Colombian Treasure Gin

Goodbye cocaine and coffee, hello Colombian Treasure gin!

We’d like to introduce you to the delights of premium Colombian Treasure gin from the folks at Dictador (43% ABV). This deliciously smooth, sugar cane-based gin is packed with local citrus and aged in oak barrels to give it a rich citric smoothness that makes it stand out from the crowd. And it’s well worth a try.

Coffee, cocaine and now gin

Colombia is famous for many things. Delicious, rich coffee, stunning scenery, beautiful beaches and mountains (as well as drug cartels and cocaine). But one thing I didn’t know is that gin is on the up in this part of the world.  So, imagine my surprise when I received a gift of a gorgeous bottle of gin from a Colombian friend of mine.  And this one’s a doozy!

In a land where rum is King, here’s something a little different

Colombia is better known for producing rum-based drinks including the notorious Aguardiente (often referred to as Colombia’s national drink).  Literally translated as “firewater”, this is generally drunk neat and it might not be for everyone. But its sugarcane base gives it a smoother taste and it clocks in at a slightly underpowered 29% ABV – a little low for a proper shot!

But it’s rum that’s ubiquitous in this region with high quality brands available everywhere at very good prices. So, when we discovered that Colombia is now starting to produce some good gins, we were excited to give this one a try.

Dictador: a lifestyle brand for the good things in life…

This exceptional aged gin is from the folks at Cartagena-based lifestyle brand, Dictador. This heritage company has been producing fine award winning aged spirits for more than 100 years. Their story all began long ago in the 18th century, when a Spanish official called Severo Arango y Ferro arrived in what was to become Colombia on a mission to improve tax collection rates for Spain.  It wasn’t long before his strong, powerful character was identified and he became known locally as “The Dictator”.

A taste for rum, coffee and good cigars…

But the Dictator was human, like everyone else, and he soon discovered a taste for the local spirit, rum.  Fast forward to 1913 and his descendants began to research his story and established the Destileria Colombiana with a mission to produce the finest rum in the Caribbean.  Since then, it has made its name with fine spirits, Colombian coffee and high quality cigars and it has a number of famous brands that sit comfortable alongside their world famous rums.

And now, they’ve taken the next step with the development of Colombian Treasure gin, delicious and rum-based, bursting with local flavour and aged in oak casks for a gentle, smooth blend.

Black, bold and beautiful: a striking bottle for your top shelf

Colombian Treasure gin

Colombian Treasure gin bottle itself is confident and striking. With its frosted black glass and bold reverse typeface, it makes an instant impression.  But it’s what’s inside that counts.  As you might expect in this region, the base spirit here is made from sugar cane. But this sugar cane is distilled up to five times to create the neutral spirit base which anchors this gin firmly in the Caribbean. The good folks at Dictador then make the magic happen.  

Exotic flavours, aged in oak

They add an exotic mix of botanicals, berries, citrus peels and local spices and then blend it all together in an ageing process that gives this gin its unique flavour. Then, they place the whole lot into huge oak barrels which have been previously used to store their classic rums for 35 weeks, imparting a unique, subtle smokiness to the final product. But what really sets this gin apart is the citrus flavours that give it a unique and special taste.  

The secret ingredient

Colombian Treasure gin

The secret to this flavour lies in the Limon Mandarina, known locally as the “Paraguayan Lime”.  This unusual fruit combines the sweet taste of the tangerine with the sharpness of lemon. It’s an unusual looking fruit. On the outside, it’s a rough green, like a normal lime. But open it up and the inside is like a tangerine. This is a fruit that is local to Colombia, but hard to find anywhere else. It’s this combination of freshness and smoothness that makes this such an easy gin to drink. In fact, it’s so good, you can enjoy it neat (or with a few ice cubes).

But what’s Colombian Treasure gin actually like?

Well the first thing you notice when you pour it is that it has a unique and distinctive colour.  The liquid is a pale gold, a hue imparted by the oak aged barrels that it ages in. And then you notice the aroma.  On the nose, there’s a distinctive citrus smell.  You can pick up notes of sweet lemon, tangerine and even a slight whiff of burnt orange. This is a citrus forward gin that shines through brightly on the nose.  But dig a bit deeper and you’ll soon spot notes of mint and some interesting herbal fragrances that add to its subtle complexity.

