happy new year with a gin punch

Adiós, 2020. This year, we’re getting punch drunk!

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Congratulations. You are a survivor. You’ve just made it through one of the most challenging years in living memory and that in itself is quite an achievement. It’s been tough, many of us have not been so lucky. We’ve been separated from our families, isolated from our communities and normal life has been put on hold until this virus has been beaten. So, in a year where it doesn’t seem like we have a lot to celebrate, there is one thing we know we can raise a glass of gin punch to – the start of 2021!

Keeping your spirits up

And while we recognise that this New Year’s Eve will be a slightly more modest affair than usual and the big parties have been put on hold, there is still every reason to keep your spirits up with a few gin-based drinks. We’ve already introduced you to the delights of the Spanish 75 (a twist on the French 75 using cava instead of champagne for a smoother, better balanced drink).

Get the party going with a gin punch!

We also mentioned that we’d be sharing a gin punch recipe for New Year’s Eve that is easy to make, deceptively strong and gets the party off to a quick start. Plus, it has the added advantage of eliminating the need to constantly go back and make fresh drinks. Just make a big batch in advance and dip in whenever you need a refill. So, after some exhaustive research, here’s a really easy and delicious gin punch recipe that is guaranteed to get the party going. With only around 200 Kcals per glass, this recipe will serve 8 people and can be rustled up in as little as 10 minutes. It is fruity, spicy and strong and the gentle heat of the ginger beer along with the sweetness of the pomegranate gives it a lovely, warming winter feel – just right for New Year’s Eve.

Easy to make, easy to scale!

Plus, it can easily be scaled up by doubling (or tripling) the ingredients. All you need is a bigger bowl. We think this recipe lends itself to a Twisted Nose gin. This Hampshire-gin is distilled with the gentle warmth of locally grown watercress for a little extra peppery depth. We think this is the perfect way to dial up the flavour this New Year’s Eve – and we’re pretty sure that after a few of these, you’ll be dancing at midnight. Just make sure you’re socially distanced!!

Happy 2021, gin lovers – you deserve the best!

Gin punch recipe

Ingredients:

  • 400g of gin (Twisted Nose will work well with this)
  • 180ml Chambord (or raspberry liqueur)
  • 160ml pomegranate juice
  • 4tbsp ginger sugar syrup (from a jar of stem ginger)
  • Grated zest and juice of 2 limes (plus extra wedges)
  • 320ml (or more) to taste of chilled, peppery ginger beer (we recommend Fentimans or Fever Tree)

Method:

  • Half fill a punch bowl with ice.
  • Pour in the gin, Chambord, Pomegranate juice, ginger syrup and lime juice.
  • Then stir, before adding a few more lime wedges
  • Top up with ginger beer (add as much as you like to achieve your preferred taste)
  • Ladle the drink into 8 punch glasses or heavy tumblers
  • Make sure everyone gets loads of ice
  • Garnish with a lime zest
Gin punch



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.


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gin and cava

Gin and Cava: a Spanish twist on a French 75

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Here’s hoping that you’ve had a wonderful lockdown Christmas and that your stocking was packed full of gin. For many of us, it was the strangest Christmas ever with restrictions stopping us from seeing the ones we love. With all the new rules in place, it also meant that we were deprived of some of those amazing Christmas atmospherics. The Christmas carols, Salvation Army bands and buskers that normally remind us it’s Christmas were mostly silent. The frenzy of shopping moved from the high street to the internet. And the general Christmas frenzy was a much quieter and more modest affair. Yet, despite all of that, we really hope you managed to find the true spirit of Christmas and share the holidays with the ones you love most.

A year to remember or a year to forget?

Let’s face it, this was a year that many of us would rather forget. But now that Christmas is well and truly behind us and the big red man has headed back up North for a well-deserved rest, we turn our attention once again towards New Year’s Eve. No major fireworks displays this year, no multi-media spectaculars beaming extravagant lights and music across the world. London’s display has been cancelled and Barcelona’s curfew means that nobody will be celebrating by the city’s magic fountain this year. Auld Lang Syne will be sung indoors in small groups. However, the Spanish tradition of stuffing your mouth with twelve grapes in the minute before midnight will continue. Most of us will be watching the new year roll in via our TV sets. But fear not.

