Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Sip Or Mix takes on Key Combier Products

Sip Or Mix is an independent Importing, Distribution and Brand Management company based in central London. The company focus is on Small Batch, Hand-Crafted, Artisanal and Authentic Spirits and Liqueurs. The current portfolio consists of; St Nicholas Abbey Rum, SW4 London Dry Gin, La Maison Fontaine Absinthe and Jade Liqueurs.

Sip Or Mix is very pleased to announce they are now adding some key Combier products to their portfolio.

The Combier Distillery in 2012 - designed by Gustave Eiffel

COMBIER is the oldest distillery of the Loire Valley which is still active today and dates back to 1834. Jean Baptiste COMBIER and his wife were confectioners who wanted to add a little something 'extra' to their sweets in the way of a new flavoured liqueur. They consequently developed the worlds first Triple Sec which became so popular they gave up the confectionery side of the business to distill full-time.

“TRIPLE SEC” (an orange liqueur) nowadays named l’Original Combier

Dried bitter orange peels from Haiti and dried sweet orange peels from Valencia are still used today just as they were back in the 1830's. They are soaked in water overnight and are stripped by hand of the very bitter pith. These peels are then macerated in alcohol and run through the 130 year old alembic copper pot stills pictured above. Only the "heart" of the distillation is used which is then run through the alembics a second time. (Originally they would have produced the base spirit at the distillery as well, hence the name "Triple Sec" or "triple distilled") Sugar crystals are added and the distillate is finally reduced to 40% when bottled. In these modern times it's tempting to streamline production, buy cheaper ingredients and seek to cut costs through better technology. While we must admit that this is necessary for some producers in the 21st Century, it's always rewarding to come across a producer who retains an attention to detail and historical accuracy such as at Combier. The very first "Triple Sec" is consequently as close as possible to its' original recipe today, as it was back in the 1830's.

 “ELIXIR COMBIER” (a plants liqueur)

Another Combier product true to its historical roots is the newly re-released Élixir Combier dating from 1852.

"Jean Baptiste Combier’s acclaimed 19th century Élixir Combier is an exotic blend of herbs, plants and other botanicals from France’s Loire Valley, Africa, India and Southeast of Asia. It is unearthed anew from Combier’s 177 year old distillery’s very own private archives after having been discontinued for decades since its creation in 1852."

It's clear from the reproduced label that this indeed was very popular back in its heyday, it's festooned with medals; Angers 1852, Laval 1852 & 1857, Lemans 1857, Bordeaux 1859 & 1863 plus many more. Élixir Combier even seems to have played a role at the famous "Exhibition Philadelphie" of 1876 - the United States first World's Fair celebrating 100 years of Independence.
Élixir Combier is labelled as a "Liqueur Hygienique De Dessert"

Liqueur and Dessert suggest sweetness and after dinner.  'Hygienic' in this sense is simply a generic term for promoting and preserving health. Unlike some other 19th century 'preparations' wild health giving claims Élixir Combier was simply used as a pleasant tasting, after dinner digestif.  
The botanical mix is both exotic and eclectic with things like saffron, fennel and even myrrh - all of which were known for their respective healing properties in the 19th Century.

Royal Combier

"Royal Combier was created in 1910 by James Combier. Much appreciated by connoisseur drinkers in Europe it is blended from Combier’s old Elixir Combier, a type of « cure-all » medicinal plant drink very fashionable in the 19th century, and distilled sweet-orange spirits and Cognac. Its primary elixir base is strictly prepared following Jean-Baptiste Combier’s Elixir Combier recipe, a bitter tasting plant-based recipe typical of 19th century elixirs. Following Jame’s Combier 1910 changes to his father’s original recipe, several spices including Angelica, Saffron, Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Cloves are added to the elixir base. In keeping with James Combier’s 1910 indications, a separate distillation of sweet-orange spirits is also combined to soften the original plant-based infusion and create a sweeter, subtler liqueur where final character is bestowed by a touch of Cognac."

