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And They’re Off – Aintree 2017

The dust has now settled on the first big meeting of 2017, Cheltenham. Next up is Aintree. We’d like to look back on Cheltenham and see what we can expect from Aintree.

There were a lot of successes and disappointments at Cheltenham. Sizing John the horse which won The Gold Cup grabbed all the headlines. However we feel the performance of the week goes to Un De Sceaux who won the Thursday’s Ryanair Chase, he certainly ran all his rivals into the ground.

Sizing John winning The Gold Cup
Sizing john

So if we’ve mentioned 2 success stories what was our biggest disappointment? We’re going to have to say the 2-9 favourite Douvan who came 7th place in the Wednesday’s Queen Mother Champion Chase.

So we are preparing ourselves fully for the next; Aintree. The tag line for Aintree itself says “Because Nothing Comes Close”. The three day meeting culminates on Saturday, with, of course, the race that stops the nation – The Grand National.
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The course over which the race is run features much larger fences than those found on conventional National Hunt tracks. Many of these, particularly Becher’s Brook, The Chair and the Canal Turn, have become famous in their own right and, combined with the distance of the event, create what has been called “the ultimate test of horse and rider”

So, what do we think we can expect at Aintree? Well as all betting folk know, no race is guaranteed. And we can especially say that about The Grand National. For over 200 years, it has been ‘anyone’s race’.

We would like to mention Definitely Red, he is half the price of most his opponents but he is a clear pick from the weights. As the conditions for Aintree this week are looking very Spring like we would like to mention, Saphir Du Rheu and More Of That stand strong chances. Vicente, is another strong contender after his win in the Scottish National last season.

All of our pubs (and obviously punters) love the racing so when the big meetings, such as this, arrive we have to make sure we celebrate them in an extra special way.
Aintree
All of our pubs are offering a sweepstake throughout the whole festival, from Thursday 6th April – Saturday 8th April. We are, of course, showing every race live.

Our sweepstake offers customers a ticket for every drink purchased. Those tickets are then placed into a sweepstake to win free drinks.

We strive to offer our customers the best atmosphere to enjoy momentous occasions such as The Gold Cup, and goes without saying, The Grand National. So, search for your nearest pub and come and join us to win free drinks.

April 3, 2017 / by / in
Like To Be Beside The Seaside

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside!

One of the UK’s most iconic attractions has got to be Blackpool Tower, situated on the famous Blackpool front. The promenade is filled with bright illuminations, fish and chip shops and of course the infamous beach and, somewhat, choppy waves.

A stone’s throw from Blackpool’s infamous landmark is our newest gin palace, Hogarth’s Blackpool.
Specialising in gin, we serve over 120 different gins, and always the perfect serve.

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We had a soft opening launch night Thursday 2nd March. Where we picked several social media winners from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Having been open for just over a week we have already received fantastic feedback. With Tony Lee reviewing us:

“What an amazing transformation. The venue has been many things in its time but never has it looked so amazing. The endless list of gins to work on is fantastic also the seemingly endless whiskey/bourbons and vodkas…..if you want a change and want to impress this is the place to go. Fantastic for a town centre venue. Leading the way in classy venues.”

Blackpool is an amazing seaside town with lots on offer to entertain a wide selection of visitors we’re certainly proud to call this town our home for our newest Hogarths.
Our Bar, always fully stocked with the finest gins, an array of tonics and mixers and a whole host of spirits, beers and wines, also offers you multiple flat screens located around the whole pub.

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As we specialise in gin you must read through our ‘Gin Bible’ and make sure you ask our servers what they would recommend. Ordering your gin is as easy as 1, 2, 3
1) GIN – You can default to your usual tipple or be more adventurous. To help you choose, all our gins have one of our recommended perfect serves.
2) MIXER – The default mixer is Tonic, but feel free to choose from our wide selection of flavoured tonics and mixers. Ask your server for their recommendations.
3) GARNISH – Contrast or compliment, our garnish will be a perfect finish to your chosen drink. We recommend picking a botanical already featured in the gin to intensify the flavour or a completely different garnish to complement existing flavours – or simply choose the garnish you fancy on the day.
We use lots of ice to chill your drink. The more ice the colder drink and therefore less dilution caused by melting ice.