We’ll drink to that…

Whether you’re raising a glass to see the back of 2020 or toasting a brighter and better 2021, you’ll need something to drink. Preferably something involving gin and cava. A wonderful gin cocktail. So, in a tribute to our twin cities of London and Barcelona, here’s a neat gin cocktail little recipe that combines the Britishness of London Dry Gin with the sparkling effervescence of Catalan cava. This year, why not give this easy recipe a whirl. It’s the perfect way to see the year out. It’s also a really easy and refreshing gin cocktail for that slightly strange period between Christmas and New Year. We recommend a good, standard gin such as Beefeater. Or, if you want to mix things up a bit, you could try Hendrick’s Midsomer Solstice for a more spicy drink. And this recipe also cheekily replaces champagne with a Spanish cava such as Freixenet, which works well to balance the acidity of the lemon juice.

Where Barcelona meets London: the Spanish 75

So, here it is – the Spanish 75. A gin cocktail that is a great value and a delicious alternative to a classic French 75 cocktail with a little Spanish twist, gin and cava. We hope you enjoy it and that next year will exceed all our expectations. And please stay tuned. We’ll be publishing some really neat Gin Punch recipes on New Year’s Eve which you can mix up using ingredients you probably already have at home. So, tune in on the 31st for some easy instructions on how to get your party going!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 oz of lemon juice
  • 1 oz of Beefeater gin
  • 1/2 oz of simple syrup
  • 4 oz of cava

Method:

  • Stir the simple syrup, lemon juice and gin into an ice filled mixing glass
  • Strain into a champagne flute
  • Top up with cava
  • Garnish with a lemon slice


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.


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a hand holding to tumbler glasses full with a orangy cocktail on a bar counter

Festive spirit 2020: pomegranate gin sling

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

If you’re looking for a simple, festive cocktail to get you into the Christmas spirit for 2020, then look no further.  Introducing the Pomegranate Gin Sling

This drink is easy to make, easy to drink and easy on the eye – what more could you want to help you through the holiday season.  In my family, we always rustle up a few of these to get things going on Christmas eve.  They’re quite strong, so they get you feeling frisky fast. Normally it only takes one or two of these to get me going before I start hitting up the other Christmas booze. 

What will you need?

All you’ll need is some gin (I reckon you probably have some handy), some pomegranate juice (you could substitute with cranberry juice if you prefer), a little lime juice to add some citrus zest and some simple syrup to keep it sweet.  You’ll also need some large ice cubes and a cocktail shaker, jamjar or beaker to blend the mixture smoothly.  This drink is a great Christmas ice breaker and guaranteed to get you all in a festive mood.  And don’t forget to leave a glass out for Santa in the evening – I understand he’s partial to a good cocktail along with his mince pies (although I’m not sure what the fine is for being drunk in charge of a sleigh!)

Ingredients (2 servings):

  • ¼ cup of gin
  • ¼ cup chilled pomegranate juice
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh lime juice
  • 8 pomegranate seeds
  • 2 lime slices
Foto de Jessica Lewis en Pexels

Method:

  1. Combine the gin, pomegranate juice, simple syrup and lime juice
  2. Pour ice into 2 glasses, pour mixture over ice and stir
  3. Add 4 pomegranate seeds into each glass
  4. Garnish with lime slices

Top tip: if you prefer something a bit spicier, try using this recipe and then pouring the mixture into a tall glass, before topping it up with ginger ale or ginger beer. Merry Christmas!! 


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.


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gin cake

Christmas gin treat: boozy ginger and orange drizzle cake

Who doesn’t like cake? I suspect most of us do – especially if that cake is baked with all the boozy goodness of gin!
This delicious, moist fruity spiced cake is made with Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla gin (for an extra hit of orange). Its buttery flavour is boosted by a rich mixture of gin-soaked fruit and raisins, and then warmed up with a blast of ginger. It’s then topped with a deliciously sweet and citrus gin, sugar and Clementine icing that you can slowly drizzle over this delicious treat while it’s still warm and just out of the oven. It’s making my mouth water just writing about it.

So, if you’re still looking for some extra home-made treats to serve to your loved ones this Christmas, give this recipe a try. And if you’ve still got room in that strange space between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s the perfect time to dig put the old chef’s apron and get your hands dirty in the kitchen (accompanied by a large gin-based beverage, of course!)

In fact, this is a great recipe all year round, especially when paired with a glass of Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla as you lovingly stir all those gorgeous ingredients. We’ll drink to that!

