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.


RECENT POSTS

  • 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 … Continued
  • 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 … Continued
  • 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 … Continued
  • Small bottle, big label: the story behind Angostura bitters
    We recently published a little article about gin and bitters (including Angostura) – a pairing almost as old as gin itself. As cocktails become more daring and our tastes become more and more exotic, we are constantly searching for new twists and flavours to make sure we get the very best out of our drinks. … Continued

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.


RECENT POSTS

  • 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 … Continued
  • 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 … Continued
  • 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 … Continued
  • Small bottle, big label: the story behind Angostura bitters
    We recently published a little article about gin and bitters (including Angostura) – a pairing almost as old as gin itself. As cocktails become more daring and our tastes become more and more exotic, we are constantly searching for new twists and flavours to make sure we get the very best out of our drinks. … Continued
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.

RECENT POSTS

  • 5 “go to” classic gins you can rely on
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  • 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 … Continued
  • 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 … Continued
  • Small bottle, big label: the story behind Angostura bitters
    We recently published a little article about gin and bitters (including Angostura) – a pairing almost as old as gin itself. As cocktails become more daring and our tastes become more and more exotic, we are constantly searching for new twists and flavours to make sure we get the very best out of our drinks. … Continued
angostura bitters

Small bottle, big label: the story behind Angostura bitters

We recently published a little article about gin and bitters (including Angostura) – a pairing almost as old as gin itself. As cocktails become more daring and our tastes become more and more exotic, we are constantly searching for new twists and flavours to make sure we get the very best out of our drinks. As we mentioned in our article, bitters have been a bartender’s friend for many years now.  And with the recent explosion in interest in all things gin, new and interesting brands have emerged to put their latest spin on this classic concoction.

The “Daddy” of all bitters

And that got us looking at the “Daddy” of all bitters – Angostura. And the more we looked, the more intrigued we became.  We noticed that the label on a bottle of Angostura Bitters is way too big for the bottle itself. It almost looks like it’s been taken from a bigger bottle and simply slapped onto a smaller bottle, despite its overgrown proportions.  It looks a bit like a teenage boy wearing his Dad’s over-sized shirt.
So, after a little bit of research, we discovered the reason – but you’ll have to wait until the end of the article before we reveal it.
First, here’s the story of Angostura bitters and how a little bottle with a big label changed the way we think about drink.

What are bitters?

Just a little reminder, bitters are alcoholic preparations flavoured with carefully chosen botanicals and characterised by a highly concentrated bitter or bittersweet flavour.  Many of the famous brands of bitters began their life as medicines. But most are now sold as digestifs or cocktail flavourings.  A small drop of bitters can radically alter the taste of your drink bringing out flavours that you might not have noticed before. They also add layers of complexity to give your drink a richer, more rewarding  flavour profile.

But amongst all the bitters out there, one stands tall and proud.  It is the “Daddy” of them all and it is called Angostura.  We thought we’d take a look at this little beauty and see just why it has become the most popular brand of bitters on the market – and why it has a label that is much too big for its tiny bottle.

Angostura bitters – the original (and still one of the best!)

Angostura bitters are made by the House of Angostura in the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago, but the bitters were originally produced in a little town called Angostura, in Venezuela. It is there that the liquid first got its name.  Interestingly, Angostura Bitters (unlike many of its rivals) does not actually contain any Angostura bark (yet another quirky fact about this interesting and long-lasting brand).

So, how did it all begin?

There was a German surgeon called Dr. Siegert who served in the Venezuelan army of Simon Bolivar.  It was he who originally developed the recipe as a medical remedy and in 1824, Siegert began to sell it commercially. By 1830, he had opened up a distillery exclusively for the production of these bitters and he used local knowledge about botanicals from the indigenous people who lived in the area of the town.  By 1853, bitters began to become popular abroad and by 1875, the plant was moved to its current location in Port of Spain.  At this point, Angostura bitters was growing its reputation. It even won some prestigious medals (which are still displayed on the legendary oversized label, which also features a profile image of Emperor Franz Joseph 1 of Austria).

A closely guarded secret

And, like many brands, its recipe remains a closely guarded secret. Rumour has it that only one person knows the full recipe and that it is passed down by word of mouth to each new generation. Angostura makes a range of different bitters now, including an orange one.  But it’s the original that sets the standard and has remained in charge for almost 200 years.

Reach for the Angostura…

Bitters are more popular than ever now and everyone from top mixologists to casual drinkers should keep a bottle close to the bar – if you like Pink Gins, Old Fashioneds or Manhattans, you’ll need to reach for the Angostura. So, that’s a little bit about the story behind the brand.  But what about that oversized label?

So, what’s the story behind the over-sized label?

Well, here it is. It was actually a mistake that has stood the test of time. When Dr. Siegert died in 1870, he passed the business on to his sons. They decided it was time to get some publicity, so they decided to do a rebrand of their precious product. One of the brothers set to work designing the new bottle while the other went about designing the new label.  Unfortunately, they didn’t bother to talk first and by the time the competition entry was due, they had no time for a redesign, so they left it how it was. The rest, as they say, is history. History tells us that the brother’s didn’t end up winning the competition.  But apparently, on the advice of one of the judges, they kept the oversized label going forward so they would stand out from the competition.