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So the next time you fancy a trip to the seaside make sure it’s Blackpool and make sure you come order yourself the perfect gin, we’re sure to find a flavour you’ll love!
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March 10, 2017 / by / in
Gin Pancakes!

Pancake Day always comes about quickly, and if we were being honest we have always felt rather uninspired by the day……..until now.

We have put our thinking (we actually mean drinking) caps on and have come up with a couple of genius ways to gin-up your pancakes.

Our first way to gin-up your pancakes is very simple indeed, simply add a couple of tablespoons of Sloe Gin to your pancake batter (simple recipe can be found below).

Add your sloe gin to your batter mixture, the moment before you ladle it into your hot pan. The sloe gin will add a slightly pink / purple colour to your pancakes.  We can guarantee your pancakes will be the tastiest you’ve ever made!

Pancakes

Our second suggestion requires slightly more effort, but well worth it. This is to create a topping for your pancakes called Sabayon.

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You will need:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 125g Icing Sugar
  • 20ml Gin (although we have got away with using more)
  • 150ml Double Cream

 

  1. Mix together the egg yolks, gin, water and sugar. Whisk over a bain marie until the mixture has tripled in volume and is light and fluffy. Allow to cool.
  2. Whisk the cream until thick and the fold into the sabayon.
  3. Once your pancakes are cooked, turn the pancake out on to a plate. Add some blackberries to the centre and the spoon on the sabayon. Fold or roll the pancake up, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.

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One last quick tip, is to soak your favourite fruit pieces in gin and add them as toppings on your pancakes. GINTASTIC we think you’ll agree.

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Pancake Recipe:

  1. Place 125g of plain flour and 1 pinch of sea salt into a large bowl
  2. Crack in 3 large free-range eggs and pour in 250ml of milk
  3. Whisk well until you get a smooth batter. Leave to one side for 15 minutes
  4. Place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. Once hot, rub a knob of butter around the pan so it melts
  5. Pour in 1 ladle of the batter
  6. Lift the pan off of the heat and tilt it so that the batter spreads all over the base
  7. Place the pan back on the heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the batter starts to come away from the sides and you can remove it easily from the pan
  8. Once golden underneath, flip the crêpe over and cook for a further minute until cooked through
February 27, 2017 / by / in
A Shining Light in Port Talbot

To celebrate the arrival of the Christmas season there are few traditions (which we can think of at least) that beat your home towns Christmas lights switch on.
One of our newest pub openings is, The Pig Iron Tavern, Port Talbot, set to open early 2017. And we were shocked to hear fears that the town would be deprived of all Christmas lights.
The lights have been hugely successful in previous years. An annual tradition which brings local residents together to appreciate the seasonal atmosphere and one which many look forward to.
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However the towns local rugby team Aberavon RFC, started a campaign to raise money to secure the towns Christmas lights. After a “disappointing” response to raise funds, we couldn’t do anything but step in and contribute to be able to secure the towns Christmas lights. We will not stand for a “Bah Humbug” attitude taking place on our patch.
We’re thrilled to say that we have helped to not only secure the light switch on for this year, but for next year too. Lights have been guaranteed in Station Road and Forge Road for two Christmases.
Andrew John, Chairman of Aberavon RFC said:
“This is largely been possible through the generosity of the new public house opening on Station Road in early 2017 to be called the Pig Iron Tavern.
“On behalf of Aberavon RFC, we would like to thank everyone who donated and assisted with the event.
“It is a truly remarkable heart-warming feeling that you get when a community comes together. Happiness is contagious and it spread all over Port Talbot during this event.”
The big even itself took place on Thursday 1st December. Father Christmas himself turned on the lights. The whole evening was a huge success with entertainment, music and an ice rink.
Chris Davies, commercial manager at Aberavon RFC said: “This has been a fantastic event to be part of.
“Even through all of the negativity surrounding the subject of the Christmas Lights, seeing the smiles on children’s faces and the happiness it brought to the families was amazing.
Port Talbot Xmas
We are thrilled to be a major contributor to enable the town to secure two years of Christmas lights. We can’t wait to open our doors to the town and we’re looking forward to next year’s switch on where we can celebrate with a festive drink or two.