Tantalisingly complex

But it’s when you dive in that you first start to notice the smooth delicacy of this gin. Take a sip and you’ll spot orange and grapefruit in there, alongside an oily, lemon flavour, which becomes more prominent as you drink.  You’ll probably also pick up on the herbal notes and a little spicy pepper, just to lift it a bit further out of the ordinary. This unusual gin is just packed full of character.  And it’s not over until it’s over. On the finish, it moves in the direction of lemon again sitting comfortably alongside the gentle oak.  This is a smooth gin without any bitter edges and the rum subtly informs the flavour, but never over reaches.

The Gin and Tonic test

As with all our gins, we think the true test is in a standard gin and tonic.  We tried Colombian Treasure gin with a 1:2 ratio, poured over ice and topped with Fever Tree premium tonic water. We garnished it with a thinly sliced wedge of lime to highlight that refreshing sharpness. It was delicious. Just as we expected. All those citrus notes are agitated by the pouring of the tonic to bring to life all the playful flavours that lurk within. Smooth, citrus and herby, this gin is a worthy contender. And it’s really nice to see gin of this quality coming from South America.

Is Colombian Treasure gin a gin for cocktails?

Unhesitatingly, yes! That combination of sweet and citrus, mellowed by the oak barrel ageing and the unique citrus fruitiness of the “Paraguayan Lime” make it a perfect ingredient for citrus cocktails. We’ve done a little research and we think we’ve come up with something a little special to help you to turn this unusually smooth, citrus gin into a deliciously refreshing drink. So, we’ve done a little searching on your behalf and we’ve found a doozy of a cocktail that works really well with the smoky, citrus, smooth notes of Dictador’s Colombian Treasure aged gin.  Plus, like all great cocktails, it’s really easy to make – and even easier to drink

Triple Citrus Gin Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Dictador Colombian Treasure gin (or your preference)
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 2 oz fresh, unsweetened grapefruit juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime
  • 2 oz Club soda or sparkling water
  • 1-2 tbsp simple syrup (to taste)
  • Ice
  • A shaker (or a jam jar with a lid)
  • A shot glass
  • Glasses

Method:

  1. Fill your shaker halfway with ice
  2. Add Dictador Colombian Treasure gin
  3. Pour in Contreau and grapefruit juice
  4. Add the simple syrup (to taste) and fresh lime juice
  5. Top up with 2 oz fresh soda water
  6. Shake until it’s all blended nicely
  7. Strain into a rounded Coupe glass (or Martini glass)
  8. Garnish with a grapefruit wheel
  9. Sit back, put your feet up and enjoy (preferably with a good cigar!)

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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Merry Gin-mas everybody: 12 tips for a tipsy holiday!

He’s been getting ready since January and his big moment is coming soon. The Jolly Old Elf (AKA Santa Claus) is already preparing to sprinkle holiday cheer around the world from his festive fleet of flying reindeer.

Christmas is almost here and we’re all looking forward to welcoming Santa down the chimney as we celebrate all that is good in the world.

So, in the spirit of Christmas, we thought we’d help you to get the party going.
Here are our 12 tips for a tipsy Christmas to ensure that all your (gin-based) dreams come true. Read on to find out more about how gin can help to renew the festive spirit for 2021. We’ll drink to that! Christmas Eve cocktails: get the party started with a festive gin Cosmo!

Christmas Cosmos…

Every house is different and has a different tradition. In our house, we always start the holiday off with a Gin Cosmopolitan. This cranberry classic is easy to make, has a hefty kick and it looks really Christmassy! It’s the perfect drink to get the party started! Luckily, it’s really simple to make and only requires a few readily available ingredients. So, this Christmas, ditch the vodka and head into a winter wonderland of gin. Starting with a Christmas Eve Cosmo!

Something special for Santa: he’ll love these boozy sloe gin mince pies!

Don’t forget to look after the jolly old elf! He always remembers who’s been naughty or nice. But you can get in his good books every year by leaving him something tasty to nibble on as he slides down your chimney to deliver his presents.  In America, it’s generally milk and cookies. In Spain it’s Turron. And in the UK (at least in our house) he seems to enjoy mince pies and a little dram of whiskey.  But rumour has it that he’s also partial to a drop of gin.  We reckon if you really want to be remembered by the man himself, make sure you stand out from the crowd. 

