This week i’ve been Drinking...Negroni

I’d never tasted a negroni cocktail until a visit to New York a couple of years back. It took a Brooklyn bartender called Joey Postiglione to steer me away from a martini and into the strong embrace of the negroni. I’ve been smitten since.

The perfect mix of bitter, sweet and herbal, it is the best aperitivo in the world. It’s also a fantastic stiffener. Indeed that’s basically how it came into being: Count Camillo Negroni having asked for his usual Americano to be fortified with something a little stronger after a hard evening in Florence in 1919. The bartender added gin to the campari and vermouth and it was born, ever after to perk-up knackered diners.

Little wonder the new negroni menu at Banca, in Mayfair, makes me fuzzy all over then. There are 10 variations on the classic on offer, all priced at £10. Go between 5.30pm and 7.30pm and enjoy the aperitivo nibbles too.


Picco Salumi

The Picco family, originally from northern Italy, have been making salumi since the 1930s. Now in the hands of the son of the house Luca Picca they still hand butcher their meat, chop and season the pork themselves, ferment in the old style, and do all other such things to make a lovely bit of cured pork sausage. The firm offers nine different salumi, which you can have delivered to your door, including a startlingly tasty piccolino, coppa and a lovely larded Salame Sotto Grasso. Price start from £9 per salumi (delivery not included).


Heinz Beanz Flavour Experience

he food desk at The Independent is no stranger to the odd and the spurious, but I fancy the Heinz Beanz Flavour Experience takes some beating. It is a bean-eating kit created with food artists Bompas and Parr and consists of a bowl, bowl-holder, and a spoon that plays MP3s when bought to your mouth. It is, apparently, meant to bring about synesthesia and, wait for it, the heightening of the experience of eating baked beans. Apparently eating curry beans from a green bowl, while listening to a bhangra beat emanating from a plastic spoon is supposed to transport me direct to the subcontinent. Did it? Did it heck. Rather fun though. £57,


Be warned

At a party recently I met the head waiter of one of London’s mini restaurant chains. We soon got talking about pet peeves – for staff, and punters. Complaining about the clientele around Soho, he said the most annoying thing for his staff was when a besuited advertising-type (his words, not mine) would try to get the bill by raising their palm and seeming to scribble on it with his other hand, without looking up. They used to take over a pad and crayon. Be warned.

Best canapes in town

Kudos to Sushi Samba, the restaurant in the Heron Tower on Bishopsgate, which on Wednesday produced the best canapés I’ve ever munched my way through. At the Esquire party, a dinners-worth of tuna sashimi tacos, followed by skewers of the tender beef and some very pleasant salmon rolls came rolling out.