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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Harahorn

Harahorn: the legendary beast behind the gin

We’ve been searching for the Harahorn gin for all our lives – we just didn’t know it.

Somewhere. way up in the rugged mountains of Norway, the Harahorn lives.  But few people have ever seen this mystical beast. In the high mountains, this elusive, shy creature has been glimpsed occasionally, but never captured.  Regardless, the mountain men of Norway have a clear recollection of what this magical creature looks like from their stolen glimpses over the centuries.  And this is what we are told.

Harahorn: The story of the beast

As its name suggests, the Harahorn is a large hare with the horns of a deer. It lives its reclusive existence far up between the majestic beauty of the Fjords and the heavenly show of the Northern Lights.  But this mystical creature is not unique. Similar legends appear in other remote areas across the world.  And for some reason, these mythical beasts have all become associated with gin.
In the USA, they talk about the Jackelope (but the basic story is the same). And, just as with the Harahorn, the Jackelope has also inspired a gin. In fact, Peach Street Distillers in Colorado have named their Jackelope Gin after it. And back in Ireland, one of my favourite distillers has been inspired by a similar legend. This time, it’s Drumshanbo Gin (infused with gunpowder tea and Irish botanicals) who claim to have seen this timid creature tiptoeing around the green fields of Co. Leitrim.

As rare as hen’s teeth…

But back in Norway, while the rugged mountain men have sworn to have seen the Harahorn, this extraordinary creature, nobody has actually managed to capture one on film – yet.
It is this shyness and timidity that keeps this creature so elusive. It is a rare and beautiful thing, like a great gin, waiting to be discovered.  So, imagine our delight when a bottle bearing an image of this mythical beast appeared in front of me on a gin shopping trip. With bunny-like grace, it almost hopped into my basket and this weekend, I cracked open a bottle to see if the gin really is as good as the back story – and I’m delighted to say, it is.

Juniper berries, blueberries and rhubarb

On the slopes of the mountain bearing its name, this mythical creature avoids the hunters. But the Harahorn need not fear them. These Norwegian hunters aren’t coming for him. They’re coming for the berries. Juniper berries, to be precise.
There, beneath the extraordinary majesty of the Northern Lights, on the gentle slopes of this Norwegian mountain, juniper berries grow.  They are picked by hand before being added to hand harvested rhubarb stalks from abandoned farms on the lowland slopes of the mountain. Natural blueberries are then plucked from thorny bushes in the deep forests of the lowlands.  They source carefully measured quantities of angelica and marjoram, which they add to the mix before it is all (as if by magic) transformed into a magnificent and unusual small batch gin from Norway.

What’s it like?

But does this interesting little gin with a big legend really stack up to the tale behind it?  Well, we think so!
And this is why.

Let’s start with the bottle. Small, but perfectly formed, this small, round-necked 50cl bottle is charming. With its blue-tinted glass and a beautiful etched image of the elusive Harahorn taking a starring role on the front, it’s topped by an attractive metallic silver top. This is an elegant bottle that will stand out on any gin shelf.
And it’s chock full of local Norwegian botanicals which contribute to its complex, well-balanced and distinctive flavour profile. The Norwegian juniper and the blueberries complement each other perfectly, while the fruity sharpness of the rhubarb shines through to give it a bit of an edge.
And at 46% ABV, it is strong enough to make you see things. Perhaps that’s the secret of the Harahorn after all?

The real deal – hand made in Norway

So, if you’re looking for a true craft gin experience, then this gin might just be the one for you. The folks at Harahorn are rightly obsessed with quality. That’s why they only make these gins in small batches of 300 litres at a time. And it features more unusual ingredients beyond the juniper and blueberries. You’ll find Bladderwrack seaweed from the Grimstad region, angelica from Oppdal and wild marjoram from Sunndal. The result is a delight for the senses.

