Cocktails for Christmas!

Hands up if you love cocktails? WE DO. Especially Harry’s. In case you didn’t already know, Harry MacElhone is a huge deal in the cocktail world. He was one of the very first bartenders in Europe and opened the world-famous New York Bar in Paris in 1911 – making this glamorous joint the oldest cocktail bar in Europe!

From the bar where the Bloody Mary was invented comes this bible of cocktail recipes, Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails.

Harry’s has been, and still is, the haunt of the rich and famous who have passed through Paris, from Ernest Hemingway and Marlene Dietrich to Jean-Paul Sartre, Noel Coward and Quentin Tarantino. Many of the classic cocktail recipes – White Lady, Sidecar, Blue Lagoon – were created there.

In this new, revised edition of the classic guide all the old favourites are included but accompanied by recipes for over 30 new favourites. This is a book for the cocktail lover, with its distinctive thumb index for easy use and advice on mixing cocktails it is the definitive guide for professional bartenders and the home entertainer.

“Harry wrote the recipe for every cocktail you’ll ever need to know.” Sunday Times

Get your copy here:


Kick start your Christmas!

Not to rain on this Christmas parade, but I think it’s certainly fair to say that 2016 has been one difficult year. One of those years that makes you realise that not everyone is sane and personal safety is sadly more paramount than ever. And this is where David Kahn steps/kicks in.

But of course, self-protection has always been an incredibly vital thing to know about. Krav Maga, the style of fighting David Kahn is here to teach us, has been around for almost 80 years after being developed by the Israeli army in the 1940s. Indeed, David learned Krav Maga as a Special Operative in the Israeli Army and his expertise has made him one of the most internationally respected trainers of system. He has trained Special Forces soldiers, the Royal Marines and police officer and is the Israeli Krav Maga Association’s Chief Instructor in the USA.

This fully illustrated, no-nonsense guide will teach anyone of any fitness level simple defences to use against attackers. In Krav Maga Defence David Kahn presents the basic techniques of the method, which is based on the principles of doing minimal harm and enhancing our natural instincts for self-protection.

That’s the great thing about Krav Maga: you don’t have to be a fighter-type to master this art. It focuses on prevention, avoidance, escape and evasion before looking at counter-attack and self-defence moves. It really is for absolutely anyone – even British MPs are turning to Krav Maga for protection tips:

It’s a failsafe Christmas gift, one that will be useful for anyone looking for ways to stay both fit and safe in the New Year (and let’s face it, that includes every single person on your Christmas list). Get your copy here!

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Wishing you a (non) PC Christmas

At #2 of our stocking-filler themed countdown to Christmas, we bring you James Finn Garner’s hilariously tongue-in-cheek collection of Politically Correct Bedtime Stories.

While we don’t wish for you to actually have a PC Christmas (2016 doesn’t warrant it: go post-truth mad like the rest of the world and express yourselves), we DO want you to laugh. And, from Snow White’s relationship with seven vertically challenged men, Little Red Riding Hood, her grandma and the cross-dressing wolf who set up an alternative household based on mutual respect and cooperation, to the Emperor who was not naked but was endorsing a clothing-optional lifestyle, we’re pretty sure there’s something in here for everyone in the family.

We strongly suggest you buy your non-sexist, non-racist, non-sizeist and non-ethnocentrist reading matter here ( – and enjoy! We all deserve some chuckles this Christmas.

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On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… BOOKS!

Good morning & happy Friday to you all! Now, if you’re like us and were unreasonably shocked to find that, yes, we are now in December (as happens every single year) AND you’re starting to panic about how to start your Christmas shopping – look no further! We’re here to sort it all out for you – because, let’s face it, what better stocking filler is there than a really great book?

We’re here to bring you a wonderful gift idea for each day of this festive month, so you can’t possibly fail to find the perfect book for every lucky person on your Christmas list.

  1. Every single person on the planet knows someone who’s obsessed with dogs. The kind of people who, regardless of the situation or company present, can’t help themselves but squeal “LOOK AT THAT DOG!!” and will continue to stare at said dog until its owner has sensed the potential danger and moved on. For this person, what better stocking filler is there than Cecil Aldin‘s absolutely gorgeous collection of cartoons depicting the day-in-the-life of his loveable scamp! It’s called A Dog Day, and it won’t fail to make the dog lover you know smile.


Get your copy of this gem of a book here:


Cuban Cigar Compendium

To celebrate the recent publication of The Cuban Cigar Handbook, we bring you 10 facts all about these famously inimitable cigars!

This is the complete aficionado’s guide to the best Cuban cigars in the world. With detailed history of Cuban cigars, The Cuban Cigar Handbook affords truly fascinating insight into the roles and techniques of Cuban tobacco growers.


Europeans first discovered tobacco in 1492, upon their encounter with Native Americans.

Harvesting tobacco begins in December and goes on until sometime in March.

Cigars are made up of 3 types of tobacco leaves, whose variations determine the character and flavour of the cigar. They are the capa (wrapper), capote (binder) and fortaleza (filler).

The capa is the most difficult to grow as it needs indirect sunlight. Capote is made from the upper-most leaves of the tobacco plant, the ones that get the most sun; and this makes them more pliable and durable for rolling.

Once tobacco is harvested, it is usually hung and air-dried for approximately 30 days (a process known as ‘curing’).

The two dominant groups of cigar sizes are parejos and figurados. Parejos are cigars with straight sides, whereas figurados are irregularly shaped. They are considered to be of higher quality because they are so difficult to make.

A cigarillo is a machine-made cigar that tends to be narrower and shorter than a traditional cigar – not the same as little cigars!

