Getting Festive

Picture a wedding, and a few standards will probably come to mind. The food, the flowers, the styling and everything in between were once kept to a narrow choice of traditional offerings.

People celebrating

For a Western-style wedding, for example, this would mean a white gown, a pristine multi-tier cake, and a strategically unflattering line-up of bridesmaids’ dresses, all put together under the watchful eye of a wedding planner. Now, however, with a rising trend for personalisation, more and more brides and grooms-to-be are moving away from tradition and taking the DIY approach.

It’s easy to see the appeal – being more hands-on means couples can personalise everything from favours to food, learn new skills and have more control over their day. Planning the day themselves also means more flexibility with their theme, so couples can craft a bespoke wedding that truly represents them and their relationship. As Norfolk-based Emma Kuntze, an early adopter who took the DIY route for her 2011 wedding, puts it, ‘People like to feel that what they’re doing is somehow reflective of them as individuals – a cookie-cutter wedding never appealed.’ Anna Byrne, a London-based editor who married in 2015, echoes this sentiment, saying ‘We wanted our wedding to be memorable, and to feel like it came from us as a couple.’

As DIY weddings have taken off, more and more resources have appeared, providing valuable support to those who may have once found the idea too daunting. Emma chose website Rock My Wedding, launched in 2009 by Charlotte O’Shea, to help her plan the day of her dreams. Her commitment to the DIY approach even earned her the title of ‘a true RMW bride’ from Charlotte.

The site is a valuable resource for many would-be wedding planners, providing not only ideas for every part of the day, but also a list of hand-picked suppliers, tutorials for the more complicated touches and inspirational wedding photos from other couples. Emma’s inspiration came from time spent in the States – where she’d seen an emerging trend for ‘alternative’ weddings – and from her and her fiancé’s pre-marriage life spent travelling the globe – particularly Japan. Taking place in a licensed barn in Cornwall, Emma’s big day had a heavy Japanese influence, with the space festooned with origami cranes and colourful koinobori (koi carp flags). The DIY touches spanned from the decor right down to a photo booth hand-crafted by her fiancé from plywood and a recycled circuit board.

An Espresso Martini and a table full of baked treats

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Mixing Matters

5 Drinks To Make Any Celebration Special

A series of guides to help you take your entertaining to the next level. We’ll show you how to make World Class drinks at home, and how to choose the right drink for any occasion.

City Secrets

Adventurous Days & Vibrant Nights

Forget guide books – World Class bartenders from around the world share their secrets for things to do, see, eat or drink in their city, so you can explore like a local.

  • Mexico City, Mexico


    • Mica Rousseau

      Mica Rousseau

    • World Class Mexico winner 2016

      The World Class Bartender of the Year competition sees the world’s best bartenders showcase their skills for a chance at the global title.

    • Bar

      The World Class Bartender of the Year competition sees the world’s best bartenders showcase their skills for a chance at the global title.

    I love Mexico City – I love the people, the art, the smell on the streets and the colours.

    There’s a blend of culture and a lot of infrastructure, so it’s a beautiful city to live in. It can offer you everything and it’s not expensive. You can have a great life. It also has a beautiful sense of family. People here love family and enjoy life – they make you feel like you’re at home, and have a sense of hospitality that’s very particular to Mexico.

    Mica Rousseau

    • Must Do

      The best way to discover Mexico City is by bike. You can rent a bike for free and move very easily around [neighbourhoods] La Condesa, Roma or Coyoacán, which has the house of <a href='' target='_blank'>Frida Kahlo</a>. On Sundays, you can go to Mercado de La Lagunilla [Allende s/n, Cuauhtemoc, La Lagunilla, 06020], a market with beautiful antiques. Another market, called San Juan [Avenida Arcos de Belén, Cuauhtémoc, Centro, 06720], has vegetables, spices and rare fruits, and at <a href='' target='_blank'>La Ciudadela</a> you can buy handmade souvenirs. You’ve got to experience the nightlife because it’s unique. La Roma has beautiful cocktail and mezcal bars; La Condesa is more for party bars and nightclubs, and attracts crowds and different nationalities.

    • Must Eat

      <a href='' target='_blank'>Kaye</a> has a fusion of Spanish and Mexican food – the service and menu are great. <a href='' target='_blank'>Fonda Mayora</a> has typically Mexican food and is like a cantina, but the quality, service and place are beautiful, and the flavours are incredible. I also recommend <a href='' target='_blank'>Zanaya</a>, a new restaurant with cuisine from Nayarit on the Pacific Coast.

