Yes, you can get a bar of chocolate or burger for less than £1. In 2017, Aldi was selling a 60p bottle of red wine. But lockdown(s) has taught us many things in the last year. Chief among these is that in the absence of good restaurants being on the menu, the pleasure that can be derived from quality food and drink is not to be underestimated.
So, bin that McDonald’s order. Here we have put together an edit of luxury consumable wonders that should see you through what will hopefully be the last few weeks where we are deprived of social eating and drinking in considerable style.
From beer glasses designed specifically to enhance your brew’s flavour to the rarest and most expensive coffee and chocolates, now is the time to treat yourself and your palate.
What goes into creating the world’s most expensive chocolate bars? Firstly, To’ak found the oldest and rarest variety of cacao on Earth in the Ecuadorian valley of Piedra de Plata. The old-growth cacao trees here were verified by DNA to be 100 per cent pure Nacional cacao, and, after building relationships with local growers, exclusively sourced cacao from this valley ever since. Their chocolate is about as far from a bar of Dairy Milk as you’ll find, with exotic recipes designed to be treated more like a fine wine than a snack. Shown here is a blend aged for three years in a single-malt whisky cask from the famed Laphroaig distillery in Islay. It contains 73 per cent cacao beans, cane sugar, and has a lightly peated nose and unexpected finish.
Price: £163 | To’ak | Harrods
Johnnie Walker Black Label
With the exception of a bottle of second-rate bourbon bought from a gas station just outside of Raleigh in North Carolina, WIRED generally looks for glass bottles when buying spirits. However, we wholeheartedly applaud Diageo’s attempts to push the drinks packaging industry forward with the first sustainably sourced pulp bottle for its Johnnie Walker Black Label. The contents are protected by a liner made of resin rather than plastic, which holds the liquid but disintegrates when finished, and the cap is made from aluminium, which can be widely recycled. Diageo has said this new bottle would be available “early 2021”, but no signs of being on the shelves as yet.
Price: £tbc | Diageo | But if you can’t wait
Spiral Cellars Soho wine cabinets
Storing fine wine requires the most particular of climatic conditions, and if you’re not lucky enough to own a stone-walled cellar, the Soho wine cabinet could be the next best thing. Unlike so many wine cabinets that look like fridge freezers with padlocks, Spiral Cellars has created a beautiful and practical alternative that maintains exactly the right temperature and is impervious to harmful fluctuations. Available in three sizes, each is just 56cm deep (this is the medium 1,200mm) and can be filled with up to 99 bottles either on the shelf or pegs, and comes with a long list of finishes and lighting options to show off your final bottle of 1990 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru, which at £28,900 is more than twice the price of this cabinet, clearly making it an wise investment.
Price: £12,360 | Spiral Cellars
LOUIS XIII Smart Decanter
The recipe has changed very little since 1874, and The LOUIS XIII remains arguably the finest cognac available, blended using up to 1,200 eaux-de-vie from Grande Champagne terroir, before aging in centuries-old French oak casks. But this 70cl crystal connected decanter is moving with the times, and features a small NFC chip in the cork stopper that gives the owner access to the members-only LOUIS XIII Society, where they can enjoy exclusive content, experiences and a concierge service, which includes the ability to leave a custom message if you happen to be giving the bottle as a gift.
Price: £2,600 | LOUIS XIII
Sempli Monti-Taste beer glass set
Finally, someone has answered the discerning beer lover’s call and created a set of crystal glassware designed to enhance your favourite drink. The four-glass Monti set from LA-based Sempli features three 340ml glasses for IPA, pilsner and birra – which we’re assuming is for any Italian lager, not just Moretti, and a larger 540ml pint-pot for when you’re thirsty. Details remain scant as to how the individual glasses enhance the flavour of your beer, but with effortlessly cool geometric shapes and generous weight to each design, for now we’re happy just to say “cheers”.
Price: £98 | Amazon
R Cinquantotto Coffee Machine
The R58 remains one of the finest coffee machines WIRED has ever had the pleasure of using, but Rocket Espresso has subtly upgraded the dual-boiler design – two boilers mean you can brew coffee and steam milk simultaneously – with a new side-mounted touch display that gives advanced control to the most traditional of designs. Functions on offer include timed on/off and precise extraction of specific coffee types, as well as precise temperature adjustment to get the most flavour from your chosen roast. The unit can be plumbed in or use the internal water reservoir, and the controller can even be removed when you want a more authentic barista experience.
Price: From £2,270 | Barista Club | Machina
Difference Coffee Pods
While WIRED’s tolerance for single-use coffee pods is waning, we are, for now, happy to recommend Difference Coffee Pods, as it gives anyone the chance to sample some of the finest (and rarest) coffee varieties on the planet. Their approach is simple: they buy small amounts of coffee from the winners of the world’s most prestigious coffee competitions and create Nespresso-compatible pods with it. Shown here is their Twumba Coffee, a 100 per cent Bourbon Arabica coffee that won the highest scores at the Cup of Excellence. It’s so specialist that only 1.2kg of this coffee exists. Just don’t add milk.
Price: £40.50 (box of 10) | Difference Coffee
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