Crisp, clear and deliciously complex

On the nose, it has a crisp, clear smell with strong, clean juniper notes backed up by citrus. Take a sip and you’ll unleash the fruitiness of the blueberries amidst the wild spiciness of the bladderwrack seaweed, the tartness of the rhubarb and the subtle and savoury taste of marjoram which comes through at the end.

The verdict:

This is a great drinking gin. Fruity, crisp, smooth and complex, it works beautifully in a simple gin and tonic (but there are a number of other great cocktail recipes on their website). In fact, here’s their recommended mix for the perfect G&T – easy to make in the comfort of your own home.

Welcome to the classic Harahorn G&T – a few of these and you might start seeing things as well!

The perfect pour: the Harahorn G&T

Ingredients:

  • 4cl Harahorn gin
  • 2 cl freshly squeezed lemon juice (or lime juice)
  • Ice cubes
  • Premium tonic water (dry is better)
  • Blueberries

Method:

  1. Take a large highball glass
  2. Pour in 4cl of Harahorn Gin
  3. Fill with large ice cubes
  4. Wipe the rim of the glass with a wedge of lemon or lime
  5. Squeeze in the fresh lemon or lime juice
  6. Top up the glass with a freshly opened, premium, dry Indian Tonic water (such as Franklin and Sons)
  7. Garnish with blueberries (or your preferred choice of herbs or botanicals).

Sit back and sip (and keep your eyes peeled for giant, horned rabbits – you never know when one might pop up!)

As they say in Norway, Skol!



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.

key lime pie

Gin Key Lime Pie: a taste of summer sunshine

Summer is on its way!

It’s that time of year when the weather likes to tease us.  We’re offered little glimpses of sunshine before the warmth is dampened by the clouds.  We enjoy walking on the sunny side of the street, but freeze in the shade.  We have warm spells but we know we can’t rely on them. Yet!

But our time is coming.  Beyond spring lies summer – a time of long, hot sunny days, warm evenings, outdoor cocktails and barbecues. So, we have something good to focus on while we wait for the retreat of winter and dream of the better days that lie ahead. Some of us are dreaming of freedom to travel, others are dreaming of reuniting with loved ones.  I’m dreaming of Key Lime Pie.  That’s the space that I inhabit. 

Key Lime Pie – a Florida classic

Key Lime Pie is one of the great contributions of America to world cuisine. This amazing, tangy, sweet dessert is simple to make and delicious to eat. If you have lime juice, eggs, condensed milk and digestive biscuits in your larder, you can whip one of these up, no problem.  Some of us may be more familiar with lemon meringue pie, its better known cousin.  But this younger family member is even better. Sharper, tangier and lighter, it’s a great summer treat.  

Fire up the grill, load up those plates with sausages, burgers and steaks – and save enough room for a little dessert.  After all that heavy, rich food this light, citrus tart cuts through all those heavy flavours with a little lime goodness that immediately let’s you know that summer is coming.  Key limes are a special type of lime, mostly found in Southern Florida. The juice is yellow instead of green – and so is the pie.  But the taste is pure lime and wonderfully unique. 

No history, but a great tradition

There is no clear history to this pie – and nobody quite knows when it was actually invented.  But it first gained fame in the 1950s when it began to be promoted as “Florida’s most famous treat”. Once this glorious dish had achieved its initial fame and notoriety, it has never looked back.  But one thing could make this dish even better – the addition of a well chosen gin to this Florida favourite.

So, with that in mind, here’s an easy to make Key Lime Pie recipe that won’t challenge casual cooks too much. It’s simple, delicious – and with the addition of a large measure of gin to the recipe, it is almost as good as a gin and tonic. 

We recommend using Tanqueray Rangpur for a little extra lime zestiness.  Plus, if you keep a bottle nearby while you’re cooking, it’s even simpler to cut up a few extra limes and fix a large G&T.
You’re the chef. Nobody deserves it more!