Here’s an easy recipe for some sloe ginfused mince pies, which we think he’ll love. Packed with our favourite Christmas spirit, these are absolutely delicious. And we think he might enjoy washing them down with a little glass of something special.  How about treating him to a glass of Himbrimi gin, made for sipping. It might be a nice transition from whiskey. Apparently, he’s also partial to a little gin liqueur. Here’s a little Christmas gin that we think might already be on his list – Tarquins Figgy Pudding gin

A Cocktail Christmas: 5 “must have” bartending tools for the festive season

Most of the year, if we need a fancy cocktail mixed up, we go to the nearest pub or bar and prevail upon the skills of an expert mixologist who has studied and practiced his art for many years. Not all of us are that lucky. That’s why it can be a bit challenging when we suddenly become head bartender at home over Christmas. But like everything in life, the more prepared you are the better.

And we all know that without the right tools, simple things can become quite complicated. Christmas can be a real test of our bartending skills. That’s why we recommend that your festive bartending kit contains the following five essential tools for a  flawless fiesta of festive cocktails! Don’t forget to visit our website to download our recent guide to the Top 10 bartending tools to make drinks like a rockstar. Until then, here are your bartender basics.

  1. A clean cutting board (so you don’t ruin the sideboard!)
  2. A sharp paring knife (to slice and dice all those garnishes)
  3. A cocktail shaker (a jam jar with a lid will work just as well)
  4. A muddling spoon (to get every last bit of flavour from your ingredients)
  5. A cocktail strainer (to keep your cocktails clear and free of floaty things!)

Christmas advent calendars: your daily dose of Vitamin Gin

Gin advent calendars are a real thing and we don’t understand why it’s taken this long to invent them. Why spend an entire month getting excited about individual chocolates when you could swap them for gin? There are now a multitude of ways in which we can access gin over the coming months. Some people will be going for gin-filled Christmas baubles. Others will be seeking out gin filled Christmas crackers. But they’re both for one day only. To make sure the spirit of Christmas lasts right up until the big day itself, we recommend Aldi’s gin advent calendar.

Packed full of a fabulous selection of 24 x miniature Haysmith’s gins, there is something for everybody in this lineup. From a traditional London Dry to rhubarb and ginger, from sloe gin to raspberry and redcurrant and from Seville orange and Persian lime to spiced plum and clementine, there really is something for everyone. This will brighten up your holidays for sure. Once again, Aldi leads the way for delicious, great value gins. 

Drink to your health: can the hair of the dog cure your Christmas hangover?

We all know that Christmas is a time for general gin-related shenanigans, festive fun and general frivolity. But, just in case you haven’t been as moderate over the party season as you should have been, fear not.  Here’s a proper article from the folks at Harvard who take a science-based look at the best way to rebound from a holiday hangover. Of course, the best course of action is not to drink so much that you get a hangover in the first place. But just in case that festive spirit gets the better of you, have a little read of this article on the best science-based hangover cures to get you back on track for a big Christmas rebound, just when you need it the most!

Christmas treats: no tricks!

By now, you will have already been deluged with Christmas offers as marketers try different ways to tempt you to put their products in your Christmas stocking. But don’t be fooled. There’s a lot of tat out there and prices at Christmas do not always reflect what’s inside your package. So, don’t fork out £10 for 5 chocolate truffles with a picture of a Christmas tree on the front.  Here are a few Christmas themed presents that will make your loved ones smile without breaking the bank:

  • Marks and Spencer Snow Globe – snow globes have become the must have gin treat for the last few Christmases.  We think this one from M&S is one of the best.  But they won’t last forever
  • Gin and tonic truffles – everybody loves a bit of chocolate, especially at Christmas.  But these days a foil-wrapped chocolate Santa just doesn’t cut it any more.  Here’s a fab recipe for some G&T truffles you can make at home. Guaranteed to give you the best of both worlds this Christmas
  • Gin tours – we spend our lives drinking gin and talking gin. But to really immerse yourselves in this great drink of ours, talk to the experts.  There are dozens of great gin tours now available from small batch artisans to big distillers.  You can either book one at your local gin distillery or check out our list of bespoke gin experiences.  Just book your slot online and turn up.
  • Make your own gin at home – there’s no longer any need to make your gin in the bathtub. Check out this neat little gin-making kit and create your own personalised gin from the comfort of your own kitchen. Taste is a very personal thing, and this kit gives you the chance to mix up the perfect blend and turn plain old vodka into your own, magical gin in as little as 36 hours.