To this day, the tradition continues and it has now become an intrinsic part of the character of this little drink that packs a big punch.  Now, there is a new generation of imitators, but none have taken the crown from the King. Some have even tried to replicate the over-sized label.  But this is a case where the original retains its pole position at the forefront of its category.

So, in tribute to the longevity of this cocktail classic, here’s a little Angostura bitters recipe that you might enjoy.  In a world where Pink Gin seems to simply refer to a colour, we return to the original Pink Gin with a classic recipe that might be worth revisiting.  Over to you!

Pink Gin cocktail – the classic

This drink works best with a strong, Navy Strength gin such as Tarquins Navy Strength.  The point of this mix was originally to help make the strong alcohol taste a little easier to drink.  Sometimes, dilution can actually be your friend in a cocktail – it’s not always about the strongest.  In this version, the strong gin is “cut” by water from the melted ice to help to improve the flavour of over-strength gin. And it works a treat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Navy Strength gin
  • Angostura Bitters
  • A twist of lemon (for garnish)

Method:

  1. Gather your ingredients
  2. Express the oils of the lemon peel over the drink and drop the peel in
  3. Add a dash (or two) of Angostura bitters to a mixing glass filled with ice
  4. Swirl this “bittered” ice and water around in a cocktail glass
  5. Dump out the water, leaving the glass with a bitters rinse
  6. Back in your mixing glass, pour a large measure of gin (2 oz is good) and fill it with ice
  7. Stir well and strain into a cocktail glass
  8. Serve 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.


RECENT POSTS

  • 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 … Continued
  • 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 … Continued
  • 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 … Continued
  • Small bottle, big label: the story behind Angostura bitters
    We recently published a little article about gin and bitters (including Angostura) – a pairing almost as old as gin itself. As cocktails become more daring and our tastes become more and more exotic, we are constantly searching for new twists and flavours to make sure we get the very best out of our drinks. … Continued
Rawal gin

Rawal Gin: a taste of the sea from the beating heart of Barcelona

posted in: Gin and Juniper | 0

El Raval. For centuries, it has been one of Barcelona’s most raw and exotic neighbourhoods.  Just behind the gentrified, touristed street that is known as Las Ramblas, sits one of the greatest food markets in the world. La Boqueria is known globally for its bustling, buzzy atmosphere and its generations old connection to this amazing city.  It’s true that tourism has started to eat away at the real, authentic local market that has served the people of Barcelona with fresh fruit, seafood, meat, nuts and treats for generations. But it still retains its extraordinary character and its well worth a visit if you’re ever in Barcelona. And just behind this Barcelona landmark lies a genuine local barrio, with a colourful history of tolerance, integration, culture and hedonism.

Barcelona’s edgy melting pot

For years, El Raval was the place where the immigrants settled.  With it, like every port area, it brought with it a slightly edgy, bohemian atmosphere.  It has been known as Barcelona’s Chinatown. It has been called Rawalistan (due to the influx of immigrants from India, Pakistan and the Middle East).  And taking up the centre ground in the area are the hipsters and bohemians that embrace that diversity and who love a sense of adventure.  So, it’s no wonder that this diverse, hip and tolerant barrio gave birth to some of Barcelona’s best cocktail bars and Barcelona’s first boutique gin. A local gin that reflects the diversity and edginess of this extraordinary neighbourhood.

So, when we heard about the latest craft gin offering from Rawal Gin (pronounced Raval in English!), we were more than excited. Our heads were full of questions.  Why Rawal? Why gin in Rawal? What’s this all about?

A beautiful gin in a striking bottle

So, let’s be clear.  I first saw a bottle of Rawal gin on my Facebook feed.  I was on the hunt for new Barcelona Gins and this one popped into my feed. The first thing that struck me was its beautiful label.  At this stage, I hadn’t even sniffed the gin.  But the label said it all.  It had a Barcelona vibe written all over it.  The diving figure demonstrated risk taking and adventure.  It spoke of the daring spirit of this extraordinary city and it paid homage to its willingness to think differently.  So, I reached out to the man behind the brand to find out a little more about his story. And this is what he told me:

Tell me a little bit about yourself.  Where are you from, what’s your background and how did you get into gin?

My name’s Sergi and I’m from Barcelona. I grew up in El Raval, so it’s been part of my life since the beginning. I feel very connected to this barrio. This story starts after I had been the chef-owner of my own cocktail bar for around twelve years.  Bartending was my passion and I’d been working as a bartender for all that time. The cocktail bar was called “Pesca Salada”. In Catalonia, “Pesca Salada” (salted-fish) is a generic name that the locals use to describe shops that sell salted cod, anchovies and canned fish.

The bar itself had a great atmosphere.  It was oozing with all the memories and shadows of its ancient origins and all the interior decoration was inspired by the sea.  The bar was on the same street that I’d grown up on and it specialized in gins.  It was a tiny bar but it served more than 40 different brands of gin. For all that time, I existed in this small island in the heart of Barcelona’s iconic Raval neighbourhood.  And this is where I first became familiar with the world of distillates and creative cocktails. Submerged in this gin and tonic sea, I had the idea of concocting my own, special Barcelona gin.

What made you start a gin brand/distillery?