January 3, 2017 / by / in
Remembrance Sunday

All our thoughts go to all those who risked and gave the ultimate sacrifice. Remembrance Sunday is a day “to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts”
The Iron Duke in Pontypool posted a poignant message remembering a local hero:
Iron Duke Rememberance
A local hero that is just one of many who need to be remembered today especially of all days.
The story we are about to tell might just have you reaching for your handkerchief to help mop up a few tears.
The story involves a local man called Reg Stone who won ‘The George Medal’ for an act of great bravery during WW2.
There was a short article in the Free Press newspaper back in 1998 called ‘Close to Oblivion’ which perfectly explains the amazing story of Reg – so we have typed this up to replicate here as it is definitely worth reading.
Grab a cup of tea, marvel at this incredible man’s adventures and don’t blame us if there are a few tears….
Photo: Reg Stone’s George medal and portrait – donated to Torfaen Museum Trust
Close to Oblivion – by Glyn Lloyd (Pontypool Free Press February 18 1998)
Due to lack of employment, 1926 was not a good year for Reg Stone. Born on May 16, near Bog Pond, British, Reg became one of six children who were the issue of a happy marriage between Sam Stone, colliery winding engineman, and his wife, Phillipa.
By the time he had reached his 17th birthday, it had become apparent to the young collier that he would have to seek work away from home due to the General Strike. Working for a while as an itinerant, he eventually found a permanent job at the Old Kent Road gasworks in London. Here he met a young nurse employed at Guy’s Hospital and both settled down to married life.
WW2 began and was shortly followed by the dreadful Blitz. Reg (31) immediately volunteered for Home Guard duty and became part of a rescue squad. Several acts of bravery by the Eastern Valley man went unnoticed but it would be at the beginning of 1941 when he caught the eye of the authorities. Returning to London after leaving his wife and children in the safety of his brother’s home in Pontnewynydd, he joined with others in showing the spirit which set an example for the rest of the war effort. In the early hours of the February morning, the capital city was on the receiving end of a particularly heavy bombing raid. Although off duty, Reg immediately joined in the rescue work.
Nearby, a destructive weapon recently produced by the Germans fell in a cluster. These incendiary bombs had warheads of magnesium which burnt so hot that they could melt steel. Two fell on top of several large gas holders, and the whole district was in great danger. In blackout conditions and with hostile planes still bombing in the vicinity, Reg immediately ran up the ladder on the side of a 90ft gas holder.
When on top of the large holder, he used his shoe to scoop the deadly burning device into his helmet before throwing the lot to a safe area on the ground. Looking across, he observed another incendiary bomb on the roof of the adjacent gas holder and although two colleagues were trying their best to cope with the situation, they weren’t having much luck.
Reg had received some training in how to deal with the situation. By the time he joined his colleagues, a hole had already appeared in the crown of the second gas holder and under pressure, a hissing gas flame of about 10ft was escaping. With only seconds available before the whole district became a mass of flames, he threw a clay pad over the hole and sealed it with wet clay and by emptying sandbags.
A modest hero, Reg didn’t think the deed important enough to inform his wife in Pontnewynydd. It was left to his brother, John, to spot the report of his brave actions in a national newspaper before informing the rest of the family. Later the determined young man would be summoned before the directors of the gas company and thanked for his quick action.
The matter didn’t end there.
Reginald Stone received notification that for his act of great bravery he would be called to Buckingham Palace to receive the George Medal from King George VI. The George Medal holder returned to the Eastern Valley in 1947 and most of the remainder of his working life was spent as a collier at the Tirpentwys and Hafodyrynys Collieries.
This popular hero of the Eastern Valley lived in Trevethin and was a regular visitor to the Masons Arms public house, where he took on all challengers at the game of cribbage. Buried in August 1991 at the ancient Trevethin Church, a simple small wooden cross marks the final resting place of Reginald Stone GM.