Ingredients

  • 250g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 100g of mixed fried fruit or raisins
  • 50ml of Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla gin
  • 30g of fresh ginger

For the icing

Method

  1. Pour the orange gin over the dried fruit and leave to soak for 30 minutes
  2. Mix together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Gradually add the eggs in one at a time until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the flour and fold it in with a metal spoon carefully ensuring not to over mix.
  5. Finally add in the soaked fruit and mix together.
  6. Pour the cake mix into a loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes in a pre-heated oven 180c
  7. While the cake is baking, mix together the gin, icing sugar and the juice from the clementine.
  8. When the cake is baked remove from the oven and leave to cool for 20 minutes before drizzling the icing over the top of the cake.

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.


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gin gifts for Christmas

5 gin gifts: beyond the Christmas stocking

You might have already seen our recent article on the best gin-related stocking stuffers for this Christmas. This week, we’re going to turn things up a notch. We’ve upped the budget just a little bit to move beyond traditional Christmas stocking territory and into the realm of proper Christmas gin gifts. The sort of stuff that is too good to be stuffed into a Christmas stocking, but possibly not quite enough to be your main gift. Here are a few last minute gin ideas that you can still have delivered to your home. Hopefully you’ll find something here for the the ones you love (and especially for the ones who love gin!) The most expensive gift on our “dialled up” list costs a little more than £35 – but there are plenty of ideas here for under a tenner too! These are the best 5 gin gifts, just selected for you.
Merry Christmas everybody!!

1. Gin doormat

This Christmas, make sure your all your guests know the rules before letting them in. This classic welcome doormat delivers a crystal clear message in the strongest possible terms: DON’T COME IN IF YOU DIDN’T BRING GIN. This has the advantage of making your house rules clear, thereby avoiding any unnecessary blushes once your guests are inside. This durable, heat resistant non-slip outdoor/indoor floor mat has a non-woven fabric top and a sturdy non-slip rubber back. It’s really easy to clean, machine washable and the perfect Christmas or birthday gift for the gin lovers in your circle of friends. Guaranteed to make your visitors smile before they even set foot in your house!
After all, there’s no excuse for not knowing the rules…

gin gifts

2. Gin trivia

There’s nothing better than a game of naked twister at Christmas (or so I’ve heard!). But there are some other gin-related games you could play that (we think) are just about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. This great value trivia game, the Talking Tables Gin Trivia Quiz, comes in a beautiful gift box. It’s a great way to get the conversation flowing as you open up yet another bottle of your “favourite” Christmas gin.

Test how well you really know your favourite spirit with these deviously difficult gin trivia questions that will separate the true “gin afficionados” from the “fakes”. This is the perfect party table game for gin lovers with questions that will test your knowledge on everything from gin cocktails, to garnishes to gin distilling. So, this year, ditch the Trivial Pursuit (so 2019!) and go for the Gin Trivia Quiz instead – even more fun if you add a few drinking penalties for wrong answers!!
You know you’ll love it!

gin gift

3. Gorgeous gin copa glasses

It’s been a long time since it was okay to serve gin in a smudged glass with a couple of pieces of ice and a bit of old lemon. These days, gin is the real star of the show with a huge selection of extraordinary craft gins of every size, strength and flavour on the market and tempting us on every occasion. Choosing your gin is hard enough, but never let down a great gin by serving it in an average glass.
Instead, add to your experience by gifting a set of these elegant Ginology Iris Copa glasses.
Uniquely crafted, these gorgeous glasses are the perfect gin gift for those who recognise that drinking gin requires a proper sense of occasion. These stunning, hand crafted glasses feature a pretty iris pattern that is sure to make you stand out from the crowd. There are a variety of other patterns available and these are hand wash only, but they will definitely put a smile of the faces of some lucky gin lovers this Christmas.

gin gift

4. Gin taster pack

If you’re like me and you just can’t decide, then this gin taster pack could be just the perfect gin gift for you. No more dithering in the off-licence. All the dithering has been done for you. This gin tasting set includes 10x 30cl miniature bottles of gin including: Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger; Tobermory Isle of Mull gin; Kokoro London Dry gin; Gin Lane gin; Victoria Pink Gin; Berry Bros and Rudd London Dry; Portabello Road gin; 171 Gin; Puerto de Indias Sevillan Strawberry gin and The Botanist Islay Dry gin.

