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Cocktail connoisseur mixes it up with low-alcohol drink

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A MASTER mixologist wowed judges with a carefully crafted cocktail in a competition with a twist.

Alistair Bell of The Flint House in Brighton had his drink named as one of the best in the South East in a competition to make the tastiest low-alcohol cocktail in time for Dry January.

Finalists were set a Ready Steady Cook style challenge in which they had to create a cocktail from a box of mystery ingredients which included no-alcohol aperitifs and Binary 0.5 – a tangy flavoured low-alcohol beer.

Alistair decided to serve the expert judging panel their just deserts, delivering a drink called B.A.N.A.N.A – which stood for binaries are not always neatly aligned.

It was given this name as it used Binary Botanical, a low-alcohol beer, as its secret ingredient.

The tipple offered tasters an array of delicious ginger shortbread and banana flavours and was a hit with judges, earning Alistair the runner-up spot.

He was narrowly toppled by Jamie Proud from The Pound in Canterbury, who made a low-alcohol take on a Bloody Mary using asparagus and red onion syrup to add a savoury flavour to the sweet tomato juice.

Umberto Di Fede of the Hilton Brighton Metropole also represented the city in the final of the contest.

The competition was held at Michelin-starred restaurant L’ortolan near Reading in Berkshire on Monday.

Each drink was scrutinised by a team of expert judges made up of Laura Willoughby, cofounder of Club Soda (a mindful drinking movement), James Purcell Lacey, bar manager at the Coppa Club, seasoned beer taster Dr Frieda Derhmann and L’ortolan’s sommelier and restaurant manager Marco Nardi.

Laura Willoughby said: “It is really exciting that the new wave of low and no alcohol drinks are providing a stunning range of new ingredients for cocktails – as a base and a mixer.

“There were some great examples of that today. We are just at the start of this new market in low and no alcohol drinks and it gives bartenders and the industry as a whole a new opportunity to experiment and delight customers.

“Beer makes a great cocktail ingredient and I would like to see it used more.

“It really helps move an alcohol-free cocktail from being a mix of kids’ drinks in a posh glass to a refined drink designed for adults.”

Fellow judge Marco Nardi praised the South East for its variety and quality of restaurants offering a diverse range of food and drink.

He said: “The South East has an important concentration of good restaurants and bars but lacks visibility compared to London.

“I believe in the next few years they will represent more of a challenge to the Londoners’ bars.

“What we need to do is to support and promote the talent that we have in the region.

“I think no and low-alcohol cocktails will only increase in popularity as people start to focus on wellbeing and the younger generation become less infatuated with alcohol.”

The competition was organised by Good Living Brewery.

The company was launched in 2018 by a group who boasted decades of experience in the global industry.

But they found themselves frustrated by an unfulfilled desire for “a moderate alcoholic beverage that would pair well with food”.

So they founded the brewery to “bring the light refreshment and everyday nature of beer to a broader audience”.

Co-founder Danielle Bekker said: “Our goal in launching this competition was to celebrate low and no-alcohol cocktails and we were blown away by the industry’s enthusiasm and the number and quality of entries.

“The range of flavours, infusions and presentation far exceeded our expectations.”

The Dry January Cocktail Competition will run the competition again in 2021.

The Flint House is a restaurant which can be found in Hanningtons Lane, the newest addition to Brighton’s Lanes shopping district.

It is owned by the Gingerman Restaurant Group which owns several other successful restaurants in Sussex.

The first, called The Gingerman, opened in Norfolk Square, Brighton, in 1998.

It was followed by The Ginger Fox in the South Downs, The Ginger Pig in Hove Street, Hove, and The Ginger Dog in Kemp Town.

The Flint House is the latest member of the group.

It opened last year and offers “counter-level dining, small plates with beautiful wines by the glass, a glamorous first-floor cocktail bar and rooftop terrace”.

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Taxi Ola firm leaves Brighton

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A TAXI business has pulled out of Brighton and Hove before it even took its first booking.

Ola – a “ride-hailing app” considered a rival to Uber – was granted an operator’s licence for one year in May last year by Brighton and Hove City Council.

But the Indian firm, which already operates in Merseyside, Reading, South Wales, the South West and the West Midlands, has told the council that it now has no plans to operate in Brighton.

Ola UK Private director Karl Lutzow, 41, made the case for the newcomer at a council licensing panel hearing.

