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My perfect Gin & Tonic in our Sky Blue High Ball Glass

There is something uniquely restorative about gin and tonic. It seems that it tastes always the same and there is no room for disappointment when ordering it. When I am caught in the moment and asked the question by a gentleman (my husband) “what would you like to drink?” – in those indecisive moments – I automatically pop out the answer “Gin & Tonic, please”.

Sky blue crystal high ball glasses

Sky Blue High Ball Glasses

However, despite G&T’s apparent simplicity, it’s often made terribly. The most common are Hendricks, Bombay or Gordon’s and these are often the one served to us on the night out.

So what is the secret of a good G&T?
Is it the spirit, or whether there is not enough ice? Maybe the glass is not right? When all the incorrect ingredients are combined it all spoils the reputation of my most-loved cocktail…

The spirit – Gin
Did you know that there are over 100 independent brands of Gin in England?
England has its reputation and history of making this trunk since 17th century when it reached the English channel, and became well known in Britain after William of Orange took the English throne in 1688. Due to a low taxation, locally produced gin was cheap to make and so, cheap to buy. The popularity of it was impressive.

Gin can be flavoured with a wide range of botanicals but the core ingredient must be Jupiter. The rest is left to different producers.

Recently I have been invited to a club and served the Berkeley Square gin. I soon realised that it is indeed the single malt of gins infused with botanicals including basil, lavender, kaffir lime leaf and sage that are wrapped in muslin and left for 48 hours to infuse its essentials oils. Handcrafted at the oldest distillery in England it became my favourite of all.

As much as my son loves ice cream/hot chocolate parlour in Camden, my husband and I found our glorious place too. In the heart of Camden Lock we came across the micro distillery called Half Hitch. Infused with black tea and bergamot is like a fragrance to my pallets.

The perfect glassware

The perfect glasses are high balls (hi-balls) or in other words Long drink glasses. It is a glass tumbler that contains 280-350 ml and predominantly used to serve highball cocktails and mixed drinks.
For every cocktail to taste great the well-chilled crystal glass is an equivalent to a sommelier tasting wine glass. My ever favourite crystal high ball glass is Sky Blue decorated with the golden berry.

A fresh, crisp tonic is the final secret to achieve the best tasting drink. Forget about the bottle that had been opened two weeks ago and was not consumed since than. It will only spoil the lovely spirit you decided to buy.

Decorating is the final touch, the sensory “wow” factor.
My favourite garnishes include gold berry (Physalis fruit-berry) as on the image, watermelon and lemon with mint.

The rule of thumb is keeping everything cold. Gin and crystalware in the freezer along with a tray full of good ice, and some small bottles of fresh tonic along with garnishes in the fridge.

2 shots (50ml/2oz) frozen gin
Cold tonic water
Sky Blue Crystal High Ball
Cubed ice
Physalis and star anise to garnish

Fill your high ball with ice, add the gin and slowly top with chilled tonic water. Stir gently then add a straw. Twist the star anise, cut one Physalis in half and add in . The second Physalis use to decorate.

Enjoy and have fun!

7 ways to make your table elegant this Christmas

There are unavoidable moments in life when meals are rushed. Food on the run is unenjoyable. However, drawing attention to living the moment and starting to embrace on small luxuries will make us realise that a single morning coffee can be elevated by pretty china or glassware.

Festive celebrations such as Christmas are moments when there is no excuse. We all start to think about decorating our tables. I have already started 😉 Luckily, I have plenty of beautiful crystalware at home.

Invest in some beautiful luxuries that can be used not only for Christmas but every weekend.

Most of us use the term china when talking about ceramic tableware regardless of whether it’s made from porcelain, earthenware or stoneware. For a Special celebration, my favourite is bone china. As the name directs, a key ingredient of it is ash from animal bones. This china is pure white and very translucent. It is also very strong as it’s fired in a high temperature.
On my wish list this Christmas there are: House of Hackney mugs for my morning tea, and for a dinnerware, the latest collection called “Arc” by Richard Brandon.

As a focal point use a flat plate, small tray, platter or tile that will bring together all condiments – salt pepper, mint sauce, pickles – whatever you need for that meal.


It is obvious that crystal glassware is meant for fine dining but there is no reason why you can’t use your crystals everyday to add a touch of class to your life

You may already know from my previous posts that crystalware is a terms that refers to leaded glass. If you are planning to host a dinner for family or friends this Christmas you will probably need a minimum of six glasses.

