Gin fit for a Queen (and a Prince!)

You may or not be a fan of The Crown, the latest must see hit mini-series from Netflix. We already know that the Queen is a big gin fan. According to inside reports, Her Maj is partial to a little sharpener of gin and dubonnet before lunch. Her eldest son, Prince Charles on the other hand is more of a G&T lover. In fact, royal insiders confirm that whenever the Prince goes on a royal tour, he takes his own booze with him. According to royal security reports, it’s bottles of gin for Charles and red wine for Camilla. While this might be seen as a touching gesture of frugality from a wealthy Prince, in fact it’s a security protocol to make sure that their drinks aren’t spiked.

Either way, this year saw a royal double. Both the Queen and Prince Charles joined the boutique/craft gin revolution. Each of them separately released their own branded gins, made from ingredients mainly sourced from their gardens. The Queen’s brew is called Buckingham Palace Gin and the Prince’s brand is called Highgrove gin. All ingredients have been sourced directly from his organic kitchen garden.

So, in the battle of the royals, who has the best gin?

Buckingham Palace gin: 42% ABV

This delicious spirit comes in an absolutely gorgeous bottle that would look good on anybody’s drinks trolley. The delicately angled and beautifully decorated bottle is made out of turquoise glass and features a golden wreath on the front, intertwined with a pretty array of wildflowers. Presumably, these are some of the 250 different types that are said to grow in her 16 hectare central London back garden. Most of the time, we only get to see it during garden parties and royal celebrations, but apparently in addition to all those flowers, there are also around 250 species of birds to keep the singing going all year round. Turn the bottle around and the flower theme continues on the back side, framing a beautiful engraved perspective of the Buckingham Palace facade. Enough to make the spirits of any true royal fan soar!

Many of the botanicals in the Queen’s gin have been directly sourced from the Palace gardens including lemon, verbena, hawthorn berries and mulberry leaves. The result is a delicious gin with prominent citrus and herbal top notes to balance the strong juniper base. The good news is that it will be served at royal engagements throughout the year, so get yourself on the guest list now. When it was first launched earlier this year, it sold out online within 8 hours, but it’s back and available for around £40 per bottle (2 bottle minimum). All profits from Buckingham Palace gin will go directly to The Royal Collection Trust which helps to fund the care and conservation of the Royal Collection. We’re not sure how involved the Queen was in developing the gin, but we’re sure she’ll love it with a little dubonnet and ice.

Highgrove Organic London Dry Gin: 40% ABV

Not to be outdone, her eldest son has also created his own brand Highgrove Organic Botanic London Dry gin. It comes in a plainer, less glamorous bottle than his mother’s gin featuring a simple white label crowned with the Prince’s royal symbol, the fleurs de lys. Prince Charles has long been an advocate for sustainable living and all of the botanicals in his gin have been grown in the Prince of Wales’ own kitchen garden at Highgrove, in the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside. They include lavender, sage and thyme, delivering a distinctive taste and flavour profile.

While juniper and citrus are the flavours that predominate here, the lemon verbena, thyme and rosemary come through on the top notes to create a delightfully tasting, elegant London Dry gin . The gin has been distilled for the Prince by master distiller Cory Mason who wanted to create a gin with the herbal notes of a traditional English garden. The result is a delicious, versatile gin suitable for any occasion – royal or not. All proceeds from the sales of Highgrove gin go to support the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Fund to develop meaningful projects in the areas of education, the environment, social inclusion health and wellbeing.

And the winner is…

We really couldn’t call this one (and we didn’t want to upset the royals) so to avoid a diplomatic incident, we’ve called it a draw. On looks and style, Buckingham Palace has the edge for sure, but it’s a little more expensive than the Prince’s version. But on taste, complexity, authenticity and price, Highgrove wins. However, don’t take our word for it, get a bottle of each and try them next to each other while watching The Crown. And let us know which one works best for you.

