cherry julep

Cherry Julep – Wow! Just wow…

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Tailgating… Southern style

In my 20s I lived in America. Richmond, Virginia, in fact.
Every year, my family would gather with friends for a great Virginia tradition, The Strawberry Hill Races. This was a traditional American steeplechase, but I knew nothing about horses.
What I did know was that this was a great party. Every year, we’d roll up in our American station wagon, packed to the gills with English treats such as Coronation chicken, fresh strawberries and cream and a big silver punch bowl full of Pimm’s.

Three measures of gin (and no Bourbon)

We would lay out all our treasures on a big folding table and, understandably, we quickly became the centre of a big tailgating party. But everyone else was drinking Mint Juleps, made with Bourbon, sugar and mint.
As the years passed, I became less and less enamoured with the taste of Bourbon and more and more enamoured with the taste of gin. So, imagine my delight when I discovered a recipe for a Cherry Julep made with not one but three measures of gin (and not a drop of Bourbon to be seen!)
It almost sounds like my perfect drink, so this week, I thought I’d give it a go. And I’m delighted to report that it is truly lovely.

A Julep – but not as we know it!

Forget everything you imagine a mint julep to be. This is different for sure. Fruity, instead of minty. Sweet cherries, sugar and gin. Plus an extra measure of Sloe Gin for depth and natural flavouring. All served up ice cold in a highball glass, this promised to be a real treat. And it didn’t disappoint. Fruity, rich, cooling, this drink ticks all the boxes for a delicious spring cocktail. Plus, almost all the ingredients are likely to be somewhere at the back of your bar (or easy to find in your local grocery store).

So, what exactly is a Julep?

Traditionally, a Julep is an American cocktail. It’s generally made from Kentucky Bourbon and it’s often drunk at major social events in the southern states of the USA. From the Kentucky Derby to the Master’s in Augusta, Mint Juleps can be found in the hands of Southern gentlemen and Southern belles from Richmond, Virginia to Lexington, Kentucky. But it’s also a cocktail staple in bars across the globe. Normally served in silver or pewter cups, these drinks should be held by the bottom and top edges only to guarantee a chilled drink every time. However, these days you are just as likely to be served yours in a highball glass.

The Spanish connection

Interestingly, this classic American drink has a Spanish connection. A Julep is generally defined as a sweet cocktail. But the word itself is derived from the Spanish word “julepe”, taken form Spanish Arabic and derived in turn from the Persian word Golab, which means rosewater. Who knew?

Introducing the Cherry Julep

Juelps continued to be popular throughout the 19th and early 20th century and, as I mentioned, they are generally associated with Bourbon. But these days, as gin takes centre stage and cocktails are increasingly “de rigeur”, my eyes lit up at the discovery of the Cherry Julep. This little beauty is a perfect combination of gin, sloe gin, cherry brandy, grenadine and sugar syrup. No need for a silver chalice here – just a glass that doesn’t leak!

The finishing line…

I mixed one of these up the other day and I think this works particularly well with an Old Tom gin such as Haymans. That slightly sweeter edge seems to marry well with the soft, fruity ingredients of the drink. Honestly, this drink was a revelation. I may not be able to swig a Mint Julep at the Kentucky Derby this year, but there’s every chance that I’ll be sipping on one for the Grand National, while waiting for my annual betting spree to end in its customary disappointment. No stress. As long as I have a Cherry Julep in my hand, I’m already a winner. Cheers, dears.

The Cherry Julep recipe

Ingredients

  • 3-4 ice cubes (plus crushed ice to serve)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of simple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of grenadine
  • 2 measures of Old Tom gin
  • 1 measure of cherry brandy
  • 1 measure of sloe gin
  • Lemon rind strips to garnish

Method

  1. Place the ice into a cocktail shaker.
  2. Pour the lemon juice, simple syrup, grenadine, cherry brandy, sloe gin and gin over the ice.
  3. Shake until a light frost appears on the outside of the shaker.
  4. Strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice.
  5. Garnish with strips of lemon rind.

Top tip: if you really want to dial up the cherry, add a maraschino cherry straight form the jar and drizzle a little of that gorgeous cherry juice (straight from the jar) directly into your mixture.
You won’t regret it!

Place a bet on your favourite horse and wait…



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.

 


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

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    Ruddles has been at it again. As the hairy “face” of Barcelona Gin, he’s very easy to like – and his opinions carry weight. He’s lent his marketing power to a few Barcelona Gin posts recently and every time, they beat all our records for engagement. We think he’s our secret weapon. That’s why, in … Continued
  • Gin Sea: born in London, raised in Spain
    Gin Sea’s 5-times distilled base spirit is sourced from England and imported directly to Manuel Barrientos’ little gin project in Galicia. All the best gins start with the best ingredients and this is no exception. It’s the highest quality neutral grain spirit around and is sourced overseas before a touch of Galician magic is added … Continued
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Summer gins: 5 mixes to keep you cool

There’s nothing like a long, cool, refreshing gin on a hot summer’s day. There’s something about hearing the ice cubes plop into the glass. Then watching the little bubbles of refreshment fizzing up inside. The smell, the garnishes of summer gins. And that first taste: bang!