    • Must Drink

      Of course, <a href='' target='_blank'>Fifty Mils</a>! Another is <a href='' target='_blank'>Hanky Panky</a>, and also <a href='' target='_blank'>Baltra</a>. Hanky Panky is a speakeasy-style cocktail bar. Baltra is a little place, but the drinks are very cool – an all-around discovery. And Fifty Mils is my place – I love my place! We’re the first real cocktail bar in a five-star hotel to break the rules. There’s a lot of creativity, but we never forget the importance of hospitality.

  • Shanghai, China


    • Cross Yu

      Cross Yu

    • World Class China winner 2013

      The World Class Bartender of the Year competition sees the world’s best bartenders showcase their skills for a chance at the global title.

    • Bar

      The World Class Bartender of the Year competition sees the world’s best bartenders showcase their skills for a chance at the global title.

    Shanghai is one of the most exciting cities in the world. It’s very cosmopolitan in fashion, food, drinks and culture.

    It has wonderful food, from traditional street food to Western-style restaurants, especially on the Bund. The Bund has lots of culture and beautiful buildings, rooftop views and very high-end restaurants. Shanghai also has one of the top drink cultures in Asia, and has raised the standard, especially over the past couple of years. We’ve won a lot of cocktail competitions, too, so it’s getting really good right now.

    Cross Yu

    • Must Do

      Wake up early and go to the Bund to take in the views, or travel to Yu Garden [218 Anren St, Huangpu, Shanghai, China] to try traditional Shanghai food, such as steamed dumplings and shao bao – a very traditional Chinese breakfast – over a pot of green tea. This is the local side but, if you want something international, Shanghai has very good nightlife. Try <a href='' target='_blank'>Bar Rouge</a> – a cool club on the Bund, which has the best view in Shanghai.

    • Must Eat

      There’s a place called <a href='' target='_blank'>Ding Tai Fung</a>, a very good Chinese restaurant, or <a href='' target='_blank'>Lost Heaven</a>, which serves Yunnan food. It uses a lot of lemongrass and ginger, so it’s similar to Thai or other Asian food. Try the crab spring rolls, which are very crispy, or the roast chicken.

    • Must Drink

      Of course, I’d recommend Epic as the first choice! There’s also a tiny speakeasy called Tailor Bar [2 Huashan Rd, Jing'an, Shanghai] that’s interesting. It’s above a medicine store in the Jing'an Temple area and has no menu: you talk to the bartender about what you like – what’s your base, what’s your flavor – and they just make it.

  • London, UK


    • Liam Broom

      Liam Broom

    • World Class UK finalist 2016

      The World Class Bartender of the Year competition sees the world’s best bartenders showcase their skills for a chance at the global title.

    • Bar

      The World Class Bartender of the Year competition sees the world’s best bartenders showcase their skills for a chance at the global title.

    I’ve seen London change a lot – mostly for the better. I moved in 2009 because it had the best cocktail scene in the UK.

    The best way to pursue [cocktail making] was by coming here. The thing I love most about London is that it’s a giant melting pot of cultures. I like the fact that within a five-mile radius you can see dozens of different types of cultures, whether food or drink, or just other things around. It’s quite easy to get to Shoreditch [in east London] from outside London, so on the weekends you get a lot of people coming in from the outer suburbs, which does change the nightlife.

    Liam Broom

    • Must Do

      One of the things that gets overlooked is <a href='' target='_blank'>Regent’s Canal</a>. It starts, I think, somewhere near Paddington, and you can walk pretty much the whole length of it, all the way to Camden. It’s much, much quieter than the normal tourist traps, and you can see most of London. There’s a place called <a href='' target='_blank'>Camden Passage</a> that has lot of cute boutiques, cafés and shops. Spitalfields Market is a nice place to visit. A lot of people go to <a href='' target='_blank'>Borough Market</a> and <a href='' target='_blank'>Portobello</a>, but there are loads and loads of little niche markets around London that are cool.

    • Must Eat

      My favourite restaurant is probably <a href='' target='_blank'>Barrafina</a>, a Spanish tapas place. You can only fit about ten or 15 people at the counter – it’s all counter service. I also like <a href='' target='_blank'>Hawksmoor</a> – I think it does the best steak in London – and the <a href='' target='_blank'>Wright Brothers</a> in Spitalfields Market does very good fish.