I come from a home distilling background and as with most obsessions, it all began as a hobby. But I soon found that I enjoyed making my own fermentations so much, building my own copper stills, designing condensers, capturing the essence of botanicals through experiments. It eventually became a passion and I decided that it could become a part of my way of living. So, after some “Breaking Bad” style experiments, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and I went off to study Brewing and Distilling at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University.

My dream was to create a one hundred percent local, handcrafted, organic gin. After a lengthy journey, the dream finally came true.

We started to produce Rawal Organic Dry Gin in Barcelona City’s first gin micro-distillery. It was anchored in a small spot, in a tiny neighbourhood, in this beautiful city.  And just like the neighbourhood in which it was born, it has a seafaring spirit. So, in April 2019, I decided to moor the “Bar Pesca Salada” for a while and I set sail for my new adventure.

What was the hardest thing for you to do as you launched Rawal Gin?

The hardest part is getting people to know about your product.  If you don’t have a large marketing budget it takes much more time and effort to make your product stand out. Especially now. That was definitely a challenge in the early days and it remains challenging now.

Is there a clear philosophy behind your brand and what do you stand for?

Rawal Gin is a local product, organic and environmentally friendly. My original purpose was to bring a level of environmental awareness into the world of distillation. It was also a formidable challenge to build a micro distillery in the city.

Over the last decade, we have been lucky enough to see many successful craft breweries open up in our country. So, it’s a really good feeling to be able to say that I built Barcelona’s first micro distillery and that I’ve transferred this philosophy to distillates.

The main philosophy behind Rawal Gin is “do-it-yourself”. As you can imagine, making gin  requires a lot of time and effort. But if you make it yourself, it can also be very rewarding indeed.

Tell me about the gin: what process do you use to make it and what makes Rawal Gin stand out from the crowd?

Rawal Dry Gin is a natural product.  We add no sugars or chemicals. The neutral spirit is made from organic wheat and all botanicals used to flavour this high quality neutral spirit are organic certified.

We infuse 12 distinctive botanicals for 24hours in the diluted neutral spirit and then we distill it using a hand-made copper still that we call Rufino. Even the copper still is home made and I built it myself through a combination of speculation, imagination and the practical  soldering of large diameter copper pipes. The result was a still that was perfect for my needs. Rawal Organic Dry Gin is craft-distilled in small batches of one hundred bottles. That’s because the slow pace of distillation requires a full working day to produce this number of bottles.

What botanicals do you use and how would you describe the flavour profile of your gin?

These are the basic botanicals that make up the unique flavour profile of Rawal gin:

  • Juniper berries
  • Coriander seeds
  • Angelica root
  • Liquorice
  • Cassia
  • Allspice
  • Cardamom
  • Orris root
  • Almond
  • Lemon peel
  • Orange peel
  • Kombu

Through accurate doses and increasing familiarity with each other, Rufino still continues to delight us with a distillate where juniper berries are still clearly in charge. It delivers the essential and familiar character of gin, offering up the refreshing notes of pine leaves with a slight bitterness, which leaves the palate crisp and dry.  This delicate distillate balances sweet and bitter tones with warm spice and floral mellowness, all rounded off to deliver a drink that has the unmistakable taste of the sea that inspired it.

What is the perfect serve to enjoy Rawal Gin?

For first timers, I always recommend simply mixing Rawal Gin with a good, premium tonic water.  They are a perfect match for each other and by starting off like this, you’ll be able to notice more of the subtle nuances of this delicious gin. We all know that perfection doesn’t exist.  But we think a Rawal G&T with a twist of lemon peel and a small strip of Kombu is about as close to perfection as any of us are likely to get.  

You have a very distinctive brand and label. What’s the significance behind the design and who designed it?

The design relates to my old cocktail bar, the “Pesca Salada”.  This is where the initial idea of creating a gin began. Also, I was born in a port city, so the sea has always been part of me. It was an essential requirement to create a gin that was related to the sea.  After a long period of research I realized that an algae called Kombu would be my partner in crime.

I came up with the idea of using a swimmer for the brand design – but the folks at Dorian Studio were able to really bring the design to life. In Spain, we have a saying, which is: “tirarse a la piscina”.  This is used to indicate that it is time to take a risk.  The closest English expression would be: jump in the deep end. This image of a guy diving head-first into the sea is also a metaphor of my own sense of daring and adventure.

What are your ambitions for Rawal Gin? Will you be producing more gins?

I’m not an ambitious guy but if making gin is enough to make me a good living I will be very happy. I love experimenting with new botanicals so it’s highly likely that I will produce more gins to add to my range. I’m already thinking about organic vodka too.

Where is your gin stocked and how can people buy it?

Right now, you can buy it online from my website.  You can also find it in many of Barcelona’s best bars and liquor stores.

Any final words of advice for our readers?

Please taste it!! And if you like it, please taste it again…


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 Hugo

Gin and summertime: introducing The Hugo

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Gin and summertime are a perfect match. They go together as naturally as strawberries and cream.  In fact, there’s  nothing better on a hot summer’s day than a deliciously long, sparkling gin and tonic made in a Spanish copa glass. Especially if it’s filled with extra large ice cubes to keep you refreshed until the last sip.  But gin lends itself to so much more than just gin and tonics.  And maybe there is another way…

In the summertime, long cocktails become more popular than at other times of year and you can mix them up to match your mood. Whether you’re sunning yourself by a pool in the Mediterranean or sipping them gently by the BBQ in your back garden, they can make a lovely, easy to drink alternative to a cold beer and a more sophisticated way of drinking your gin than in a standard gin and tonic.