Doppelt Combier Kummel Extra

Kummel has been around since the late 1500's and is interchanged with meaning either Caraway or Cumin. Combier first made Kummel back in the 1850's and have again re-released an historically authentic product from their recipe archives of the 19th Century.

Doppelt Combier Kummel Extra is a blend of Caraway, Cumin and Fennel. 'Doppelt' translates as 'double' and simply means double the standard botanical bill is used which adds intensity and concentration of flavour. I would suggest that 'extra' simply means the sugar content and therefore the Kummel qualifies as a liqueur, even if it does weigh in at 38% abv. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Dispelling Myths and Dispensing Absinthe for Bastille Day Festival

We are very pleased to be present throughout the whole day during the Bastille Day Festival, at Borough Market on Saturday 14th July, sampling the Sip Or Mix Absinthe Portfolio.

We will first be in the French Street Market in Park Street between 12 noon and 5pm.  After the Park Street Fair we will move into Borough Market for the party where we will continue sampling from 6pm till 12 midnight.

Will will have our white fairy La Maison Fontaine on sampling and available to purchase.

We will also have our green fairy Jade Liqueurs  on sampling and available to purchase throughout the day.

An added treat is we will have Absinthe Historian and Master Distiller T.A. Breaux available to chat to and to sign his reverse engineered Jade Liqueurs Absinthes...

We look forward to seeing you on the day!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Come visit us at Imbibe Live 2012 on Stand G112.

We will have all of the Sip Or Mix portfolio on tasting including the new additions!

St Nicholas Abbey's New Unaged, White Rum.

Also New is Dale DeGroff's Pimento Bitters, made by Ted Breaux of Jade Liqueurs who will also be present throughout the show!

New to us are some liqueurs from the Combier Distillery and we are lucky to have a small sample of Combier's New Elixir from a recipe dating back to 1852.

We will of course have all our favourite Absinthes available; La Maison Fontaine and all four Jades as well as St Nicholas Abbey 10 year old, Ted Breaux's Jade Perique Tobacco Liquer and SW4 London Dry Gin.

Cannot wait to see you there!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The House of Tippler

Having worked in London for some time now it's always a real pleasure to meet up with good colleagues in old stomping grounds, particularly if it's in a new venue and especially if it is their own!

Welcome to Tim Oakley's House of Tippler in East Dulwich.

We first went out a while back on a Monday (H. o T. is closed) to take The Tippler Team through the Sip Or Mix portfolio and talk specifically about Absinthe :-)

Like all good neighbourhood bars The Tippler is good to its' neighbours and had invited the Adventure Bar from across the road, formally known as Inside 72. They were particularly taken with SW4 London Dry Gin. 

This Thursday's visit was to run through some cocktails with Tim and the very competent Max Whitney. First up we conducted some due diligence and Max made a Daiquiri with the new Unaged, White Rum from St Nicholas Abbey - nothing to worry about there then :-)

Next up was Tim's drink:

Smoking H. o T.
Tim Oakley
50ml Tequila Blanco
10ml Cane Syrup
25ml Lime
2 drops Abbots Bitters

Shake all ingredients in a Boston and strain into a coupette.

The nose of this Margarita style drink is surprisingly, really smoky (think Islay or Mezcal), the palate is clean and fresh with very distinct Perique notes throughout. The Bitters and Absinthe add more complexity and hold the whole thing together for great balance. All in all a fine drink and will be making it onto the new cocktail menu so you can try it for yourself. 

Probably a Swizzle
Max Whitney

25ml London Dry Gin
10ml Creme de Mure
10ml Creme de Cassis
15ml Lemon Juice
50ml Apple Juice

Pile all the ingredients into a glass. The garnish is an ice cube float with raspberries and a lemon twist resting in. This will be a summer hit - if we ever get one of course... It's very easy drinking, fruity with a rich, creamy mouthfeel.  This is designed to make people re-think about Absinthe in cocktails, the flavours  and complexity of La Maison Fontaine come through nicely but in no way is the drink dominated by anise and fennel flavours. Nice one Max! Now you may have noticed the rather hefty amount of  alcohol in Max's recipe and perhaps the odd name? Quite simply this cocktail doesn't have a name yet and it will probably be pared-down to a Swizzle....