The Monkey Gland: 1920s Viagra in a classic cocktail

We seem to have developed a bit of a monkey theme this week.  So in that spirit, here’s the bizarre story behind one of the world’s most famous gin cocktails – the Monkey Gland. 

This classic cocktail was first mixed up at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris.   Let’s take a step back in time to the 1920s, when legendary bartender Harry MacElhone was starting to build a reputation for himself in the heart of Paris.  He was well known for mixing up fabulous American style cocktails for his glamorous roster of international clients.  In 1922, in a clever marketing move, he thought he’d collect his best recipes and publish them in a book of cocktails which he called “Harry’s ABC of mixing cocktails”.  The book contained one particular drink with a strange name and a bizarre story. 

Building the legend

The art of cocktail making isn’t simply about mixing the right ingredients, there is also the little matter of building a reputation.  Harry knew that and concocted a wickedly strong cocktail by mixing classic London Dry gin with a little orange juice and a few dashes of Grenadine. To top it off, he added the final detail – 3 dashes of high strength Absinthe to guarantee an out of this world experience.  He mixed it all up, shook it with ice and poured it into a Martini glass. It was delicious, but he knew he had to have a name for it if he was to create a classic cocktail.  He called it the Monkey Gland – and he took inspiration from a bizarre source. 

Monkey glands, Viagra and a Russian scientist

In those pre-Viagra days, a Russian scientist called Serge Voronoff was experimenting with ways of maintaining men’s “staying power” and he hit on a very strange technique.  He grafted monkey glands onto men in a bid to boost their virility.  While this was a bit extreme (and there is no evidence that this technique actually worked) Harry was inspired.  He knew that sex sells, so in honour of Prof. Voronoff, he decided to name his new drink “The Monkey Gland” with all the promises and hope that a stimulating drink like this brings to men of a certain age. 

It has been a bartender’s classic ever since.  While we can’t vouch for the medical benefits of this drink, we can highly recommend it for its flavour and strength. For the prefect pour, we recommend making it with a good, classic London Dry such as Sipsmith [paid link].

Handle with care

Beware of the Absinthe – it’s not to everyone’s taste, but it packs a real alcoholic punch, so handle with care.

Bottoms up!

Here’s our classic recipe for a traditional Monkey Gland:

Ingredients:

  • 3 dashes of absinthe
  • 3 dashes of Grenadine
  • ⅓ orange juice
  • ⅔ London Dry gin

Method:

Shake well (over ice) and stir into cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange slice or a twist of burnt orange peel for a little extra flavour. 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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A hand introducing coins in a piggy bank

5 of the most expensive gins in the world

Gin comes in all shapes and sizes and these days, there’s something for everyone, whatever your budget. Most of us think that £40 for a bottle of gin is an extravagance. But, as the demand for gin grows and the craft gin revolution uncovers new markets, new techniques and new flavours, there is a new breed of gin appearing, aimed squarely at the super high end of the market. These gins are a bit more “bling” than our normal tipples.

So, here’s a brief look at some of these new, high-end gin brands. Do you reckon any of these might make it into your Christmas stocking this year?

5. Anty Gin

The folks at Anty Gin make this with the essence of “approximately” 62 red wood ants. It also features a selection of hand-picked botanicals including juniper and nettles. The  result: a citrusy, surprising and very expensive gin which will amaze your friends. 42% ABV, RRP: 225 euros. 

4. Grand Cru Gin

If you like fine wine, then Grand Cru gin is for you. Made with 50% Grand Cru Burgundy wine, blended with 50% gin, this little baby has been infused with raspberry, strawberry, black truffle rose and violet for an extraordinary complex and rich flavour. It comes in a fancy presentation box and it’s a perfect gift for you if you want to impress someone you like a lot. Or, alternatively, just drink it yourself. Up to you! ABV 47%; RRP: £495.