Christmas gin liqueurs: boost your bubbly this Christmas

These days, there are a raft of gin liqueurs available that are perfect for the holiday season. In the end, what you like most is all a matter of personal taste. But the range is increasing every day, so we’re now spoiled for choice. They range from novelty flavours (such as peppermint candy cane and mint humbug) all the way through to more traditional Christmas flavours such as orange, cranberry and even ginger.  But you might want to check out the range from jam makers Tiptree, who have a delightful range of liqueurs made from English fruit. 

The range includes raspberry, strawberry, damson, rhubarb and quince. Sweet, comforting and full of the taste and smell of Christmas, there’ll be a bottle of this in my kitchen this year. Remember, these are not gins, but gin liqueurs. This generally means they are thicker, sweeter and lower in alcohol than proper gin. They make a nice change if you’re looking for something different from your traditional sherry or port.

They also work really well as a cocktail ingredient or even to add a little flavour to a standard G&T. And a little drop in the bottom of a glass of bubbly can change the game forever. We’ve heard that Santa is a bit partial to a little glass alongside his mince pies. It’s the perfect Christmas combo! 

Gin-filled baubles: will they survive to Christmas?

We wait all year for Christmas to come around again. And we all love the idea of gathering the family around to decorate our trees with tinsel, glitter and shiny baubles. But what if those baubles were filled with gin? Well your dreams have come true.  These days, you can buy gin-filled baubles from all your favourite brands. From personal experience, I can confirm that this simple idea really adds the festive element that we all desire at this time of year. And if you prefer, you can always opt for refillable balls that you can top up with your personal favourites.

We’ve had enough of cheap chocolates and tacky trinkets. They do nothing for us.  Gin baubles, on the other hand, is an idea we love.  Once again, they’re going fast, so make sure you get them while you can. 

Indoor fireworks: light your Christmas pudding with Navy Strength gin

For those of us who like a little Christmas pudding, there’s nothing like the thrill (and nervousness) surrounding the lighting of the pudding and the precarious march toward the table desperately hoping that the flaming blue brandy will not spill onto the kitchen floor and burn the house down. As anybody who’s tried to light their own Christmas pudding, it can be a bit tricky to get the thing to burn.

So, here’s an idea. Switch from brandy to Navy Strength gin. We recommend Winchester Distillery’s Navy Strength gin. With a higher proof of 57% ABV, it is much easier to light. But remember to be careful. Top tip: warm the gin up slightly in a saucepan before pouring it on to the pudding and lighting it. The fumes help it to catch light and the show can begin. 

The King of Gin: splash the cash on the world’s most expensive gin

If you’re really into the ultimate gin for Christmas, you could really splash out.  If you’ve won the lottery and have the cash to splash, you could try a bottle of the world’s most expensive gin. Why not treat yourself to a bottle of Morus LXIV.  This English gin is distilled from the leaves of a single ancient Mulberry tree and is made in very small batches.  It takes more than two years to produce this little beauty and it’s packaged in a beautiful hand made white porcelain jar with a matching stirrup cup with a hand embossed leather hide. 

If you’re still feeling generous, I still have some room in my Christmas stocking. Just saying.  There’s still some stock left at Harvey Nicholsfor  around £4000 for a bottle, I’ve never tried it (and at that price I probably never will) But for the person who has everything, this could be the perfect gift.  Maybe next year, Santa?

Go crackers this Christmas: a Christmas tradition to get your party off with a bang

Non-Brits might be a bit confused by the concept of Christmas crackers. Traditionally, these Christmas surprises appear at the Christmas table. They’re basically paper-covered cardboard tubes colorfully wrapped in the shape of a giant bonbon. The idea is that you and the person next to you each pull on the ends of the cracker until it breaks, with a small bang. Inside, tradition dictates that there is a colorful paper crown that you wear at the table; a very bad joke that you read out at the table (to accompanying groans!); and some sort of gift that can range from a bottle opener (in the cheaper ones) to diamonds (in the very expensive ones!).