Summertime (and the ginning is easy…)

We know that as we ease into the summer social season, there will be lots of people reaching for that bottle of Pimms they’ve had since last summer.  They’ll be thinking about cutting up all that fruit, getting the proportions right and whether or not they have a jug or a punch bowl in the kitchen that’s big enough to mix up a summer batch.

But there is another way.  There are loads of refreshing, easy to make summer coolers that we think you might enjoy as the heat gets turned up and the summer starts to deliver on its early promise.  From standard summer punches to Singapore Slings and from Tom Collins‘ to Pomegranate coolers and Gin Fizzes, there’s something for everybody. 

But we thought we’d share a recipe for a delicious, refreshing summer drink called a Hugo
I like to think it’s in honour of one of my favourite teenagers, but he assures me that it’s nothing to do with him.

So, what is a Hugo and how do I make one?

This drink is so easy to make, it’s almost embarrassing.  It’s the perfect cocktail for summer sipping in the back garden, or for gathering around the pool for a cool down.  And it only has three key ingredients: gin, cava and elderflower cordial. It seems so simple and such easy flavours to combine. So, where did this refreshing drink originate? Well, according to legend it first appeared in Austria in the region of South Tyrol.  According to Mixology magazine, the first sighting of a Hugo was in 2005, when a barman called Roland Gruber was looking for an alternative to a Spritz Venetiano (prosecco, Aperol and soda water).  

In Roland’s version, he mixed gin, prosecco, lemon balm syrup and sparkling water and stirred it over ice.  As time went by, it became clear that elderflower syrup was easier to get than the lemon balm syrup (and tasted just as good).  Elderflower joined the party permanently and is now a standard ingredient of the Hugo. And in these days of flavoured gins, you can subtly switch up your flavour by choosing a gin. While a classic London Dry works really well with this mix, you could experiment with a few other trusted flavours. Dial up the citrus with a limey blast of Tanqueray Rangpur or give it a lemony lift with a shot of Malfy Limone. Add a little cucumber freshness with a classic Hendricks. Or make the most of that elderflower taste with a JJ Whitley elderflower gin.

Nobody quite knows why this cocktails is called a Hugo and we don’t really care.  It is sweet, refreshing, delicate, easy to make and easy to drink. It’s absolutely perfect for summer – and that’s good enough for us!

The Hugo recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 measure of gin (to taste)
  • One Collins glass (half filled with ice)
  • A good splash of elderflower cordial
  • A handful of mint leaves
  • Lime wedge
  • Cava
  • Soda water

Method:

  1. Pour a generous measure of gin into a glass half-filled with ice
  2. Add a good splash of elderflower cordial
  3. Place several mint leaves into the drink
  4. Squeeze the juice of a lime into the drink and drop the wedge in
  5. Top up with cava
  6. Add a splash of soda water
  7. Serve chilled…

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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Cornish gin

Cornwall’s Gin 7 – inspired by a beautiful landscape

With the world’s attention turning to the little beach town of Carbis Bay as the G7 leaders gather together to discuss great issues of state, we thought we’d have our own G7 in Cornwall. Welcome to our “Cornish G7”, where the “G” stands for gin.  We’ve rounded up 7 of Cornwalls’ finest bottles of juniper juice to celebrate this great occasion.  Plus, it’s a lovely little reminder of just how beautiful this remote and wild part of the UK really is. 

Rugged and rough – a land of unique traditions

Lush, green landscapes and deep valleys typify this dramatic region. Rugged cliffs tower dramatically over often turbulent seas.  Golden sands and beaches are fed by the warm, wet, westerly winds of the Atlantic which, when the sun shines, becomes a surfer’s paradise (wetsuit on, of course!) Old pubs still exist that resound with locals singing sea shanties eating Cornish pasties and drinking local ale.  From Lizard Point at the furthest tip of Southern England you can look out to sea and feel like you are at the end of the earth.  In fact, there’s a little town there that’s literally called Land’s End.  Then there’s, the fabulously romantic St. Michael’s Mount, a castle on a rock separated from the mainland when the tide is in (the little brother of Mont St. Michel in France).  

St. Michael’s Mount

There are cream teas all around Cornwall (with jam first, clotted cream second please) and plenty of freshly caught local seafood including amazing crab and lobster. There’s Tintagel Castle, legendary home of King Arthur’s Camelot. There’s pints of beer and local cider waiting for you at the bar of a Cornish pub. And  more sunshine than anywhere else in Britain. These all sound like cliches, but anyone who has been to Cornwall will recognise the ring of truth that lies behind these words.

Cornwall is a beautiful place and a perfect location to host a gathering of world leaders.

Cornish gin comes of age

But one thing that probably won’t be on the summit agenda this week is Cornish gin. And that’s a shame because it’s gathering quite a reputation now. So, we thought we’d celebrate this great county with a little tour of some of Cornwall’s best gins. This is our own Cornish G7 and we suggest you try to get your hands on them as soon as possible.

