Local Portrait: Andrew Rummer of Sipping Liquor

Written by: Sophie Taylor

He’s basically a walking litmus test for quality spirits.

Andrew Rummer is someone you want on your side when you’re choosing your new poison.

You also want him on your side when finding where to source that intoxicant.

North Four, North London magazine, Bimber Distillery, rum, vodka, whisky, alcohol, tour, tasting session, behind the scenes, copper, equipment, machine, filtration

He is the brains behind Sipping Liquor: a craft spirits club that delivers carefully chosen spirits to your door on a monthly or bi-monthly basis (and the man behind this genius video explaining the difference between Bourbon biscuits and their alcoholic namesake).

We embarked on a trip to Bimber Distillery with Andrew one rather rainy morning to check out his latest craft spirit producers.

As the smell of sweet rye knocked us sideways us on entry, we admired the copper pots, pillows of malt and stacks of oak barrels lining the walls. Over the sound of copper filtration pots and pressure systems we met our tour guide, Adam Trethewy and heard his stories of moonshine history and vodka production.

After drying out and furiously filming vodka taps, it was tasting time. Adam went to work setting up row upon row of empty glasses waiting to be filled with oak aged vodkas, infused gins and Bourbon whiskies. 

North Four, North London magazine, Bimber Distillery, rum, vodka, whisky, alcohol, tour, tasting session, behind the scenes, bottles
Just don’t go suggesting a cocktail

Our favourite was the Starka, a twice-distilled rye-grain vodka, aged in oak barrels and infused with fruit tree leaves. First popular in Poland and Lithuania from the 15th century onwards, we could see why.

While we were there to get tipsy on a Tuesday morning, Andrew was there to meet with his next craft liquor business and finalise plans for a future tasting session. Not necessarily able to casually hop over to Brazil or New York, it’s a good day when he gets to meet the owners in person (with the added bonus of an inevitable sipping sesh).

Andrew knows his spirits. Attempting to impress with a favourable nod towards caipirinhas, we hear of his preference for neat cachaca rum over the more obvious use in cocktails.

North Four, North London magazine, Bimber Distillery, tour, tasting session, sipping liquor, single malt, toxic, fatal, bottle
I’d have to spend half my life in China persuading hipsters to change their drinking habits

Ask him about his favourite drink of choice and you’ll find him asking everyone else the same question. It’s this curiosity that feeds Sipping Liquor. “I’m pretty omnivorous with my alcoholic drinks. I’ll always drink decent wine.” Just don’t go suggesting a cocktail.

“Over time I’ve found myself drinking more spirits and discovering that the best ones taste fantastic on their own, without a sugary mixer.” If you see Andrew out and about nursing a beer, you know it’s because the venue hosts an “appalling” range of beverages. He’s basically a walking litmus test for good alcohol. The idea for Sipping Liquor was born out of this appreciation for a good spirit.

North Four, North London magazine, Bimber Distillery, rum, vodka, whisky, alcohol, tour, tasting session, behind the scenes, metal, equipment, machine, filtration

“Initially I was pursuing an idea to create a ‘craft’ version of an ancient Chinese spirit called Baijiu and headed out there to learn more. It quickly became clear that to make it work I’d have to spend half my life in China engaged in the tricky task of persuading hipsters in the bigger cities to change their drinking habits. All in a language I hardly speak.”

Having a young family he admits he might like to see sometimes, Andrew then decided to focus on markets closer to home. The stories behind these distilleries then unfolded rapidly, as Andrew got to know each one personally.

Each distillery is now interviewed, filmed and stored on the Sipping Liquor Hall of Fame so you can peek behind the scenes of your craft bottle.

“We want to give people a connection with the craftspeople and entrepreneurs behind the drink they have in their hand.” 

North Four, North London magazine, bimber distillery, barrels, alcohol, rum, gin, vodka, whisky, tour, behind the scenes, tasting session
They throw in surprise gifts for good measure

One particularly fiery back story started with Burning Barn Rum who got a taste for sweet fire when their dad’s barn burned down, thanks to all the sugar stored inside. “They decided to rebuild and start producing an English rum, because it’s made from sugar and heat.”

Each full sized artisanal bottle that arrives comes with information about the people who have produced the spirit and the techniques they have used to hone its flavour. They also throw in special surprise gifts for good measure.

Sipping Liquor host monthly sipping events with the latest craft distillers who offer tastings, stories and ideas for how to enjoy the spirit to it’s fullest (note, this rarely involves pink lemonade or mini umbrellas).

North Four, North London magazine, Bimber Distillery, rum, vodka, whisky, alcohol, tour, tasting session, behind the scenes, copper, equipment, machine, filtration

Closer to home is Andrew’s neighbourhood, Finsbury Park where he organised a tasting session recently at Blighty Coffee with Chicago based distillers, Koval.