Two different Grand Cru Gin bottles next to a box

3. Nolet’s Reserve Dry Gin

This Dutch distillery has been in the same family for 10 generations, so by now they’ve probably got the secret of gin-making down to a fine art. Let’s hope so, since this prestigious gin carries a hefty price tag. And here’s why: it features two of the most expensive ingredients on earth – spicy saffron and elegant verbena – giving it a unique and distinctive flavour with a savoury dryness and a long finish. Nolet’s Reserve Dry Gin bottle can also be hand engraved 52.3% ABV, RRP : 650 euros.

2. Watenshi “Japanese Angel” Gin

Another gin from the Cambridge Distillery, who make this in batches of only 6 bottles. Watenshi Gin features an intensive distilling process that only yields 15ml of spirit per distillation. The result – an intensely exotic gin with notes of sweet citrus and spice. There’s also plenty of juniper leading to a long, complex and intensely satisfying finish. This beautiful concoction is then poured into a hand blown decanter bottle and finished off with silver pieces by jeweller Antoine Sandoz. 45% ABV, RRP: 2250 euros

. Watenshi Gin Beautiful round white bottle

1. Morus LXIV

From UK’s Jamjar Gin team, Morus LXIV  takes more than two years to produce and is made from the leaves of a single, ancient Mulberry tree. Once harvested, the guys at Jamjar dry the leaves before adding them to a selection of generations old botanicals grown in soil nourished by an ancient underground stream. The team then decant the distilled gin into hand made porcelain jars, encased in a beautifully finished leather hide. 64% ABV, RRP: 4495 euros.


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

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


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a little monkey sitting in the forest looking at the camera

The Monkey’s Tale: the legend behind the gin

You might have seen our recent post about one of our favourite gins, the deliciously complex Monkey 47, made deep in the heart of the Black Forest.

Every great gin should have a great story behind it, but even by most normal standards, this one stands out. Bizarrely, it involves an RAF pilot, a wild monkey, a watchmaking business and a German distiller.

So what could possibly connect these things and what brought them together in the depths of the Black Forest to create this legendary gin?

The RAF pilot and a monkey called Max

After WW2 had ended, a certain RAF pilot with the very British name of Wing Commander Montgomery Collins moved from the UK to the Black Forest to set up a small watchmaking business.

But when his patience ran out with the intricacies of mechanical timepieces, he switched his attention to running a small guest house, which he named “The Wild Monkey”. According to local legend, it was named after a monkey called Max that he had adopted from Berlin Zoo.

Montgomery kept himself busy running the guest house, but he filled his spare time by making distilled fruit spirits. Inevitably, soon he graduated to gin.

Nobody knows exactly what happened to Wing Commander Collins, but his legacy lives on. Wherever he may have ended up, he left behind a case of gin labelled “Max the Monkey – Black Forest Dry Gin”.

In 2007 a local German distiller called Alexander Stein stumbled across the gin. Stein was intrigued. He tasted it and he recognised a good recipe when he saw one. He spent much of the next couple of years foraging for the ingredients and trying out and testing the ratios. Monkey 47 (paid link) was eventually launched in its distinctive squat, dark bottle with its stunning postage stamp label and an initial run of 2000 bottles.

47: the magic number

Within a year, this intriguing gin had won “Best In Class” at the International Wine and Spirits Championships in San Francisco. The rest, as they say, is history.

Monkey 47 is now one of the most respected gin brands in the world and a prominent feature of any decent bartender’s gin collection.

This complex, beautifully blended and packaged gin has carved out a big space for itself, partly because of the 47 unique botanicals (many locally sourced from the Black Forest) that make it so intriguing. It is also a hefty 47% ABV, so it packs a true punch. For a full review of this delicious gin, check out our recent article, Monkey 47: complex and packed with flavour

Each distinctive brown bottle recreates the old chemist bottles that gin was served from in its earliest days. It also features a postage stamp of Max the Monkey on its unique label, in tribute to the creature from the forest that inspired a gin.