    • Must Drink

      Working in a cocktail bar for so long means the places I end up going to are cocktail bars! My favourite in London is probably <a href='' target='_blank'>Happiness Forgets</a>. <a href='' target='_blank'>Satan’s Whiskers</a> in Bethnal Green is very good, as is <a href='' target='_blank'>The Blind Pig</a> in Social Eating House. I live quite close to a pub called the <a href='' target='_blank'>People’s Park Tavern</a>, which has its own microbrewery, so for beer that’s where I normally go. There’s also a very good pub in Angel called The <a href='' target='_blank'>Earl of Essex</a>, which has a rotating board with different craft beers.

  • Denver, USA


    • Jason Snopkoski

      Jason Snopkoski

    • World Class USA finalist 2016

      The World Class Bartender of the Year competition sees the world’s best bartenders showcase their skills for a chance at the global title.

    • Bar

      The World Class Bartender of the Year competition sees the world’s best bartenders showcase their skills for a chance at the global title.

    Denver’s a big city, but it’s a small city at heart, with an amazing community of people.

    I try to get out and do as many things as I can; I spend a lot of time riding my bike. As it’s only 15 minutes to the base of the Rocky Mountains, if I get a day off, I try to get to the foothills and do some hiking. There are quite a few lakes in the mountains, and there’s one near the Red Rocks Amphitheatre [18300 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison] where you can rent a paddleboard and go out for an hour. There’s no shortage of things to do in the city or outside the city.

    Jason Snopkoski

    • Must Do

      Denver has plenty of <ahref='' target='_blank'>parks</a>. I have a few favourites near my house that I just walk around and enjoy the sunset. There’s also a great little trail around the city so, if you’re on a bike, you can jump on the <a href='' target='_blank'>Cherry Creek Trail</a>. Our <a href='' target='_blank'>botanic gardens</a> do stuff year-round – there are amazing Christmas lights, and it’s nice to bundle up, get a hot chocolate and walk around. We love our beer, and you can go to certain neighbourhoods and go to the breweries. There’s a huge snow culture, but Denver tends to be a bit more moderate in temperature. The best-kept secret is that Denver has great weather – we try not to let that leak out!

    • Must Eat

      My favourite after-work stop is a speakeasy called <a href='' target='_blank'>Ste. Ellie</a>. It does food late and has a great team. If I want to go to out, I go to places that have the total package of great food and drink, and great hospitality. <a href='' target='_blank'>Mercantile Dining</a> & Provisions does it well, as does <a href='' target='_blank'>Acorn</a> at The Source. I never go there without stopping at the <a href='' target='_blank'>RiNo Yacht Club</a> for a cocktail and oysters.

    • Must Drink

      Denver’s all about hospitality. <a href='' target='_blank'>Hop Alley</a> and <a href='' target='_blank'>Linger</a> do an amazing job. There are the teams at <a href='' target='_blank'>Williams and Graham</a> and <a href='' target='_blank'>Occidental</a> who are always in the conversation if you’re talking cocktails in Denver. And then there’s <a href='' target='_blank'>The Way Back</a>, a newer spot that’s building something and is going to be a driving force in a few years.


Backstage with the Victoria's Secret Angels

Discover World Class experiences and events in food and drink, lifestyle and travel brought to you by our Reserve portfolio.

Victoria's Secret Angels

Tinie Tempah went backstage at 2016’s Paris fashion show for an interview like no other – with a little help from the CÎROC cocktail app. Victoria’s Secret Angels Alessandra Ambrosio, Sara Sampaio, Barbara Fialho and Jasmine Tookes shook the app and shared their favourite party hotspots, fashion predictions and more.

Shake, Blend, Strain

A spotlight on those leading the way

We uncover the most exciting names in food and drink, travel, entertainment and home, and chat to them about where they get their inspiration – and what World Class means to them.

  • It was originally just one evening with choirs on the bridges and boats with light decorations, but people loved it! We decided to make it more like a festival and expand, and now we work year-round to make it happen.

