England: Day 4 - Modern London

Only in Paris, New York, or London can you walk the streets in wonder while simultaneously realizing how ugly you are. The people here are not only beautiful, they're hip, modernly-dressed, and stylish. I'm oozing self-consciousness right now. Jeff and I landed at around noon and made it to our hotel in time for an afternoon stroll down to John Maynard Keynes's former residence. 

We're staying at the Hoxton in Holborn, which is by far the coolest hotel I've ever stayed at. When I say "cool", I mean in terms of the vibe rather than the service or the comfort (not that either of those things are lacking in any way). The people hanging out in the lobby, bar, restaurant, and lounge are so modern and hip that I feel like I'm on another planet. They're all working on laptops and phones, but they're drinking cocktails and showcasing their style while they're doing it. This is what San Francisco could and should look like (but it doesn't). I'm moving to London as soon as I hit the lottery.

While we had a few hours to scope the scene, we were not in London for pleasure. We had serious business to attend to. A reservation at Mac & Wild awaited us—the Fitzrovia district tribute to fine Scottish Highlands cuisine with a modern twist. Not only Scottish cuisine, but Scotch cocktails as well—created, blended, bottled, and for sale at the restaurant. How about a bottle of Ginger Ladie? Bruichladdich whisky with ginger, orange peel, Oloroso sherry and sweet vermouth. There are a number of great options on the table (literally).

I can count my closest industry friends on one hand and Compass Box's John Glaser would easily make that prestigious top five list. We had planned this celebratory dinner long in advance. John has finally finished the upcoming K&L exclusive "5th & Harrison" Compass Box edition: a tribute to our new San Francisco store. We sat down to taste the final blend with Mac & Wild owner Adam Pinder, hoping to get a sense of what people thought right away. Everyone was pretty blown away, as we expected. It's a marriage of 19 year old sherry-matured Glen Ord with 31 year old Caol Ila from a hogshead, blended, and then aged an additional year in cask. All I needed to do was sign off on the finished product, give my stamp of approval, and we were set. Thumbs up, John! Now let's eat!

The venison at Mac & Wild is absolutely to die for. I've honestly never had meat that savory and seasoned cooked so perfectly. I couldn't stop eating it and I'm not what you would call a serious carnivore. I could probably give up eating meat forever and be totally content. But not when you put something like this on the table. Between that and the "5th & Harrison" blend, I was high on life.

-David Driscoll 

David Driscoll