When I was designing the Birds of Paradise collection, I aimed to have a set of glasses in six different colours. I had a purely practical reason in my mind. Guests tend to mix their glasses. With each colour being allocated to one person there is no room for such mistakes.

Crockery is an essential. Getting it right will elevate your experience at the table. Solid Silver, silver-plated, stainless steel, or very popular this season – copper or brass – whichever you choose they must match the styling on your table.
How many pieces? A place setting for each person comprises seven pieces – two knives and two forks (for main and starter) a soupspoon, a dessertspoon and a teaspoon. Most sets do not include starter knives and forks so you may need to purchase more standard sets to so you don’t have to wash in between the meals.

Candleholders or tea light candle votives
Candles make any mealtime feel special. We lid a candle every dinner time, even for mid –week suppers. It became a ritual of ours that is ingrained now as putting out the
cutlery. I am against candles based on paraffin – it is true that they release a stronger fragrance however, often they cause a headache. I only use soya/rapeseed or beeswax candles. They will also not interfere with a smell of your delicious food.

Tablecloth & Napkins
The safest colour of  your tablecloth to choose for your set up is neutral.  Weather white, grey or beige – it all depends on what colours of tableware you are planning to display. I have fallen in love with a linen “Lario Petrol” tablecloth by Designers Guild. It is in stinking prussian blue hue but as my glasses are coloured it will make my table setting a theatrical play.

Place card holders
There are plenty of opportunities to add layers of decoration from the simple to the extravagant. Having place card holders on your table is a small detail that makes a difference and shows to your guest that you though about  every detail.

Add flowers. Even just a few stems of buds taken from the garden or a Christmas tree will make a massive difference. Keep arrangements low (30cm maximum). Steer clear of powerful scented blooms – you don’t want any fragrance to interfere with your delicious food.

Joanna’s table setting’s colour board for this Christmas:
Wine glasses: Smoke Pineapple wine glasses
Water/juice tumblers: Mixed colours Pineapple tumblers
Tablecloth and napkins: grey/ prussian blue colour scheme
Flowers: Burgundy/green hydrogen and pine tree branches
Candleholders: Shining star votives in lavender and clear crystal
Cutlery: Brass finished
China: White with gold details fine dinnerware

Crystal trophies by Gurasu

Gosh, this was the night!
Two weeks ago we announced that Gurasu Crystal had been commissioned making trophies for the Independent Hotel Show Awards Ceremony, which took place last week, 20th October.

Gurasu's Independent Hotel Show Awards Ceremony

In its fourth year, the show brought together luxury, boutique and independent hotel sector delivering an amazing business event.

Gurasu handcrafted trophies for the awards’ ceremony that were handed out to two winners: Jeff Ward of the Gotham Hotel for The Outstanding New Hotel and Olga Polizzi, winner of Independent Hotelier of the year.

Among number of crystal studios we decided to work with the one that had the best expertise in making similar pieces.

The crystal trophy:

Gurasu Trophy for Independent Hotel Show Awards Ceremony

Meticulously designed, beautifully cut and hand painted with gold leaf, transformed into modern, elegant trophies that represented the character of the show. Joanna Maya was influenced by the refreshed brand identity of the show and its new logo.

The trophy had to represent the client’s ethos and style. When you look at it the trophy supposed to bring to your mind this show. At the same time, it had to be unique and surprising. Finally, It had to represent Gurasu’s design aesthetics – a synergy between the past as present. Joanna Maya

The process:

Trophies were hand worked in Bohemia region of the Czech Republic and hand finished in England. Four specialist craftsmen worked for 18 hours to achieve the perfect shape in crystal, cut and clarity to each trophy prior to the pieces being lavishly lustred and finished in gold leaf.

The process of making presentation boxes was commissioned to the London printing studio, which uses traditional, binding techniques and posses a Royal Warrant. The wooden stands were handcrafted by the local craftsman and finished with an engraved Gurasu logo.

Gurasu commissioned to make crystal trophies

Gurasu Crystal was commissioned to make trophies for the Independent Hotel Show Awards Ceremony on 20-21st October.

Independent Hotel Show is the only forum in the UK bringing together luxury, boutique and independent hotel sector.

Hotel show promo - women in jacuzzi

Gurasu is a London-based crystal design studio set up by Joanna Maya, a young entrepreneur with a passion for fine crystalware.

Behind the exquisite tableware, which adorns stylish hotels and homes across the UK is a passion to keep the craft of crystal making alive.

By championing the best of Britain’s young crystalware designers to hand cut their designs in England and Czech Republic using traditional techniques, Gurasu aims to offer luxury collections that bring a fresh maximalist aesthetic to modern interiors.

Gurasu handcrafted two trophies for the Event’s awards ceremony that will be handed out to the winner of the Independent Hotelier category and The Outstanding New Hotel in the evening of 20th October.

The project was very complicated due to the shape, which had to be achieved with lead crystal. Gurasu has been working with the best studios across Europe to make its trophies.

Look out for the next post with Images and more information about the craftsmanship process.

Follow the conversation on Twitter #IHS15

Why Choose Crystal as a Gift?

I thought that writing a piece on this topic is just right in time when everyone is slowly starting to plan what to get as a Christmas gift.

Joanna Maya with Gurasu Crystal Display

Crystal products can be put in several categories, respective of their use – drinkware, tableware, giftware, art glass, interior decorations, lighting etc.

Regardless of their use, all of the listed crystal products are distinguished for their colour clarity and material purity, as well as their transparency.

If you decide to buy a crystal gift you should consider what type of gift will serve this person’s personality the most. Here are some keywords you may want to use when searching for this perfect present.


Gurasu Crystal Collection on Display


Drinkware or beverage is a general term for a vessel intended to contain beverages or liquid foods for consumption.
When it comes to style, the choice is endless. Patterned or plain? Coloured or clear? And that is even before you have decided which type of glasses this special person will most enjoy drinking from.


Are flat-bottomed drinking glasses, for example: highball glass, for mixed drinks, iced tea or juice glass, double old fashioned, shot glass.


Is a universal name for a stem glass, mostly used for wine incl. Chardonnay, Burgundy, Bordeaux … There is a variety of different stems, depending on their use: champagne flute, champagne coupe also known as champagne saucer – has a wide shallow bowl. Cocktail glass or martini glass with a wide, shallow bowl, cordial, a stem glass for ice cream, sherry glass or a sniffer – for brandy or cognac.
My advice: cocktail glasses and champagne coupes are perfect for these mini desserts too. Shot glasses can be commandeered for use at parties to serve tiny portions of soups or mousse.

Among barware we also find sake cups, tea cups, pitchers, decanter, ice buckets, beer glasses, bottle stoppers etc.

Crystal tableware complements drinkware – serving plates, serving bowls, cake plates jars, napkin rings, vases, candleholders, coasters etc.


Crystal giftware is a reliable choice uniting appreciated and popular designs. Aesthetic perfection yet functionality have enabled them to enter many homes, business offices and become gifts of choice for various occasions.

Giftware includes everything we present our friends, family, business partners or ourselves.
Vases: Think of the smallest bud vases for single stems, vases for bouquets, large footed vases that make a statement on their own.

Bowls: from small confetti bowls, which are popular as giveaways for weddings, to bowls that make a perfect centrepiece on a table, footed fruit bowls, small nut bowls, keepsake bowls.

Lighting: including lamps and crystal candle tea light holders also known as votives. These decorations will prove very helpful for someone who likes raising the bar and makes a special effort with the table. For me candles are the absolute must for dining at night. I light the candle pretty much every mealtime.

When thinking about buying crystalware try not to consider this as a “formal” gift. As there is a clear shift toward craftsmanship and quality, everyone will appreciate the effort and the luxury that you wanted him/her to experience for life.

Q&A – lead vs lead free and what makes crystal special and luxurious?

If a potential customer comes to our website it means that he or she is in pursuit of fine crystalware. She/He either looks for a special gift or crystal glasses for themselves. We decided to put together a new post interviewing our founder, Joanna Maya to answer questions we sometimes are asked. Namely, what is fine crystalware? Which factors distinguish one brand from another and what is the difference between lead and not lead crystal.

Rainbow Ruby Crystal Collection

Q: What is a crystal and how is it different from glass?

JM: Crystal is one of the most precious materials, just after diamonds, gold or precious stones. It is essentially a leaded glass. According to an European guidance you can call a crystal, only glass which contains at least 24% of lead. Many manufacturers or retailers call fine glass a crystal even though it has less than 24% lead. However, the truth is that any glass that contains over 10% lead but less than 24% should be called a crystal glass or fine glass. If you therefore, intend to buy crystal ware check on the packaging whether and how much lead it contains.