Somewhere in between, they invented the best ones of all – gin Christmas crackers. And now everybody’s doing them. So, to help you decide which one’s best for you, here’s a handy guide to the best gin Christmas crackers for 2021. A few non-gin ones seem to have snuck into the list. But they are rum and Bailey’s, so what’s not to like!

Gorgeous gin glasses: look good, taste good, feel good

Why is it that gin tastes different in different glasses? We’re not exactly sure if it’s psychological or real, but it always seems to taste better from a pretty glass. While most gin brands offer branded glasses for sale, not everybody wants a big logo on the side of their copa. There are some stunning branded gin glasses out there (think Silent Pool for example).

But for those who’d rather not become a brand advocate, there are some stunning gin glasses available on Amazon (and elsewhere) that will help you to stand out from the crowd. We love these beautiful hand-painted copa glasses. But for a little extra sophistication, check out these little beauties – classic style in an elegant gin glass. Plenty of room in the stocking for a couple of these. Just saying…

Merry Gin-mas everyone!

Make the most of your time with friends, family and loved ones this Christmas. And thanks for all your support in 2021!  Here’s to a brighter, gin-filled 2022!

The Barcelona Gin team

Steve, Marta, Jason (and Ruddles!)


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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sloe gin bramble pie

Sloe gin Bramble pie: blackberries, booze and elephants

It’s sloe gin time. There’s no point in pretending any more.  Autumn is well into its stride and winter lies just ahead.  While the last warm bursts of sunshine still make an occasional appearance, it’s only a brief tease before the grey clouds and drizzle take over.  However we believe in the brighter side of life. So, despite the colder weather, we’ll be making the most of this season and taking advantage of all the things we love about this time of year.  The leaves are falling, leaving a satisfying crunch under our feet and a dazzling display of fall colour for our eyes. Here in Barcelona, the sweet potato sellers are out. You can see them huddling around their little stoves selling piping hot yams and bags of roasted chestnuts to keep us warm as the days grow colder.  

Christmas is in the air

Across the world, the Christmas lights are starting to appear in all their festive splendour. They’re strung elegantly across our streets like twinkling diamonds in the night sky.  The sounds of Christmas are all around.  Seasonal carols echo down the streets and blast out of our shops and restaurants.  The terraces are less popular these days and outdoor sipping is best done with a scarf wrapped casually around your neck.  Serious eating and drinking has moved indoors where the vibe is cozy, warm and comforting. The sights and sounds of the coming festivities are starting to build some proper momentum to give us hope and cheer for the colder weather ahead.  We suspect a version of this is happening all around the world as everybody prepares for the cozy days ahead.

Cozy, warm and comforting

So, while we’re on the subject of cozy, warm and comforting, we thought we’d share with you a recipe that will make you feel all of those emotions in one go.  Last year, we introduced you to the delights of the apple and blackberry sloe gin crumble.  This year, we’re going to discover the world of the sloe gin Bramble pie.  This is a gorgeous, heart-warming, stomach-filling dessert that’s perfect for this time of year and it features a delicious dose of sloe gin, our favourite winter warmer.  This is the kind of dessert you want baking in the oven after a long walk in the countryside.  It’s full of fresh, natural ingredients and we think it works really well with a dollop of double cream or a drizzle of hot custard. 

Take it sloe…

And, as you sit back in your comfy chair, soaking up all the heat from that roaring fire, pour yourself a glass of sloe gin. Home made is best. But if that’s a step too far, we highly recommend a glass of Elephant sloe gin from Germany. Hand made in small batches by artisan gin-makers, this deliciously rich spirit is based on Elephant’s original London Dry gin, but it has been transformed with fresh apples and rare African botanicals. Hand picked sloe berries that have been macerated in the gin have been added to release all their fruity autumn flavours. And at 35% ABV, you’ll only need a little bit. After having some Bramble pie and a glass of sloe, I think a pre-Christmas nap might be in order…

Save the elephants

Don’t forget that 15% of all the funds from the sales of Elephant gin go to foundations fighting the illegal ivory trade. Another reason to raise a glass of sloe.