So, in no particular order, here we go:

Tarquin’s Gin (Tarquin’s Distillery)

Tarquin’s gin is making quite a name for itself.  For the full lowdown on these Cornish gin pioneers, check out our recent blog article

With its distinctive rounded bottle and wax-dipped top, this is a gin that is just chock-full of character on the outside as well as on the inside. The iconic frosted bottles now contain an ever widening selection of gins, handmade by Tarquin in his Higher Trevibban Farm (their little distillery high up on a cliff on the North Coast of Cornwall). They offer distillery tours (which need to be booked in advance).  They’ve also got a little shop in Padstow and you can find them on the menu at Rick Stein’s famous restaurant in the same town. In addition to his original Cornish Dry Gin, Tarquin now has The Seadog (a navy strength gin). 
They have an increasing range of Cornish fruit gins (such as rhubarb, raspberry and blackberry) and a constantly changing selection of limited edition gins. They even have their own Pastis (but that’s for another website! )

Their original Cornish Dry gin is delicious and highlights Devon violets and fresh orange zest alongside more exotic ingredients such as Guatemalan cardamom, Madagascan cinammon and Moroccan Orris root. The result is a lively gin with orange blossom on the nose and a crisp, dry finish.
Perfect for a refreshing gin and tonic with a slice of grapefruit.

Rock Samphire Gin (Curio Spirits Company) 

This one comes in a pretty bottle that highlights the hand foraged rock samphire that is gathered regularly from Cornwall’s dramatic and inaccessible clifftops. 

The guys at Curio have quadruple-distilled this gin at their distillery on the Lizard Peninsula at the furthest extremes of Cornwall itself.  As well as a beautifully designed bottle that will stand proudly on any gin shelf, this gin has managed to capture  the taste of the wild waves that pound the coast and the salt air that hovers in a mist above the lush green fields.  Inside is a gin that is full of complex flavours with just the right amount of saltiness to appeal to the seadog in you.  With a long finish and a full flavour this captures the essence of Cornwall and works really well in a cocktail such as a White Lady.

Clotted Cream Gin (Wrecking Coast Distillery)

When in the land of cows and clotted cream, even the gin echoes the landscape. If your mouth is watering at the thought of a delicious scone with home made jam and lashings of clotted cream, fret no more.  That beautiful and unique taste is now available in a bottle of Cornish gin. 

This Tintagel distillery sits in the shadows of the legendary castle and is destined to become an equally legendary gin.  For two long weeks, a dozen botanicals are macerated in grain spirit before being run through a still that is controlled by a computer. Yes, really!  While this process is underway, Cornish clotted cream is cold distilled in a separate still before the two are united  in a marriage that is made in heaven.  Think creamy softness, earthy juniper and floral notes with a honey edge.  There’s a little peppercorn in there somewhere as well.  This is a fab gin, different, but delicious.

One worth seeking out when your mind turns to cream teas

Tincture Cornish Rose Gin (Tincture Gin)

This is an interesting new arrival on the Cornish gin scene.

This classic London Dry style gin is presented in a gorgeous bottle that will assume a front row position on your bar shelf Tincture’s Cornish Rose Gin is made on the Cornish coast using fresh, organic ingredients distilled by hand in copper pot stills. 

The good news for those who are eco-conscious, is that they join a growing number of distillers who are making their gins available in reusable bottles with eco-friendly refill pouches. If you like your gin light and elegant with a little lemony sweetness, then this could be the one for you.  It’s also got complex notes of juniper and coriander to give it a blast of warmth that will come in handy by the fireplace of one of those Cornish pubs, as the sea shanties start. 

There’s another neat reason to try this gin.  Not only does it look, taste and smell lovely, but when you add tonic water, the natural golden colour of the gin changes to a pretty pink colour.  What’s not to like!

Trevethan Gin (Trevethan Gin Distillery)

This smooth London Dry gin was inspired by a recipe created by Norman Trevethan, way back in the early part of the last century.  A regular visitor to the buzzing nightlife of roaring 20s London, Norman partied in town, but put his inspiration into practice back in rural Cornwall.  He foraged for ingredients in the local hedgerows and scoured old family recipes for new ideas and perfected his recipe more than 100 years ago. 

The gin is now made by hand at the distillery’s Cornwall base. Each batch is made in small quantities and has its own unique signature character.  This is a complex gin with floral notes and a subtle citrus edge and many of the botanicals are still sourced from the local hedgerows.  Amongst the exotic flavours in this gin, look out for local Elderflower and Gorse flower, handpicked from the Trewonnard Dairy Farm in Cornwall’s Treneglos. You’ll also pick up more exotic botanicals such as orange and lemon peel and vanilla, which leaves a soft, oily texture on the palette.  We think you’ll love this oiliness alongside the citrus and floral notes.

St. Ives Gin (St. Ives Liquor Company)

This local Cornish gin from the St. Ives Liquor Company begins with the gathering of 13 local botanicals sourced from the cottage gardens and clifftops of the Cornish coastline.

Cornish Gin

With a beautiful bottle with a label that is pure Cornwall, this gin has vanilla and orange peel alongside basil and cardamom. On the palette, you’ll discover minty thyme and smoky seaweed with pink peppercorns delivering some extra spice to keep you warm.
This gin is a family affair and the brothers behind the brand pride themselves on their sustainability. They use a cold compound gin process that infuses neutral spirit with its carefully sourced botanicals to deliver a naturally flavoured gin that is bottled and labelled by hand . This gin is proud to have no preservatives, flavours or additives so you know that everything you taste comes straight from the botanicals within.