The design of House of Tippler is very cool, well thought out and draws on influences from the 1920's through to the 1960's. It also makes very good use of the space, with different parts of the bar offering a different ambiance.

The space is growing too with the newly opened garden at the back with a herb garden in progress to boot! The front of the bar opens out onto the street and offers an inclusive feel to smokers and the outside, which must be great in the sunshine....


The attention to detail at House of Tippler is very impressive throughout. It obviously going to be a big hit! So the next time you're at a loose end why not hop on the 176 bus and visit
The Horniman Museum (just an idea) and on the way back drop off at The House of Tippler on Lordship Lane, East Dulwich. You will not be disappointed, unless you go on a Monday of course, because House of Tippler is closed on Mondays.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Jade Liqueurs, Combier Distillery and Distil, 22nd-24th May 2012

The London International Wine Fair and Distil
22nd - 24th May 2012, London Excel.

We are very pleased to be exhibiting Jade Liqueurs at 'Distil' the Spirits Section at The London International Wine Fair 2012.

Jade Liqueurs are made by Absinthe Historian and Master Distiller T.A. Breaux at Combier Distillery in Saumur France.

Combier Distilley in 1902

Combier Distillery dates back to 1834 and is world renowned for it's Triple Sec and Royal Combier products as well as it's vast range of hand crafted Liqueurs, Syrups and Eau de Vie.

Combier Distillery in 2012

Please come and visit us at Distil on Stand G30/4F where we will have a full selection from the Combier Distillery available for tasting.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Cocktails at Wax Jambu - La Maison Fontaine "Bloody Fairy" and Jade Perique Tobacco Liqueur "Coffee and Cigarette"

The Bloody Fairy

This is pure genius! The glass is wrapped in a banana leaf. The Bloody mix is a combination of Wax Jambu's homemade Sangrita and Tomato Juice. Horseradish and Worcestershire Sauce to personal taste.
The syringe is filled with 50/50 Vodka and La Maison Fontaine Absinthe. The idea is the Bloody Mary has oft been cited as a great hangover cure and Absinthe was traditionally a medicine. Put those two ideas together and we get a Bloody Fairy where one self-medicates one's own 'dose' with the syringe on the side.

I'm a big fan of the Bloody Fairy (and Mary) but this is the best I've tried yet. Perhaps it's the syringe action or the complex flavour profile added by the depth of La Maison Fontaine and Wax Jambu's homemade Sangrita - either way, I suggest you hot tail it down there and give it a whirl! Whether you have a hangover or not!

Coffee and Cigarette by Pietro Rizzo

50ml Eldorado 5 year old
20ml Jade Perique Tobacco Liqueur
15ml Santa Teresa Araku Coffee Liqueur
Bar spoon Laphroaig

Smoke the glass by lighting a cinnamon stick under it. Add all the ingredients apart from the Perique and stir over ice slowly for dilution. Add the Perique right at the end. Smoke the glass again just before loading and serve on the rocks. The garnish is some cinnamon sticks, broken cigar and three coffee beans.

The drink is rich and lucious with great coffee and smokey notes. It does exactly what it says on the tin - oh, apart from the caffeine and nicotine I guess... :-)

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Another chance to attend a Masterclass with T.A. Breaux - Additional London Dates

After our very successful series of Sip Or Mix Masterclasses in March with Master Distiller Ted Breaux we are pleased to announce a few additional dates in April and May. Ted will take us through the History and Mystery of Absinthe while we taste all four Jade Absinthes and La Maison Fontaine. We will then taste the very unique Jade Perique Tobacco Liqueur also made by Ted Breaux. This will all be finished off with a tasting of the brand new pimento bitters made by Ted Breaux for Dale DeGroff. If you would like to attend any of the events below please email or contact the venue directly.  