Sloe gin bramble pie recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2kg blackberries
  • 75 ml sloe gin
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 6 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 medium free-range egg yolk, beaten (to glaze)
  • Seve with hot custard or double cream

For the pastry

  • 200g unsalted butter (room temperature) cubed (plus extra for greasing)
  • 400g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • A decent sized pinch of salt
  • 1 medium egg

Method:

  1. Put the blackberries in a pan with the sloe gin and golden caster sugar. Set over a low-medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes until you have about 1 litre juice. Drain the blackberries, reserving the juices, then leave to cool completely. Return the juices to the pan and reduce to a thick syrup (see tips). Once the blackberries have cooled, mix them with the cornflour. For the pastry, briefly whizz the butter with the flour, 50g sugar and salt in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Slowly pulse in the egg, then 2 tbsp cold water, until the dough just comes together. Tip onto a floured surface, split into two (roughly two thirds and one third), then roll each into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap each disc in cling film, then chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oven to 210°C/fan190°C/gas 6½ and put in a baking sheet to heat up. Take the larger disc of pastry out of the fridge. Roll it out to 0.5cm thick on a lightly floured surface and use to line the base and sides of a 5cm deep ceramic or metal flan/pie dish measuring about 18cm across the bottom and 23cm across the top. Once you’ve lined the dish with the pastry, spoon in the cooled blackberries. Put the blackberry-filled base in the fridge.
  3. Roll out the second piece of pastry to a 23cm circle. Remove the dish from the fridge and lightly wet the edges of the pastry base. Top with the second layer of pastry and crimp, using your thumb and forefinger, to seal. With a sharp knife, make a few slits and a hole in the top and, if you like, use any pastry trimmings to decorate (re-roll, cut into shapes and affix with a little water). Brush the top with the beaten egg yolk to glaze it. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes, then glaze again.
  4. Bake on the hot baking sheet for 45 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp – cover the top with foil if it browns too quickly. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the dish for 2-3 hours so the filling can thicken. Serve the pie in slices straight from the dish, with lashings of cream.

Please note: You won’t need the syrup from the blackberries in this recipe, but it’s great as a base for a gin and tonic. Or drizzle it over sorbets and ice creams (you may need to sweeten it a little). If you’d like a sugary glaze for the pie, sprinkle the pastry with a little demerara sugar before baking. To make sure the filling is heated throughout, push a metal skewer into the centre, then carefully hold it to the back of your wrist. It should feel very hot.
Make the filling and pastry separately up to 2 days in advance, then assemble and bake at the last minute. 


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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Lind&Lime

Lind&Lime: the perfect gin in the perfect bottle?

Lind&Lime could just be the perfect gin for me. Sometimes you unwittingly discover a beautiful gin hidden inside a hideous bottle. Other times, you stumble across a terrible gin cunningly disguised inside an expensive looking bottle.  But the greatest delight of all is when you spot a gorgeous bottle and then discover that the gin inside is even more delightful than the packaging itself. And this week, that’s exactly what I found – and I might never go back. 

Welcome to Lind&Lime…

For me, the taste of refreshing lime drinks is a throwback to my childhood days, growing up in Calcutta. We would sit on a hot evening on our balcony in Chowringhee, listening to the parrots squawk and the frogs sing. We would watch the monkeys fooling around at the bottom of the garden in the humid post-monsoon heat.  Then, out of nowhere, our cook (and friend), Appaya, would quietly appear. He would be balancing several glasses and a jug full of delicious Nimbu Pani on a small tray.  Nimbu Pani is a simple, cooling local drink made from freshly squeezed lime, sugar syrup and soda water.

It was always served in a long glass filled right to the top with cooling ice.  And it was even better when Appaya followed up with a plate of warm, curried cashew nuts served straight out of the oven. It’s funny how, even all these years later, these things still feel as real as they did all those years ago.