A lovely tasting gin that you can drink with confidence.

Caspyn Cornish Gin (The Pocket Full of Stones distillery) – ABV 40%

This local gin, born in the shadow’s of St. Michael’s Mount, is named after a stone circle near Penzance and it’s a classic dry gin.

Cornish gin

The brainchild of a bunch of friends who worked together in London bars, they brought their knowledge down to Cornwall with them and set up the Pocket Full of Stones distillery. In addition to local gin, these guys also produce whisky, absinthe, cideer brandy and a variety of classic and unusual gins. We’ll stick with the classic Cornish Dry gin that made their name.

There’s loads of floral notes from (hibiscus flowers) and citrus (from the lemon and orange peel and lemongrass). You’ll also detect the subtle notes of Japanese tea and a long finish delivered by the unusual gorse that is used in the recipe. This delicious, fresh gin works really well in a plain gin and tonic (with a twist of orange to let the flavours of the gin shine through). Take a sip and be inspired by the tastes of the sea air and the Atlantic ocean for a crisp and refreshing gin.

Yeghes da, everybody!

So, this weekend, we’ll leave the politics to the politicians and concentrate our efforts on the Cornwall Gin 7. Cheers, everyone. Or as the Cornish say: yeghes da!


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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Suffering Bastard

The Suffering Bastard: handle with care

When you’re young, you see things differently.  New experiences pile up all around you and you want to try everything.  And with the sharp, social competitiveness of youth, you want to test your limits to see if you can outdo your friends.  It’s all a part of discovering who you are. My teenage years were spent between the UK and the USA. In the UK, it was all about how many pints of beer I could drink and how hot my curry would be afterwards. It was a badge of honour and it took me many years to step out of that phase.
Too many, actually!  

How it all began

Then I went to college in the USA – and that’s where I found out that I had a taste for cocktails.  It wasn’t a very refined taste in those days. Some would say it still isn’t! All I know is that in those early days, I tended to gravitate towards the ones that were either easiest to drink or contained the most alcohol. 

So, after a few years on the “Long Island Iced Tea Diet”, I found myself on a road trip to Chicago, sitting at the bar of Trader Vic’s Tiki Lounge at the Conrad Hilton, when somebody bought me a  cocktail I had ever tried before.  It was called a Suffering Bastard (and I can only assume that it was named after the hangover that I had the morning after). If so, it’s the most appropriately named drink I’ve ever had.

And over the years, these deceptively strong drinks have been the source of some of my best evenings (and worst mornings) ever since! So, what is in this delightfully named drink that makes it so appealing?  Well, let’s take a look under the hood of this cocktail classic and see if you like it. If you do, it could easily become the taste of summer.

Legendary hotels and their cocktails

As we know, all good drinks contain a legend. And many of the greatest cocktails began their lives behind the bars of some of the world’s most legendary hotels. They often changed the lives and fortunes of the bartenders who invented them as well, many of whom went on to become household names.  We’ve recently written some articles about hotel cocktail classics such as the Singapore Sling, invented at the historic Raffles Hotel in Singapore.  But now it’s time to reveal the story behind the legendary Suffering Bastard and how it got its unique and dramatic name. So, here’s the deal…

Originally invented as a simple hangover cure by the bar team at Cairo’s Shepheard’s Hotel, the Suffering Bastard gained a small, local reputation before the hotel burned to the ground in a fire in1952.  But wind the clock back 10 years to see where the story really begins.  

A legend is born

It’s 1942, Cairo and the Shepheard Hotel is fast becoming party central for British troops based in North Africa and the press corps that were covering the war. They had seen a lot and often found their solace in drink. The head bartender at the Shepheard, a guy called Joe Scialom, was on duty at the bar when he heard some officers complaining about the size of their hangovers.  His ears pricked up and it got him thinking. 

He began playing around with some recipes that might cure the hangovers of some of the troops who were his regulars.  Joe tried a variety of combinations before deciding on his final mix, which combined two liquors with lime juice, bitters and the curative qualities of ginger beer. Apparently this drink became instantly popular.  Before long it was being shipped to the front lines to fortify the troops and to keep their spirits up for the hard times ahead.

An unholy alliance

The most common recipe combination for a Suffering Bastard calls for an unholy alliance of bourbon and gin.  To this day, that remains the favourite combination but many variants exist which substitute brandy for bourbon.  Rum also sometimes makes an appearance.  And sometimes ginger ale is substituted for ginger beer (which is harder to find in some places).  For those who like to tone down the spice or who prefer a dryer, more refreshing drink, this might be the combo for you. 

Tiki culture

After the war, news of the Suffering Bastard spread beyond Egypt and into the post-war cocktail culture before being hijacked by the burgeoning Tiki Culture of the 60s and 70s. Polynesian bars were popping up everywhere and fruit-based cocktails, served in giant ceramic bowls paying homage to Hawaiian culture became all the rage.  

