FOR A TASTE OF WILD SCOTLAND: BUCK & BIRCH
Buck & Birch are the boys behind the award-winning Aelder Elixir, a rich and dark elderberry liqueur that’s made entirely in – and of – their small patch of Scotland. In response to lockdown, they’ve taken their local, sustainable ethos and applied it to ready-to-drink bottled cocktails. In handsome glassware, you’ll find the Amarosa Old Fashioned, the Aelder Sour and the outstandingly named Thornstar Martini, which combines Amarosa (Buck & Birch’s Scottish rum liqueur), woodruff vodka, hawthorn syrup and sea buckthorn to create something a bit tropical. Gift packs containing all three are £24 and delivery is nationwide.
FOR A LAUGH: GEOFF NORCOTT
It’s the time of year when the Edinburgh Fringe would normally be underway. This year, everything’s had to go virtual. Geoff Norcott, who we assume has never knowingly turned down a telly gig (Would I Lie To You?, Live At The Apollo, The Last Leg, Mock The Week, The Mash Report – he’s done them all), is harnessing the power of Zoom to put on live stand-up shows this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets via the link below.
FOR SOMETHING MORE SERIOUS: AI WEIWEI’S HISTORY OF BOMBS
Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei has taken over the spectacular atrium at the Imperial War Museum. Laid out across its floor, History of Bombs is his site-specific installation about the monstrous power of weapons and the terrible human ingenuity behind them. From the Daisy Cutter used by the US air force to clear patches of jungle in Vietnam to the Soviet Tsar Bomba, which was 1,500 times more destructive than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs put together, he charts the inventive and ever more terrifying ways we’ve found to kill each other – to chilling effect.
FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE: STYLUS VINYL
Stylus Vinyl is set up to make Saturday nights in that little bit more sumptuous. Its founder – and pro musician – Russell Cook understands the power of listening to music properly. Sign up to the Stylus Experience service and, once a month, he will handpick a memorable album on 12” vinyl, pair it to a decent bottle of wine and send them over. All you have to do is sit down next to your record player with them both. Subscriptions are £45 a month, including access to an online magazine and regular curated playlists.
FOR A NIGHT OUT AT THE PICTURES: AN AMERICAN PICKLE
If you gave Seth Rogen a chance in Long Shot last year, you were amply rewarded with what turned out to be the best comedy of 2019. (Need to catch up? It’s on Netflix right now.) Rogen returns this week in An American Pickle, which is released in cinemas. He plays Herschel Greenbaum, an old-time pickle producer who suffers a freak accident, gets preserved in brine for 100 years and wakes up in the present day. He soon catches up with his only surviving relative (a computer programmer also played by Rogen) and the mismatched pair must face down myriad cultural misunderstandings to make the best of a weird situation. Trailer below.
FOR A TRIP TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD: OWLS OF THE EASTERN ICE BY JONATHAN SLAGHT
This new book by American researcher and conservationist Jonathan Slaght is subtitled ‘The Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl’. And that’s exactly the gripping adventure story it tells. The bird that lays claim to that title – Blakiston’s fish owl – lives in Primorye, a part of far-eastern Russia that makes Siberia look accessible, and a place where owls as large as eagles makes sense. Slaght captures the wild beauty of both the land and its majestic, endangered inhabitant, and he’s also got some great vodka-fuelled stories about the locals out there.
FOR A TAKEAWAY TREAT: RESTAURANT KITS
Some of London’s hottest young restaurateurs have joined forces to open this one-stop shop for next-level cook-at-home meal deliveries. Mac & Wild’s Venimoo burger, James Cochran’s buttermilk chicken burger, Kricket’s Old Delhi chicken curry kit – they’re all here. Want something healthier? Island Poke is doing vegan kits that swap out the fish for teriyaki-marinated smoked tofu. Or something sweeter? Check out Utter Waffle’s signature Peanut Butter & Jelly Waffle.
FOR WORKING OFF THAT TAKEAWAY TREAT: FIIT
There’s a new Group Class feature on Fiit. It means you can set up private classes just for your friends, family and fitness buddies. For added motivation, each class features a live leaderboard showing you all who’s working out hardest. As well as choosing who your competition will be, you get to set the time of the class, pick the trainer and choose the type of class – HIIT, pilates, yoga and strength options are all available. Fiit’s premium service is £20 a month, but you can try before you buy with its Fiit Freemium offer.
FOR NEW MUSIC: PURPLE NOON BY WASHED OUT
Washed Out (aka Ernest Greene) made his name a decade ago as a pioneer of chillwave – that woozy genre of synth-pop that always felt perfectly suited to summer. Now the Atlanta-based producer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist is back with a fourth album. Out on Friday, the beats on Purple Noon still have the old Balearic tinge – Greene says the album’s specifically inspired by Mediterranean coastlines – but this one’s a bit less blissed out and a bit more heartfelt. Greene’s vocals are to the fore, pulling you into the warm embrace of his 80s-style production.
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