November 15, 2016 / by / in
Amber Taverns Does Halloween 2016

As a part of the Amber Taverns family, our pubs are great community pubs. Getting into seasonal spirits (no pun intended there with reference to drink) whenever we have the chance.

Over recent years we have seen a steady increase in Halloween festivities. Well who doesn’t love the excuse for a good party? And it’s the perfect time of year to do so. Nights have gotten darker not to mention longer so it’s a much needed time to celebrate.

Our pubs really did put the effort in and seem to love all things Halloween. Our pubs held parties on Friday 28th, Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th October. For both children and regular punters, however the staff seemed to have just as much fun dressing up.

Most of our pubs were offering Halloween themed cocktails and free shots for all those who made the effort and dressed up.

Say hello to grim looking staff and guests at The Metropole, Gateshead. Who held a Karaoke, Disco Fancy Dress Party:
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The staff at the Doctors, Gloucester were very appropriately Doctors and Nurses cursed theme:
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A selection of our pub teamed up with VK to offer potions and shots at scarily low prices.
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Our Hogarth’s Gin Palaces really went all out to impress.
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With Hogarths Bolton welcoming you to Hogwarts.
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Hogarth’s Ilkeston:
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Hog Ilk 2

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Staff and guests going all at Hogarth’s South Shields
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November 10, 2016 / by / in
A Roar in Stourbridge

Stourbridge is a beautiful historic town in the west Midlands. And is home to our newest pub The Stourbridge Lion.
After much thought and deliberation, on picking a name fitting for our new pub, we were proud to decide on “The Stourbridge Lion”.
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The Stourbridge Lion was a railroad steam locomotive manufactured in, yes that’s right, Stourbridge in 1828. It was the first locomotive to be operated in the United States and one of the first locomotives to be operated outside of Britain. It weighed in at a massive 7.5 tonnes. The locomotives first official run took place on 8th August 1829 in Honesdale Pennsylvania.
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Our pub can be found in the heart of the town centre. We are a large one level pub which boasts not one bar but two! We have many booth seating areas, both large and small, open and private. Our sky light is a massive feature so be sure to look out for it. We have a spacious beer garden, which has also been refurbished to a high standard providing sheltered seating areas.

We always use local builders in the area to carry out the extensive work we undertake on our new pubs. And we have provided over 20 new jobs to the local community.
Here are our friendly builders who we can thank for all their hard and exceptional work:
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Our opening night was a huge success a momentum which has not slowed down since. We ran a Facebook competition for 7 lucky winners to bring a plus 1 and enjoy complimentary drinks.
Here are our fabulous Facebook winners:
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We even had a rather special guest, Stourbridge’s very own Freddie Mercury impersonator.
Our Facebook reviews have blown us away and we’re so pleased the local community has flocked to try our new pub.
Lisa Yates, Facebook Review: “Lovely atmosphere, decorated to a high standard….toilets immaculate. Good prices on Drinks….great range of Real Ales and the Gin Menu is genius! Will be returning”

Dean Murphy, Facebook review: “Ricky and the team are doing a great job, went in Saturday got served quickly and with a smile. You don’t get that in most pubs”

If you ever find yourself in the wonderful historic town of Stourbridge be sure you visit our Stourbridge Lion, we pride ourselves on ambience and serving the perfect drinks. Including perfect serve gins and a great cocktail menu.

November 2, 2016 / by / in
Cocktails With Attitude Come to Swansea!

As the nights are drawing in and we all face facts that summer is coming to an end, Swansea is able to celebrate in the autumnal evenings.

Amber Taverns have opened a cocktail bar with a difference, magically named Clockwork Magpie.
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“Cocktail may mean any beverage that contains three or more ingredients if at least one of those ingredients is alcohol”
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Clockwork Magpie can be found above our gin palace Hogarth’s Swansea. Our quirky bar opens for evenings only and has quickly become known for serving ‘Cocktails With Attitude’, our tag line.

