Nelstrop, managing director of the English Whisky Co., the first English distillery in the country for more than a century, said, "With St. Peter’s penetration in worldwide export markets, we are hoping this product will also introduce consumers to the English Whisky co. and our range of whisky products both abroad as well as in the UK."

The beer has an ABV of 4.8% and is packaged in the distinctive St. Peter’s oval bottles. It will initially be sold on-premises only in the UK, although available from both companies' websites.

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20110901

English whisky begins in a brewery

• From Harpers Wine and Spirits Trade Reviews

CORNWALL, England -- Two Cornish drinks producers have teamed up to create what they claim is the first whiskey to be produced in Cornwall in over 300 years and the oldest whiskey to be launched in England for more than a century.

The limited edition Hicks & Healey Cornish Single Malt 7 Year Old Whiskey is the brainchild of St. Austell Brewery and Healey's Cyder Farm.

Made with Maris Otter barley grown in Trerulefoot, southeast Cornwall, and spring water, the wash was mixed at St. Austell Brewery's traditional Victorian brewhouse, before being transferred to Healey's Farm and passed through a double distillation in a traditional copper pot still. The best cut was then collected and filled into American bourbon charred casks.

"It's taken 300 years to craft Cornwall's first premium whiskey and seven years to age it," said David Healey from Healey's Cyder Farm. "In Cornwall we like to take our time in order to get things right -- and it's well worth the wait."

"We are all delighted with the results which help consolidate Cornwall's position as a leader in the UK drinks sector," added James Staughton, St. Austell Brewery's managing director and great-great grandson of the brewery's founder Walter Hicks.

The whiskey has been bottled unfiltered at a cask strength of 61.3% abv. It is available in 50cl bottles in a wooden presentation box with two glasses, priced at £150 (US$243).

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