sloe gin apple and blackberry crumble

Sloe-ly does it: a boozy apple and blackberry crumble to warm your soul

Autumn is always a strange time of year.  The weather lurches from warm autumn sunshine to wet winter winds in what seems like the blink of an eye.  The leaves turn to a golden brown and deliver a satisfying crunch under foot as we try to make the most of what’s left of the summer sun.  But there is an inevitability about the seasons that we just can’t ignore and we know that these months are the start of a gentle transition into the colder, darker, wetter days of winter ahead.

New season, new flavours

Fall in America is accompanied by hot cider and pumpkin pies as the last of the summer harvest is turned into delicious, sweet, spicy desserts.  In the UK, mulled wine, hot toddies and sloe gins begin to make an appearance alongside comfort food that is made to keep your soul and spirit warm for the cold months ahead. Think natural blackberry and apple crumble with sweet, rich custard drizzled lovingly from above.  In Barcelona, the sun still shines in a blue sky but the weather cools and the mood changes to something softer and gentler.  The locals take their city back from the tourists and enjoy the autumn colours from their front row seats on the terrazas and bars, dipping freshly made churros into hot chocolate so thick you can stand your spoon up in it.  Every country and region has its own autumn traditions.

Sloe-ly does it…

Last year, we introduced you to our friends Hamish and Jenny, who put aside time every autumn to forage in the English countryside for ripe sloe berries to star in their amazing home made sloe gin.  If that sounds like something you’d like to try, you might want to check out this little interview we did with them last year, in which they reveal their most closely guarded secrets for making a truly delicious sloe gin.  This warming, sweet, aromatic drink is a perfect drink to beat the chill on those cold days.  It’s rich, fruity warmth is ideal for a hip flask to accompany your outdoor activities.  But it’s also a perfect aperitif before a hearty lunch and is equally at home as an after dinner drink. The perfect end to a convivial dinner.

Or is it?

A taste of autumn with a sloe gin twist

We think that we may have found something even more delicious for you to try.  We’ve searched high and low for a great Autumn recipe that will warm you up from the inside out.  We think this rich, boozy crumble, packed with ripe Autumn fruits is the ultimate comfort food.  The cast of ingredients includes sweet juicy apples, sharp, bright blackberries and the secret ingredient – loads of rich, delicious, boozy sloe gin. This classic autumn dish has a depth and complexity that sets it apart from the rest. Plus, it’s packed with toasted pistachios and almonds for the crunchiest topping ever to offer a nice contrast to the juicy softness of the fruit that lies within.  

We think this sloe gin apple and blackberry crumble is the perfect way to end a long, lazy, Sunday lunch.  One of those lunches when nobody is in a hurry to leave because inside is so much more appealing than outside.  Especially if you’re in a cozy pub, drying out your feet in front of a roaring fire in the company of good friends.

So, here’s a simple, easy to make recipe that will warm you up on those gorgeous autumn days and warm your heart from the inside.

Sloe gin apple and blackberry crumble recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 900g apples (Bramley apples are ideal)
  • 100g demerara sugar
  • 250g blackberries
  • 5 tbsp sloe gin

For the crumble topping:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g oats
  • 75g butter, cubed
  • 75g demerara sugar
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp chopped pistachios
  • Handful of toasted almond flakes

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180c and fill large bowl with water
  2. Add the lemon juice
  3. Peel and core the apples and cut them into chunks
  4. Add them to the water as you cut them to prevent discoloring
  5. Drain and transfer to a baking dish (approx 2.3l)
  6. Toss with the sugar and bake for 20 mins (until tender)
  7. Mix together the flour and the oats and use your fingers to rub in the butter
  8. Stir in the sugar, spices and pistachios and put aside
  9. Add the blackberries and sloe gin to the baking dish and toss to distribute
  10. Scatter over the crumble topping and pack down gently before topping with almonds
  11. Return to the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes until the topping is golden and the fruit juices bubble up around the edges
  12. Remove from oven and serve with generous servings of custard
  13. Pull your chair closer to the fire, pour yourself a glass of sloe gin and 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.

Larios Provenzal: the sweet taste of the Med

Let me be clear. Long before I discovered Larios Provenzal. I was a big fan of Larios gin. I have been a fan ever since I first moved to Barcelona, almost a decade ago. With a local heritage and a long tradition, it has been quietly making a name for itself as a great value Spanish gin. It has been offering excellent flavour at a great price for many years. It’s become one of those gins that you should always have behind your bar.  And it’s a gin with a history that goes back to early 19th century Malaga, when the Larios family moved into the distillation business.  

Since then, Larios has been building a solid reputation across Europe before being bought by the Pernod-Ricard Group back in 1997 before ending up with the Beam Suntory group. This partnership has catapulted Larios into the big time and it is now the number one gin in Spain and continental Europe and one of the top 10 gins internationally.

Expanding the brand…

Once the brand was built and established, they did what many gin brands have done over the last decade – look for ways to expand with new flavours and propositions.  I thought I’d tried most of them, including their original London Dry version (now rebranded as Larios Mediterranea). With its subtle notes of juniper and orange peel, this is a gin you should always keep in your cupboard just in case). I’ve also tried the sumptuous Larios Citrus (with a bitter orange sweetness that gives Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla a run for its money) as well as Larios 12, their premium version, with its 12 exotically sourced botanicals and its complex flavour balances. 
I’ve also heard good things about Larios Rose. One day, I’m looking forward to trying Indigo by Larios with its deep blue Macedonian juniper berries and citrus notes.  And I thought that was about it for the Larios range.

And then, I stumbled across Larios Provenzal while perusing the Duty Free store at Gatwick airport. At just over £12 for 1 litre, it was too good a bargain to refuse. I slipped one into my basket and boarded the plane in anticipation of a nice welcome home cocktail once I had landed back in Barcelona.
And I’m pleased to say, that’s exactly what I did.

Larios Provenzal: exclusive and elusive

Larios Provenzal is an unusual and particularly elusive gin – and now I know why it to be “as rare as hen’s teeth”.  This gin appears to be a “one off” that has been created exclusively for travel retail. That’s why it can only be found at duty free stores, so keep your eye out for it as travel starts to open up again.  It comes in the same distinctively shaped bottle as all the other Larios brands, but this one has a particularly attractive green label that somehow transports you to a Provencal forest.  

A corn base for a smoother taste

This gin has been exclusively created for travelers and it features four distillations of wild juniper.  But what makes Larios Provenzal different is that it uses a corn base during distillation.  The purpose of this is to smooth out the flavour profile of the gin. Once they are happy with the smoothness of the base, they then flavour the resulting liquid with a selection of Mediterranean fruits and herbs. The result is an easy to drink gin with a twist that is both unique and exclusive.  Well that’s what the PR material says, but does this drink live up to its promotion?

There’s only one way to find out…

The perfect pour

I tried this as a perfect G&T.  Larios is as Spanish as it comes, so a large copa glass was the obvious choice for my new experience.  I gingerly dropped two giant, round tonic water ice cubes from my mold into the glass. Then, I squeezed a juicy lemon wedge directly over the ice and wiped the wedge around the rim. Then I dropped it into the glass (with a satisfying “plop”) and drizzled a generous double shot of Larios Provenzal over the ice cubes.  Finally, I poured a bottle of Fever Tree Premium tonic water over the blend to naturally shake up and mix it all together before the big reveal.

Citrus notes and herbal overtones: a taste of the Med

The first thing you notice is the colour – the liquid has a lovely herbaceous green tint that works well with the new label. The packaging instantly transports you to Provence. On the nose, this gin delivers instantly with notes of rosemary, thyme and basil up front.  This is all rounded off with a soft injection of citrus from the oranges and lemons that Larios have become known for.  And then, the all important taste test.  Smooth and well balanced (as promised) with an unmistakable Mediterranean character and a refreshing blast of juniper. So far, so good. 

Sweet, smooth and complex

Larios Provenzal has all the ingredients of a great gin. But that corn base gives it a distinctive sweetness that feels a little unfamiliar to a palette more used to drier, juniper forward gins. It’s this subtle sweetness that pervades the overall taste – and sometimes even dominates it.  If you’re looking for a traditional dry, crisp gin this is probably not the one for you.  But if your tastes errs on the side of sweetness and smoothness, this will not disappoint.  

Just the tonic

At first sip, it was not what I’d expected but now that my brain has caught up with my senses, this gin is really growing on me.  I served it with a Fevertree Indian Tonic water, but I suspect this will also go really well with the new generation of flavoured tonic waters such as the delicious Franklin & Sons Rosemary and Olive tonic water. It would also work with a Fevertree Mediterranean or even a ginger beer topper.  Garnishings can range from Basil leaves to toasted Rosemary sprigs and from lemons to oranges depending on your taste.  This will also be an excellent cocktail ingredient for any gin drink that requires smooth, sweet herbal and citrus notes.  

I have a feeling that this is a gin that will divide opinion.  It may not be to everyone’s tastes but give it a chance. I did and I keep going back for more, so it must be good after all.



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 is good for you

Let’s drink to our health: 5 reasons why gin is good for you!

Is gin the elixir of life or the devil’s juice?

Alcohol has a rich tradition of medicinal application earned over the centuries. Since its earliest days it has been recognised as having life-restoring properties of its own. Despite early recognition of gin’s medicinal benefits and the reviving qualities of spirits such as brandy and bitters, drinking gin is still seen as unhealthy. While we agree that everything is best in moderation, in the interest of balance, we thought we’d do our little bit to restore the medicinal reputation of gin. In fact, we’re even going to try to convince you of its health giving properties.  

So, stick with us as we reveal just why gin is better for you than you might think and allow us to bust a few myths along the way. 

A bad reputation?

Many people link our favourite spirit with social decline and moral decay. Over the years, it has accumulated unflattering nicknames such as “Mother’s Ruin”. Social commentators such as Hogarth depicted the havoc that gin wreaked on 19th century London in his famous “Gin Street” engraving. None of that can be denied. But you might be surprised to discover that gin can actually do you some good.  And these days, every chink of light is worth reaching for!

So here are 5 reasons to drink gin (in moderation, of course!) And some great arguments for you to use the next time someone calls you out for your gin habit.

Under 100 calories a glass of gin

I guess like everything in life, moderation is generally the best policy.  But if you’re really worried about putting on the pounds and don’t want to give up the booze, you’ll be pleased to discover that gin is one of the least fattening spirits you can buy. In fact, it averages a measly 97 calories per shot. 
If you then pair it with a low or zero calorie mixer, you’re getting a decent drink for under 100 calories. That’s way less than the 160 calories contained in an average glass of wine or the 208 calories that you’ll find in a pint of beer.  And there is plenty of very healthy and delicious recipes to enjoy your gin.