24th April - 3.30pm -5.30pm Bartender Masterclass,  

25th April - 3.30pm - 5.30pm Bartender Masterclass,

26th April - Afternoon - in-store tasting,  
The Whisky Exchange  

30th April - 3-5pm - Bartender Masterclass,  
                                  - 7pm onwards - Members Monday, this event is for discerning drinkers who are members of the public and are interested in learning more about their libations. If you would like to sign up for this event please email:    

1st May - 3pm, Bartender Masterlcass,  
Wax Jambu  

2nd May - Afternoon - Bartender Masterclass, Brighton  
Evening - Consumer Masterclass, Brighton  
Both of these events are hosted by  
Mixology Group  
If you would like to attend please email                       

3rd May - Afternoon - in-store tasting,  

Friday, 24 February 2012

Absinthe Masterclass Roadshow with Ted Breaux - U.K. March 2012

We at Sip Or Mix are delighted to have Ted Breaux coming to the U.K. in March 2012. Sip Or Mix has been managing and distributing Jade Liqueurs since Sip Or Mix formed in the summer of 2011. We have been working very hard with both Jade and La Maison Fontaine to educate and re-educate the industry and the general public at large as to the true nature of Absinthe.
During the last year we have noticed a real upsurge of interest in the category and consequently cannot think of a better time to bring you several comprehensive Absinthe Masterclasses.

Ted Breaux lives in the United States so this is a rare opportunity indeed to be presented with the Jade Liqueurs portfolio by the world renowned Master Distiller and Absinthe Historian himself.

Imbibe U.S. 2011

We will take this opportunity to also present to you the other Absinthe in the Sip Or Mix Portfolio - The multi-award-winning, Blanche from Pontarlier, La Maison Fontaine®; two time winner of the much coveted "Golden Spoon" Award of the Absinthiades, IWSC Gold and Best In Class and recent Double Gold Medal winner of The Absinthe Masters.

Ted Breaux is also the man behind Jade Perique
Tobacco Liqueur and we will have some available at each of the events organised with Ted on hand to answer any questions.

If you are interested in attending any of the events below please email the contacts or the venue directly (other than pop by retail events) for further information on the Brands please email:

Absinthe Masterclass Roadshow with Ted Breaux - U.K. March 2012

5th - Oxford Alcademic's - Raoul's, Oxford - Open Evening Masterclass, info at:
oxford-alcademics and please register with Tim:

9th - The Whisky Exchange, Vinopolis - Afternoon Bottle Signing. Just pop by.

12th - The UKBG - Afternoon Masterclass at Paramount, please email Vincenzo at

14th - Amathus, Wardour Street, Soho 
Afternoon Masterclass - Trade
Evening Masterclass - Consumer
Please register with
16th - Gerry's Wines and Spirits - Afternoon Bottle Signing.
Just pop by.

18th - Zetter Townhouse - FBI (Food and Beverage Industry) From 6pm, contact venue to book a table or just turn up.

19th - Zetter Townhouse - Afternoon Bartender Masterclass. Please Register with Kamil at or contact the venue on 020 7324 4567

20th - London Cocktail Society - Evening Masterclass. Please register with

21st - Reunion Bar @ The Grosvenor Hotel - Open Masterclass - 7pm - 9pm please register with

24th - Gerry's Wines and Spirits - Afternoon Bottle Signing.
Just pop by.

26th The Whisky Exchange - Consumer Evening. Please register with:

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Melange A Trois by Merlin Griffiths

It's often the simple drinks that can impress the most. The Melange A Trois was made by Merlin Griffiths of The Priory Tavern on my last visit. Merlin has an incredible palate and as soon as he tasted Jade Liqueurs V.S. 1898 he knew exactly what he wanted to make with it. 

30ml Jade Liqueurs V.S. 1898 Absinthe
30ml White Cacao (Giffard)
30ml Lime Juice
Shake hard over ice, strain into a martini glass and garnish with orange penny zest and sprig of borage if available.

Inspired by the Daiquiri of course but this combination of flavours offers something quite unique. I've since tried this combo with other absinthes and have to admit that Merlin got it exactly right with the V.S. 1898! The herbaceous flavour profile and slight astringency of the V.S. really shines through and gives this drink an incredible complexity and depth of flavour.