The leader of this cocktail fad was the infamous Trader Vic (otherwise known as Victor J. Bergeron). His recipes leaned more towards rums and he added a slice of cucumber for garnish. But, he also added orgeat (for sweetness) and a splash of curacao liqueur (for some extra fruitiness).  Whichever version you prefer, is entirely up to you. But remember, these are strong drinks that are deceptively easy to drink. So, if you have too many the night before, expect to be suffering in the morning.  And we all know the best way to beat a hangover.  Have a taste of the hair of the dog that bit you. 

The Suffering Bastard – the legend lives on

And what happened to the legendary bartender responsible for creating this infamous concoction? Well, after the original hotel burned down in 1952, Joe decided to remain in Egypt.  Unfortunately after a while he was arrested on a charge of espionage and eventually, after the Suez crisis, he was exiled from Egypt by President Nasser. On arrival in the US, he ended up being hired by a certain Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton hotel chain. Joe spent the rest of his career opening bars for Conrad Hilton in Puerto Rico and Havana.  But he’ll always be known for one thing in particular – the Suffering Bastard.  And that’s the way it should be.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz London dry gin
  • ½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitter
  • Ginger beer
  • Mint sprig to garnish

Method:

  1. Add the bourbon, gin, lime juice and bitters into a shaker with ice
  2. Shake until well chilled (about 30 seconds)
  3. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice
  4. Top up with ginger beer (or ginger ale)
  5. Garnish with a sprig of mint

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 ice cream

Gin and tonic ice cream with a citrus blast

The sun is out at last and it finally feels like summer might be here to stay. From Barcelona to London and from California to Canada, the skies are turning bluer, the sun is shining brighter and it seems like there is a better future ahead of us.  And after the year we’ve just had, we think we all deserve that. It feels like there is a slow return to normal and now we have a chance to make up for last year’s lost summer.  

So, as your mind turns to warmer days, flipping burgers on the BBQ and long, cool gin cocktails, we thought we’d help you celebrate with an easy-to-make gin ant tonic ice cream recipe that will get your taste buds tingling. Welcome to the cool taste of summer!

Cool down in a creamy gin haze

This versatile gin and tonic ice cream little recipe is easy to whip up and is equally comfortable at a casual cookout as it is at a sophisticated dinner party.  And it’s too good not to share. Plus, this recipe calls for a blast of citrus orange, courtesy of Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla (other brands are available!)

So, when the heat is on, reach for this recipe and cool down in a creamy gin haze.  This is one of the loveliest (and easiest) recipes around and it combines all the elements of our favourite drink including a glug of gin, a dash of tonic and a squeeze of lemon. It’s the perfect antidote for the sunny summer that we all hope lies ahead! 

If you like it a bit sharper…

And for those who prefer their ice cream with a bit more of a citrus edge, you can always swap out the orange juice for lemon or lime juice.  If you go that route, you may also want to swap the Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla for the more limey flavours of Tanqueray Rangpur.  Or even you can try with Larios Citrus.
The beauty of this recipe is its ease and its versatility, so the flavour’s up to you!

Gin and tonic ice cream recipe (courtesy of The Gin Kin)

Ingredients:

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice (you could substitute lemon or lime)
  • 3 tbsp Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla gin
  • 130 ml tonic water
  • 600 ml double cream

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, gin and juice together until the sugar has mostly dissolved
  2. Stir in the tonic
  3. Add the cream and wait until the mix becomes as light as custard
  4. Pour into a container and freeze for 4 hours
  5. Scoop out a large serving, pour yourself a G&T and dig in!

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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ice

Ice, ice baby! It’s crystal clear…

posted in: Gin and Juniper | 0

We all know that it’s always been about the gin.  But recently, it has also become more about the tonic with the explosion of artisan and flavoured tonic water brands that are currently riding the crest of the craft gin wave.  And now, there’s the third part of gin and tonic’s Holy Trinity: ice cubes.

Welcome to the wonderful world of ice. 

Getting the ice right

As gin drinkers, we tend to focus more on the first two ingredients. But look beyond your gin and your tonic. Your ice decisions can have big consequences for the taste of your G&Ts. The ice you choose can even impact the way your drink looks. Old ice can add a stale, rank taste that may ruin an otherwise perfect G&T.
Ice made from tap water doesn’t taste as good as ice made from mineral water. Small cubes don’t cool your drink as quickly as large cubes and cubes that dilute too quickly can radically alter the taste and character of your drink.

Plastic is a waste

For most of us, the problem with ice is that we’re looking to keep our drink extra cold, but none of us like the ice diluting our gin. Some people try to rectify this with “ice stones” or frozen plastic ice cubes.  But for me, all I can taste is the plastic. 

The science

For those who think less ice will avoid dilution, we have news for you – the more ice you put in your drink, the colder it becomes and the less it dilutes. The basic laws of thermodynamics tell us that the more ice you have in your glass, the slower it will melt. So, if you drink your G&Ts at a normal speed, your ice should still be intact and cooling right down to the very last drop.

Mythbusting

We thought we’d help you through the minefield that is ice by busting some myths, offering some easy tips and opening the door on ice – one of the most important elements of a good G&T.
Here are a few bartender’s secrets to ensure your drinks stay cold right to the very last drop. These handy ice tips will help your drink by retaining (and in some cases even enhancing) the flavour of your G&T. 
So, read on as we reveal the secrets of ice.