Gin Key Lime Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

key lime pie
  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 100g sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 4 limes
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 oz Tanqueray Rangpur gin

Method:

  1. Crumble the digestive biscuits into a blender.
  2. Blitz into a nice, crumbly mixture.
  3. Melt the butter and pour it into the blender.
  4. Grate it into the zest from the limes and mix together.
  5. Press the crumbs into the bottom of a greased cake tin.
  6. Bake at 200c for 10 minutes.
  7. Pour the gin, condensed milk and sugar into a bowl.
  8. Grate the zest from two of the limes into the mixture and the zest from the third into a bowl.
  9. Place the bowl in the fridge.
  10. Squeeze the juice from all four limes into the mixture.
  11. Add the egg yolks.
  12. Whisk together until smooth.
  13. Place some parchment paper around the edges of the cake tin.
  14. Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base and smooth off the top.
  15. Bake for 25 minutes at 180c.
  16. Chill in the fridge until cool and serve with the remaining zest.
  17. Pour out a large Rangpur and tonic and enjoy!


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

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


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Gin news

The Ruddles Report: March gin news!

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin news | 0

Notes from a gin dog

He’s been at it again! Our faithful gin dog, Ruddles has had his nose to the ground this month. He’s been hunting down all the gin news that might have passed us by.
Now, we’ve pulled it all together in our monthly news roundup, The Ruddles Report.  He’s dug up a bunch of stories on everything from the best gin Easter eggs to why Ryan Reynolds’ launched a football-inspired limited edition gin in Wales.
Ruddles has all the answers.  He’s also found an interesting report on something that is increasingly important for each of us – sustainable gin making. This article should make it just a little bit easier for us all to make conscious choices about the gin brands we buy. 

Plus, we’ve shared a story from the UK’s Consumer’s Association who have taken an independent look at the UK’s best gins. There are so many opinions out there, so it’s refreshing to get a fully independent review. Finally, we round off this month’s Ruddles Report with a review of some of the best online gin clubs – are they still a good deal and which ones are the best?

So, let’s get going with this…

Gin and chocolate – Happy Easter!

We all know that Easter is coming – and that means chocolate! But what if we could  combine two of our favourite things into one deliciously festive treat? Well, we can. 
Welcome to the Marks and Spencer’s Gin and Tonic Easter egg

If you’re a chocolate lover and a gin drinker, then this is the perfect treat. Plus, if you like the gin/chocolate combination, you might also want to try Salcombe Gin’s chocolate flavoured spirit. It still tastes of chocolate but it won’t melt in your hands!

Ryan Reynolds honours Wrexham AFC with special edition gin

In a world of celebrity gins, Ryan Reynolds was amongst the first to put his influence and celebrity status behind a gin brand. A few years ago, he invested in Aviation gin.  Since then, his gin has gone from strength to strength. Ryan himself often features in little comedy vignettes that are charming, tongue in cheek and often very amusing.   All good for the brand (which is now owned by drinks giant Diageo) .  But it was a big surprise when he recently announced a bid to buy local Welsh football club Wrexham AFC, from the junior leagues.  So, I guess none of us should be surprised that he has now combined his two passions into a limited edition gin for the club’s supporters.

In partnership with the club, he’s releasing a run of 6000 bottles of Wrexham AFC/Aviation gin. They’ll be snapped up fast, but one day, if you get your hands on a bottle, these could be collectors items.

Sustainable gin – something worth supporting!

The last few years have really brought the climate crisis to the fore – and for good reason. Thankfully, the eco-message is getting through – we only have one planet and we need to look after it. 
So, it’s really refreshing to see the gin industry get behind the idea of sustainability. Last month, Ruddles told you about how Beefeater are making their bottles fully recyclable. We also talked about local innovations such as reusable gin pouches from Eden Mill. 

But how do you know if your gin is sustainable or not?
Here’s an article that lists the major sustainable gin brands out there. Some may surprise you!  Sustainable drinking – we think that’s something worth supporting.