An edgy refurbishment partnered with an extensive and modern drinks menu has left us feeling sorry for all the cities who don’t have a Clockwork Magpie. First and foremost we specialise in all things cocktail. We have an amazing team of mixologists who create works of art to be sipped at pleasure.
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Our bar is stocked full of ingredients which you wouldn’t usually find in our other pubs!
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Whatever your taste-buds fancy, savoury, sweet or sour we can produce it especially for you.

Clockwork Magpie is a dark seductive bar spread across one level. There are plenty of corners and private seating areas perfect to enjoy intimate drinks, dotted all around the lounge. Clockwork Magpie can be hired out for private functions. A memorable venue, perfect for any celebration.
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Over the past 2 weeks in which we first opened our doors our mixologists have showed their skills off in front of an increasing loyal following of ‘magpies’. Head to our Facebook page to see Adam set fire to a tower of cocktail glasses: facebook.com/ClockworkMagpieSwansea

When you are visiting the great city of Swansea we cannot encourage you enough to start with a gin in Hogarth’s before heading upstairs to our cocktail bar which really does serve up a difference.

Just to tickle your fancy, popular cocktails so far have been our; Centrefold: Prosecco, Pear Vodka, Rhubard Liquer, Vanilla Syrup, Egg white & Lemon Juice.

Custard Creamy: Vanilla vodka, Advocaat, White Chocolate Liqueur, Vanilla Ice Cream topped with Cream.
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September 14, 2016 / 2 Comments / by / in
Burton’s Newest Pub and The Remarkable Lady Who Opened It!

Welcome to our first blog of July where we’ll be sharing The Prince of Brewers opening story.

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After an investment of £1 million pounds, a lot of planning, a huge refurbishment project and 25 Jobs created for the local community. The Prince of Brewers opened its doors in the centre of Burton-upon-Trent.

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Think the name sounds catchy? You can thank our Amber Taverns Twitter followers for that. We ran a poll on Twitter, asking the local community, which name they preferred and we were delighted The Prince of Brewers was the winner.

Seeing as our pubs are always in the heart of the local community, we think this is a great way to get them excited about, in some cases like this, the re-opening of a once favoured drinking venue.

The name,Prince of Brewers, comes from the Burton born Michael Arthur Bass who was the head of “Bass” brewing company from 1863. He was a philanthropist who, later in life, became Baron Burton. Throughout his life and his long career he was a very generous benefactor to Burton, making fine contributions to The Ferry Bridge and Town Hall where his statue still stands today.

One of our favourite highlights about The Prince of Brewers is the theme of decoration. Burton has a long history with brewing (excellent backdrop for us then!) so the pub is filled with memorabilia from brewers such as Bass and Ind Coope.

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Prince of Brewers is a split level pub, with the lower lever presenting a long brightly lit bar, serving a wide range of drinks from cask ales and numerous gins. Upstairs is a cocktail lounge, which can be hired out for private functions. There are plenty of cushioned booths for groups of friends to enjoy and large open plan space to stand.

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There is a large beer garden, again in-keeping with Burton’s brewing heritage theme.

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It’s always difficult to pick someone of interest to open a new pub in a town centre. We were honoured to host Wendy, a local lady, as our special guest.

Wendy was sadly mugged in Burton, so we invited Wendy to cut the ribbon on the opening night at The Prince of Brewers. Where we were not only happy to replace Wendy’s £100 and present her with a bouquet of flowers but have a longstanding member of Burtons community with us.

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The opening weeks at The Prince of Brewers have gone fantastically well with the local community flocking here both at weekends and week nights. All of the reviews left on the Facebook page have been 5* that’s a 100% rating – long may it continue.

July 6, 2016 / by / in
Hogarths Opens in Leicester

As we say goodbye to the over-indulgences of Christmas and usher in the New Year, there seems to be a collective sense of excitement as to where the trends in taste and flavour will take our palates this year. To try or not to try… that is the question — and when it comes to Gin, 2016 promises to be another hugely important step forward in the world of craft distillation and gins from around the globe.
As Hogarths launches its seventh Victorian Style Gin Palace this month in Leicester it has been heart-warming to see how craft gin has become a truly global phenomenon.
Here are some gins to look out for in 2016 that will be perfectly served at Hogarths.

February 3, 2016 / 1 Comment / by / in