Now that’s some good news!

Go wrinkle free

This one, I didn’t expect! Apparently juniper berries are packed full of antioxidants.
Since juniper is the primary ingredient of gin, gin is also believed to help to improve the smoothness of your skin.
The result: a healthier, more youthful appearance. So, as you get older, reach for the gin and make sure you keep those cocktails flowing. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, you could even add a little pomegranate juice (or cordial). This will add even more antioxidants and your drinking should become increasingly guilt free.  And if you really want to “up-the-ante”, there’s even an amazing gin brand that is infused with collagen. Intriguingly, it’s called Collagin. I’m reliably informed that this gin not only tastes good but it gives you smooth skin and helps to fight the wrinkles.
Perhaps we’ve inadvertently stumbled across the secret of eternal youth?  And that’s not the gin talking.

Loosen up your joints

If you’re suffering from joint pain, we have a solution that we think you might like.
For many years, juniper was used as an antidote to joint pain, arthritis and rheumatism. Clearly, there are well established, science-based treatments for conditions like this, but it might be worth adding a little gin to your medicine cabinet.  For generations, gin-soaked raisins have been taken daily as a way of reducing inflammation. 
And once again, don’t just take my word for it. I refer you to the case of 105 year old Lucia DeClerck of New Jersey, who credits her gin-soaked raisins for a happy, healthy and long life.

Skip the hangovers with gin

While my own experience tells me something different, it is often claimed that gin doesn’t give you a hangover. But I guess, like all spirits, it depends on how much you imbibe.
One thing we do know is this: white spirits such as gin, vodka and sake are probably your safest bet if you don’t want to be holding your head in the morning.
But gin has a little advantage. It contains very few congeners. These are the impurities in the alcohol that are produced as a result of the fermentation phase.  The body struggles to process these congeners and as a result, they contribute to the sick feeling and headaches that you might experience the morning after a big night.
In fact, according to research, Bourbon contains 37 times more chemicals than gin.  Plus, gin tastes so much better!

Fight kidney and liver disease

This might sound counterintuitive, but juniper berries can actually help you to stop water retention in your body. 
This means that when you drink gin, it allows you to pass more water through your system than any other form of alcohol. 
This, in turn, helps flush out more of the harmful bacteria and poisons which are consumed in alcohol.
Gin’s juniper content offers an easy way to clear your body of harmful ingredients for a healthier and happier life.

Let’s drink to our health!


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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Lind&Lime

Lind&Lime: the perfect gin in the perfect bottle?

Lind&Lime could just be the perfect gin for me. Sometimes you unwittingly discover a beautiful gin hidden inside a hideous bottle. Other times, you stumble across a terrible gin cunningly disguised inside an expensive looking bottle.  But the greatest delight of all is when you spot a gorgeous bottle and then discover that the gin inside is even more delightful than the packaging itself. And this week, that’s exactly what I found – and I might never go back. 

Welcome to Lind&Lime…

For me, the taste of refreshing lime drinks is a throwback to my childhood days, growing up in Calcutta. We would sit on a hot evening on our balcony in Chowringhee, listening to the parrots squawk and the frogs sing. We would watch the monkeys fooling around at the bottom of the garden in the humid post-monsoon heat.  Then, out of nowhere, our cook (and friend), Appaya, would quietly appear. He would be balancing several glasses and a jug full of delicious Nimbu Pani on a small tray.  Nimbu Pani is a simple, cooling local drink made from freshly squeezed lime, sugar syrup and soda water.

It was always served in a long glass filled right to the top with cooling ice.  And it was even better when Appaya followed up with a plate of warm, curried cashew nuts served straight out of the oven. It’s funny how, even all these years later, these things still feel as real as they did all those years ago.

The Holy Grail of lime gins

It’s a flavour that has eluded me in gin for many years now.  And these days, I’ve moved up the ladder to cocktails – and gins in particular. But until now, the closest I could find to the taste of Nimbu Pani was the tangy lime flavour of Tanqueray Rangpur.  And, since I discovered it 18 months ago, that has fast become my “go-to” summer gin drink.  And then last week, the world changed. I tried a glass of Scotland’s Lind&Lime gin, poured straight from its gorgeously sophisticated, classically-ribbed bottle and my summer was instantly transformed. 

Perfect way to cool down on a warm day

This is definitely my new “special occasion” gin for warm days and summer evenings.  But at Barcelona Gin, we believe all good things should be shared. So here are a few reasons why I think you should add this summer stunner to your birthday list (or at least drop some subtle hints around your gin loving friends around that time!).

So, what’s Lind&Lime like?

Deliciously complex, dry and very refreshing, Lind&Lime gin has a beautiful balance as a result of seven carefully chosen and complementary botanicals.  There’s an unmissable juniper taste that runs right through this premium gin. Then there’s a clear citrus blast delivered by the fresh lime rind that this drink is built around.  This zestiness on it’s own might not be enough. But the folks at Lind&Lime gin have compensated for that with an infusion of pink peppercorn that adds just the right level of complexity through the pink peppercorns that sit alongside the distinctive lime zest.

What’s the story, morning glory?

But every gin relies on a good story, and this gin is no exception.  It’s the first Scottish delight, from Scotland’s Port of Leith Distillery Co at its Tower Street Stillhouse. Born in the Port of Leith, just on the edge of Scotland’s beautiful capital city of Edinburgh, this is the product of one of Scotland’s most historic trading centres. Way back in the 17th century, there was a fellow called James Lind, who hailed from those parts.  He was born in Edinburgh, but life took him a long way from from there over his career and he ended up serving as ship’s surgeon aboard the Royal Navy ship, HMS Salisbury. 

Scottish Limeys…

Like most ships that spent a long time away from land, there was a big problem with scurvy due to a paucity of Vitamin C on their long voyages.  By all accounts, Lind was a curious man. And he had a curious surgeon’s mind.  So, he conducted a number of trials on serving members of the ship’s crew. It quickly became apparent that sailors who ate more citrus fruit were generally in better physical condition than those who didn’t. This observation was made and recorded and eventually led to the adoption of limes on board Royal Navy ships to keep the sailors fit and healthy. And that’s why the American’s call us Limeys.

How do they make it?

These guys take a base spirit of 96% ABV and then carefully re-distill it into a London Dry gin that stands out from the crowd. The result is a 48 ABV gin with a natural, crisp lime flavour that doesn’t taste of children’s sweets. This is because the taste is infused directly from the rind itself into the distillate.  The whole concoction is then brought together in a stainless steel electric still, powered by sustainable electricity from renewable sources. This gin has only been around since 2019 but it’s already making quite a name for itself.

The bottle and the brand

The bottle itself is a minor work of art.  As a trading port, Leith had always been associated with the European wine trade. As more and more cask wine arrived over several centuries, they needed bottles and the area soon became a centre for glass production. The Leith Glass Works was built to make sure that the port could stay ahead of demand.  Lind&Lime gin taps into this tradition and pays homage to the industrial heritage of the area.  Traditional wine bottles have inspired the stunning shape and design. The result is a design classic that adds real aesthetic value to an already delicious gin.

Lim&Lime perfect serve:

This is one of those gins that’s so good that the less you add to it, the better.  We think for this gin to shine, pour it straight over ice (the larger the better) into a long glass. The bigger the ice, the longer your drink will remain fizzing!) Then, fill it up to the top with your favourite, freshly opened premium tonic water and wipe the rim of the glass with a fresh lime. Then, squeeze the rest of the lime juice into the drink before giving it one final, gentle stir.  We recommend a traditional 2:1 ratio of gin to tonic. But if you prefer a cocktail, this gin works really well in a French 75. 

This distillery also gives daily tours, so if you find yourself at a loose end in Scotland, it might be worth popping in to see what all the fuss is about. 


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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Puerto de Indias

Puerto de Indias: is blackberry the new pink?

It seems like flavoured gins have been around forever. But in fact, they are a relatively new invention.  While many people may have experimented with home infusions for domestic consumption, it was only recently that commercial brands began to recognise their full potential. 
One of the originals was Puerto de Indias who led the way with their pioneering strawberry gin. They were amongst the first to experiment with natural strawberries and claim to have been the inspiration for the current wave of pink gins that seem to be everywhere. 
It’s a Spanish gin from Sevilla but it has a global reputation and is now available in more than 50 countries around the world.  Since those early days, it seems that everybody has jumped on the bandwagon.  Pink gins are everywhere and at every price point, but being first does not always guarantee you’re the best.
But in the case of Puerto De Indias, they are definitely right up there. 

The story begins…

It all began in the exotic Andalusian town of Sevilla when two brothers got together to buy one of the oldest distilleries in the region and set about producing their own artisan gin.  Little did they know that they would be in the forefront of a gin revolution that would change the gin landscape forever. Their gins are made with water from an underground spring that has been quenching Spanish thirst for centuries and they use traditional techniques and copper stills to make this modern version of a summer classic. 
But nothing sets a business back quicker than resting on your laurels. 
Since introducing the strawberry gin a few years ago, they have continued to innovate and now produce a classic gin, a strawberry gin, an orange and peach blossom gin and a floral black gin that’s flavoured with orange blossom.  So many gins, so little time.

Blackberry is back

And then I spotted another one that caught my eye. Puerto de Indias have now launched a blackberry gin with a unique flavour all of its own. 
Blackberries dominate this gin, but there’s a fresh, citrus backdrop with hints of caramel on the nose. And then, it’s time to take a sip.  This gin is smooth on the mouth and eases its way gently into those complex wild fruits and rich blackberry flavours, with a slight bitterness and a touch of sweet cinnamon spice to round it all off.
This is a fabulous new gin and I think it stands up very well to its competitors including Bombay Bramble and Tanqueray Royale (both in taste and value). This is definitely a gin for those with a sweet tooth. We think it is a great match for a lightly sweetened tonic water such as Fever Tree Elderflower.
Or you could go straight to the Seven Up to keep the sweet vibe going even further.  

Recipe for Puerto de Indias Blackberry perfect serve

Ingredients:

  • 5cl Puerto De Indias Blackberry gin
  • 20cl of Seven Up or Tonic Water
  • Fresh or frozen blackberries
  • Cinnamon sticks

Method:

  1. Fill glass with large ice cubes and swirl to chill glass
  2. Empty water from glass and place several blackberries inside
  3. Drop in a cinnamon stick or two and add the gin
  4. Pour tonic or Seven Up over ice and stir gently.
  5. Sit back and 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.

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  • Larios Provenzal: the sweet taste of the Med
    Let me be clear. Long before I discovered Larios Provenzal. I was a big fan of Larios gin. I have been a fan ever since I first moved to Barcelona, almost a decade ago. With a local heritage and a long tradition, it has been quietly making a name for itself as a great value … Continued
  • Let’s drink to our health: 5 reasons why gin is good for you!
    Is gin the elixir of life or the devil’s juice? Alcohol has a rich tradition of medicinal application earned over the centuries. Since its earliest days it has been recognised as having life-restoring properties of its own. Despite early recognition of gin’s medicinal benefits and the reviving qualities of spirits such as brandy and bitters, … Continued
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Gin and elderflower: the new taste of summer

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

So, elderflower and gin is fast becoming the taste of summer. For many years, it was a staple ingredient of North Western Europe, but now elderflower cordials, gins and liqueurs are available around the world. But while this pretty flower’s culinary roots go as far back as the Romans, Europeans have been using the flowers of the European Elder to make cordial recipes to refresh thirsty Europeans for many centuries now. These days, it has become a common summer flavour and many people still make it in the traditional way, generally as a cordial, squash or syrup that is mixed with still or sparkling water – and it’s refreshing, healthy and easy to make at home.

What exactly is an elderflower?

Elderflowers generally grow between May and June, making them the perfect solution to summer heat and they can generally be found across Europe, North Africa and S.W. Asia. 
Making the cordial is actually a very simple process which involves steeping the flower heads in a solution of concentrated sugar which infuses the flavour directly into the syrup.  Some people add a little lemon juice to help add a little sharpness before covering it and allowing the infusion process to begin.  Once the flavours have really blended, it’s then a relatively simple process of straining the resulting product to extract as much juice as possible before mixing it with water, sparkling water and even gin. 

Keeping things cordial

Or, if you prefer, simply buy some commercial elderflower cordial and mix it up to your taste. For centuries, this light, refreshingly delicious summer drink has been served up at summer events and picnics.  And then, when the craft gin revolution began and distillers and craft gin producers started looking for ways to improve and enhance their gin, elderflower became the perfect match. It’s light, citrus sweetness made it an ideal partner for gin and a fabulous alternative to the standard choice of Indian tonic water to provide a refreshing, easy to drink mixer.  Many brands are available these days, from Belvoir to supermarket own brands. But we like the very French St. Germain which uses hand picked flowers that are taken back to the village by bicycle.

Just the tonic…

Most of the premium tonic brands now offer an elderflower alternative.  From the ubiquitous Fever Tree with their plain elderflower tonic to old standards such as Schweppes, it seems everybody now recognises this new flavour as a legitimate alternative to standard tonic.  One of our favourite tonic brands, Franklin and Sons, now offers elderflower and cucumber tonic water which is cooling and light and a perfect way to enhance your summer gin of choice.  Versions are available at all levels and prices.

Elderflower gins…

But, you could dispense with the commercial versions altogether if you choose an elderflower gin. My personal favourite is from JJ. Whitley – a refreshing, fragrant gin with a distinctive honey, orange and elderflower taste and at a great price.  It’s not overly strong at around 38.6% ABV, but that may not be such a bad thing since it’s so easy to drink.  Other brands to look out for include the Warner Edwards Elderflower gin which clocks in at a slightly stronger 40% ABV, but is almost twice the price. Gordon’s even does an elderflower version of their gin. 

Gin liqueurs – keeping things sweet

Then there are the elderflower gin liqueurs which are sweeter and more concentrated but can be a lovey aperitif or add a blast of summer to your cocktails. There are tasty versions of these over at Edinburgh Gin with a blend of elderflower, lavender. Orange peel and lemongrass (other brands are available).

Perfect for summer cocktails

And then, there is the elderflower as a gin cocktail ingredient, increasingly appearing in summer gin coolers, martinis and long cocktails topped up with soda or sparkling wine. But we could talk about the theory all summer long, but what you really want is an easy recipe to get your summer rolling.  So, we’ve found a really easy to make (and easy to drink) recipe for a Gin and Elderflower cooler that will impress your friends and give you an extra reason to get your shorts on, slip into the garden or terrace and elevate yourself smugly above those gin and tonic drinkers.

Welcome to the Gin and Elderflower Cooler.

Gin and Elderflower cooler recipe

Ingredients:

  • 100ml elderflower cordial
  • 150 ml gin (use JJ. Whitley to pump up the flavour)
  • 400 ml of soda (or sparkling water)
  • Ice cubes
  • 8 cucumber circles (thinly sliced)
  • 2 apple circles (thinly sliced)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 1 litre jug or pitcher

Method:

  1. Pour the elderflower cordial and gin directly into the jug
  2. Top up with the soda or sparkling water
  3. Scrunch up the mint leaves in your hands (bruising them lightly to release the flavour)
  4. Add it to the pitcher along with the cucumber and apple
  5. Add ice last and then give it all a good stir
  6. Leave it for a few minutes to infuse and when you’re ready, pour and sip smugly!

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 tonic granita

Gin and tonic granita: a cool drink to get you through the “dog days” of summer

Now the heat is on, it’s time for a gin and tonic granita – the perfect way to beat the summer sun. We’re into the “dog days” of summer now. That generally means that we’re either complaining that it’s too hot or too cold.  But for many of us, we’re doing what we always do – taking the time to leave the city and find somewhere cooler to relax.  Some of us will be heading to the hills for a chilled out vacation surrounded by nature and endless views. Others will be flocking to the beaches so they can dive into cool, clear water to escape the heat of the sun or simply to top up their tan.  But whether you’re chilling out gazing at an infinite skyline from your perch up in the high hills or soaking up the sun and swimming on your favourite beach, you’re likely to have a G&T somewhere near by.
It’s the perfect summer drink for when the stress all becomes just a bit too much. 

A refreshing gin and tonic granita from a chef with a Michelin star

But gin in the summer is a very versatile beast and it doesn’t just go with tonic. Not only are there a panoply of delicious, easy-to-make, refreshing gin cocktail recipes for you to tap into, but these days, gin is increasing its popularity in summer recipes. Some of the world’s greatest chefs are now incorporating gin’s distinctive flavours in food recipes that will open up a whole new world of opportunity for anybody looking to give their gin habit an extra dimension. 

One of those chefs is Marcus Wareing.  Wareing has a proud pedigree which includes Michelin starred restaurants such as Le Gavroche, Petrus and Aubergine in London.  Currently, he is the main judge on the UK’s version of Masterchef and he runs The Gilbert Scott restaurant in London’s spectacularly extravagant St. Pancras Hotel.  Wareing is also the chef proprietor of his eponymous restaurant, Marcus, where he has been awarded yet another Michelin star.

So, this man knows a thing or two about cooking.  And he’s turned to our favourite drink, gin, for his latest summer recipe. This simple recipe is guaranteed to keep you cool as a cucumber over the hot weeks that we know lie ahead.

6 easy steps to a perfect gin and tonic granita

So, let’s take a look at Marcus Wareing’s delicate, refreshing and boozy gin and tonic granita recipe. Easy to make, more refreshing than ice cream and a nice alternative to a G&T on a hot summer’s day. This could become a mainstay of your summer. We think this recipe goes well with a juniper forward gin with citrus notes (such as Silent Pool) or for an extra blast of lemon, break out the Malfy Limone to dial up the taste.

Ingredients:

  • 100 ml water
  • 200 g of caster sugar
  • 150 ml of gin
  • 500 ml of premium Indian tonic water
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 1 handful of edible flowers

Method:

  1. Heat the water with the sugar for about 5 minutes until dissolved
  2. Add the gin, two lemons and tonic water
  3. Pour into a freezer proof container
  4. Cool to room temperature and freeze for two hours (whisking after the first and second hour)
  5. Before serving, break up the granita with a fork to give it a softer, texture
  6. Top it off with some edible flowers such as Viola for an extra touch of style
  7. Sit back and sip…c

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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classic gins

5 “go to” classic gins you can rely on

In this new world of 1000 gins, sometimes too much choice can be your enemy.  We all know about the recent explosion of craft gins and often they can be quite expensive.  So, it’s good to have a handful of “old faithfuls” classic gins that you know you can rely on for a good, standard G&T.  There are times in life when it’s okay to  be a little adventurous.  And these days, there is literally a gin for everybody.  Whether you want gin with gold flakes floating around or gin made from crushed ants, you can simply log in and order one for next day delivery.  Whether you want an ordinary gin in a beautiful bottle  or a beautiful gin in an ordinary bottle, there’s one for you. 

Spoiled for choice

These days, we are spoiled for choice.  But sometimes, these gins can be a little expensive.  The Anty-Gin  for example sells for around £220.  But there are other times when you just want a simple, recognisable flavour that does the basic job well.  These are the gins that everybody should have in their bar, the “go to” gins.  They might not set the world on fire with their innovation or impress your friends with their complex infusions, but these are classic gins that won’t let you down.  And that’s good to know. 

Here are 5 of our “go to” favourite classic gins that are always worth keeping in the cupboard for when the posh stuff runs out.  In the end, it’s all a matter of personal taste, but we think these standard gins are well worth keeping in reserve.

Beefeater: 40% ABV

Beefeater ginA classic London Dry, Beefeater has been synonymous with gin since 1876. Surprisingly complex it combines the piney notes of juniper with the hoppiness of angelica flowers.  There’s a blast of coriander somewhere in there and lots of fresh citrus notes delivered by the orange peels.  You’ll also find notes of almond and liquorice to give it a rich, complexity. 

All of this results in a well balanced gin perfect for long lunches or early evening G&Ts.  This is a classic gin that doesn’t try to do too much and what bit does, it does very well.  This is a great drink for anybody who loves a classic G&T, but it also works well in cocktails such as a Negroni.

The perfect pour: Fever Tree Indian tonic Water, loads of ice and a slice of lemon

 

Bombay Sapphire: 40% ABV

The brand that kick-started the gin revolution in the UK with its lighter, more subtle recipe, Bombay Sapphire has a delicate nose with a refreshing blend of citrus, pepper and angelica along with plenty of juniper.  Most people think that this totemic gin has been around for centuries, but it actually first saw the light of day in the 1960s when New York lawyer Allan Subi saw an opportunity to create a brand new “English” gin to take on the likes of Tanqueray and Beefeater in the USA. 

He approached Greenalls to create the gin to match his brand and they built a drink based on an old Greenalls recipe from back in the 1760s.  This gin took off fast and its easy-to-drink blend of 8 botanicals includes cassia bark, liquorice and almonds.  Then in the 1980s, chef Michel Roux got involved in creating a new version of the gin that used Bombay Original Dry as a base to which he added 2 kinds of pepper, Grains of paradise and Cubeb berries resulting in a floral, peppery tasting gin with a sweet nose and a fresh clean taste. And that was how Bombay Sapphire came to be.

Fragrant and spicy, this is a great gin for a Negroni, but it really works best in a long, tall glass filled with ice and a slice.  You can’t go wrong with a bottle of this beauty. And if you’re ever in Hampshire, pop in for a fascinating gin tour in their award winning distillery on the banks of the beautiful River Test.

The perfect pour: Schweppes Premium Tonic Water, loads of ice and a slice of lime

Tanqueray: ABV: 43.1%

One of the classic gin brands, Tanqueray have been tickling our taste buds with this bone dry gin for centuries. With its notes of pine and coriander building on a strong juniper base, it all works well together. Its Christmas tree notes have made it a classic and reliable “go to” gin for all occasions. Made for a Dry Martini (with just the smallest drop of vermouth) or equally good in a long, refreshing G&T. Charles Tanqueray began distilling spirits in 1838 but it took him a few more years to come up with his classic gin recipe, which has stood the test of time and is as good now as it ever was.

In the 1950s, Tanqueray joined the Gordons family and was used to spearhead a marketing drive to secure it as a prestigious gin in the United States. It soon became the favourite tipple of evergreen stars such as Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Junior.  We think it’s one of the best classic gins out there and it’s a favorite of bartenders worldwide.

The perfect pour: Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic water, loads of ice and orange zest

Gordon’s (export strength): ABV: 47.3%

While we, in the UK, get to drink standard Gordon’s gin, this one is available overseas (or in duty free) so it’s worth keeping an eye out while you’re on holiday. It is considerably stronger than its domestic cousin (which clocks in at a rather feeble 37.5%).  It is also a very different beast as far as taste is concerned. With top notes of lemon peel and bittersweet lime, warming coriander, lavender and juniper in the mix and a lovely, lemony edge, this is a great gin. 

While regular Gordon’s gin struggles to retain its place in this brave new world of artisan gin, this one is still worth seeking out.  In the UK it may still be sold as Gordon’s Yellow Label, but you’re most likely to find this in a duty free shop somewhere around the world.  It’s a great gin for taking on holiday or for drinking on your return. Try this if you’re looking for an extra strong, extra spicy Tom Collins or in a Negroni.

The perfect pour: Britvic Indian tonic Water, loads of ice and a slice of lime

Plymouth: ABV: 41.2%

As befitting its Naval connections, Plymouth Gin once supplied more than 1000 casks of its Navy Strength gin to the Royal Navy but it fell out of fashion. The brand was revived in the late 1990s by Charles Roll, who went on to found the ubiquitous Fever Tree brand.  He increased the strength and created a heathery,  juniper gin with a lovely balance of savoury sage, sweetness and smoothness.  This has become a gin classic with its piney finish and well judged injection of citrus. 

Light, balanced and smooth, this is a great gin if you’re into G&Ts.  Strong enough to have some character but not so strong it will knock you out.  And great taste is not its only claim to fame – it was the favourite gin of Winston Churchill, it was the gin used in the world’s first Martini recipe and is the official gin of the Royal Navy. Keep a bottle of this in your cupboard at all times.

The perfect pour: Fentiman’s Premium Indian tonic water and a slice of grapefruit.

So, there you have it. Five classic gins that you can rely on. Like an old friend, these gins will be with you forever, ask no questions and never let you down. 

Now, how about a G&T?

 


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 Gazpacho

Gin Gazpacho: for when the heat is on!

When the heat is on and you just want something light, healthy and easy for lunch you could do worse than reach for a chilled bowl of home made Gazpacho soup.  But we started thinking about making this traditional Spanish summer soup with the help of a little gin, so we began looking for recipes from similar minds. And apparently Gin Gazpacho is not such a crazy idea after all.

Breaking the rules

I know the purists amongst my Spanish friends may throw their hands up in the air in horror at this untraditional approach, but trust me, Gin Gazpacho is delicious. The perfect, refreshing dish to take away your hunger on a hot summer’s day.  And the beauty of this (almost) guilt free lunch is that it’s easy to make and packed with healthy, natural Mediterranean goodness. But sometimes you have to break the rules. In another break with tradition, we’ve switched the traditional croutons for an easy to make olive biscuit that gives this liquid lunch a little extra body.

And then, for the all important gin kick, we’ve gone in with a Gin Mare, in keeping with our Spanish connection – and because it’s a damned good gin!

What is it about Gazpacho that makes it so special?

Originally from the far south of Spain, this Andalusian classic is basically a cold soup made with raw, blended vegetables and it’s now most widely eaten in Spain and Portugal.  While there are dozens of variations across the country and around the world, it is a refreshingly cool lunch. Sort of like a thicker Bloody Mary but without the booze.  Except for this recipe that unapologetically puts the booze right back in. 

Most traditional Gazpacho recipes include stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt and vinegar.  In the 19th century, the locals in Cordoba, Seville and Granada added tomatoes – and that’s how the most famous version has been ever since.  Although, it’s not uncommon these days to find versions made with watermelon, cucumbers and even strawberries.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at this recipe and get you going.