The word “habanos” simply means something originating from Havana.

Habanos SA owns all the Cuban cigar brands and Cuban cigarettes sold and distributed worldwide.

To avoid being conned into buying fake Cuban cigars, always remember: if the price sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!

Find out more about these timeless symbols of wealth and luxury here:


Black History Month

In October 1959, before the Civil Rights movement would spread across the United States, John Howard Griffin, a white journalist, underwent medical treatment to help disguise himself as a black man. He then travelled through the segregated Deep South of America, exchanging the privileged life of a white man for the enduring disenfranchisement of the black man. As he moved across this deeply racially prejudiced landscape, Griffin encountered the racism, casual violence and discrimination that was the daily experience of millions of Americans.

From the unrelenting threat of violence to the comparatively minor indignities of being forbidden from using certain drinking fountains or buying food from particular shops, Griffin documented the racism experienced in response to his new identity and opened the eyes of white America to the blatant and unforgiveable abuses going on in their country.

Black Like Me was Griffin’s effort to persuade America to open its eyes… Black Like Me still speaks to us from a distance of 50 years; it resonates because its true topic is not race but humanity…  As long as one group persecutes, fears and detests another, Black Like Me will, sadly, remain essential reading.” Guardian

Black Like Me was first published in 1961, reminds readers of the enduring threat of racial aggression – indeed, after its publication, Griffin received numerous death threats and, several years later, he was almost beaten to death by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Amidst this horror, however, it also demonstrates the monumental difference that just one man can make. Griffin was a novelist, photographer and journalist, serving both in the French Resistance during World War Two and the US army. After the publication of Black Like Me, Griffin became deeply involved with the emerging Civil Rights movement, working closely with Martin Luther King among others.

“One of the most extraordinary books ever written about relations between the races.” ‘The Today Programme,’ BBC Radio 4

Also published in the Independent Voices series is Martin Luther King Jr.’s Stride Towards Freedom, a memoir of the Civil Rights movement.

Martin Luther King Jr. described Stride Toward Freedom as “the chronicle of 50.000 Negroes who took to heart the principles of non-violence, who learned to fight for their rights with the weapon of love, and who, in the process, acquired a new estimate of their own human worth”.

On December 1st 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Rallied by the young preacher and activist Martin Luther King Jr. the black community of Montgomery organised a historic boycott of the bus service, rising up together to protest racial segregation.

This was the first large-scale, non-violent resistance of its kind in America, and marked the beginning of a national Civil Rights movement. Stride Toward Freedom is the account of that pivotal turning point in American history told through Martin Luther King’s own experiences and stories, chronicling his community’s refusal to accept the injustices of racial discrimination.

At the time, Martin Luther King Jr. was only 26 years old and the pastor of a Baptist church in Montgomery. Within a year he was a national figure and a leader of the Civil Rights movement, and he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated on April 4th 1968.

Throughout this month of particular awareness of Black History, reading accounts by people as revolutionary and inspiring as Martin Luther King and John Howard Griffin offers us invaluable insight to the thankless and tortuous daily hardships endured by so many millions of black people across history.                             


Stranger Danger

On the 26th December 1985, Whitley Strieber was at his family cabin in upstate New York. He was woken by a small figure (too small to be a child) and blacked out. When he came around, he was in the woods outside the cabin and felt the presence of another figure.

Hypnosis revealed that Strieber had been abducted by a UFO before and he came to realise that he had been abducted by these alien life forms for most of his life. As he began to record his experiences with visitors from ‘elsewhere’, Strieber began to ask: why are they here? What are the aliens trying to communicate? Are they here to guide and transform mankind?

In Communion: A True Story, Strieber considers his status as an ambassador for alien contact from another world. Does Communion solve the greatest mystery of our time?

“This is the story of one man’s attempt to deal with a shattering assault from the unknown. It is a true story, as true as I know how to describe it.” Whitley Strieber

Whether the reader believes Strieber’s terrifying account or not, Communion will forever alter how they view, and experience, the world.

“I am convinced that he’s telling the truth.” W.S. Burroughs, author of The Naked Lunch 


The internationally renowned physicist, Stephen Hawking, is a believer (a bel-Strieber?), and considers the presence of UFO’s a fact. While he isn’t concerned with the matter of their existence, he is deeply troubled by how dangerous extra terrestrials may turn out to be.

In a film recently released online (Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places), Hawking warns of the potential threat in seeking communication with aliens. Indeed, extraterrestrial societies could be eons more advanced than we are. To them, we could just be no “more valuable than we see bacteria”, and treated with disdain at best, violence at worst.

Hawking advises that, considering how entirely clueless we are about the intentions or disposition of aliens, we must all lay low. But Seth Shostak, writing for The Guardian, thinks it is much too late for these cautionary warnings.

He notes that we have been leaking radio transmissions into space for the last 70 years. With our television broadcasts, high-frequency radio tuning, and use of radar, any extraterrestrial society able to pick up on these emissions will almost certainly have the wherewithal to communicate with us – or even destroy us.

“Any society with the capability to threaten Earth is overwhelmingly likely to already have the kit required to pick up the leakage we’ve been wafting skyward for seven decades. The requisite radio technology is far easier than the necessary rocket technology.” Seth Shostak (The Guardian, 27th September)

Not that we’re to worry. So long as NASA is calm, then we should relax and expect to be safe. Shostak, however, errs on the side of caution, and points out that:

“If Hawking is really concerned, perhaps he should make sure his online movie isn’t broadcast.” Shostak

For now, if you’d like to learn more about Strieber’s classic account of his paranormal encounters free from any potential broadcasting issues, look out for the newest edition of Communion here: