Prawn scampi: made with gin!

Some things are made for each other. Let’s face it, where would gin be without tonic?

Where would fish be without chips? Where would salt be without pepper?

But what if we could have the best of all worlds and use our favourite drink to make one of our favourite dishes. As the current gin boom continues unabated, our drink of choice is appearing in more and more popular recipes – some expected and some not.

Over the years, we’ve tried gin ice cream and gin cheesecake. We’ve nibbled on gin After Eight mints and eaten lashings of gin curry. We’ve had lemon tart with gin, gin pasta and even gin milkshakes.

But this is a new one for us – prawns in gin and tonic batter.

Once again, our dear friend gin plays a starring role in the delightfully light and crispy batter that make these prawns so crisp and crunchy. Plus, we share our recipe for a delicate lemon mayonnaise which perfectly complements the crispy gin and tonic batter and juicy prawns, This is one you might want to try at home. It’s easy to make and absolutely delicious.

This recipe will serve two people comfortably. We’ll leave the chips to you.

Prawn scampi in gin and tonic batter (with lemon mayonnaise)

Ingredients:

300g of raw prawns, shelled and de-veined

200g plain flour

75 ml gin

100 ml tonic

1 pinch of salt

Vegetable oil

For the lemon mayo:

2 egg yolks

1 tbspn Dijon mustard

300ml veg oil

Salt and pepper

1/2 lemon (juice only)

Garnish:

Coriander leaves

Sliced red chilli

Lime wedges

Method:

Pre-heat the fryer to 190c.

Whisk together the flour, gin, tonic and slat. Dip each prawn in the batter and fry for 1 minute.

Drain onto kitchen paper and season with salt.

Whisk together the egg yolks and mustard, slowly add the oil and then add the lemon juice.

To serve:

Place the prawns on a serving plate and drizzle over the lemon mayo.

Sprinkle over the coriander and chilli then dot with lime wedges.


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • Prawn scampi: made with gin!
    Some things are made for each other. Let’s face it, where would gin be without tonic? Where would fish be without chips? Where would salt be without pepper? But what if we could have the best of all worlds and use our favourite drink to make one of our favourite dishes. As the current gin … Continued
  • Glasgow’s Gin Spa: the ultimate indulgence
    Just when we thought we’d seen it all, we came across Glasgow’s amazing Gin Spa. We’ve seen gin bars, gin buses, gin cruises and gin hotels. But this is the first time that we’ve ever seen a Gin spa – and we want to book now. If you’re into massage and are partial to a … Continued
  • Scottish Gin Day: Smoky Martini, anybody?
    It’s time to celebrate International Scottish Gin Day. And there’s no better way to do that than by raising a glass and sipping on a Smoky Martini. Over the last few years, Scotland has had a real gin renaissance. The country most associated with Scotch whiskey is now building a huge reputation as a centre … Continued
  • Simple syrup: what is it and why do I need it?
    Ever struggle to get sweetness into your cocktail? One of bartending’s greatest secrets is simple syrup and just as it says on the tin, it’s really simple. If you’re into cocktails, always have a supply of this available in your fridge. It will be the best thing you ever did. Plus, if you want to … Continued

Glasgow’s Gin Spa: the ultimate indulgence

Just when we thought we’d seen it all, we came across Glasgow’s amazing Gin Spa. We’ve seen gin bars, gin buses, gin cruises and gin hotels. But this is the first time that we’ve ever seen a Gin spa – and we want to book now. If you’re into massage and are partial to a G&T, then this stylish, gin-themed Scottish spa could be the place for you. Situated in glamorous surroundings right in the heart of Glasgow, this is a gin lovers dream.

Massage – with a twist.

As luxurious and professional as any other upmarket spa, this one has built its proposition squarely around the subject of gin. So, while all the usual treatments are in place – reflexology massages, couples massages, facials and the rest, this spa has a gin twist. You can indulge in amazing massages and treatments, before rounding off your experience with botanically infused chocolate. And as if it couldn’t get any better, the final indulgence is a beautifully crafted G&T.

What makes this spa different?

Anybody can add a G&T menu to a spa menu, so what makes this place different? Well, as far as we’re aware, this is the first ever gin inspired day spa. It taps into their intricate knowledge of botanicals to deliver a spa experience like no other. They provide exceptional massages and top levels of service to ensure that you have an experience you’ll never forget. Plus, their partner deals are great.

Botanical massage – yes, please.

You’re treated to an arrival tea before getting down to business. In the relaxing and soothing environment of the spa, you get to choose botanical based aromatherapy treatments. At this time, your consultant offers you inspiration cards to pick from which will help determine the course of your treatment. While sipping on a fragrant herbal tea, you can then discuss the full range of treatments, massages, facials and pedicures with your therapist before deciding on the one for you.

Anyone for tea?

The selections are comprehensive and many of them include afternoon tea with a glass of Prosecco as well as a tailor made gin and tonic – of course. They also have packages that pair their treatments with 5 course tasting menus at their partner restaurant Gin 71. Some of their gin highlights include juniper soaked foot baths and botanically infused aromatherapy oils – what’s not to like?

So, if you’re looking for the ultimate in gindulgence, look no further. Just head to Scotland’s Gin Spa and they’ll look after you in the way you like best.

www.ginspa.co.uk


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • Prawn scampi: made with gin!
    Some things are made for each other. Let’s face it, where would gin be without tonic? Where would fish be without chips? Where would salt be without pepper? But what if we could have the best of all worlds and use our favourite drink to make one of our favourite dishes. As the current gin … Continued
  • Glasgow’s Gin Spa: the ultimate indulgence
    Just when we thought we’d seen it all, we came across Glasgow’s amazing Gin Spa. We’ve seen gin bars, gin buses, gin cruises and gin hotels. But this is the first time that we’ve ever seen a Gin spa – and we want to book now. If you’re into massage and are partial to a … Continued
  • Scottish Gin Day: Smoky Martini, anybody?
    It’s time to celebrate International Scottish Gin Day. And there’s no better way to do that than by raising a glass and sipping on a Smoky Martini. Over the last few years, Scotland has had a real gin renaissance. The country most associated with Scotch whiskey is now building a huge reputation as a centre … Continued
  • Simple syrup: what is it and why do I need it?
    Ever struggle to get sweetness into your cocktail? One of bartending’s greatest secrets is simple syrup and just as it says on the tin, it’s really simple. If you’re into cocktails, always have a supply of this available in your fridge. It will be the best thing you ever did. Plus, if you want to … Continued

Scottish Gin Day: Smoky Martini, anybody?

posted in: Gin and Juniper | 0

It’s time to celebrate International Scottish Gin Day. And there’s no better way to do that than by raising a glass and sipping on a Smoky Martini.

Over the last few years, Scotland has had a real gin renaissance. The country most associated with Scotch whiskey is now building a huge reputation as a centre for craft gin distilling. In fact, last year there were more than 240 gin distilleries listed in Scotland. And, when you think about it, why not.

Centuries of retained knowledge

The country is chock full of whiskey distilleries, with centuries of knowledge carefully contained in the minds of its famous distillers. And the country is rich in natural, exotic, local ingredients such as heather, honey, naturally foraged herbs (and even seaweed), which make this one of the most diverse gin landscapes in the world. Some are even run through whiskey casks to absorb some of the heavier whisky aromas, while others remain more true to the original London Dry.

Two spirits, one cocktail

So, how can we combine the rich tradition of whiskey making and the rich tradition of gin drinking in one simple recipe. Welcome to the Smoky Martini. This is a wicked combination of Scotch and gin. Basically it’s a Scottish version of a Dry Martini, but it replaces a drop of vermouth with a drop of Scotch whiskey. It’s a really relaxing drink – perfect for an after dinner tipple. But since it only has two main ingredients, you’d better make sure you use the good stuff. A premium gin such as Caorunn (paid link) or Isle of Harris gin would work well, but really it’s a matter of your own preferences. And for your whiskey, we recommend something smoky and peaty such as a Laphroaig (paid link) to give it just the right balance. It’s really easy to make and it tastes absolutely delicious. So, if you’re looking for a change this evening, whip out a Scottish gin, a Scottish whiskey and a Martini glass and make a toast to the glories of Scotland.

Or as they say in these parts, Slainte!


Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 oz premium Scottish gin
  • A dash of your favourite Scotch whiskey (the peatier and smokier the better!)
  • Lemon twist

Method:

  1. Gather the ingredients above
  2. Pour gin into a mixing glass, filled with ice
  3. Stir well
  4. Strain into a chilled Martini glass
  5. Garnish with a lemon twist

Slainte!


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • Prawn scampi: made with gin!
    Some things are made for each other. Let’s face it, where would gin be without tonic? Where would fish be without chips? Where would salt be without pepper? But what if we could have the best of all worlds and use our favourite drink to make one of our favourite dishes. As the current gin … Continued
  • Glasgow’s Gin Spa: the ultimate indulgence
    Just when we thought we’d seen it all, we came across Glasgow’s amazing Gin Spa. We’ve seen gin bars, gin buses, gin cruises and gin hotels. But this is the first time that we’ve ever seen a Gin spa – and we want to book now. If you’re into massage and are partial to a … Continued
  • Scottish Gin Day: Smoky Martini, anybody?
    It’s time to celebrate International Scottish Gin Day. And there’s no better way to do that than by raising a glass and sipping on a Smoky Martini. Over the last few years, Scotland has had a real gin renaissance. The country most associated with Scotch whiskey is now building a huge reputation as a centre … Continued
  • Simple syrup: what is it and why do I need it?
    Ever struggle to get sweetness into your cocktail? One of bartending’s greatest secrets is simple syrup and just as it says on the tin, it’s really simple. If you’re into cocktails, always have a supply of this available in your fridge. It will be the best thing you ever did. Plus, if you want to … Continued

Simple syrup: what is it and why do I need it?

Ever struggle to get sweetness into your cocktail?

One of bartending’s greatest secrets is simple syrup and just as it says on the tin, it’s really simple. If you’re into cocktails, always have a supply of this available in your fridge. It will be the best thing you ever did. Plus, if you want to dial up your taste sensation, you can add flavour to your syrup by simply adding extra ingredients of your choice while making it. Try flavouring it with mint leaves, citrus peel, ginger, elderflower, chili or blackcurrant. In fact, the possibilities are endless, so whatever floats your boat. If you’re into making cocktails with your gin, this is the ideal way to customise them to your tastes.

Keeping it sweet

Because it is a liquid sweetener, you can just pour it directly into your drink without the need to stir or heat the sugar – ideal to soften up the sharpness of a Tom Collins or to take the citrus edge off a French 75.  Plus, there’s one more advantage – keep your simple syrup in a bottle in the fridge (it should last a month or so). That way, it’s always handy for your impromptu cocktail making sessions. And remember, this is not just “gin juice”. You can also use it to sweeten up your favourite recipes, pour it straight into a long iced coffee or iced tea, just pour it into your morning cuppa when you run out of sugar.

Here’s an easy recipe for home made syrup.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • ½  cup of water

Steps:

  1. Add sugar and water to small saucepan on medium heat
  2. Stir until sugar is dissolved and add flavouring (if desired)
  3. Allow to cool and decant into a glass jar or bottle
  4. Seal lid and leave in fridge
  5. Kept refrigerated

One batch of simple syrup will last for around one month and is sure to sweeten even the sourest of cocktails!


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • Prawn scampi: made with gin!
    Some things are made for each other. Let’s face it, where would gin be without tonic? Where would fish be without chips? Where would salt be without pepper? But what if we could have the best of all worlds and use our favourite drink to make one of our favourite dishes. As the current gin … Continued
  • Glasgow’s Gin Spa: the ultimate indulgence
    Just when we thought we’d seen it all, we came across Glasgow’s amazing Gin Spa. We’ve seen gin bars, gin buses, gin cruises and gin hotels. But this is the first time that we’ve ever seen a Gin spa – and we want to book now. If you’re into massage and are partial to a … Continued
  • Scottish Gin Day: Smoky Martini, anybody?
    It’s time to celebrate International Scottish Gin Day. And there’s no better way to do that than by raising a glass and sipping on a Smoky Martini. Over the last few years, Scotland has had a real gin renaissance. The country most associated with Scotch whiskey is now building a huge reputation as a centre … Continued
  • Simple syrup: what is it and why do I need it?
    Ever struggle to get sweetness into your cocktail? One of bartending’s greatest secrets is simple syrup and just as it says on the tin, it’s really simple. If you’re into cocktails, always have a supply of this available in your fridge. It will be the best thing you ever did. Plus, if you want to … Continued

Basil Gimlet: a new twist on a classic cocktail

posted in: Gin and Juniper | 0

In our never-ending search for the perfect gin cocktail, we will spare no effort.  The Barcelona gin team (guided by our faithful gin dog, Ruddles) are constantly searching for new gins and out of the ordinary cocktail recipes that will elevate gin into a thing of pure beauty. And the wonderful thing about gin is that (unlike vodka) its unlimited flavour combinations and subtle infusions mean it is now one of the most versatile cocktail spirits out there. Gone are the days when we simply poured Gordons (paid link) into a gin and tonic with a few lumps of ice. These days, gin is high art.  It is now made from everything from cows milk to seaweed and infused with everything from chili peppers to lobster (yes, really!)

The current wave of talented mixologists know the subtle secrets and closely guarded flavour combinations that bring out the subtle aromas and complex flavours that modern gin now delivers.  Some of these can be extremely fancy (even, dare I say it, pretentious). But, whatever you think about fancy mixologists, they have livened up the gin scene dramatically over the last 5 years.  In fact, we are now only limited by our imagination.

Upgrading an iconic cocktail

But for some of us, we just keep going back to the classics. That’s why we want to share with you a simple recipe that offers a clever slant on an established classic gin cocktail.  Most of us will already be familiar with the iconic Gimlet, full of tart, limey acidity and lots of gin.  But here’s a nice twist on the original which softens the tartness by adding some simple syrup.  And a handful of muddled basil leaves gives it a lovely earth taste which counters some of the acidity. This is the perfect drink to bridge the gap between summer and winter – well worth a try.

Ingredients:

  • Basil leaves
  • 45 ml gin
  • 1 tbsp simple syrup
  • 20 ml fresh lime juice

Method:

  • Muddle the Basil leaves, lime and simple syrup in a shaker
  • Add gin and fill to top with ice cubes
  • Shake for 10 seconds and strain into cocktail glass
  • Garnish with Basil leaf and serve

Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


  • Prawn scampi: made with gin!
    Some things are made for each other. Let’s face it, where would gin be without tonic? Where would fish be without chips? Where would salt be without pepper? But what if we could have the best of all worlds and use our favourite drink to make one of our favourite dishes. As the current gin … Continued
  • Glasgow’s Gin Spa: the ultimate indulgence
    Just when we thought we’d seen it all, we came across Glasgow’s amazing Gin Spa. We’ve seen gin bars, gin buses, gin cruises and gin hotels. But this is the first time that we’ve ever seen a Gin spa – and we want to book now. If you’re into massage and are partial to a … Continued
  • Scottish Gin Day: Smoky Martini, anybody?
    It’s time to celebrate International Scottish Gin Day. And there’s no better way to do that than by raising a glass and sipping on a Smoky Martini. Over the last few years, Scotland has had a real gin renaissance. The country most associated with Scotch whiskey is now building a huge reputation as a centre … Continued
  • Simple syrup: what is it and why do I need it?
    Ever struggle to get sweetness into your cocktail? One of bartending’s greatest secrets is simple syrup and just as it says on the tin, it’s really simple. If you’re into cocktails, always have a supply of this available in your fridge. It will be the best thing you ever did. Plus, if you want to … Continued

5 flavoured gins to try before you die

Gone are the days when gin generally came in one flavour – juniper.  Now, with more than 600 craft gin distilleries in the UK alone (and several hundred more in Spain),  gins are infused with flavours unthinkable only a few years ago.

Ingredients as diverse as lemongrass, seaweed, tea and freshly foraged herbs now offer a tantalising challenge to your tastebuds.  I’ve even recently seen a gin infused with 6kg of fresh lobster (which might be taking it a bit far!) 

For those who prefer gloriously citrusy gins, fruits such as grapefruit, lime, orange and plum are becoming more and more popular.  So, we thought we’d talk you through some of our favourites.  We’ll come back to some of the more unusual flavours such as marshmallow, Bakewell tart (and even lobster!) another time.

Here are some interesting gins that we are delighted to recommend:

Sipsmith Chili and Lime gin (England)

Sipsmith’s Chili and Lime limited edition gin is bursting with character and is made in small batches by the folks at Sipsmith,  one of the pioneers of the craft gin movement. They take a standard gin base and infuse it with tangy lime to deliver a classic gin experience. Then they infuse it again with botanicals to give it an extra kick adding an intricate blend of 7 different fruity and complex chilis. The result is a unique gin that will usher you into winter with a little fire in your mouth.  Full of character and exploding with flavour, this one won’t be around forever, so make sure you get your order in now before it’s too late!

The perfect serve:  Pour 50 ml of Sipsmith Chili and Lime gin into a large Copa glass and fill to the top with a premium tonic water such as Fever Tree (paid link). Or you could try it with a classic ginger ale.  Garnish with a dry chili pepper, sit back and sip slowly.

ABV: 41.9%

Whitley Neill Lemongrass and Ginger gin (England)

Whitley Neill are building quite a reputation for their eclectic range of high quality, great value, flavoured gins. They’re perhaps most well known for their beautifully balanced rhubarb and ginger gin.  But if you’re hankering for a little taste of the East, this fragrant gin might just be the one for you. The guys at WN have been inspired by the flavours of South East Asia and have created a  beautiful, elegant and subtle gin.  It combines the essence of lemongrass with natural ginger. And there’s lots of juniper goodness in there as well.  Delicate, fragrant (and a little citrusy) this one comes with an extra whack of heat to warm the tastebuds.  A deliciously different G&T – equally perfect for sipping on a hot summer’s day or a chilly winter’s evening. 

The perfect serve: pour 50 ml of Whitley Neill Lemongrass and Ginger gin into a large copa glass. Fill with large ice cubes and top up with ginger ale, or a premium Indian tonic water.  Garnish with fresh ginger, a slice of lemon or some black pepper. Or, if your prefer, add a twist of lemongrass and serve with ginger ale for some extra oomph! Sip slowly.

ABV: 43%

Haysmith, Rhubarb and Ginger (England)

Rhubarb and ginger are two flavours that have built a real following this summer, but they don’t always come cheap.  So, if you’re looking for a great value gin for under £20, then pop down to Aldi to pick up a bottle of this before they run out.  At £14.99 a bottle, this gin has the perfect balance of rhubarb and ginger dominating the taste, but there are strong notes of juniper throughout. This is a lovely combination of sweet and sour and at 37.5% you can have a few of these without falling over. There are more expensive and heavily marketed rhubarb and ginger brands out there, but if you’re looking for value for money, this might be a good choice.

The perfect serve: pour 50ml of Haysmith’s Rhubarb and Ginger gin into a large copa glass and fill with ice. Top up with a premium tonic water of your choice and serve with a grapefruit slice. And if you want to turn up the taste, you could even add some elderflower cordial to give it an extra flavour kick.

ABV 37.5%

Twisted Nose gin (England)

So, here’s an unusual one for you – gin made from watercress. In the gentle, rolling landscape of Hampshire, the trout sunbathe under crystal clear waters waiting to catch flies hovering in the blue skies above them. It just so happens that these crystal clear chalk streams are also the perfect place to grow watercress. The Winchester Distillery has created Twisted Nose gin. It’s a delicious, peppery dry gin based on everybody’s favorite salad fixing.  And it is delicious.

With 10 botanicals complementing the obligatory juniper and the peppery freshness of the watercress cutting through clearly, this gin is refreshingly unique. It’s a bright, subtle gin made by hand in a copper still using local spring water and locally sourced botanicals. Why Twisted Nose? Apparently, the Romans knew watercress as Nasturtium – which is Latin for twisted nose.

The perfect serve: This dry, spicy gin deserves a good tonic water. We suggest pouring 50ml of Twisted Nose into a copa glass, fill it with large ice cubes and top it up with some delicious elderflower tonic water. Or for a purer taste, stay simple with Fever Tree Indian tonic water.

ABV: 40%

Entropia Ginseng and Guarana gin (Spain)

This little baby is hard to find but it’s delicious. Made in small batches it includes 14 natural botanicals including juniper, coriander, orange and lemon peel.  Add some angelica root and orange blossom and infuse it with nutmeg and ginger. Then add the vital ingredients of Guarana and Ginseng for a healthy natural energy boost.  What you end up with is a distinctive golden gin with a fresh citrus taste and a uniquely delicious smell.  Handmade in Galicia, Spain, this one also comes in a cool bottle that will stand out on your shelf.

The perfect serve: This is a Spanish gin, so start by pouring at least 50 ml of Entropia Ginseng and Guarana gin into a copa glass to get things rolling. Then drop in some large ice cubes before topping up with a classic Indian tonic water to bring out the complex flavours. Then drink, and wait for that Ginseng to do its stuff!

ABV: 40%

Conclusion

Infused gins are not for everyone – some people find them too sweet and there are certainly many gimmicky flavours out there that do not really merit the word gin. But there are also some great ones – and they don’t have to cost a fortune. It really is a matter of personal preference. So, get out there and explore the wonderful world of flavoured gin. And don’t forget to leave a comment and share what you discover on the Barcelona Gin Facebook page.


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • Prawn scampi: made with gin!
    Some things are made for each other. Let’s face it, where would gin be without tonic? Where would fish be without chips? Where would salt be without pepper? But what if we could have the best of all worlds and use our favourite drink to make one of our favourite dishes. As the current gin … Continued
  • Glasgow’s Gin Spa: the ultimate indulgence
    Just when we thought we’d seen it all, we came across Glasgow’s amazing Gin Spa. We’ve seen gin bars, gin buses, gin cruises and gin hotels. But this is the first time that we’ve ever seen a Gin spa – and we want to book now. If you’re into massage and are partial to a … Continued
  • Scottish Gin Day: Smoky Martini, anybody?
    It’s time to celebrate International Scottish Gin Day. And there’s no better way to do that than by raising a glass and sipping on a Smoky Martini. Over the last few years, Scotland has had a real gin renaissance. The country most associated with Scotch whiskey is now building a huge reputation as a centre … Continued
  • Simple syrup: what is it and why do I need it?
    Ever struggle to get sweetness into your cocktail? One of bartending’s greatest secrets is simple syrup and just as it says on the tin, it’s really simple. If you’re into cocktails, always have a supply of this available in your fridge. It will be the best thing you ever did. Plus, if you want to … Continued

Hot sloe gin toddy: an easy recipe for autumn comfort

Summer is officially behind us and these days, the weather’s much colder, the rain’s more frequent and sometimes you can even see your breath in the air. This is the season of long nights, darker mornings, conkers, log fires, cozy walks, sturdy walking shoes and Wellington boots. But it is also sloe gin season in the UK.

You might have seen our interview with our friends Jenny and Hamish Prentice about how and when to harvest sloe berries. They’ve been making sloe gin in the Wiltshire countryside for years and they offered some handy tips on exactly how and when to harvest these elusive little berries and turn them into sloe gin. It’s well worth a read if you missed it. But once you’ve got your sloe gin, what exactly do you with it on a cold autumn evening?

Spice up those autumn nights

Well one thing you could do is warm yourself up with a delicious hot sloe gin toddy. So, we thought we’d make it nice and easy for you by giving you a simple recipe that will add a little spice to those cold, dark nights. When you’re trapped indoors (maybe enjoying the warmth of a log fire or wondering what gin based drink you should have) you could get your evening going with a burst of delicious, spicy alcoholic warmth.

Welcome to our hot sloe gin toddy – we think you’ll FALL in love with it (see what I did there?)

Ingredients: Continued

Ingredients: Continued

Slowly does it: why you can’t hurry a sloe gin

A short interview with our friends Hamish and Jenny Prentice, who’ve been harvesting sloe berries since they traded in the big smoke of London for the quiet beauty of the English countryside a decade or so ago. The couple now live in Wiltshire, in the gorgeous south of England and have been harvesting and bottling their homemade Sloe gin by hand ever since.

Every Christmas, Hamish and Jenny give me a gorgeous bottle of their beautiful, rich, warming, fruity, homemade liqueur as a present. I look forward to it for months. It’s so good that this year, I thought I’d ask them to share some of their sloe gin tips with the Barcelona Gin community.

This is what they told me:

How did you first discover the joy of homemade sloe gin?

Jenny and I have always been fond of food (and drink!). We delight in cooking adventurously using unusual, locally foraged ingredients. When we moved to the countryside drinks, jams and jellies were added to our repertoire. Sloe gin and Damson vodka quickly became our favourites.

What are sloe berries?

Sloe berries are actually the fruit of the Blackthorn bush. They are a deep blue/ purple colour and roughly the size of a large blueberry! When ripe for picking, they become soft on the outside and usually develop a pale bluish sheen on the outer skin. You can remove this by gently brushing your fingertip across the fruit to reveal the dark blue/black gloss below.

When is the best time to harvest your sloes?

Picking is normally late September through to late October. Traditionally the best time to pick was always “after the first frost”. That’s because the frost damages the skin & fruit pulp allowing the alcohol to get to the stone, which is where the real flavour can be found. We like to pick when they are starting to soften just a little and put the berries in the freezer, which has the same effect.

Some people also advocate pricking each berry multiple times with a pin. This allows the alcohol to reach the stone, but it is time consuming. We’ve tried both ways (freezing and picking) with the same crop and found absolutely no difference at all. We go for the freezing option.

What about foraging?

We always harvest our own fruit. That’s because the fun is in the forage. Picking is better enjoyed with friends and family before a good, long Sunday lunch. We’ve been really lucky over the last few years to find some good bushes which we “monitor” from the middle weeks of September.

What’s your favourite homemade sloe gin recipe and how do you make it?

All sloe gin is good! But somehow it tastes better if you make it yourself. The idiosyncratic flavour and unique profile that each different batch achieves is very satisfying. Over the years we’ve reduced the sugar of more traditional recipes as we prefer a slightly tarter taste

Sloe gin is not difficult to make. It can be as simple as adding some sloes and sugar to a suitably elegant bottle of gin. We only use three simple tools – a demi-john bottle with a stopper/bung (readily available), a funnel for pouring and a cloth or muslin sieve when ready for bottling!

What’s the best ratio for a good homemade sloe gin?

We use 1.5kg of sloes, add 2 ltr. of gin and 1kg of granulated sugar (avoid caster sugar, which can be too fine and cause the sugar to clog the base of the demi-john).

For our taste, the best recipe ratio is 33% sloes:45% gin: 22% sugar

However, you can increase/decrease the sugar according to your taste. We’ve tried & tested countless combinations over the years. We stir the mixture frequently at first then we just forget all about it. It’s probably drinkable after 4 to 6 months, but we choose to leave it for a year to really steep that gin with a real burst of fruit.

Method:

  • Enjoy the picking & remove as many leaves , twigs as you can when you get home (stalks are fine). Freeze and leave for at least 24 hours for when you have the time to make the sloe gin
  • Make sure your demi-john/ bung is clean. Soapy water, rinsed & dried has been fine for us – no need for ‘sterilizing’ 
  • Pop your frozen sloes into the demi-john. Add the gin then the sugar, bung and swirl 
  • Place in a dark cool place and swirl daily for the first week then weekly until all the sugar has dissolved. 
  • We tend to bottle after a year when we are foraging for the next crop but you can bottle after 6 months
  • Pour the demi-john contents through a sieve to catch the now shriveled berries  (compost them). Collect in a large bowl/pan. If you don’t sieve first the straining takes much longer
  • We use a wooden hooped cloth straining bag but you can use muslin tied onto legs of a stool. We use 2 chairs and a broom to hold the strainer – so be resourceful
  • The key thing is never be tempted to squeeze the bag or the gin will be cloudy – overnight  straining should be sufficient. You can move the cloth around a bit so that the gin finds a new area of clean cloth. It will strain through more quickly
  • The crystal dark sloe gin can now be bottled or put back into a clean dry demi-john stored somewhere cool & dark until you are ready to bottle

Bottling it

We use an attractive 200ml cork stoppered bottle. It’s ideal for enjoying with friends and family or giving as a gift! We would normally make between 30/40 bottles of sloe gin and damson vodka in any one year.

What’s the best way to drink sloe gin?

We think that sloe gin is best enjoyed neat in a shot or sipped from a small sherry glass after a good lunch or dinner. It is equally enjoyable as a Sloe “Royale” with bubbles! We have also mixed it into homemade ice cream, dribbled it over puddings and have friends who swear by adding homemade lemonade to a generous shot. It’s also a great addition to cocktail recipes.

Enjoy.


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • Prawn scampi: made with gin!
    Some things are made for each other. Let’s face it, where would gin be without tonic? Where would fish be without chips? Where would salt be without pepper? But what if we could have the best of all worlds and use our favourite drink to make one of our favourite dishes. As the current gin … Continued
  • Glasgow’s Gin Spa: the ultimate indulgence
    Just when we thought we’d seen it all, we came across Glasgow’s amazing Gin Spa. We’ve seen gin bars, gin buses, gin cruises and gin hotels. But this is the first time that we’ve ever seen a Gin spa – and we want to book now. If you’re into massage and are partial to a … Continued
  • Scottish Gin Day: Smoky Martini, anybody?
    It’s time to celebrate International Scottish Gin Day. And there’s no better way to do that than by raising a glass and sipping on a Smoky Martini. Over the last few years, Scotland has had a real gin renaissance. The country most associated with Scotch whiskey is now building a huge reputation as a centre … Continued
  • Simple syrup: what is it and why do I need it?
    Ever struggle to get sweetness into your cocktail? One of bartending’s greatest secrets is simple syrup and just as it says on the tin, it’s really simple. If you’re into cocktails, always have a supply of this available in your fridge. It will be the best thing you ever did. Plus, if you want to … Continued

Whitley Neill Scottish Raspberry gin: a real gin, bursting with red fruit

If any of you saw my post on our Facebook page the other day, you might know that I’m on a bit of a Whitley Neill tasting drive. I like their gins anyway, but this little bottle was courtesy of a lovely birthday gift from my sister. Well, I broke out the Whitley Neill Scottish Raspberry gin (paid link)  just the other day and I am pleased to report that it was absolutely delicious. Much better than I had expected. 

So, let me tell you all about it.

Powerful, but not overpowering

I know that Whitley Neill flavoured gins are not to everyone’s taste, but I love them. I think they’re  great value and in the past, they’ve come up with some really creative and unusual combinations.

These include rhubarb and ginger (paid link) and one of my favourites from last year, their Lemongrass and Ginger gin. So, when I opened the bottle, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. What I got was a big blast of raspberry on the nose, which I found powerful, not overwhelming – a very seductive start.  This is a full-on gin , sweet (but not too sweet!)

When I poured it (long) into my brand new Silent Pool gin tumbler (paid link), I could really smell the raspberry.

Then I loaded the glass up with giant ice cubes and filled it to the top with some standard Nordic Tonic Water. Finally, I added a slice of orange and took a long deep sip.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Big burst of “raspberry-ness”

I got a full on hit of pure Scottish raspberry – but not the kind of raspberry taste you get from a Raspberry Ripple ice cream. It was the kind you get from freshly picked raspberries from a hedgerow. It was packed full of delicious raspberry-ness. It tasted of lush, slightly over-ripe fruit, but it also had a little edge of bitterness which stopped it becoming a “bubble gum” gin.

A big blast of flavour opens the account, with a tangy fruity burst that lingers in the mouth.

The Scottish raspberries come through loud and clear and it doesn’t taste fake.

The guys at Whitley Neill have added coriander, licorice and hibiscus (amongst other botanicals) all of which give way to delicious red fruit. But it’s well balanced and not too much.

Whitley Neill first  introduced this mouth-watering gin to the Whitley Neill range in 2018 and, I’m pleased to say that it’s not as sweet as I had expected.

The perfect pour: At 43% ABV, they have not sacrificed strength or flavour. Whitley Neill seem to have the knack of producing  great gins at great prices. I highly recommend this one. Somebody has suggested that it tastes even better when paired with frozen raspberries and elderflower tonic.

I think I’ll have to give it a go.

www.whitleyneill.com

www.silentpoolgin.com


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • Prawn scampi: made with gin!
    Some things are made for each other. Let’s face it, where would gin be without tonic? Where would fish be without chips? Where would salt be without pepper? But what if we could have the best of all worlds and use our favourite drink to make one of our favourite dishes. As the current gin … Continued
  • Glasgow’s Gin Spa: the ultimate indulgence
    Just when we thought we’d seen it all, we came across Glasgow’s amazing Gin Spa. We’ve seen gin bars, gin buses, gin cruises and gin hotels. But this is the first time that we’ve ever seen a Gin spa – and we want to book now. If you’re into massage and are partial to a … Continued
  • Scottish Gin Day: Smoky Martini, anybody?
    It’s time to celebrate International Scottish Gin Day. And there’s no better way to do that than by raising a glass and sipping on a Smoky Martini. Over the last few years, Scotland has had a real gin renaissance. The country most associated with Scotch whiskey is now building a huge reputation as a centre … Continued
  • Simple syrup: what is it and why do I need it?
    Ever struggle to get sweetness into your cocktail? One of bartending’s greatest secrets is simple syrup and just as it says on the tin, it’s really simple. If you’re into cocktails, always have a supply of this available in your fridge. It will be the best thing you ever did. Plus, if you want to … Continued

Bobby Gin: a true Barcelona classic

Hopefully, one of these days this darned Coronavirus will leave us alone. And when we no longer live in fear of new pandemic outbreaks or unexpected travel restrictions, where should we go?

We think Barcelona should be top of the list for your next short gin break. 

Barcelona kicked off the reinvention of the gin scene back in the 2010s. It has quietly led the way ever since with a plethora of G&T combos to taste and innovations galore.  With gorgeous roof terraces to sip your gin on and a massive selection of exotic gins, gin bars and cocktails to enjoy one thing is for sure. Gin is in. 

Barcelona’s gins are always served large and made with loads of love. So, if (post-Covid) you want to escape to a happy gin place for a few days, then Barcelona is definitely the place for you. 

80 gins, bespoke cocktails (and tonics galore!)

Leading the charge since the early days is the pioneering gin bar Bobby Gin. This little bar is located on a side street in Barcelona’s bohemian Gracia barrio.  It is a true Barcelona classic. Bobby Gin’s was at the forefront of the Barcelona gin revolution. It is a tribute to the vision and skills of head bartender, Alberto Pizzaro, who is one of the best (and most respected) bartenders on the current Spanish gin scene.

This stylish and cool gin bar might be small but it features a massive gin collection. In fact, the menu lists well over 80 separate gins. Alberto has also created a further 11 gin based cocktails, especially for his customers. And of course, he stocks a bewildering collection of tonics to pour into those gins. Each of them adds a unique flavour edge to enhance and improve your gin’s character.  If in doubt, just ask – the bartender will recommend the perfect pour. 

God Save the Gin! (Fonk)

But the real star of the show here (and its most famous innovation) is Bobby Gin’s Gin Fonk – a delightfully easy to drink gin concoction that comes in 5 deliciously different varieties. 

So, what exactly is a Gin Fonk? It’s a new and refreshing way to drink your gin, invented right here in this bar – and it’s absolutely delicious! The bartending team smoke, age, infuse, macerate or flavour their chosen base gins with plants, flowers, fruits or spices. The secret is in the preparation and Bobby Gin has 5 different versions available right now.  My particular favourite is the Roku Gin Fonk with its light citrus and herbal notes.

They’ve infused a base of Roku gin with Oolong tea, Umeshu, lemon juice and topped it up with Schweppes Matcha tonic.  Sipped slowly, with loads of ice from a large copa glas, this is a gin drink to be savoured at any time of year. And don’t be deceived by its light, citrus taste. These ginfonks can be deceptively strong. And no stress. If a Gin Fonk’s not your thing, at Bobby Gin’s you have another 80 gins to choose from!

Retro vibe, modern drinks, fun people

So, what about the bar itself? Bobby Gin’s has a kind of retro, 1960s living room feel, with witty gin slogans decorating the tastefully wallpapered walls and funky coasters featuring their critical mission: “God Save the Gin”. They’re open until 2.00am (subject to the latest Covid restrictions) and they also do great bar food. They have everything from guacamole to nachos and from mini-burgers to pulled pork sandwiches. Plus a wider range of well cooked snacks and tasty and affordable street food.  

Bartenders cheerfully mix all the drinks individually with love and care (and extreme professionalism). Snacks start from as little as 4 euros. And while the Gin Fonks weigh in at between 10-12 euros each, they are made with exquisite care. The cocktails are delicious and they are deceptively strong. So, who drinks at Bobby Gin’? Well, it is a mixed crowd with just the right amount of casual style. At the front of the bar, it’s a bit younger with drinkers in their 20s and upwards. Around the back, it’s a bit quieter with a slightly older crowd mostly in their 30s to 40s. The vibe is casual and funky. The soundtrack to Bobby Gin seems to be a mix of rock, jazz and underground music. But the real star of the show is undoubtedly the gin.

Bobby Gin

Carrer de Francisco Giner, 47, 08012, Barcelona


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • Prawn scampi: made with gin!
    Some things are made for each other. Let’s face it, where would gin be without tonic? Where would fish be without chips? Where would salt be without pepper? But what if we could have the best of all worlds and use our favourite drink to make one of our favourite dishes. As the current gin … Continued
  • Glasgow’s Gin Spa: the ultimate indulgence
    Just when we thought we’d seen it all, we came across Glasgow’s amazing Gin Spa. We’ve seen gin bars, gin buses, gin cruises and gin hotels. But this is the first time that we’ve ever seen a Gin spa – and we want to book now. If you’re into massage and are partial to a … Continued
  • Scottish Gin Day: Smoky Martini, anybody?
    It’s time to celebrate International Scottish Gin Day. And there’s no better way to do that than by raising a glass and sipping on a Smoky Martini. Over the last few years, Scotland has had a real gin renaissance. The country most associated with Scotch whiskey is now building a huge reputation as a centre … Continued
  • Simple syrup: what is it and why do I need it?
    Ever struggle to get sweetness into your cocktail? One of bartending’s greatest secrets is simple syrup and just as it says on the tin, it’s really simple. If you’re into cocktails, always have a supply of this available in your fridge. It will be the best thing you ever did. Plus, if you want to … Continued