Which gin? Independent gin reviews you can trust

We’re always looking out for great gins and new ideas. But at the end of the day, there are a million different opinions out there and often, it boils down to a matter of personal taste – which gins do you like and not like.

Impartiality and independent views are often hard to find, so when Which? magazine (the journal of the UK Consumers Association) decided to do an independent test of 2021’s best gins in the UK, we thought it was worth paying attention to.  If you want to know which ones they reckon are the best, this is the article for you.

In the club? – the best vs the rest

And finally, many people subscribe to gin clubs – and they are not always satisfied.  In fact, there is a sense that the novelty might be starting to wear off a little bit as unusual gins are increasingly available (at great prices) from local retailers, distillers and on-line sellers. We’re not sure if this is a temporary dip or if there is a sustainable shift.
Either way, Gin Clubs are still very popular, so we thought we’d share a little article that might help you to separate the best from the rest.

That’s all for this month, everybody.  Spring is in the air – and that means it’s gin and tonic season!!!



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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botanicals

Botanicals: gin’s secret stars

Why is gin so different to vodka or any other white spirit? What makes gin so special? Well, the secret lies in the botanicals.

What are these botanicals and why are they so important? And how exactly do they turn a colourless, odourless, tasteless liquid into one of the most versatile and exciting spirits on planet earth?

We thought we’d spend a little time looking at these secret ingredients. We want to help us all to understand what makes these little blasts of flavour so important in the world of gin. So, let’s start with the most obvious: juniper.

Without juniper, there is no gin.

For a drink to be classified as gin, Juniper is a must. According to legal definitions, gin must always be a minimum of 37.5% ABV and Juniper must be its dominant spirit. That seems pretty simple and clear. But this is actually where the fun begins! Once the minimum requirements are met, distillers are working on an empty canvas where the art is only as good as the artist. From here on out, all you are limited by is your imagination.

Juniper’s medicinal history

The juniper berries you are most likely to find in your gin are actually a type of pine cone from a shrub called juniperus communis. This is generally found growing wild across most of the Northern hemisphere. It’s what gives gin that distinctive taste of pine, camphor and lavender.

In fact, its medicinal qualities have been recognised for millennia. An ancient Egyptian papyrus from 1500BC refers to juniper as a cure for tapeworm infestations. Juniper berries have also been found as part of the embalming process in ancient Egyptian tombs. Through the ages they were used to cure infections, prevent epilepsy and even cure the plague.
These days, the best juniper is grown on the hillsides of Macedonia and Italy and is rich in aromatic oil. This is one reason why its important for distillers to try a number of different samples to get the mixture exactly right.

Botanicals: a world of fragrant opportunities

Most of the botanicals that we use in gin have medical roots that go back hundreds (sometimes thousands) of years. Some of them are still used for their medicinal qualities.

As we know, juniper berries are integral to creating gin. Unsurprisingly, they feature in every gin that is produced.

As well as juniper, there may be some other common botanicals that may surprise you.
Wormwood (more commonly associated with absinthe) is a popular botanical for many distillers. Others such as coriander are extraordinarily popular and you will see it make an appearance in many gins imparting a fresh, spicy sage and lemon flavour.

Beyond that, you enter a world of opportunities with more fragrant botanicals such as frankincense (sweet and oily) and cassia bark (sharp and pungent) appearing more and more often.

Many other gins feature angelica (woody and earthy), citrus and orris root (aromatic and floral).

But the list goes on to include almonds (marzipan sweetness), bergamot peel (musky, perfumed) and cardamom pods (warm and spicy). These are becoming increasingly popular alongside cubeb berries (peppery), elderflower (sweet and floral).
Citrus peels are always in demand and ginger (spicy and warm) and even licorice (woody and sweet) are making more frequent appearances.