Q: Why is it important for a crystal to have 24% of lead or over?

If a customer is interested in buying lead crystal, and not lead-free glass, which is really a matter of personal preferences, the 24% of lead in crystal is the optimum percentage for weight, durability and clarity. There are still factories who do 30% lead crystal and this type of product is called full lead crystal. Lead content makes the crystal dense, providing a much higher index of light refraction than normal glass, and consequently much greater sparkle, exceptional colour and brilliance.

Q: What is a lead free crystal and does something like this exists?

Well, as I mentioned above the only glass that can be called crystal is if it contains 24% or over. If a crystal is called lead free it means that it simply should not be called so. It should be called crystal glass. This is governed by the EU directive which states which type of glass is and can be called crystal.
A so-called “lead free crystal” is essentially fine crystal glass without the lead content. On this occasion lead is substituted with another ingredient for instance, zinc, barium and potassium to allow the piece being heavy, transparent and possible to be hand cut or engraved.

Q: Is lead crystal more luxurious than lead free?

The lack of lead does not mean that the product is less luxurious – It is a matter of personal choice.
We need to remember that luxurious product is a make of craftsmanship. In one of my previous posts I was investigating what is a luxurious product and contemplating on the exhibition I had seen in V&A “ What is luxury”. I stated that during this exhibition one of examples of luxurious product was a set of six engraved crystal glasses. The value of each was justified by a number of dots engraved. This was a reference to the time, precision and craftsmanship devoted to engrave each one on a thin crystal glass. The maker of fine glassware commits himself to refining skills, inventing techniques, challenging conventions and creating the unbelievable. Therefore, whether the piece is machine blown or hand blown, hand cut or hand decorated, how many hours craftsmen spend on the production of one piece.

Q: Often on a label we see a crystal is blown, hand cut or pressed? What does this
terminology stand for?

There are different ways of glass blowing. Of course I don’t consider discussing machine blowing or, recently a 3d printing on glass, which is outside the scope of this discussion. On a high production scale a crystal can be machine made by pressing or blowing. This does not involve glass blowing by a craftsman.

Q: Why one crystal glass is more expensive than another?

There are many factors that can justify the price. As I mentioned above, it depends on the amount of craft put into production of each piece. How has the piece been finished, whether it’s been hand cut, hand engraves, whether the colour is in the glass, between two layers of it or hand painted. How well known is the brand. Whether the piece is a designer piece or not. However, it is important to mention that when one crystal piece is significantly cheaper than another usually it was machine made. Also, often the country of origin is the factor behind the price too.
I would recommend, to read about the brand, what are the brand’s values and check if the piece is handmade, hand cut or hand engraved before purchasing crystal.

A short lesson on wine tasting

Lately I presented you with the perfect type of wine glass and what it should possess to benefit your experience with wine. This week I would love to focus on how to taste wine.

Discovering what the wine world has to offer should be delicious fun. Often in restaurants however, we may feel confused about what to do when the waiter hands us the glass with wine to taste.
A few skills can help you take charge of the wine experience and it definitely does not have to be though using pretentious prose.

KLASIK Red wine small

Klasik Red Wine Crystal Glass, set of 2, 300ml

Wine’s most fundamental qualities can be identified by taking one sense at a time.

Thus, the goal is to isolate and amplify the impact of wine’s sensory experience – colours, scents and flavours – in order to distinguish one wine from another.

The waiter should pour the glass with one third of a wine glass. Hold the glass by the top of its stem – never by the bowl – unless the wine is too cold and you want to warm it with hands (this should not really take place in any good restaurant).

Look at the wine – what colour it has? How deep it is? Is it showing signs of browning with age? The depth of color, gives a clue to the density and saturation of the wine. (Saturation is related with the amount of oxygen in wine)*

* When wine is exposed to excessive amounts of air, some of the alcohol becomes oxidized. The colour of the wine becomes deeper, and the wine takes on a sherry-like characteristic. Although prized in sherry wines, these oxidized smells and flavours are considered major flaws in table wines.

Swirl the wine in the glass – making a swirl is important to smell the wine better. Swirling increases the wine’s surface area, which in turn boosts its rate of evaporation and aromatic intensity.
*Notice if the wine forms “legs” or “tears” that run down the sides of the glass. Wines that have strong legs are wines with more alcohol and glycerin content, which generally indicates that they are bigger, riper, more mouth-filling and dense than those that do not.

Sniff the wine deeply – smells is the main sense used in wine tasting so sniffing wine before tasting is an essential step. Dip your nose in to the glass and take two to three sniffs. Try to interpret the aroma, how intense the smell is? Can you smell fruits, herbs, vegetable, spices or perhaps an oak barrel?

Sip the wine – take a slightly larger sip than usual. Instead of swallowing immediately, take 3-5 seconds, letting it coat your tongue, cheeks and palate.

Swish it around – by swishing it like a mouthwash, you dramatically intensify the sensory perception of taste, smell. Well. I ma not sure if you would like to do this in the restaurant as this is clearly a step for a serious aficionados.

Savour – wine taste does not disappear after your taste it – its aftertaste for a minute or more allowing you to think about it and make your judgement.
Aside from simply identifying flavors, you are also using your taste buds to determine if the wine is balanced, harmonious, complex, evolved, and complete.

Well, some of you may ask if mere drinking wine is worth the trouble of trying to explore it. I would say that playing with wine and trying to asses and judge it is a fun exercise – it’s like with whiskey or food tasting – the more you passionate about life the more you want to explore and learn about it…

If you wish to explore wine tasting in detail, here’s what I came across during my research which I found very informative and fun to read.

In the meantime, from today until next week I would love to feed you with some interesting tips and facts about the wine on our social networks including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. I will be delighted to welcome you there.

The considered design of whisky glasses

As a woman, I find it challenging to befriend whisky. Not saying that women cannot enjoy it. I know many who do but still I know there are fewer than men. Although, my husband is passionate about this dram, I tend to leave the sniffing and tasting to the New Year’s Eve while I am in Scotland. After all, this drinking business is meant to be fun. So, I keep this moment only for very special occasions.
Icebreaker whisky tumblers


Icebreaker whiskey tumblers by Iskos & Berlin

Last Sunday, however, my husband invited me to a very special place in his heart – Milroy’s of Soho, the whiskey bar – for a tasting experience. Having pushed myself out of my comfort zone I started embracing my senses of whisky.

I learnt a few interesting facts. Namely, to be single malt means that the whisky has to come from one distillery, and must have been matured in Scotland for at least three years in an oak cask. It must also be made from the malted barley, yeast and water.

Also, when you write whisky – you mean Scotch. However, when you see the spelling with “e “ whiskey – the source refers to Irish or American dram.

When I finally got my head around the choice of whisky Milroy’s of Soho had offered, I was impressed by how differently these whiskies tasted.

I was asked to look at the most important aspects in whisky. Namely, something called “legs”. Legs appear when you swirl your glass around several times. The line of several beads will form around the rim. The thicker the legs, the more mouth-filling the whisky is.
After taking a good look I was asked to find a comfortable distance between my nose and the glass and slowly inhale the aromas from deep inside the glass. I closed my eyes, visualised what I could smell and noted down my findings. After several, slow sniffs each whisky started revealing the depth of character within it.

The perfect whisky glass

Undoubtedly, whiskey is one of the most evocative spirits in he world. It is also for some, like myself, challenging to drink. Its high strength is sometimes enough to give imbibers cause for concerns. So, when learning to serve whisky, make sure you do it properly. Milroy’s had a couple of glasses styles that I will explain below.

The glass you decide to use for nosing and tasting whisky will have a huge impact on the flavour and aroma of it, so much so the specific glassware have been developed to heighten the experience.

Tulip shape glass – is preferred by connoisseurs for tasting, sampling, sipping and scrupulous evaluation of a whiskey’s attributes. It is fashioned with a unique tulip shape to gently allow warming the liquor. The narrow opening concentrates the bouquet.

Glencairn – this glass was specifically designed for whisky. It has a narrow rim and a heavier bowl-shaped base, with a thicker stem.

Tumbler – this is a traditional style of whisky glass. It is perfect for filling with ice, soda or water. This glass features a universal shape wide enough that is perfect for all types of whiskeys and bourbon.

As with many life’s pleasures, taking time and learning the correct techniques to enjoy whisky are the fundamentals to the successful “dram-fication”.