Top tip: always keep a bottle of this in reserve for your special guests. They will love it.

Prost!


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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an image of the beautiful Viaduct Tavern in Holborn

Victorian gin palaces: a 19th century game changer

There aren’t many real gin palaces left in the UK these days – and that’s a pity.

When I think of a gin palace, I imagine an ornate room with high ceilings, glamorous chandeliers and “over the top” decorations. I picture long polished bars, marble tiling and oil paintings and engravings on the walls. A sense of glamour and opulence. But it was not always that way. 

In the 18th century, gin began its journey in Britain. In those days, it was sold directly to customers from what were known as “dram shops”. These were often pharmacies (since that was where much gin was made in those days). They generally sold the gin to drink as a shot to drink right there or to takeaway. Dram shops were not places to linger and soak up the atmosphere. But there was no alternative and as the price of gin plummeted, their popularity soared. 

Mother’s ruin

By the 1750s, more than 7,000 dram shops were operating in London alone, distilling up to 10 million gallons of gin per year – mostly Old Tom. In fact, in those days, the average Londoner drank around a half a pint of gin per day. Social issues increased dramatically and violence and prostitution soared.

Then, as Britain changed its licensing laws, it also changed the approach to drinking gin.

So, to control consumption, the Government imposed taxes on gin and by the late 1700s, gin consumption had massively decreased. The backstreet gin shops died out, only to pave the way for the birth of a new phenomenon – the gin palace. Distillers started making their gin in quantities. They took their inspiration from the glamorous new department stores that were starting to appear in major cities, looking for new ways to engage with their customers. 

Gin goes upmarket

In the 1820s, the gin boom really kicked off.

In fact, between 1825 and 1826, gin consumption doubled from 3.7 million barrels p.a. to 7.4 million gallons p.a. The distillers saw an opportunity to capitalise on this growth in demand and began to build the first of the gin palaces. Based on the glamorous merchandising style of the new retailers, they spared no expense in fitting out these new, upmarket drinking establishments.

The new gin palaces looked opulent and “over the top”, often built with large glass front windows and lit by gas lights. They were somewhere you wanted to stay for a while, somewhere you wanted to be seen, somewhere with a bit of glamour. They were a world away from the dingy, often violent surroundings in which gin had previously been drunk.

Adding a touch of glamour

High ceilings and ornate mirrors dominated these glorious spaces – and for the first time, customers were encouraged to sit down and enjoy their gin in these extravagant new surroundings.

Gin was poured directly into glasses from giant barrels on the walls and pretty barmaids sold it to customers over the “bar”, which was simply an evolution of the chemist shop counter where gin was originally sold.

This style became hugely popular and paved the way for the even more glamorous gin palaces and pubs of the Victorian era. Sadly, none of the original gin palaces remain, but a few glamorous and ornate Victorian pubs still exist to give you a sense of the style and opulence that they once embodied.

If you ever find yourself in London, here are a few nice places where you can spend the afternoon sipping a G&T, staring at the ornate ceiling:


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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Two scary and funny halloween pumpkins

Halloween treat: try a Corpse Reviver No. 2

Halloween is here and this evening, it is very likely that you will get a knock on the door. When you answer it, you will probably be confronted with a child dressed as a witch, or a famous superhero or even a headless ghost. They will charm you, and you will fall for their charms. And then, they will demand candy in return for not messing up your front doorstep. This has become the modern Halloween tradition that we all recognise.

But Halloween is not just a contemporary combination of a fancy dress party and a sugar-rush. It is an ancient festival, dedicated to remembering the dead and is thought to have evolved from ancient Celtic harvest festivals with pagan roots.

From pagan roots to hobby horses

Over the years, we have become familiar with the most recent incarnations of those ancient rituals. These include pumpkin carving, costume parties, telling scary ghost stories and generally spooking people out. But before the current tradition of trick or treat began, earlier versions were taking place.