We ran all the way there and delighted in some cinnamon and mint infused gin that we have since recreated many a time at home.

Speaking of Finsbury Park, we hear of Andrew’s ‘two halves’ theory.

“I love the Finsbury Park neighbourhood and having such a well connected station on your doorstep is amazing.

An unfortunate quirk of the mainline railway however is that it splits the neighbourhood into the northern Stroud Green Road section and the southern area around Blackstock Road.

I hope someone comes up with ideas to merge them better as they both have a lot to offer.”

North Four, North London magazine, Andrew Rummer, Sipping Liquor, Bimber Distillery, spirits, tasting session, underground, whisky, vodka, rum, bourbon, craft liquor
Once someone has tasted a premium bottle of bourbon or rum they start to understand why it’s something worth spending money on.

In terms of local sipping, Andrew has his recommendations and reservations. “My favourite pub in the Finsbury Park area is The World’s End on Stroud Green Road. It has a good selection of drinks and a pleasant vibe.

South of the station as you head toward the Arsenal stadium the pubs don’t really have any motivation to offer anything beyond swift beer delivery in the two hour boozing window before every home game.

Over the other side of the stadium I’m a huge fan of The Lamb on Holloway Road.”

North Four, North London magazine, Andrew Rummer, Sipping Liquor, Bimber Distillery, spirits, tasting session, underground, whisky, vodka, rum, bourbon, craft liquor

So what’s in the stars for Sipping Liquor? Andrew took a moment to mull over this one.

“As we go, I’d love to expand on the tasting sessions and take them further afield. Once someone has tasted a premium bottle of bourbon or rum they start to understand why it might be something worth spending a bit of money on.

On a more practical note, we’d love to expand deliveries to other European countries. But shipping spirits across borders can be very tricky, even with the EU.”

We leave Andrew at Finsbury Park station after our intoxicating adventure to Bimber Distillery, slightly wobbly on our feet. Later that evening, finding ourselves ordering a vodka and slimline from the local, we stop in our tracks noticing they stock Sipping Liquor’s favourite vodka distillers.

“Actually, make that one on the rocks.”

North Four, North London magazine, Bimber Distillery, rum, vodka, whisky, alcohol, tour, tasting session, behind the scenes, copper, equipment, copper, machine, filtration

A Sipping Liquor subscription costs £40 per delivery, including p&p.

You can sign up for a friend (cracking birthday pressie or wedding gift) or simply stock up your drinks globe with some top quality spirits. With all the back stories you’ll never go silent over an awkward date / dinner party again.


Photos by Mike Barry.

Eat & Drink Events Lifestyle List

Top 4 'Christmas is just a bad excuse for a' Winter Markets

By gum there are a lot of winter markets this year. Fueled by sickly sweet mulled wine and overpriced pulled pork sliders, we’ve managed to wade our way through the murky waters of winter markets and find some decent looking ones round this here part of town. Don’t let our Grinch-esq vibes put you off (I’m more of a Pancake Day person myself) because, if you’re into markets, you’ll probably like these. Read on, if you’re merrier than us.

The Vinteriors team and Mary le Comte at Moseyhome in Finsbury Park, North London for 'Style My Shop'.

Style My Shop: Vinterior x Moseyhome

Take a short walk along Finsbury Park’s own sunset strip and you’ll find MoseyHome, an interiors retailer and styling consultancy who have invited us to collaborate with them on an exciting new series titled 'Style My Shop', in which they invite some of London's most talented interiors experts to quite literally style their shop. Interiors porn at it's finest.

Eat & Drink Events List

Top Five "It's That Time Of Year Again" Things To Do This Winter

Why was the snowman sad? Because he had a meltdown. Much like us, every year, when winter comes. It’s cold, it’s dark, and we know Christmas is on its way. But hey, it’s not all bad – the events round this time of year can be pretty swell. So don your scarf-shawl-blanket and get your frolic on, it’s time for fairy lights, scarfing mulled wine and stuffing your face!

Hand feeling colourful splashes of artwork at Smith and Sinclair Flavour Gallery
Culture Eat & Drink Events

Suck it at The Flavour Gallery

Touch, taste, smell, hear and create art. Smith & Sinclair, purveyors of the Edible Cocktail, presents The Flavour Gallery: a multi-sensory adventure that’ll seduce your senses and tickle your taste buds beyond all imagination. Ooh matron!

Hodgepodge on Crouch Hill, North London. New restaurant opening November 2017
Eat & Drink

New Opening: Hodgepodge Crouch Hill

Offering modern British cuisine with a smokey twist, Crouch Hill's newest contender to its foodie scene, Hodge Podge, is all minimal styling and hearty yet inventive dishes.