Each of these botanicals help to build up the complex layers of flavours that we enjoy in our G&Ts today. As gin makers experiment and become more comfortable with the possibilities of ingredients that they are using, they have become increasingly bold.

Laverstoke Mill: a temple to botanicals

If you’re interested in learning more about botanicals, it’s worth paying a visit to the stunning Bombay Sapphire distillery in Hampshire.
Here, the main distilling process takes place in Bombay Sapphire’s converted 18th century Laverstoke Mill straddling the crystal clear waters of the River Test. But in a stroke of architectural genius, a swooping glass extension (reminiscent of the river that flows underneath it) covers a fascinating gin museum with wonderful gin tours. You will have the opportunity to taste a wonderful Laverstoke cocktail too!
Inside this extraordinary glass building they grow some of the botanicals that they use to make Bombay Sapphire. They have dozens of different botanicals beautifully presented in jars and bags for guests to touch and smell.

In their Discovery Experience they’ll help you map out your flavour tastes and even offer a well crafted cocktail mixed in their on-site bar. Their drinks are made to recipes by their in-house mixologist Sam Carter – and they’re delicious. The variety of botanicals on display is breathtaking and the flavours so individual and eclectic, that this will definitely need to be on your list for a fascinating visit once life returns to normal.

So, next time you try your latest gin, see which ones you can identify and raise a glass to our secret botanicals. They are the reason the magic happens.



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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    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 gifts for Christmas

5 gin gifts: beyond the Christmas stocking

You might have already seen our recent article on the best gin-related stocking stuffers for this Christmas. This week, we’re going to turn things up a notch. We’ve upped the budget just a little bit to move beyond traditional Christmas stocking territory and into the realm of proper Christmas gin gifts. The sort of stuff that is too good to be stuffed into a Christmas stocking, but possibly not quite enough to be your main gift. Here are a few last minute gin ideas that you can still have delivered to your home. Hopefully you’ll find something here for the the ones you love (and especially for the ones who love gin!) The most expensive gift on our “dialled up” list costs a little more than £35 – but there are plenty of ideas here for under a tenner too! These are the best 5 gin gifts, just selected for you.
Merry Christmas everybody!!

1. Gin doormat

This Christmas, make sure your all your guests know the rules before letting them in. This classic welcome doormat delivers a crystal clear message in the strongest possible terms: DON’T COME IN IF YOU DIDN’T BRING GIN. This has the advantage of making your house rules clear, thereby avoiding any unnecessary blushes once your guests are inside. This durable, heat resistant non-slip outdoor/indoor floor mat has a non-woven fabric top and a sturdy non-slip rubber back. It’s really easy to clean, machine washable and the perfect Christmas or birthday gift for the gin lovers in your circle of friends. Guaranteed to make your visitors smile before they even set foot in your house!
After all, there’s no excuse for not knowing the rules…

gin gifts

2. Gin trivia

There’s nothing better than a game of naked twister at Christmas (or so I’ve heard!). But there are some other gin-related games you could play that (we think) are just about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. This great value trivia game, the Talking Tables Gin Trivia Quiz, comes in a beautiful gift box. It’s a great way to get the conversation flowing as you open up yet another bottle of your “favourite” Christmas gin.

Test how well you really know your favourite spirit with these deviously difficult gin trivia questions that will separate the true “gin afficionados” from the “fakes”. This is the perfect party table game for gin lovers with questions that will test your knowledge on everything from gin cocktails, to garnishes to gin distilling. So, this year, ditch the Trivial Pursuit (so 2019!) and go for the Gin Trivia Quiz instead – even more fun if you add a few drinking penalties for wrong answers!!
You know you’ll love it!