So, here are 5 summer gins that we think are the ultimate way to cool down on a hot day. And these gins are perfect for that Indian summer that we’ve been hearing about. The gins are here. So let’s hope the good weather follows.

Choose one, put your feet up, add ice and your favourite mixer and drink. As always, serve chilled!

Citrus zest… and so easy to drink

Chase pink grapefruit and pomelo gin (England)

This has fast become one of my favourite summer gins. Refreshing and well balanced, it combines the citrus tang of pink grapefruit and the fruity zest of pomelo to create a perfectly refreshing summer drink. Not too sweet, not too citrusy, it’s just a very easy drink to drink. Made in a copper pot still by our friends at Chase (near Hereford) this will brighten up your summer. Whether you like a cheeky pre-lunch aperitif or a long evening watching the sun go down in the garden, this is the gin you want by your side.

Perfect serve: Wipe a little of the grapefruit wedge around the rim of a large glass. Fill it to the top with large ice cubes and a premium Indian tonic. Then garnish it with a large, juicy wedge of pink grapefruit. Aaaah!

www.chasedistillery.co.uk

The taste of summer

Puerto des Indias, strawberry gin (Spain)

This beautiful, fruity gin is from the south of Spain. And unlike Tanqueray Sevilla, it’s not simply inspired by the hot sultry south – it’s actually made there. This exotic gin pays homage to Spain’s great trading past and is built on a solid citrus base. Once you’re through the carefully sourced strawberries, your palate will start to pick up even more citrus flavours like lime, lemon and orange. And even a little grapefruit.  So, all in all, this is a great summer gin, perfect to take on holiday.

Perfect serve: pour  50ml of Puerto des Indias strawberry gin into a long glass. And top it up with 100ml of Mediterranean tonic water (or 150ml if you like a longer drink). Garnish with a strawberry wedge or a simple slice of lime for the ultimate poolside G&T.

A summer classic

JJ Whitley elderflower gin (England)

JJ Whitley does it again. The Whitley family has been making gin in Cheshire since 1762, but this one has definitely been inspired by the British countryside. It could be the perfect gin for a gentle summer evening. This is the gin you want to be drinking poolside as the sun goes down. Built around the classic citrus taste of English elderflower, JJ Whitley has added a little twist of cinnamon for good measure. This quintessentially English gin retains its floral roots with a little sweetness and warmth that will tickle your taste buds all through the day and on into the night. With soft scents of juniper, coriander and cinnamon to round it off, this gin combines a fresh, floral bouquet with a velvety sweetness that you will find irresistible.

Perfect serve: Fill a copa glass with large ice cubes. Pour in 50 ml of Gin Mare, top it up with Fever Tree light or Mediterranean tonic, garnish a slice of lemon and sip slowly!

www.jj-whitley.com

Where Spanish passion meets English elegance

Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla gin (England)

Right now, orange flavored gins are everywhere. But Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla nailed it first. It is the orange gin that paved the way for the others but it’s still one of the very best out there. This beautiful summer gin with its classic Tanqueray London Dry botanicals blends effortlessly with the fresh citrus boost of Seville oranges. The result is a perfectly balanced, smooth orange gin that will instantly transport you to the hot orange groves of Southern Spain. But the best thing about Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla? It does it all without any of the unpleasant after tastes and synthetic sweetness in some other orange infused gins.

Perfect serve: Pour generously into a large copa glass. Fill to the top with large ice cubes. and add Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic water. Rub the rim of the glass with an orange wedge and drop into the glass. Pretend you’re in Spain.

www.tanqueray.com

A true taste of the Mediterranean 

Gin Mare (Spain)

If you’re looking for the authentic taste of the Mediterranean, then you’ll love this award-winning Spanish gin. Distilled in a 13th century chapel not far from Barcelona, this has quickly become a Spanish classic. Made in the sunshine of Catalunya, Gin Mare has become a go-to brand with summer written all over it.  An unusually savoury taste reflects its Spanish heritage. The gin features local Mediterranean ingredients such as olives, rosemary, thyme and basil. It’s also balanced by citrus and cardamom notes. Plus, its distinctive bottle looks great on your gin shelf, any time of year.

Perfect serve: fill a copa glass with large ice cubes. Pour in 50 ml of Gin Mare. Top it up with Fever Tree Mediterranean gin and garnish with fresh orange or lemon slices. Or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, a sprig of burned Rosemary. Then, simply sit back and enjoy!

www.ginmare.com