Big cubes vs small cubes

The perennial debate rages over what size your ice cubes should be. So, here’s the thing.  Science tells us that one large ice cube reduces the temperature of your drink more slowly than several small ice cubes. This is important, because the large ice cube exposes less of its surface area to the drink than lots of small, individual ice cubes. The result is that the slower melting larger ice cube will take longer to dilute. This means that your drink will retain its flavour and won’t be watered down so quickly by the melting ice within.

Round cubes vs square cubes

People often ask why professional bartenders prefer large round ice cubes to small, square ones. And here, as in the previous answer, we turn to science.
Basically, round ice cubes expose less of their surface area to the liquid (for the same amount of volume) than a cube of ice. This reduced exposure means that the sphere of ice melts more slowly. The result is a cocktail that cools down fast and melts slowly. That’s why round ice cubes allow you to sip your drink in a more leisurely fashion, enjoying its undiluted flavour for longer. 

Of course, spherical ice cube trays are a little harder to find, but there are plenty available in bartender’s shops and retailers as well as via Amazon.  We say, get the largest spherical mold you can find. And for best results, use natural spring water for a clean taste and a naturally cool look in your glass. Couldn’t be easier, really.

Fruity ice cubes

Now, here’s a really simple way to jazz up your drinks – fruity ice cubes.  In fact, nothing could be easier.  These work particularly well when the fruit is placed in oversized cubes, but it all depends on the fruit.  This weekend, I added a few frozen blackberries to my large, square ice cube mold.  Within a few minutes, the blackberry had started to change the colour of the ice from clear to a vibrant red.  Within an hour, I had a beautiful, giant ice cube forming in a beautiful shade of berry red. Once I’d popped it into my G&T, it floated in the liquid with the raspberries encased delicately behind a wall of ice.  But as the ice slowly melted, the fruit flavour gently seeped into my G&T infusing it with a “fruits of the forest” taste that added real character to an ordinary gin. 

You can do this with any fruit that fits inside your ice mold.  I’ve tried it with blackberries, a strawberry, a lemon wedge and zest of lime.  Also added a squeeze of lemon juice or lime juice into the mix for a little citrus hit when the cubes start melting. The last one I tried was adding pink peppercorns for a little spice and even juniper berries and cardamom pods.  You are only limited by your imagination.  This is a really simple way to pimp your G&T.

Tonic water ice cubes

For those who complain about that feeling when their ice is watering down their cocktail, there is a better way.  As mentioned previously, if you really want to stop your gin from being watered down unnecessarily, the bigger the cube you can put in your drink, the better.  The larger the cube, the less melting.  But if you really want to remove all risk, try making your ice cubes with tonic water.  All you have to do is swap the water for your favourite Indian tonic water. That way, no matter how quickly it melts, it won’t dilute the taste and there will be no sense of flavour loss as the tonic water in the ice blends seamlessly with the mixer itself. 

But, why limit yourself to tonic water? 
You can add any mixer you prefer, from bitter lemon to ginger beer and from elderflower cordial to ginger beer.  As long as your ice flavour matches your mixer, then G&Ts with a diluted taste will be a thing of the past.   .

Smokey ice cubes

We revealed this tip recently in our “Bartender’s Hacks” downloadable pdf, which contains a collection of great tips for aspiring bartenders.  One of them is smokey ice cubes.

There are several ways of doing this, some of which include complicated steps such as lighting a fire and capturing smoke under glass.  We have a much simpler approach.  All you really have to do is to pop down to your local supermarket or amazon and buy a small bottle of liquid smoke. Simply add a couple of drops to the water you use to make your cubes and let it freeze. 
The result is an ice cube that slowly diffuses its flavours into your favourite gin cocktail adding a complex smokiness that works just as beautifully in a Smokey Martini as it does in a traditional Negroni.

Clear ice cubes

We’ve all seen those ice cubes.  The ones that look cloudy – and sometimes taste just a little bit strange. The ones with cracks in the middle or unidentified objects floating in the centre.  These are bad ice cubes. 

So, here are a few little tips to make your ice cubes look crystal clear and to impart a glassy clarity to your favourite drinks.
The problem is that often the water used to make your ice has been frozen from the outside in. This pushes bubbles to the centre of the cube while the crystallisation process takes place.  One of the key reasons for cloudy ice cubes is the speed at which they set.  As a general rule of thumb the slower they freeze, the clearer the ice will be. Just think of an icicle dripping off a snowy roof.  It’s the same process. 
So, to get this effect at home, simply place a small, insulated cooler inside your freezer. Anything inside the cooler will freeze more slowly, allowing the air bubbles to escape before getting trapped inside the ice.  It’s really simple. 

  1. Place your cooler box inside your freezer. 
  2. Line up some plastic ice cube trays inside the bottom and leave the cooler uncovered. 
  3. Fill the trays with water (bottled, distilled or boiled water works best). 
  4. Fill the bottom of your cooler with water (filling in around the ice tray).  This will seal off your ice cubes and stop cold air from freezing the sides.
  5. Leave the cooler (with lid off) for 24 hours.
  6. Remove the cooler and take out the full block of ice containing the frozen ice molds.
  7. Chip away around the edges and remove your ice cubes.
  8. Leave them out for a minute to let the cloudy water melt off, then quickly drop them into your drink. 

Hey, presto – glacier like ice cubes for the perfect cocktail!


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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