For more information on the V.S. 1898 please visit the Jade Liqueurs website:

If you would like to taste Jade Liqueurs V.S. 1898 or any of the products in the Jade portfolio please email:

Something Hot to Drink for Valentines?

 Chocolat Chaud Chaud
(Hot Hot Chocolate)

20ml La Maison Fontaine Absinthe
15ml Creme de Chataigne  (Chestnut Liqueur)
Milky Hot Chocolate
Whipped Cream
Tiny Marshmallows and Cocoa Powder

The combination of these ingredients will surely melt anyone's heart! 
Add milky hot chocolate to the La Maison Fontaine and chestnut liqueur (or any nut liqueur) top with squirty whipped cream, marshmallows and dust with cocoa powder.

 The above Hot Hot Chocolate was the genius of Merlin of The Priory Tavern in Kilburn. 
The Priory Tavern

The Priory is a wonderful local pub and it was lovely to bump into so many familiar faces when I visited, even though I don't live local! The cocktail selection is not only comprehensive but they will also mix something up for you on the spot, which is surprising for a pub - but not when we realise it's Merlin Griffiths' bar - and talk about reasonable! only £4.50 Mon - Fri, 4 - 7 pm! Tuesday is Stewsday with homemade stew and chunky bread for a mere £6.50 and I cannot wait to try out their Bloody Mary and Sunday Roast!

The other stroke of genius made by Merlin was this pretty in pink drink that would also look the part for Valentines Day.

Blanche et Noire
(White and Black)

50ml La Maison Fontaine Absinthe
25ml Schweppes Blackcurrant Cordial
100ml Water
Squeeze Fresh Lime

Pile all the ingredients over chunky ice and make sure that it is a healthy squeeze of lime.  We discussed the relative merits of Schweppes Blackcurrant Cordial and agreed that it was probably the best cordial to use because it has just the right sugar content and is usually found in every pub/bar. There is of course nothing new about this wonderfully retro style of drink, it had just never occurred to me to try it with La Maison Fontaine! What a revelation.

Happy Valentines Day!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Absinthe Infusion by Gavin McGowan Madoo of Bar Boulud, London

There's no doubt in my mind of the impact La Maison Fontaine has had on developing interest in the Absinthe category since its launch in the Summer of 2010. The starting point was to create a great brand - La Maison Fontaine is a small batch, artisanal and authentic French Absinthe dressed in a very chic and contemporary package (an inspired fusion of old and new) which also tastes amazing. Next was to educate, educate and educate some more, but this essential education was not just directed at the Drinks Industry but also to the General Public at large. This involved Art Exhibitions, Film Shows, High Profile Parties, Fashion Shows and many retail tastings, all great opportunities to dispel the usual myths about Absinthe. Even with all the right boxes ticked La Maison Fontaine goes the extra mile by furnishing bars with the tools to give their customers a truly authentic Absinthe experience - a traditional Absinthe fountain.

Above is Gavin from Bar Boulud, London about to make his Absinthe Infusion with his four arm LMF fountain, in the background is his two arm LMF fountain he keeps for a perfect serve....

La Maison Fontaine was at the forefront of making infusions in fountains, the 'Fontaine of Youth' is testament to that - check the Art of Imagination on the website:

Gavin took the infusion idea and ran with it, he did something that we had never seen before (or would recommend), rather than infusing the iced water in the fountain he replaced the water with alcohol (vodka) and La Maison Fontaine. He placed the zest of two lemons and two limes into the fountain and added a ratio of 1 part vodka to 1.5 part La Maison Fontaine. He lets it macerate for 4-7 days, depending on the quality of the fruit, after which time he removes the fruit so it doesn't over extract. He serves on the rocks with a lemon/lime garnish.

The resulting Absinthe Infusion is an intensly fruity number with big citrus, anise, herb and floral notes. So the next time you are in Knightsbridge do pop in to Bar Boulud (
and try Gavin's Absinthe Infusion - we'd love to hear what you think...