Bar: Spirits

Our spirits list has been constructed with as much care and attention as our wine selection. We pride ourselves in only stocking really great products, with one-offs lines and small-batch spirits a particular speciality. Big brands that are available in every off-license are few and far between, and the selection changes with the season.

St. George Spirits are among our favourites. Distillers Jorge Rupf, Lance Winters and Dave Smith are the front of this tiny (by industry standards) distillery, which has grown from a small production line of Eau de Vie to an industry leader in the production of premium small batch spirits. Their Terroir gin has been on our list at St Clements for an age, we added their Vodka last summer, and their Rye gin in the run up to opening The Old Custom House; all have travelled down with us, and been joined by their absinthe and NOLA, a New Orleans Coffee Liqueur. Their ethos is that in terms of distillery, small isn't better, big isn't better, better is better, and we can sympathise with that.

Penderyn Distillery supply all of our house spirits, both at The Old Custom House, and at St Clements. Their Brecon V Vodka is so smooth you can sip it neat without wincing, their Brecon Botanicals gin is superb, and their wysgi is the best on earth; we have Myth at The Old Custom House and Legend at St. Clements. The still at Penderyn is unique: a Faraday still, invented by Dr David Faraday, descendent of the groundbreaking Victorian scientist Michael Faraday. It is a still that produces spirit of a strength (92% abv) and purity only normally seen from a column still (the character sapping monoliths used to produce highly rectified spirit on an industrial scale) while retaining the character, smoothness and flavours normally associated with more traditional pot stills.

Blackdown are a West Sussex outfit, producing gin, vodka and vermouth using local botanicals and birch sap. They're all super smooth and make superb single-origin martinis. Anno are another local-ish distillery, producing fantastic Kentish gin, complete with bags full of local lavender, hops, rose-hips, elderflower and camomile, along with samphire from Romney Marsh.

Japanese Whisky has seen a big boost in sales in recent years owing to their marked tendency to clean up at the industry's award ceremonies. We have Hakushu's single malt 'Distiller's Reserve", from their spring 2014 release. From the Hakushu distillery in the foothills of Mount Kaikomagatake, it is a no-age-statement expression with exceptional complexity and smokiness. We also stock Nikka's 'From the Barrel' single malt. Powerful stuff, at 51.4%abv, it is spectacular with a drop of room-temperature water, or a really enjoyable local anaesthetic without it.

Tequila is a much maligned spirit; a cheap-tequila scented hangover can be a pretty unpleasant experience. However, as a grown up spirit, anejo for sipping or silver for a super-premium margarita, it is a whole different beast. Casa Noble and Don Julio's anejo and reposado tequilas are both available at the bar and are both best straight up. Casa Noble and Patron's silver tequila both make fantastic margaritas with Edmond Briotette Curacao Triple Sec and fresh lime juice. We recommend, If you're in for brunch, a spicy Bloody Maria and half a dozen oysters.

Pisco hasn't really landed in Hastings yet, so we have a varying selection to get the ball rolling. There is a bit of an on-going spat between Chile and Peru, as to who created pisco, as a mater of national pride and an increasingly lucrative international market. Everywhere else in the world, nobody who knows the stuff really cares, drinking it it tends to have that effect. It is, essentially, a South American brandy which can be either unaged and clear, or barrel aged and varying degrees of amber coloured. Typically made from particularly fragrant varieties of grape i.e. muscat, moscatel, torrentel (known as torrentes in Argentina) with the odd planting of riesling and gewurtztraminer finding its way into the territory, it has a distinctively fragrant character which carries well into cocktails. It makes a fantastic sour, and we're working on a line of cocktails to make the most of the spirit's unique character.