Cartoon of vampires standing in tunnel for London Horror Festival
Events List

Top 4 ‘Eat, drink and be scary’ All Hallows haunts

Brush the cobwebs off your sexy banana costume; it’s that time of year to make a tit of yourself in fancy dress again. We’ve rounded up the most spine-chilling Halloween happenings in North London and, trust us, they sound horrendous. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Eat & Drink Events

The Moroccan Medina at The Queen of Hoxton Rooftop

God bless the Queen... of Hoxton. Or, more specifically, their rooftop - which happens to be one of our favourites in this here city of London. These guys are well known for creating beautiful, seasonal pop-ups which have included the Nordic Viking themed 'Skye Halla' and the Neverland inspired 'Bangarang'. This winter make way for 'The Moroccan Medina', a sky high hideaway inspired by the romanticism of the beguiling ancient city of Marrakesh.

Mento, floristry cafe in finsbury park, North London
Eat & Drink

Mento: Flowers and Coffee

Next time you need a caffeine hit why not take it from a cup brewed from Jamaican beans grown under a canopy of rainforest-preserving trees, whilst eating a home made vegan banana bread as you sit among an array of sweetly scented blooms. Welcome to Mento, Finsbury Park.

Eat & Drink

Pilgrim: A Unique Spanish Pop-up Dining Experience

Pilgrim, the newest kid to Hackney's pop-up scene, is a unique dining experience inspired by the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. This six course tasting menu includes regional dishes with a contemporary twist not yet seen before in London.

Amelia Donkor as Rose standing in shadow behind Ian McDiarmid as Enoch Powell holding speech at Park Theatre

Theatre: What Shadows

Recent times have seen an unnerving surge in right-wing politics. President Trump’s campaign to ‘make America great again’ saw him make the audacious promise to ‘build a wall’. France saw the uneasy ascent of Marine Le Pen’s National Front in its general elections and Germany’s AfD, (the first openly nationalist party in almost six decades) celebrated an unprecedented third place victory in its recent elections.

Dog being petted, North Four magazine

Dogtober Doggy Brunch at The Narrowboat

Bark bark bark. Bark! Woof! Yep, you heard it straight from the dog’s mouth. Dogtober (definitely a real thing) is in full swing and The Narrowboat is hosting their annual Doggy Brunch next Saturday 21st October. Bone Appétit!

Eat & Drink Events

Magic Roundabout's Retro Winter Wonderland

Summer is officially over. We're not sure it ever began in the first place. I guess that's one of the few downsides of living in London (other than crippling debt, tube strikes and Boris Johnson), but I digress... Magic Roundabout Old Street is raising the bar for winter, transforming the site into a tented, heated, 'Decades' inspired wonderland.

Slow roasted lamb shank shawarma at Fat Macy's supper club in The Luminary Bakery, Stoke Newington
Culture Eat & Drink Events

Fat Macy's Middle Eastern Feast

Guess who’s back, back again. Fat Macy’s back, tell a friend. No, really. Tell everyone about it. Fat Macy's supper club came back into our lives and this time around they had their Middle Eastern Feast on at the cute as a button Luminary Bakery in Stoke Newington, with a menu inspired by Ottolenghi and the #CookForSyria campaign.

North Four Magazine, Alcotraz, London, Pop up, Prison Bar, Hackney, East London
Eat & Drink Events

We Spent the Night in Alcotraz

Getting shouted at by a burly prison guard with a buzz cut and an offensively loud American accent isn't usually the way one wishes to begin one's night. Nevertheless, as I clamber into a very large (cheers guys) orange jumpsuit, the guard shoves a bottle of Conkers Gin wrapped in a thin towel (no fluffy Egyptian cotton here lads), into my now somewhat clammy hands. Whispering hastily at me to not get caught by the warden I'm ushered off in single file into the depths of Alcotraz.

North Four, North London magazine, new beacon books, uk first black bookshop, books, refurb, campaign, reopened, mini black market, event, stroud green road
Culture Events

New Beacon Books Mini Market

If you haven’t heard the news yet, the world’s first black bookshop is back. Yes, after months of campaigning for funding and volunteers, New Beacon Books has reopened after threat of closure with a brand new refurb to boot. Established in 1966 by John La Rose and Sarah White, New Beacon Books is the UKs longest running independent bookshop specialising in African-Caribbean literature, cards and artwork.

North Four, North London magazine, cocktail, mint gun club, stoke newington, tea room, london cocktail week, drinks, alcohol
Eat & Drink List

Top Four “Hold My Phone I'm Going In” Cocktails

London cocktail week is upon us. To be honest I can think of nothing worse than strapping on a wristband, carrying around a guidebook and queuing up for something that just needs to be brought to my sorry, tired old lips immediately. Apparently this year however, Drink Up London have released an app that eliminates all of the above nonsense. Get your ticket, download the app and get enjoying your £6 cocktails all week long. Just remember to flash your digital pass to the bartender first.