And the company even took an office in Queen’s Road, Brighton.

But Labour councillor Jackie O’Quinn, who chairs the council’s Licensing Committee, said: “The market is too full.”

She said that Brighton and Hove was “overwhelmed” with drivers from Lewes which has had the highest increase in applications in the whole country.

Councillor O’Quinn added: “They are all Ubers because it’s easier to get a Lewes licence.”

In Brighton and Hove all licensed drivers must follow the council’s stringent regulations – known as the Blue Book – when operating as a taxi or private hire driver.

One of the conditions that Councillor O’Quinn pushed for was to ensure that all Ola drivers were licensed in Brighton and Hove.

She also insisted on tight restriction to prevent Ola drivers from outside Brighton and Hove picking up fares and competing unfairly with local drivers.

Ola was approached for comment.

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Worthing greengrocers closes after 95 years

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A FAMILY greengrocers has closed its doors after 95 years of trading.

Paul Brown started working in the shop run by his grandfather and father when he was just eight.

Paul, his sister Caroline Knowles, wife Kate and son Matthew said they had “mixed emotions” as G A Brown and Son in Worthing opened for the final time on Saturday.

Paul said: “It has been sad serving our last customers.

“People have been so kind to us. Over the years our customers have become our friends.”

Paul’s grandfather Charles Brown started the business in 1925. When Charles’s father Graham was born in 1933 the family lived above the shop, in Brighton Road.

Paul used to run home from school aged just eight to help his father serve customers – and started working full time from 1978.

In recent years Paul has turned to supplying the restaurant trade but when he was made an offer for the business the family decided it was time to hang up their aprons.

T G Fruits will be taking over the catering side of the business. Paul will remain during the changeover and the shop will become a new business.

Paul, 57, said: “I have really enjoyed it over the years but it’s hard work.

“With the catering trade I can be on the phone to customers at 10pm and then at the markets at 3am.

“I’m looking forward to a rest and a change.

“Over the years I have been supported by many great staff and family members.

“I’ve worked with my sister for 25 years. My wife and son also work here.

“It’s fantastic to work as a family, but it’s time for a change.”

Loyal customers were sad to see the shop close.

Wendy Faithless said: “I just love the quality of the fruit and it’s a shame they’re closing but I really wish them well in the future.

“The staff here are all so nice and helpful.”

Another shopper said: “This is very sad.

“They were one of the few greengrocers which actually purchased directly from Covent Garden market.”

Paul’s wife Kate said: “It’s been mixed emotions serving our last customers.”

Paul thanked his customers for their support over the years and said: “In recent years, with shopping habits changing, I have concentrated on supplying the catering trade, building a large customer base from many of the best local hotels, restaurants, cafes etc.

“Recently, I was approached about selling the premises and have agreed with a firm to take over the catering business and so it is with some sadness that the shop will soon close after over 90 years of trading.

“I am very pleased that T G Fruits will be taking on my catering customers.

“They are a larger family business who I have dealt with for decades and I will be helping them in this. I have always found them a good, reliable company and would thoroughly recommend them.

“The business was started in around 1925 by my grandfather, Charles Brown. During the Second World War he was called up into the Marines so closed the business until his return.

“In the 1950s he purchased number 26 Brighton Road, making it into one large shop.

“My father, Graham Brown, was born in 1933 and from an early age he helped in the shop and eventually ran it with my grandfather. I started helping in the shop in the early 1970s, joining full time in 1978.”

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Pubs and bars can open for extra two hours to mark VE Day

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PUBS, clubs and bars will be able to open for an extra two hours to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Venues which are licensed to trade until 11pm, will be allowed keep serving until 1am on Friday May 8 and Saturday May 9.

The order will also apply to premises licensed to provide entertainment such as music, dances, plays and films.

Commemorations and community events will be held across the country to remember the heroism of armed forces personnel and the contribution of ordinary citizens to the war effort.

The early May bank holiday has been moved from Monday May 4 to Friday May 8 to mark the anniversary.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “VE Day events across the country will see the nation come together to pay tribute to the heroes who fought for our freedom and supported the war effort at home.

“Pubs are at the heart of our communities and this is a great opportunity to raise a glass to mark this historic occasion.”

Past national occasions where the government has extended licensing hours have included the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.

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