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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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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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. 

Top 5 gin drinking countries in the world: prepare to be surprised!

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  1. The Philippines tops the list drinking a massive 1.4 litres of gin per person per year (almost 6 times as much per head than the USA)
  2. Slovakia comes in an impressive second place in the gin drinking table, clocking up an impressive 1.2 litres per person per year
  3. The Netherlands lands at number 3 with around one standard 70cl gin bottle per person consumed every year
  4. Spain is in 4th place and consumption is on the rise, driven by its leading role in the gin revolution, its huge copa glasses and its dramatic garnishes, Spain has elevated drinking gin in to an art form
  5. The UK comes in at a lowly number 5. Despite being synonymous with all things gin. Brits drink around 400 ml of gin per person, per year. However, let’s put this in some sort of perspective. I have many friends who could easily quaff that much in an afternoon

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5 types of gin: do you know the difference?

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Gin is gin. But is it?

We all love gin – that’s why we’re here. But do we know what gin really is? Can we spot the difference between London Dry and Old Tom? Do we know why you don’t add tonic to a Genever? Probably not.

So here’s a simple guide to the 5 most important types of gin.

Try them all, figure out your own personal gin style – and stock your cupboard accordingly. After all, where gin is concerned, variety is the spice of life…

Gin

The humble gin starts its journey as a neutral spirit, distilled from anything you like – grain, potatoes, milk, apples, all of these can start you on your gin journey. But to be classified as a gin, the resulting liquid has to have a juniper flavour and juniper must be the predominant taste. It must also have a minimum ABV of 37.5% (40% in the US). So, in theory, you could simply pop down to your local shop, pull a bottle of vodka from the shelf, add a handful of juniper berries and “Hey Presto!”

Within a few hours, you’ll have turned it into gin. Once you have the base in place, you can have some fun – add some flavourings, infuse it with berries, add some spice – and start sipping. Or you could stay “old school” and simply pour it over some ice add some tonic and drink away. Your call…

Distilled gin

This starts off as above, but with one important difference  – it has to be made using distilled botanicals. The juniper-based gin needs to be “re-distilled” with those carefully chosen botanicals to become a neutral spirit of at least 96% ABV (and water). Distilled gin is increasingly popular around the world, especially in the boutique distillery movement and includes well known brands such as Martin Miller’s and Hendricks who include add more  flavours once the distillation process is done.

London Dry gin

London Dry gin can be made anywhere in the world – it’s a style, not a geographical location. London Dry follows the same basic rules as a distilled gin (see above) but it must only be flavoured with distilled natural botanicals. Once the distillation process is over, that’s it. No further flavourings can be added after the distillation process except for neutral spirit, water and a maximum of 0.1g of sugar per litre. Popular brands include Beefeater, Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire.

Old Tom gin

The precursor to London Dry gin, it’s the oldest style of English gin still produced today. Old Tom has no rules imposed on it by the EU or any other regulatory body, so it can vary widely in its tastes and flavours, but it is sweeter than some of its more well known rivals and makes itself very amenable to cocktails. It is still the favourite of bartenders around the world, who like its infinite variations and who respect its pedigree as one of the oldest forms of gin still being made. Old Tom is the staple ingredient of some amazing cocktails that go back as far as 100 years. It was out of fashion for a while, but it’s on a comeback as part of the gin revival and is now being made by small batch producers and big brands alike. Always good to keep a bottle of this in your cocktail cabinet. Some of the more successful brands of Old Tom include: Hayman’s Old Tom (40% ABV) and Jensen’s Old Tom (43% ABV). For more information about the fascinating history of Old Tom gin, read our blog post here.

Genever gin

The grandaddy of them all. Way before gin became associated with England, the Dutch created the original juniper based spirit. Also known as Jenever gin, Ginebra gin or Dutch gin, it must be produced in the Netherlands, Belgium or certain parts of France and Germany. There are two main types: Jonge Genever and Oude Genever. Jonge Genever is closest to London Dry and is made from neutral spirit and juniper with additional flavourings as desired. It can contain up to 10g of sugar and up to 15% of malt wine. Oude Genever should be made with malt wine, juniper and other botanical flavourings as well as neutral spirits. Sometimes it is matured in casks to provide colour and flavour. Flagship brands include Bols and Genevieve Genever.

What’s your favourite type of gin and why?

 

Gin Sling?

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So, what exactly is a Gin Sling?

We’re not talking broken arms or hammocks here. The Sling is one of the best things to do with your gin and it’s been around for ages. A “sling” drink started out in 18th century America as a long alcoholic drink, composed of spirit and water, sweetened and flavoured and served cold.

But it took a Hainanese bartender called Ngiam Tong Boon to make it famous when he was working at The Long Bar at Raffles Hotel. One day, some time before 1915, he decided to create a drink for his colonial clients at the famous hotel bar.

It was originally simply called the “Gin Sling” but as its fame developed, local ingredients such as the juice of Sarawak pineapples was added and word of this delicious concoction soon spread across the empire.

Sometime around 1930, it took its current name, the “Singapore Sling” and the recipe settled based on the memories of the hotels bartenders until eventually it was listed in the Savoy Cocktail book and became the classic cocktail that it now is.

Over the years, it has had many incarnations with many variations on the original recipe

The most well-known is the Singapore Sling but variations are plentiful and include the Gin Sling, the Singapore Sling, the Straits Sling (a punch version that can serve up to 6 people).

We love a bit of history and folklore and this is a great story, redolent of classic colonial Singapore. Mix one up and let us know what you think…

About Old Tom gin

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Gin has been around in different forms for a long time – but how much do you know of the history of your favourite drink? How did gin change the world? Which famous people liked a good G&T? Why did cats dispense gin to Londoners in the 18th century? Why was gin known as “mother’s ruin”?

All will be revealed in our regular Gin-triguing facts segment – updated every month with quirky and totally irrelevant Gin-formation that you can impress your friends with.

Gin dispensed by cats: When Captain Dudley Bradstreet wanted to avoid paying excessive taxes on his gin sales in 18th century London, he came up with a cunning plan. He nailed a wooden sign to his door in the shape of a cat with a little pipe hidden inside its paw. When customers put a coin inside the cat’s mouth, Captain Dudley would return the favour by pouring gin down the pipe directly into their outstretched cup. This became known as Old Tom gin after the Tomcat sign from whence it came.

Old Tom style gin is now back in fashion with its sweeter taste making it perfect for light and refreshing cocktails – so much so that the Dorchester Hotel in London recently commissioned its own unique Old Tom Gin especially for its signature cocktails including its most recent creation, a delicious Coriander and Lemongrass concoction whipped up by head bartender Giuliano Morandin.

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