gin gift

3. Gorgeous gin copa glasses

It’s been a long time since it was okay to serve gin in a smudged glass with a couple of pieces of ice and a bit of old lemon. These days, gin is the real star of the show with a huge selection of extraordinary craft gins of every size, strength and flavour on the market and tempting us on every occasion. Choosing your gin is hard enough, but never let down a great gin by serving it in an average glass.
Instead, add to your experience by gifting a set of these elegant Ginology Iris Copa glasses.
Uniquely crafted, these gorgeous glasses are the perfect gin gift for those who recognise that drinking gin requires a proper sense of occasion. These stunning, hand crafted glasses feature a pretty iris pattern that is sure to make you stand out from the crowd. There are a variety of other patterns available and these are hand wash only, but they will definitely put a smile of the faces of some lucky gin lovers this Christmas.

gin gift

4. Gin taster pack

If you’re like me and you just can’t decide, then this gin taster pack could be just the perfect gin gift for you. No more dithering in the off-licence. All the dithering has been done for you. This gin tasting set includes 10x 30cl miniature bottles of gin including: Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger; Tobermory Isle of Mull gin; Kokoro London Dry gin; Gin Lane gin; Victoria Pink Gin; Berry Bros and Rudd London Dry; Portabello Road gin; 171 Gin; Puerto de Indias Sevillan Strawberry gin and The Botanist Islay Dry gin.

This awesome collection will either be a pathway to discovery for you or a lovely reminder of exactly what gin you like and why. A great selection of distilleries and a wide range of flavours here for you to try. And enough bottles to keep trying while the holidays last!

gin gift

5. Gin Mule copper mugs

Lest year, I was in London meeting a friend for a Christmas drink at The Booking Office bar at St. Pancras Station in London. The scene was all set for an atmospheric Christmas drink. The carols were playing in the background, the tree was up and the festive atmosphere was building. I ordered one of my favourite drinks, the Gin Mule (gin, lime juice, ginger beer and ice) and was delighted when it was served to me in a small, handbeaten copper mug, overflowing with lavish garnish. It put me in the Christmas mood right away. And now, these pretty little hand beaten copper mugs can be yours .
You can get 4 nickel hammered 560ml Moscow Mule glasses (ideal for your home made Gin Mule) for less than £20.
Not only do these mugs look pretty, but they have an added secret. Apparently cold copper has a tendency to increase bubbles in the carbonated ginger beer, ensuring that your Christmas remains sparkling, from the first sip to the last drop, thus guaranteeing yourself a merry little Christmas.

gin gift

From all these gin gifts, which is the one you’d like to find in your Christmas stocking?


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

Ginraw: an avant-garde gin packed with Barcelona style

Barcelona is a city known for its avant-garde style, creativity and sophistication. Over the years it has nurtured artistic geniuses such as Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro.
But visionary engineer Ildefons Cerdà really put it on the map at the end of the 19th century as he designed the beautiful Eixample area in all its modernist beauty. The city extension that he created was recently named the best neighbourhood to live in the world according to Time Out magazine. And the flair doesn’t end there.
We couldn’t possibly talk about Barcelona without mentioning its extraordinary cuisine and its disproportionate clutch of Michelin starred restaurants. This is the place where some of the best chefs in the world have set up shop and built their reputations. This includes some run by the world famous Ferran Adrià who championed molecular gastronomy, right here in Catalunya.
Add to that heady mix, the classic cocktail of blue Mediterranean skies, sunshine, music, beaches, countryside and culture. You even have a ready selection of stunning rooftop terraces to choose from when you decide to sip your drinks.

Ginraw: a stunning gin, a stunning bottle

If this all sounds inspiring, it shouldn’t surprise you to hear that when a chef, a sommelier, a mixologist and a perfumier all got together they wanted to celebrate their city in all its creativity. And they did so with a gin. Ginraw is a true triumph of both style and substance. Barcelona’s modern design heritage is apparent in the striking, semi-frosted tall, thin bottle with its distinctive wide-brimmed wooden cap and aluminium band.