From as early as the 16th century, the tradition of mumming was common in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. People went from house to house exchanging songs and verse for food. In those days, they would dress up as the souls of the dead. At around the same time, over in England, a man with a hobby horse led youths from house to house reciting verses with pagan overtones. And in Scotland people in masks went from door to door threatening to do mischief if they were not welcomed.

Turnips, pumpkins and cross-dressing Scots

Fast forward to the late 19th and early 20th century and it appears that the youth of Glamorgan and Orkney went for a bit of cross-dressing. In the 20th century, the pranks became more common in England as well and naughty kids would hollow out turnips and carve grotesque faces in them to use as lanterns. These in turn became the Jack ‘O’ Lanterns that we now carve out of pumpkins.

Echoes of these roots can still be glimpsed in our 21st century version of Halloween. And given the year we’re in, strangers knocking on your doors in masks may have a particular resonance.

Manning the barricades

So, if you’re planning on manning the barricades this Halloween, it’s best to be prepared. Obviously, you’ll need a large bag of assorted candy to ward off the ghosts and ghouls – and a strong gin cocktail to keep your own spirits up.

And what cocktail could be better than a Corpse Reviver?

This classic cocktail was invented by the eminent Harry Craddock, original head bartender at the American Bar of the Savoy (and all round legend). It features in his famous Savoy Cocktail Book, first published in 1930. Ever helpful, right underneath the recipe, Harry offers the following advice:

Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.

Harry Craddock

TOP TIP: We don’t necessarily recommend downing four in a row, unless you really want to see spirits. But one or two won’t do you any harm. And it will help you to deal with those pesky Halloweeners outside your front door.

Harry Craddock’s original recipe for a Corpse Reviver No.2:

Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass

Happy Halloween!


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

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


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A picture of the front door of Bobby Gin cocktail bar in Barcelona

Bobby Gin: a true Barcelona classic

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

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

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

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

80 gins, bespoke cocktails (and tonics galore!)

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

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

God Save the Gin! (Fonk)

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

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

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

Retro vibe, modern drinks, fun people

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

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

Bobby Gin

Carrer de Francisco Giner, 47, 08012, Barcelona


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

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


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Gin glasses: why are they all shapes and sizes?

Cocktail making is part art, part science, but all style.

The best cocktails need to be served with a certain flair. For many, it’s as much about the experience as it is about the drink itself.  Gone are the days when the gin and tonic was an “also-ran” in the world of fancy cocktails, regularly served in small, dirty glasses in dingy pubs. 

Now, that’s all changed forever. Gin is theatre. Cocktail making is performance. And serving a Dry Martini in a copa glass is never going to work.

Here are some of the most popular gin glasses and when (and why) you should dig them out from that bottom shelf:

Martini glass (Martini, Cosmopolitan)

The iconic cocktail glass, this little baby just oozes class. Imagine yourself transported to the glamorous 50s.  Frank Sinatra was sipping Martinis by the dozen and Dean Martin was sipping with him. This is the perfect glass for drinks that are served “up” (i.e. without ice). The clever thing about this glass is that the stem stops the glass from warming up in your hand.  And the conical shape allows you to make the most of the aromas coming from it. Plus, it looks cool. Very cool.

Copa de balon glass (G&T, gin punches)

We love these glasses, which originated in 18th century Spain, in the Basque country.  They first became popular in Barcelona in the 2010s when the Spanish kicked off the process of reinventing the humble gin & tonic. Since then they have become widely used all over the world. We think Copa glasses are perfect for gin and tonics – bulbous and balloon like.  And since they sit on a stem, you won’t warm up the contents with your hot hands.

And even better, your drink will stay cool longer, since the large bowl allows loads of ice into the glass for some extra chill. We also like the fact that the bowl shape stops the ice cubes from melting too quickly and diluting your drink!  And if you’re into your garnishes, there’s plenty of room to make your drink even more exotic. 