This awesome collection will either be a pathway to discovery for you or a lovely reminder of exactly what gin you like and why. A great selection of distilleries and a wide range of flavours here for you to try. And enough bottles to keep trying while the holidays last!

gin gift

5. Gin Mule copper mugs

Lest year, I was in London meeting a friend for a Christmas drink at The Booking Office bar at St. Pancras Station in London. The scene was all set for an atmospheric Christmas drink. The carols were playing in the background, the tree was up and the festive atmosphere was building. I ordered one of my favourite drinks, the Gin Mule (gin, lime juice, ginger beer and ice) and was delighted when it was served to me in a small, handbeaten copper mug, overflowing with lavish garnish. It put me in the Christmas mood right away. And now, these pretty little hand beaten copper mugs can be yours .
You can get 4 nickel hammered 560ml Moscow Mule glasses (ideal for your home made Gin Mule) for less than £20.
Not only do these mugs look pretty, but they have an added secret. Apparently cold copper has a tendency to increase bubbles in the carbonated ginger beer, ensuring that your Christmas remains sparkling, from the first sip to the last drop, thus guaranteeing yourself a merry little Christmas.

gin gift

From all these gin gifts, which is the one you’d like to find in your Christmas stocking?


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.


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A macaronesian gin bottle at the sea's shore

Macaronesian Gin: crafted from earth, wind and fire

If you haven’t tried it yet, give Macaronesian Gin a whirl. Gin is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Tenerife, but this unique and delicious spirit could rightly be called the essence of the Canary Islands.
Made with volcanic water, these guys have already won 3 International Wine and Spirits Council awards and one San Francisco World Spirits Competition award since they cracked open their first bottle of this special gin a few years ago.

For anybody who hasn’t been there, Tenerife is one of Spain’s most dramatic islands.
The island has a hot subtropical climate. It’s closest mainland land mass is the Sahara desert. But Tenerife’s island status, surrounded by sea and strong trade winds, mitigates the worst of the heat.
In addition, the dramatic, volcanic nature of the island means that fresh water sources have been filtered through the island’s volcanic rocks to give it a distinctive pure, natural taste.
Apparently, Tenerife also has subtropical forests within its interior which host as many as 20 different species of trees and flora – including juniper, which is the dominant botanical in this gin.

A unique taste, true to its island roots

This unique gin is packaged in a classic, traditional white clay bottle with a solid cork stopper, which will definitely stand right out on your gin shelf.
But with all this exotic geography and geology, what does the gin actually taste like?
Well, the first thing to say is that it weighs in at a decent 40% ABV, so it retains a bit of its alcohol taste up front. Once in your mouth, you’ll pick up notes of juniper alongside an exotic mix of botanicals that include cardamom, Angelica roots, licorice and lemon peel. This results in a rich, fresh tasting gin where the citrus notes come through like a blast of Canary Island sunshine. This really is sunshine in a glass.

Filtered through volcanic rocks

The water in this gin is filtered naturally through the volcanic slopes of the island. The result of this natural process is the purest natural water, that has never been exposed to light and whose natural properties remain completely unaltered. This water, alongside the unique locally sourced botanicals, results in a pure, clean, juniper forward gin that’s simply bursting with citrus notes.
The final part of the process is when the gin is decanted into its distinctive white clay bottles, whose opacity serves to protect the properties of the gin from excess temperature and sunlight.

The perfect pour:
We think this unique gin is best served tall, in a Tom Collins glass.
A decent slug of Macaronesian gin goes in first, followed by loads of ice.
Wipe the rim of your glass with a slice of fresh lemon then fill up to the top with a premium Indian Tonic Water such as Schweppes premium or Fever Tree.
Garnish with a generous slice of fresh lemon, give it a gentle stir and sip.
This winter, when the cold weather gets too much and you want to remind yourself of better weather and island sunsets, reach for the Macaronesian gin and dream…


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.


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  • The Ruddles Report: January
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    Many of us will have heard of the legendary Moscow Mule.  It’s a classic cocktail and it’s been around forever.  It is a cocktail made with vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, garnished with a slice or wedge of lime.  The Moscow Mule is generally served in copper mugs and is one of the simplest and … Continued
gin gifts

Gin presents: 5 stocking stuffers under £20

Santa has been following your every move all year long. He already knows who’s been naughty or nice and the great reckoning is about to begin. What gin presents could be in the offing?