    Picture showing a feature at the festival of light
    Raymond Borsboom, director, Amsterdam Light Festival, Amsterdam

    Director Raymond Borsboom has been involved with <a href='' target='_blank'>Amsterdam Light Festival</a> since its beginning, and has seen it evolve from a one-day Christmas canal parade to a 53-day event of light design and installations. He says, ‘In the winter, there’s not as much to do in Amsterdam. We have such a lovely city with nice canals, houses and culture, so we thought: why don’t we do something to make the city nice in the dark days?

    ‘It was originally just one evening with choirs on the bridges and boats with light decorations, but people loved it! We decided to make it more like a festival and expand, and now we work year-round to make it happen.’

    Raymond adds, ‘It’s an international platform and the artists come from more than 20 countries. The most important thing is the artwork: every piece is specially made for the event and artists work with new lights and LED innovations. We try to get them to work with new materials, and connect them with universities and companies that are involved with new techniques. We also have more objects than projections, and we place the art in public spaces so people can enjoy them for free.

    ‘We get a wide variety of visitors – youngsters, hipsters, elderly people, families – and you can walk or bike along the ‘Illuminade’ [walking route], or hop on a boat and take the canal route. You can combine it with dinner or drinks, see the city and its cultural heritage, and enjoy art in a public space. You can do it by yourself or with friends, you can decide if you do part of the route or the full route. It’s fun and, in the dark days, everyone needs a bit more warmth. People like nice things, and we tell stories through the art.’

  • With Vinyl Me, Please, every subscriber gets the same record, and we have a forum where they can talk. It’s like a huge version of a music book club. I think it’s important for people to connect, and that’s a cool aspect.

    ALbum cover with a cocktail
    Tyler Barstow, co-founder, Vinyl Me, Please, Boulder, Colorado

    Developing a passion for vinyl records and finding the sheer choice offered by record stores overwhelming, Tyler Barstow and his Vinyl Me, Please co-founder Matt Fiedler searched the web for a record club. Finding nothing that fitted the bill, they started their own. Initially just a hobby, Vinyl Me, Please now ships to 40 countries.

    Tyler says, ‘We focus on the experience of not just getting the record, but listening to it.’ Shortly after launching, the pair met Cameron Schaefer (now head of marketing) who’d started a cocktail and vinyl-pairing club with a friend. Members would listen to the record, make the drink and discuss it on Twitter. Tyler adds, ‘We started doing this and then we had this idea to get art prints – getting artists to listen to the record and be inspired.

    ‘We focused on the idea that the record was really worth [people’s] time, and we wanted to create this environment where the art piece, the drink and the stuff that came with the record made this cool experience while listening.

    ‘The reason people connect with records is really complex. And we have this idea that when we send a record out, we’re not [saying] this is going to be your favourite record, [but] you’ll have this relationship with this piece of music that’ll leave you better off regardless of whether you listen to it two times or 200 times. [It’s] a bit about music discovery and a bit about music digestion, process and ritual, and ritual was an element that didn’t exist in any of the [other] clubs.

    ‘With Vinyl Me, Please, every subscriber gets the same record, and we have a forum where they can talk. It’s like a huge version of a music book club. I think it’s important for people to connect, and that’s a cool aspect.

    ‘There’s a shift in music that’s about immersing fans or viewers into the world of the art piece. You see musicians putting out visual albums and doing pop-up shops. We just did a Tumblr IRL show with Glass Animals. This visual artist made the world of the album come to life – there were characters from the album [played by] actors interacting with people. The band played and we thought: this is the future of concerts right here, immersing fans not just in the same room as the artist, but into the world of the artist.’

At Home

World Class at Home

Our guides show you how to make World Class drinks at home. Featuring professional techniques and tools, and replacement household items, you’ll learn to craft drinks for any occasion.

Using a strainer for cocktails

Lesson 02

A guide to straining

When making mixed drinks, straining is a vital step to ensure no pesky shards of ice, bits of fruit, leaves, seeds or herbs make it into your beautifully crafted creation.

There are various types of strainer you can choose depending on the drink you’re making and the ingredients you’ll be removing.


Using too large a strainer will mean a lumpy drink filled with unwanted bits and pieces. Likewise, a fine mesh strainer isn’t the catch-all solution you may think, as using too fine a strainer with shaken drinks may mess with the aeration (and so the texture) you’ve worked so hard to obtain. Also, if the drink has especially large bits of fruit, leaves or other debris, getting it through a very fine strainer will be a slow and frustrating process.