Ginraw

El Clásico…

Its beautifully designed leather information tag tops it all off in style and the bottle is truly unique. But quality is everything here and Ginraw is distilled at a low temperature for a smooth, easy to drink gin, simply packed with flavour. Fresh botanicals including lemon peel, kaffir lime and laurel leaves combine with smoky black cardamom and savoury coriander seeds. The result is a true Barcelona classic. With strong notes of juniper up front, there are also hints of peppercorn, coriander and lime zest. On the palate, the early indicators are savoury, before a citrus wave wafts in to save the day. And the cardamom seeds add some welcome spice to the finish of this exquisite, smooth and beautifully designed bottle of gin.
We highly recommend this Barcelona classic, preferably sipped on one of our gorgeous Barcelona roof terraces watching the sun go down over the terracotta rooftops of the old town.

The perfect pour: serve Ginraw over loads of ice in a large copa glass and garnished with a lemon leaf or a slice of lime. And if you want to spice things up a bit, you could try pairing it with a slice of apple or a little bit of ginger for some added heat.

baked salmon

Gin baked salmon: full of buttery, juniper goodness

Gin seems to be everywhere these days and increasingly, it’s popping up in delicious, easy to prepare recipes.
Whether you’re looking for a booze-soaked cake to cheer you up on a dark autumn afternoon or a hearty stew to keep the cold winter weather at bay, somewhere there’s a gin recipe for you. And when gin does make an appearance, its junipery bitterness and complex botanicals can elevate even the most ordinary dish into something a bit special. Gin delivers an extra layer of character that will keep your guests coming back for more. Some people have more of a sweet tooth and prefer gin-soaked trifles or gin and lemon drizzle cakes. Others are partial to more savoury treats such as casseroles and even curries.
All of these delicious dishes (and many more) are suitable candidates for gin cooking.

10 minutes to prep, 60 minutes to sip

That’s why we wanted to share a quick and easy baked salmon recipe that is healthy and can be knocked up with as little as 10 minutes prep time.
This is important, because it leaves you with a full 60 minutes in which to select a decent gin, find an appropriate garnish and top up your favourite glass with a freshly poured tonic water. Then sit back and watch while the salmon slowly roasts in the oven. This is the perfect way to enjoy cooking with gin and this recipe is so easy to make.

Bertha’s revenge?

First of all (and most importantly) choose a decent gin – the more aromatic the better. This easy gin recipe will infuse your salmon with a gin flavour that perfectly complements the creamy richness of the salmon. We recommend using a bottle of Bertha’s Revenge (paid link). This is a complex, charismatic gin from Ireland made from milk provided by the offspring of Bertha, Ireland’s most famous cow (check out our recent review of Bertha’s Revenge to get the full details).

But for now, all you need to know is that it will infuse your salmon with a buttery, juniper-rich flavour, balanced by the soft citrus notes from the gin. Bertha’s revenge says on the label that their final ingredient is “plenty of laughter” – a sentiment that we heartily endorse every time you put your chef’s apron on.

So, here’s the simple recipe – and don’t forget to pour that chef’s drink as soon as the oven door has closed!

Gin baked salmon recipe

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup coarse sea salt
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon gin (Bertha’s Revenge highly recommended)
  • 2 x 8oz salmon fillets
  • 1-3 tablespoons of cooking oil

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 225F.
  2. To prepare the fish, rinse the fillets and pat dry with paper towel. Rub lightly with cooking oil
  3. Mix together the salt, sugar, lemon zest, thyme and pepper. Add gin. The mixture should resemble wet sand. Remember, this rub can be stored for one week (in an airtight container).
  4. Rub the salmon fillets with the mixture using around 1 tablespoon per fillet.
  5. Wrap fillets tight in plastic wrap and refrigerate for between one and two hours.
  6. Cook fish right away (or store in fridge for one day). Bake at 225F for 25-30 minutes. Begin to check fish after 20 minutes.

Pour yourself another well deserved G&T and eat your baked salmon while still piping hot!