The Handbook Meets: Our/London

By a woman smiling holding a drink in black and white Emily Gray |
22nd September 2016

Whilst gin is still having its moment of fame, vodka is sitting quietly in the background, doing its own thing, just biding its time. Our/Vodka is a project by Pernod Ricard which sees a global vodka being made by local producers. It’s already launched in Berlin, Detroit, Seattle and Amsterdam. It’s now here in London and the guys leading the way are Neil Chivers who comes from a music background and Clive Watson the name behind restaurant, Blixen and co-founder of The Riding House Café, Village East and the Garrison. We caught up with them to talk working with friends, favourite bars and the future of vodka.

Why did you decide to get involved with Our/Vodka?

It came to find us – we were scouted/approached and felt that it was such an incredible opportunity that we just had to do it, we would never be able to handle watching someone else do it in our place, wondering what if…?

How is it working with your friend, do you find it easier or more difficult when you disagree?

We have known each other for almost 25 years and had other businesses with other partners for sometime, so we are used to broaching everyday issues and more sensitive ones too, so we can overcome any potential disagreements in a reasonable way. It’s essential to do that in partnerships to understand opposing opinions and debate is healthy!

What is your favourite way to drink Our/London vodka?

Classic vodka Martini with a twist, go simple. It’s great on the rocks too, by adding very little you still get to taste the subtle flavour and really appreciate the smoothness.

Gin seems to be the drink of the moment; do you think vodka can topple its reign or do you think it’s more understated?

There are so many wonderful gins around. Hard to compare vodka and gin – vodka’s day will return, but above all, just as with gin, seek out the quality and only drink the good stuff.

You’ve come from restaurant and music backgrounds, two things that go very well with drinks! How has that helped with launching Our/London?

Our networks of friends and contacts have played an instrumental role in us introducing the brand to the market place; we have been careful to carefully build a loyal following among those who know us; the food and music crowds largely enjoy getting together and appreciate good ingredients, which is just perfect for Our/London.

And has anything surprised you about the drinks industry?

The industry is supportive and exciting – that said, it takes a little while to earn the trust of industry folk when you are launching a brand new, unfamiliar brand. That’s great because our passion can come to the fore and product quality will always prevail – we don’t mind the long game.

What is the future for vodka?

It’s due a face-lift. Our/London is all about stripping brand image back and letting the liquid shine. Keep it simple, it’s vodka.

What are you favourite London bars?

We haver to go local and go for Satan’s Whiskers and Original Sin. Hackney… we’re biased. Local power.

Clive, we’re in Blixen what would you suggest we order?

Order a huge bunch of starters to share and drink a raw ginger martini – freezing cold – so fresh with just a little spicy heat.

Neil, which festival needs to be at the top of our list for next summer?

Impossible really to single one out, I work on so many with LD, but it’s always a real treat to be a regular paying festival goer – Glastonbury was that treat for me this year, despite the quagmire. Also, Latitude is a brilliant true all-rounder (and Clive’s restaurant sets up there, so that helps). Clive, you owe me a martini.

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