Copa glasses really bring out the flavour profile of the botanicals within the gin and help to intensify the aromas on the nose. These are gin glasses that allow you to make the most of your drink.

Highball/Collins glass – (Gin Collins, Gin Sling/Gin Mojito)

This tall glass is perfect for cold drinks that contain a large proportion of mixer to gin. Especially when they’re best served chilled over plenty of ice cubes. So, if you like your drinks long and cool, then these are probably the glasses you’re after.

Coupe glass (Gimlet, Sidecar)

A bit more stable than its cousin the Martini glass, these long stemmed and a rounded bowl glasses evoke a glamorous era where sophistication and elegance were all the rage. In a coupe glass, the liquid should reach the top of the glass so that your nose stays as close as possible to the drink inside. This glass will infuse you with glorious smells to get those taste buds active again. With its wide brim, it’s also perfect for drinking fragrant cold cocktails

Rocks glass/Old Fashioned glass (Negroni, Sazerac, Caipirinha)

With a thick, heavy base, this is a great glass for any drink that needs to hold lots of ice. If you’re one of those who likes your gin neat over ice (Icelandic gin), then this is the one for you. It’s also great for any gin-based drinks that require muddling and its wide mouth ensures that it has plenty of room for those additional garnishes.


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

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


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a whiskey glass being poured a cocktail from a shaker and garnished with orange peel

What exactly is a Pink Gin?

Some people think that Pink Gin is just a gimmicky brand name or just a normal gin that’s been infused with something pink.  But, you couldn’t be more wrong.  Pink gin is a thing of its own and it has been for centuries.

So, how did it get its name?

Originally, it was drunk on board Royal Navy ships, where the sailors knew it as “Pinkers”. In those days alcohol was a vital medical supply, used to clean wounds and combat infection. As such, it became a mainstay in any ship’s galley. In the old days, gin was a much stronger affair, so the sailors tended to mix it with equal quantities of water to make it drinkable.

The days when we drank gin for “medicinal purposes “ are now long behind us but for old times sake, here’s a traditional pink gin recipe to try.  But remember, it’s not for the easily intimidated. These days, with such a huge selection of gins to choose from, all with different flavour profiles and characteristics, you might want to make your own pink gin at home. It couldn’t be any simpler and apparently it’s a good cure for seasickness. It seems we have a lot more to thank the Royal Navy for than we possibly imagined!

Pink Gin


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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old style sailor sitting on a bench looking through a window

What shall we do with the drunken sailor?

Yo Ho, Ho! (and a bottle of gin)

Did you know that Royal Navy officers received a daily ration of gin until as recently as 1970? In fact, the Royal Navy’s worldwide reach is partly responsible for gin becoming a global drink.  As early as the 18th century, gin became associated with beneficial medical properties, offering cures for a variety of illnesses.  At that time, it became mandatory for Royal Navy vessels to set sail with specific quantities of medicinal gin on board.

Gin commissioning kits

In fact, from the 18th century onwards, all newly commissioned Royal Navy ships received something called a “Gin Commissioning Kit”. This was basically a wooden box. But, open the lid and inside, you would find two bottles of “Navy Strength” gin and accompanying glasses.  This gin tradition lasted for more than 200 years and only ended around 50 years ago.

The invention of the Gimlet

Gin was also used to ward off diseases such as scurvy, which was generally caused by a lack of vitamin C on long sea voyages. To counter this disease, the Royal Navy prescribed lemons as a cure.  After a few years they moved to limes, sourced from the Caribbean. This eventually led to the creation of one of the classic gin cocktails, the Gimlet.

So, thank you Sir Thomas Desmond Gimlette, Royal Navy surgeon, for creating a medicinal drink. Gin to “fortify” and Roses Lime Cordial to “immunise” – a combination that has stood the test of time.