I’m working on the assumption that all of our members have been nice this year and deserve a little gin happiness in their Christmas stockings. Gone are the days when we would all turn down pages of the Argos catalogue in the hope that our parents would pick up the book and take the hint. These days, we have to be a bit more assertive in our Christmas selections. And with the gin revolution now in full flow, we thought we’d give you (and Santa) a little ginspiration for gin presents in 2020. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or for someone you love, there’s plenty of good gin stuff for Santa to pack into his sack for you this year.

So, here’s part one of the Barcelona gin presents Christmas list. Today, we’ll concentrate on gin presents that might just end up in your stocking on Christmas Eve. And if you’re lucky enough to be on the “good” list, then please don’t forget to say thanks – Santa is partial to a drop of gin along with his mince pies. Nothing for the reindeers, on the other hand. They’re driving.

PS: At the time of publication, everything on this list was available for under £20. Our next gin presents list will be raising the budget a little more!

1. Boozy gin baubles: gin presents filled with Christmas spirit

We know these are a bit obvious, but these days no gin lover should put up their Christmas tree without a decent selection of gin baubles spread out across the branches. There are a whole load of different ways to load your tree with gin and apparently baubles are now all the rage. Some baubles come empty and you can fill them as you please. Others come already filled to the brim with gin, so you’ll need to choose the right product if you’re going to get what you want.

We think this 12 pack of refillable gin baubles could be just the thing to get that Christmas spirit flowing. The pack includes 12 refillable booze balls, a sheet of Christmas gin stickers to decorate them with and (crucially) a small plastic funnel so that you don’t spill any gin when you’re filling them up. They’ve thought of everything – and since you’re filling them yourself, you’ll never be disappointed.

Each bauble is big enough to hold a decent slug of gin (90ml). The trick is making them last until Christmas. But since these are refillable, it doesn’t really matter – when one’s empty you can always fill it up again!

Nobody will ever know.

2. Gin art: turn your empty bottles into little glass lights

If you’re an avid gin collector, you’ll already know just how easy it is to empty a bottle of gin. But what do you do with the bottles once you’re done with them? With so many stunning bottles around now (many of which could almost be works of art in themselves) why consign them to the recycling bin and have them ground down when you could always recycle them yourself into something delightful.

These lovely (and easy) gin lights will turn any empty, clear bottle into a stunning bar feature. Simply feed the micro thin wire into the bottle of your choice, put the plastic cork in the top and switch on. They’ll twinkle and shine for ages, adding a touch of gin style to anybody’s Christmas decorations. They’re also great outdoors for barbecues when the weather gets a bit warmer. They look gorgeous shimmering from inside a bottle of Silent Pool, they’ll dazzle you from behind the glass of an empty Gin Mare bottle and they’ll add some sparkle once you’re all done with your Drumshambo Gunpowder gin.

But we’re sure you’ll have a wide selection of your own empty bottles to choose from come the end of the year. Whatever works best for you…

A really simple idea that will light up the room with festive sparkle for Christmas and beyond.

3. GIN: The Manual

We all love our gin – I guess if we didn’t we’d all be on a different site right now. But how much do we all know about the drink we love? Introducing GIN: The Manual. This fabulous book, written by award-winning drinks writer Dave Broom is the perfect book to bring you up to speed quickly with the things you need to know about the drink you love.

In 224 fun, fact-packed pages, he takes you on a journey through the world of gin, starting with a fascinating look into its (often dark) history. He also provides simple, details of the production process, introduces the most common flavour profiles, takes a look at the world of mixers and offers some easy recipes for classic gin cocktails.

Then, there’s a whole section on gins of the world including ratings, botanicals, flavour camps and pairing/cocktail recommendations. He then round this all off with a selection of gin-based cocktail recipes. Basically, this book will make you look like an expert in minutes – and if you read it properly and follow the advice, you’ll be a gin pro before you know it. This is the perfect stocking filler for gin lovers who want to learn more, but in a fun and enjoyable format.

4. Metal gin straws: ban the plastic

With climate change on the tip of everybody’s tongues and recycling finally becoming a standard part of 21st century life, most of us understand the vital importance of recycling our waste. And this year, the spotlight shone brightly on the scourge of plastic straws. The UK alone uses (and throws away) more than 8.5 billion plastic straws each year – and we barely give it a second thought. But now we know the truth.

Once we throw them away, plastic straws break down into ever smaller particles, releasing toxic chemicals into the soil, water and air. These chemicals are harmful to animals, plants, people and the environment. In fact, shockingly, over one million seabirds and more than 100,000 mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans. But there’s an easy solution.

If straws are your thing and you can’t make your favourite cocktail without them, then check out these reusable, plastic free, eco-friendly metal drinking straws from AUNEK. This 16 piece stainless steel set includes straight metal straws and bendy metal straws in both large and small versions.

These stainless steel straws are the perfect solution to the gin drinker’s eco challenge. They even come with 4 cleaning brushes. Perfect for your G&T, cocktail, or fruit smoothie, these straws will not only do good, but they’ll make you feel good as well. One less thing to feel guilty about this Christmas.

5. Gin truffles: gin presents with a lemon twist

So, for the ultimate sweet gin indulgence, how about a gorgeous mix of PRESTAT London Gin Truffles. These guys were officially appointed chocolate makers to the Queen way back in 1909 – and we know that Her Maj is partial to a gin and tonic. But we weren’t aware of her other apparent love – chocolate. PRESTAT of London have taken a rich dark chocolate ganache, flavoured it with gin and infused it with lemon and juniper berries before enrobing it in creamy white chocolate.

The regal green and gold box features instantly recognisable London icons such as Big Ben and the Tower of London’s Beefeaters, so you’ll be in no doubt about where they’re from. But the real kicker here is that these delectable truffles have been made as a tribute to a London gin and lemon fizz cocktail – with a secret ingredient that gives these chocolates a gentle gin “fizz”.

Note: please check allergy advice before purchasing this product


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.


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Matt Preston’s boozy Christmas trifle: it’s gin time!

Matt Preston was for many years the flamboyant, charismatic and unmistakable face of MasterChef Australia. But Matt Preston is a true Brit. I know, because I went to school with him many years ago. Since then, we have ended up in different places. I ended up in beautiful Barcelona, where, amongst other things, I started writing a gin blog. Matt moved to Australia, built up a brilliant reputation as a respected food critic, wrote a weekly column in some of Australia’s most popular newspapers and then became the star of one of the most popular cooking shows in the world.

Cravats and cooking

Matt is also a senior editor for Delicious and Taste Magazine and has written four best-selling cookbooks. Along the way, he’s picked up a cult following from loyal international fans who love his flamboyant style and exuberant, refreshing and spirited approach to cooking. His oversized personality is typified by his trademark cravat: a 19th century-style statement that helped him to stand out at school, all those years ago.

So, when we spotted that Matt had created a delicious cherry trifle, perfect for Christmas and Boxing Day, we couldn’t keep the recipe to ourselves. Especially since the key ingredient here appears to be gin.

So, what exactly is a trifle and where did it come from?

The story of trifle

Traditionally, a trifle is a cold dessert made in a large bowl from layers of fruit, sponge fingers (traditionally soaked in sherry), fruit-flavoured jelly and custard, topped with cream. Usually it consists of three or four creamy, fruity, delicious layers. Trifles have been around for years. In fact, the term was first used way back in the 16th century, but a more recognisable version, including the jelly and the sponge, started to appear in the 18th century. Traditionally, trifles contain a little bit of booze and I’m pleased to say that Matt Preston’s boozy Christmas trifle takes it up a notch by substituting a decent slug of gin for the traditional sherry. And that suits us just fine.

A festive family favourite

The result is a firm family favourite with everybody waiting to dive in at the first available moment. Youngsters love Christmas trifle, grannies love it and so does everybody in between. It’s sweet, fruity, comforting and colourful. But most of all, it is absolutely delicious. In our household, we’re usually too full of Christmas pudding to even consider this on Christmas day. But it always plays a starring role in our Boxing Day celebrations and the trifle lives on in the fridge until New Year, so dig in while it lasts.

Ditch the sherry. It’s gin time!

Matt Preston’s boozy Christmas trifle is a little special. He chooses cherries as the main fruit, substitutes gin for sherry, adds a few exotic elements such as toasted coriander seeds and crushed juniper berries, and builds it all around layers of succulent panettone.

Matt, thank you for this great recipe and for your services to gin. And if you read this and ever find yourself passing through Barcelona… I’ll provide the gin if you make the trifle!

You can follow Matt Preston on Twitter or check out his website.

Recommended gin: a decent Old Tom, such as Haymans Old Tom will work well in this boozy dessert. And if you want to dial up the flavour even further, you could even try a lemon gin such as Malfi Gin con Limone, which should boost the citrus flavours.

Christmas trifle recipe

Ingredients:

Christmas trifle
  • 1.5 kg of pitted cherries (fresh or frozen) plus 500 g fresh cherries, halved and pitted
  • 460 g of caster sugar
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • 20 g gelatine leaves
  • 1 cup (250 ml) gin, plus 2 tbs extra
  • Juice of two lemons (strained)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) thickened cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) cornflour
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) hazelnuts
  • 1 cup (320 g) lemon curd
  • 450 g panettone, crusts removed, sliced into 1cm thick slices
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) elderflower cordial
  • 2 cups (500 ml) double cream
  • Elderflowers (optional)

Method:

Christmas trifle
  1. Place cherries, 200 g sugar, coriander seeds, juniper berries and 600 ml water in a pan. Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, soak gelatin in cold water to soften. Pass cherry mixture through a fine sieve into a large jug, gently pressing cherries to release juice (discard solids). Measure 1 litre (4 cups) of liquid for jelly, reserving separately. Squeeze excess water from gelatin, add to hot cherry liquid and stir until dissolved. Stir in gin (we recommend trying this with an Old Tom gin, such as Haymans Old Tom) and lemon juice. Pour into a 3.5-litre trifle dish. Chill for 2 hours to set.
  2. To make custard, place milk, thickened cream, vanilla and mixed spice into a heavy-based pan over medium heat and, stirring occasionally, bring to boil just below boiling point. Remove from heat. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, cornflour and 110 g sugar until thick and pale. Whisking continuously, slowly pour cream mixture into egg mixture. Return mixture to the pan and whisk over medium-low heat for 3 minutes or until thickened. Transfer to a stand mixer and whisk on medium for 15 minutes or until cool. Cover and chill.

3. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place hazelnuts, 75 g sugar and 1/3 cup (80 ml) water in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously for 8-10 minutes until sugar crystallises. Pour onto tray, cool, then roughly chop.
4. Spread lemon curd on one side of each slice of panettone and sandwich slices together, curd-side in. Cut each into 6 squares.
5. Place reserved cherry liquid, extra gin (yay!), 1/4 cup (60 ml) cordial and remaining 1/3 cup (75 g) of caster sugar in a small saucepan, bring to boil and cook for 4 minutes or until reduced by half. Place fresh cherries in a bowl, pour hot liquid on top and chill until completely cool.
6. Beat double cream and remaining cordial in a stand mixer to soft peaks.
7. To assemble: pour chilled custard over jelly. Scatter panettone over and spoon cherries and syrup on top. Finish with elderflower cream, then scatter with frosted hazelnuts and elderflowers.
8. Pour yourself an extra glass of that gin and wait for Christmas (if you can….).


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.


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gin report

The Ruddles Report: sniffing out the gin news

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin news | 0

Ruddles the gin dog has made a good start. In his first roundup of gin news, he broke a few good stories, so he already has much to live up to. Hopefully, his second effort won’t disappoint. This week, our faithful newshound has several gin news scoops to his name.

You know those amazing snow globes from M&S that everybody’s been talking about? Well, apparently they’re selling out fast , which is no surprise, considering how beautiful these things are. The problem is that they are in such scarce supply, that they’re flying off the shelves. So much so that the folks at M&S have had to put a strict rationing policy in place. Apparently we will all be limited to only 2 bottles each. Maybe this is a good time to round up some elves to stock up on your behalf.

You can’t always get what you want

On a slightly different note, we’re all getting used to the sound of Christmas carols wherever we go. It is the soundtrack to Christmas. Let’s face it, unless its Slade, rock and roll is not exactly conducive to mulled wine and mince pies.
But try telling that to the Rolling Stones. Just in time for Christmas, these aging rockers have released their own brand gin in collaboration with UK gin brand, Goldy Gin. Featuring the iconic lips logo, this limited edition gin is only available at Selfridges for a short time only!.
We haven’t tried it yet, but we love the idea. We’re sure this latest offering from the Stones will give you total Satisfaction. We know that you can’t always get what you want, but remember, if you try, sometimes you get what you need!

All at sea with the world’s first on board gin distillery

And for those of you who are dreaming of the great, wide post-lockdown world, what better way of travelling than on a cruise ship. Even better if that cruise ship makes its own gin.
Welcome to the P&O cruises latest attraction: a giant cruise ship with its own on-board gin distillery. This innovation will make a bespoke gin exclusively for its cruise passengers using the skills and expertise of The Salcombe Distilling Company. Their on-board craft-distilled gin is called Marabelle (ABV 42%) and it will be the “star of the bar” aboard their latest 5,200 passenger luxury cruise ship, Iona. Now that’s a job I’d apply for.

It’s gin up north: taster required

Talking of jobs, here’s another beauty. Apparently they’re looking for gin tasters in the North East. They’re bound to have countless applicants, but if you feel like you have the skills required, polish up your CV and send it in, you never know!
You may need to relocate, but if you think you know your spirit, if you have a sophisticated palette and a nose for a great gin, then this could be the perfect job for you.

Gin or wine? You don’t have to choose

And finally, for those of us who love gin and wine and who sometimes can’t quite decide, check out this new Sauternes gin.
Once again, the Salcombe Distilling Company have highlighted their passion for innovation. They’ve also teamed up with the guys at Chateau Climens to create the latest in its limited edition Voyager Series Phantom gin (ABV 46%) to create a premium gin which spent eight months earlier this year inside barrels that were used to age the 2015 and 2016 vintages. We’re looking forward to getting our laughing gear around that one.

That’s it for this week’s Ruddles Report. Off to sniff out a few more gin news stories for you for the new year!


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.


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a martini glass with the james bond background

Dukes Bar, London: where James Bond would drink

There’s a little bar, very discreet, tucked away in a quiet corner of Mayfair. It sits inside a classic Mayfair Hotel. You’d probably never know it was there. Welcome to Dukes Bar.

This bar is famous for one very special thing, the simple classic drink that they do extremely well and that they make with proper old-fashioned style. Dukes Bar has been serving dry martinis for 112 years now, so the bartenders know their stuff. It’s the sort of place that James Bond would go to meet M for a quiet drink. In fact, it was the preferred haunt of Bond’s creator Ian Fleming, so no wonder his hero was partial to a dry Martini. And if the walls could speak, what stories we’d hear.

This is the perfect place to meet a lover or to seal a secret deal. The sort of place where the white-jacketed waiters see everything but say nothing. It’s a place that doesn’t need to advertise itself. It likes things just the way they are. This place has built its reputation over more than a century. And news of its delights has spread in the best way possible. By word of mouth.

Small, intimate and stylish, in a very British gentleman’s club kind of way, you can sit on small, round tables, overstuffed sofas or gorgeous leather armchairs.

Getting trollied

Spread over three rooms, Dukes Bar does things the way it has always done them: with oodles of crusty British style, discretion and just a modest touch of panache.

The main thing to know is that you should always order your Martinis from the trolley list. Someone will wheel a small trolley to your table. From it, you’ll be offered a selection of 2-3 spirits served from bottles so cold they could stick to your hands. Straight from the freezer to your table, the icy gin is poured directly into a Martini glass that has shared the freezer space to become equally cool.

Alongside your preferred gin, your bartender will offer you a choice of vermouth (made in house) or a selection of bitters along with a small bowl of fruit. Your drink will be stirred in front of you (no hurry here) and garnished from the fruit bowl.

This is cocktail heaven, the old fashioned way.

They source their lemons directly from a supplier on the Amalfi coast of Italy and if you’re looking for food, the dish of the day appears to be salty nuts. This is not a place to come to eat. You come here to drink.
Slowly.

There’s no music, no television and the crowd are engaged in a quiet conversational hum. Oil paintings hang on the walls. This is a 20th century bar oozing with 19th century atmosphere.

But those Martinis – I keep coming back to those Martinis

The real reason people in the know come to this bar is for those Martinis – rightly considered amongst the best in the world.

On their trolley, Plymouth Gin (paid link) is offered for the Martini base. They then wave a bottle of home made vermouth in the general direction of France and add three olives from Sicily or, if you prefer, a very thin slice of those Amalfi lemons. But they have others available too, including Sacred Gin (paid link), which they claim was Ian Fleming’s favourite.

As they say at Dukes: “One is alright, two are too many, three are not enough”.

The delicate dance of the Dry Martini

The making of the Martini here is a performance all of its own, more like a dance than a job. The white jacketed, black tied, mostly Italian waiters have it down to a fine art. After 112 years, Dukes has had plenty of practice.

So, if you’re looking for an intimate place with heritage and pedigree, if you want to spend the evening quietly sipping the best dry martini in the world while speculating which one of your fellow drinkers will be heading back to MI5 with a hangover in the morning, then this is the place.

You are going back to the source – and you won’t be disappointed.

Dukes Hotel, 35 St. James’ Place, London SW1A 1NY


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.


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