The Holy Grail of lime gins

It’s a flavour that has eluded me in gin for many years now.  And these days, I’ve moved up the ladder to cocktails – and gins in particular. But until now, the closest I could find to the taste of Nimbu Pani was the tangy lime flavour of Tanqueray Rangpur.  And, since I discovered it 18 months ago, that has fast become my “go-to” summer gin drink.  And then last week, the world changed. I tried a glass of Scotland’s Lind&Lime gin, poured straight from its gorgeously sophisticated, classically-ribbed bottle and my summer was instantly transformed. 

Perfect way to cool down on a warm day

This is definitely my new “special occasion” gin for warm days and summer evenings.  But at Barcelona Gin, we believe all good things should be shared. So here are a few reasons why I think you should add this summer stunner to your birthday list (or at least drop some subtle hints around your gin loving friends around that time!).

So, what’s Lind&Lime like?

Deliciously complex, dry and very refreshing, Lind&Lime gin has a beautiful balance as a result of seven carefully chosen and complementary botanicals.  There’s an unmissable juniper taste that runs right through this premium gin. Then there’s a clear citrus blast delivered by the fresh lime rind that this drink is built around.  This zestiness on it’s own might not be enough. But the folks at Lind&Lime gin have compensated for that with an infusion of pink peppercorn that adds just the right level of complexity through the pink peppercorns that sit alongside the distinctive lime zest.

What’s the story, morning glory?

But every gin relies on a good story, and this gin is no exception.  It’s the first Scottish delight, from Scotland’s Port of Leith Distillery Co at its Tower Street Stillhouse. Born in the Port of Leith, just on the edge of Scotland’s beautiful capital city of Edinburgh, this is the product of one of Scotland’s most historic trading centres. Way back in the 17th century, there was a fellow called James Lind, who hailed from those parts.  He was born in Edinburgh, but life took him a long way from from there over his career and he ended up serving as ship’s surgeon aboard the Royal Navy ship, HMS Salisbury. 

Scottish Limeys…

Like most ships that spent a long time away from land, there was a big problem with scurvy due to a paucity of Vitamin C on their long voyages.  By all accounts, Lind was a curious man. And he had a curious surgeon’s mind.  So, he conducted a number of trials on serving members of the ship’s crew. It quickly became apparent that sailors who ate more citrus fruit were generally in better physical condition than those who didn’t. This observation was made and recorded and eventually led to the adoption of limes on board Royal Navy ships to keep the sailors fit and healthy. And that’s why the American’s call us Limeys.

How do they make it?

These guys take a base spirit of 96% ABV and then carefully re-distill it into a London Dry gin that stands out from the crowd. The result is a 48 ABV gin with a natural, crisp lime flavour that doesn’t taste of children’s sweets. This is because the taste is infused directly from the rind itself into the distillate.  The whole concoction is then brought together in a stainless steel electric still, powered by sustainable electricity from renewable sources. This gin has only been around since 2019 but it’s already making quite a name for itself.

The bottle and the brand

The bottle itself is a minor work of art.  As a trading port, Leith had always been associated with the European wine trade. As more and more cask wine arrived over several centuries, they needed bottles and the area soon became a centre for glass production. The Leith Glass Works was built to make sure that the port could stay ahead of demand.  Lind&Lime gin taps into this tradition and pays homage to the industrial heritage of the area.  Traditional wine bottles have inspired the stunning shape and design. The result is a design classic that adds real aesthetic value to an already delicious gin.

Lim&Lime perfect serve:

This is one of those gins that’s so good that the less you add to it, the better.  We think for this gin to shine, pour it straight over ice (the larger the better) into a long glass. The bigger the ice, the longer your drink will remain fizzing!) Then, fill it up to the top with your favourite, freshly opened premium tonic water and wipe the rim of the glass with a fresh lime. Then, squeeze the rest of the lime juice into the drink before giving it one final, gentle stir.  We recommend a traditional 2:1 ratio of gin to tonic. But if you prefer a cocktail, this gin works really well in a French 75. 

This distillery also gives daily tours, so if you find yourself at a loose end in Scotland, it might be worth popping in to see what all the fuss is about. 


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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Puerto de Indias

Puerto de Indias: is blackberry the new pink?