Gin Gazpacho recipe

INGREDIENTS:

For the gazpacho:

  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 large yellow pepper
  • ½ large red onion
  • ⅓ large cucumber
  • 3-4 very ripe vine tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 250ml cold water
  • 50ml Gin Mare
  • Salt and pepper

For the Kalamata biscuits:

  • 200g organic rolled oats
  • 140g plain flour
  • 140g cold butter, diced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 50g Kalamata olives, finely chopped and patted dry
  • Hot water, as needed

Method:

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus at least one hour chilling

Cooking time: 20 minutes Serves 8 as tapas

For the gazpacho:

  1. Remove the seeds from the peppers and set aside a 1.5cm strip of each for the garnish. Roughly chop the remainder.
  2. Set aside about one-sixth of the onion for the garnish and roughly chop the remainder.
  3. Set aside a 2cm piece of the cucumber for the garnish and peel and chop the remainder.
  4. Place all the chopped vegetables in a bowl.
  5. Add the tomatoes, garlic, oil and vinegar. Lightly season, cover with the water and place in fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.
  6. Remove from the fridge and, using a food processor, blend until smooth.
  7. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Keep chilled until required.
  8. Finely dice the vegetables that were set aside and mix together.
  9. Before serving, stir in the Gin Mare.

Serve in a small bowl or glass with a teaspoon of the diced vegetables on top and the olive biscuits on the side.

For the Kalamata biscuits:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°c/gas 6.
  2. Put all the dry ingredients except the olives and water in the bowl of a food processor.
  3. Gently blend until the butter is incorporated. Add the olives. On a low speed, slowly add hot water until a soft ‘dough’ is formed. Transfer to a floured surface and roll out until approx. 3-4mm thick.
  4. Cut out biscuits in the desired size and shape (we make 24 6cm biscuits from this amount) and place on a baking tray.
  5. Work quickly and avoid re-rolling the mixture too many times.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown.

Remember, you can make these biscuits in advance, as long as you store them in an airtight container.  They’re also delicious with cheese and paté. And a large Gin Mare and tonic – of course!
And we’ve chosen Gin Mare for a reason. With its unusual botanicals including wild juniper berries, Arbequina olives, basil, thyme and rosemary, it’s the perfect complement to this twist on a traditional dish. And it’s also one of our favourite Spanish gins, packed to the brim with the savoury flavours of the Mediterranean.


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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home-made pimms

Home-made Pimms – put a little sunshine in your life

We’re now well and truly into summer and the social season lies ahead of us.  In the UK we have three of the most social events of the year coming up including Wimbledon this week (where people watch tennis and drink Pimms); the Henley Royal Regatta (where boaters in straw hats row, while people drink Pimms); and the Chelsea Flower Show (where people look at flowers and drink Pimms).  Are you picking up a pattern here?

The unmistakable taste of the English summer

Yes, the Pimm’s Cup is truly the drink of the English summer and you will find it on any sunny day being served and drunk in large glasses filled with fruit, ice, lemonade and the unmistakably herby taste of Pimms.  Pub gardens will be full of Pimms drinkers and large jugs of the stuff will be perched on bar tables around the country for the authentic taste of the English summer. For those who don’t know, Pimms is a gin cup first made in London by James Pimms way back in 1820. He actually owned an oyster bar and created this herbal concoction to settle the stomachs of any customers who might have over-indulged on his shellfish.

Introducing Pimms No. 1

The restaurant chain grew and his drink became increasingly popular, so he developed a version of the mix that he could sell to other restaurants – and he named it the No. 1 Cup.  Today, we just know it as Pimms.
But Pimms comes in different shapes and sizes including the No. 2 Cup (made with Scotch whiskey); the No. 3 Cup (or Pimms Winter) was relaunched in 2008; the No. 4 Cup (made with Rum); and the No. 5 Cup (made with Rye). Then comes the No. 6 Cup (made with Vodka) which is the second most popular of the variants. But this article isn’t about Pimms.  It’s about an alternative.  What if we could share a recipe for home-made Pimms that is even more delicious than the original and really easy to make?

Well, say no more – your wish has just come true. Here’s an amazing, easy to drink recipe that you can make at home.

Home-made is always best…

This recipe requires first making a fruit cup syrup, which is then mixed with gin and sweet vermouth to give your summer potion an unmistakable and distinctive character.  But to do this properly, you’re going to need to gather some ingredients.  You’re going to need a little caster sugar, some fresh strawberries, a cucumber, some grapefruit peel and some mint. And then, to spritz it all up you’ll need a juniper-forward gin, some vermouth (rosso), plenty of ice and some fizzy lemonade or ginger ale. It’s already making my mouth water just thinking about it. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Home-made Pimms recipe

Ingredients:

For the fruit cup syrup

  • 300g of caster sugar
  • 200g of thinly sliced strawberries
  • 150g of sliced, peeled cucumber
  • 30g of grapefruit peel
  • 10g of mint leaves
  • 300 ml water

For the fruit cup

  • 200 ml fruit cup syrup (see above)
  • 400 ml of juniper forward gin
  • 400 ml of red vermouth
  • Sparkling lemonade or ginger ale
  • Sliced strawberries, oranges, lavender leaves and bay leaves to garnish

Method:

  1. Sprinkle the sugar over the strawberries, cucumber, grapefruit, mint and lavender
  2. Place in refrigerator overnight (to draw moisture from the fruit)
  3. Add the water, then pour everything into a resealable plastic bag
  4. Heat a pan of hot water to a steady 55C (you may need a temperature probe for this)
  5. After 4 hours, remove from the pan and strain through a sieve

For the fruit cup:

  1. Once the syrup has cooled, mix it with the gin and vermouth and store in the fridge, where it should last for up to 6 months
  2. Mix one part of fruit cup with two parts of lemonade or ginger ale (or both) over plenty of ice
  3. Garnish as extravagantly as you like – game, set and match

Anyone for tennis?


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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