If you’re making a stirred drink, you’ll need to strain the mixture to make sure none of the ice from the mixing jug finds its way into the glass. Straining needs to be done after shaking to get rid of any shards of ice that may have chipped off. This is important: ice will dilute the drink if not strained out before serving.

Tools for the job – and simple substitutes

Many three-piece shakers come with a built-in strainer that will remove most of the ice, or, if you need to strain something finer, a tea strainer could be the answer. If you’re using a Boston shaker or mixing glass, there are three professional options you may encounter. Most of these strainers are relatively cheap and easy to source, and could be worth the investment.

  • Julep strainer
    Julep strainer

    So called because it was once used for drinking Juleps: before the invention of the straw, the drink was sipped through this strainer to keep the mint and ice out of the drinker’s presumably magnificent southern moustache. A Julep strainer looks a little like a large metal perforated spoon and, because it’s a good fit for a mixing glass, it’s most often used with stirred drinks. To use, place the bowl of the Julep strainer in the glass, pressing the concave surface against the ice. Hold the top of the glass with your hand and keep the strainer in place with your index finger. Tilt the glass to pour.

  • Hawthorne strainer
    Hawthorne strainer

    The type you’ve probably seen most often in bars, the Hawthorne strainer is designed to fit a Boston shaker tin, and has a coiled spring at the back to catch ice and bits of fruit. You can also control the flow by opening or closing the gate at the top. To use, slot it over the entrance of your shaker’s mixing tin, making sure there’s no gap for ice to slip through, and hold the top of the shaker, using your index finger to hold the strainer in place. Tilt to pour.

  • Fine mesh strainer
    Fine mesh strainer

    Often used with one of the other strainers and placed directly over the glass, the fine mesh strainer looks like a mini sieve, and is used to filter out especially small bits, such as fruit seeds and small ice chips. Not generally sent into action alone, it’s used with a Hawthorne strainer as an extra barrier to ensure a clear, pristine drink. To use, just strain as you would using a Hawthorne strainer, but hold the fine mesh strainer over the glass so the drink goes through it, too.


World Class Standards

The world’s best-known drinks made better. Our easy-to-follow recipes and simple tips will help you learn not just how to make the classics, but how to make them World Class.

  • Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve Scotch Whisky

    Whisky Sour

    This rich, sweet and sharp drink is best served at small gatherings, such as cocktail parties, or as a pre-dinner party drink.

    Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve Scotch Whisky Whisky Sour
    • Preparation time

      1 minute

    • Difficulty rating


    • Alcohol content


    • 50ml Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve Scotch whisky
    • 25ml lemon juice
    • 25ml sugar syrup
    • 1 egg (separated, yolk discarded)
    • 1 lemon wedge
    • Step 01.

      Fill a shaker with ice, and add the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve Scotch whisky, lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg white.

      The egg white will give the drink its light, foamy texture, distinctive look and sherbet taste. This a vital part of the finished drink, while the lemon juice and sugar syrup provide the signature sweet and sour flavour.

    • Step 02.

      Shake until cold.

      Shaking is an important step to ensure the egg white gets frothy. If you don’t have access to a shaker, use a jam jar instead, shaking for around ten seconds to get the desired result.

    • Step 03.

      Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.

    • Step 04.

      Garnish with a lemon wedge.

      The wedge of lemon finishes the drink with a fresh, sharp fragrance that enhances the sour component of the lemon juice.

  • Zacapa Rum

    The Perfect Storm

    If you have a housewarming party or at-home celebration planned, this easy-to-make and popular drink is a great addition to your repertoire.

    Zacapa Rum The Perfect Storm
    • Preparation time

      1 minute

    • Difficulty rating


    • Alcohol content


    • 50ml Zacapa Rum
    • 200ml ginger beer
    • Lime wedge (to garnish)
    • Step 01.

      Fill a Collins or highball glass with ice.

    • Step 02.

      Add the rum.

    • Step 03.

      Top with ginger beer and stir.

      The ginger beer makes up most of the drink, so use a good-quality brand – and make sure it’s fresh so there’s plenty of fizz.

    • Step 04.

      Garnish with a lime wedge.

      A lime wedge will give a sharp citrus aroma that will contrast well with the sweetness of the rum and ginger beer. If you want an even stormier look and a little extra flavour, finish the drink with a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters.