Giles Looker and Michael Butt met when they were working as bartenders for the Match bar group and bonded over their liking for a good drink. "We love booze," says Looker simply, "and we love working with it in all its forms."
It wasn't long before they were being asked to do small fashion parties, so they jumped ship and set up the drinks company Soulshakers. The pair were soon inundated with offers. They toured Glastonbury and The Big Chill, mixing, shaking and delighting punters with their fabulous concoctions.
They created a series of cocktail classes that will be rolling out nationwide next year and acted as consultants on the opening of Tom's Kitchen and Mahiki. (It is they who are responsible for the horrifying sounding Treasure Chest a rum punch shared by eight, favoured by Princes William and Harry). "We just put the fun back into drinking that's what it's all about," says Looker.
For information, visit www.soulshakers.net
Breakfast: Sloe Soul 75
A wonderful variation of a French 75, with sloe gin and Chambord, which brings a hint of hedgerow fruit to the drink named in honour of a First World War howitzer. A sophisticated replacement for Buck's Fizz.
25ml/1fl oz sloe gin
10ml/1/3fl oz Chambord raspberry liqueur
10ml/1/3fl oz fresh lemon juice
Sparkling wine or champagne, to top
Cut a full-length spiral of lemon zest. Shake the first three ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled champagne flute. Fill the glass with the sparkling wine, garnish with zest.
Post-walk warmer: Cranberry toddy
Originally made with whisky, this variation is much lighter, a perfect warmer for cold winter afternoons.
180ml/6fl oz cranberry vodka
600ml/1 pint cranberry juice
60ml/21/2fl oz fresh lemon juice
3 tsp runny honey
6 dashes angostura bitters
Heat all the ingredients bar the vodka in a pan. Just before it boils, remove from the heat and add the vodka. Serve in latte glasses with cinnamon garnish.
Aperitif: Christmas Negroni
The Negroni was invented by Count Camillo Negroni in 1919. The drink has its origins in the Americano, which is Campari, Martini Rosso and soda. The count walked into Caf Casoni Florence and, fancying something a little stronger, he asked the bartender to add a dash of gin to his Americano; the Negroni was born. It is one of our favourite cocktails but can be a little bitter for some tastes. This simple variation uses Campari's natural affinity for orange to soften the drink, and indeed a little less Campari than the original count's recipe. Here we've added cloves for an element of seasonal spice.
25ml/1fl oz gin
25ml/1fl oz Martini Rosso
20ml/3/4fl oz Campari
1/8 of an orange
Cloves for garnish
Cut a large piece of orange zest from the orange section and squeeze the juice from it. Add all the other ingredients and stir in a mixing glass. Strain over fresh ice in a short glass and garnish with a slice of orange studded with the cloves.
After dinner: Tuscan coffee
Tuaca is an Italian brandy-based liqueur, made with citrus peels, spice and vanilla. With good coffee and cold unsweetened cream, we take this well away from the squirty cream abominations that masquerade as Irish coffees.
40ml/11/2fl oz Tuaca
90ml/31/4fl oz Americano or filter coffee
40ml11/2fl oz single cream
Lightly whip the cream. Mix the Tuaca and coffee together in a pre-warmed wine glass and float half an inch of cream on top. Sprinkle with the cinnamon.
Evening: Big appleberry
After a brandy-soaked pudding, why not continue the evening in the same vein? Use the best brandy you can, plenty of fruit and worry about the diet in the new year.
50ml/2fl oz Cognac
10ml/1/3fl oz simple syrup
5 red grapes
1 string redcurrants
100ml/31/2fl oz apple juice
Muddle the grapes among the red fruits (frozen fruit works very well too). Add the rest of the ingredients and shake with ice. Strain over fresh ice in a tall glass and garnish with fresh red fruits. 'Reuse content