Our last issue of the year has landed in bars across the UK and subscribers can access the digital magazine here. Not subscribed? Bartenders can sign up for a digital or hard copy here.
So what have we got for you in this issue? Well, a few months on from an apocalyptic period in which Trailer Happiness was hit by the pandemic, drowned in flash floods, then buried in unyielding insurance paperwork, Sly Augustin is just about smiling again. His story is one of darkness fading to light, as the bar community raised a wall of arms around him. Simply, Trailer Happiness wasn’t allowed to fail. In this edition of Class we catch up with Augustin, screwdriver in hand, in the process of rebuilding what he now has the good fortune to know is a cherished institution.

Where possible, this magazine tries to look on the upside too. In pieces by Danny Murphy, Edmund Weil and Oli Dodd, we have three separate takes on the mounting staff shortage – each seeking to find ways forward and workable solutions.

The interruptions to the supply of stock continue to be a complicating factor for operators, but Mike Baxter argues that now is the time to get innovative with your menus – your ability to be creative is never more acute than against a backdrop of restriction, he says.

However you jump the hurdles, it’s going to be a Christmas run-in like no other. With that in mind, mindfulness guru Camille Vidal talks us through the best preparations for the period ahead.

If you’re looking for inspiration for your upcoming menus and specials, we have that in festive abundance. Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown are exploring the flavours of their garden’s last flourish – rosehips – while Joe Wadsack names his gun-to-the-head favourite Christmas champagnes.

In spirits, Millie Milliken, meanwhile, investigates the emergence of the mid-abv spirit category and Amy Hopkins asks whether it’s time to rethink mixto tequila, following a spate of quality-end launches. Dave Broom returns to make the argument for blended scotch, Laura Foster fills us in on the little-known world of mastiha and on the cocktail trail Jane Ryan excavates the origins of the milk punch.

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We also have Monica Berg with tips on colabs and Jake O'Brien Murphy on the importance of the storytelling bartender. Ryan Chetiyawardana returns with thoughts on how we should expand the spotlight of appreciation beyond star-tenders and Ben Alcock's cameo sees a rough guide to bars in Bristol - not a scene to be missed.

And if all that doesn’t get you in the spirit, it might pay to recollect the nightmare of last Christmas, when the conversation - and this magazine - was wrapped up in scotch eggs, curfews and closure. Then, bars were starved of customers, now we're struggling to serve them. It’s a funny sort of progress, but progress it is. Let’s drink - and raise a smile - to a dreadfully uneventful 2022.