It seems like flavoured gins have been around forever. But in fact, they are a relatively new invention.  While many people may have experimented with home infusions for domestic consumption, it was only recently that commercial brands began to recognise their full potential. 
One of the originals was Puerto de Indias who led the way with their pioneering strawberry gin. They were amongst the first to experiment with natural strawberries and claim to have been the inspiration for the current wave of pink gins that seem to be everywhere. 
It’s a Spanish gin from Sevilla but it has a global reputation and is now available in more than 50 countries around the world.  Since those early days, it seems that everybody has jumped on the bandwagon.  Pink gins are everywhere and at every price point, but being first does not always guarantee you’re the best.
But in the case of Puerto De Indias, they are definitely right up there. 

The story begins…

It all began in the exotic Andalusian town of Sevilla when two brothers got together to buy one of the oldest distilleries in the region and set about producing their own artisan gin.  Little did they know that they would be in the forefront of a gin revolution that would change the gin landscape forever. Their gins are made with water from an underground spring that has been quenching Spanish thirst for centuries and they use traditional techniques and copper stills to make this modern version of a summer classic. 
But nothing sets a business back quicker than resting on your laurels. 
Since introducing the strawberry gin a few years ago, they have continued to innovate and now produce a classic gin, a strawberry gin, an orange and peach blossom gin and a floral black gin that’s flavoured with orange blossom.  So many gins, so little time.

Blackberry is back

And then I spotted another one that caught my eye. Puerto de Indias have now launched a blackberry gin with a unique flavour all of its own. 
Blackberries dominate this gin, but there’s a fresh, citrus backdrop with hints of caramel on the nose. And then, it’s time to take a sip.  This gin is smooth on the mouth and eases its way gently into those complex wild fruits and rich blackberry flavours, with a slight bitterness and a touch of sweet cinnamon spice to round it all off.
This is a fabulous new gin and I think it stands up very well to its competitors including Bombay Bramble and Tanqueray Royale (both in taste and value). This is definitely a gin for those with a sweet tooth. We think it is a great match for a lightly sweetened tonic water such as Fever Tree Elderflower.
Or you could go straight to the Seven Up to keep the sweet vibe going even further.  

Recipe for Puerto de Indias Blackberry perfect serve

Ingredients:

  • 5cl Puerto De Indias Blackberry gin
  • 20cl of Seven Up or Tonic Water
  • Fresh or frozen blackberries
  • Cinnamon sticks

Method:

  1. Fill glass with large ice cubes and swirl to chill glass
  2. Empty water from glass and place several blackberries inside
  3. Drop in a cinnamon stick or two and add the gin
  4. Pour tonic or Seven Up over ice and stir gently.
  5. Sit back 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 and elderflower: the new taste of summer

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

So, elderflower and gin is fast becoming the taste of summer. For many years, it was a staple ingredient of North Western Europe, but now elderflower cordials, gins and liqueurs are available around the world. But while this pretty flower’s culinary roots go as far back as the Romans, Europeans have been using the flowers of the European Elder to make cordial recipes to refresh thirsty Europeans for many centuries now. These days, it has become a common summer flavour and many people still make it in the traditional way, generally as a cordial, squash or syrup that is mixed with still or sparkling water – and it’s refreshing, healthy and easy to make at home.

What exactly is an elderflower?

Elderflowers generally grow between May and June, making them the perfect solution to summer heat and they can generally be found across Europe, North Africa and S.W. Asia. 
Making the cordial is actually a very simple process which involves steeping the flower heads in a solution of concentrated sugar which infuses the flavour directly into the syrup.  Some people add a little lemon juice to help add a little sharpness before covering it and allowing the infusion process to begin.  Once the flavours have really blended, it’s then a relatively simple process of straining the resulting product to extract as much juice as possible before mixing it with water, sparkling water and even gin. 

Keeping things cordial

Or, if you prefer, simply buy some commercial elderflower cordial and mix it up to your taste. For centuries, this light, refreshingly delicious summer drink has been served up at summer events and picnics.  And then, when the craft gin revolution began and distillers and craft gin producers started looking for ways to improve and enhance their gin, elderflower became the perfect match. It’s light, citrus sweetness made it an ideal partner for gin and a fabulous alternative to the standard choice of Indian tonic water to provide a refreshing, easy to drink mixer.  Many brands are available these days, from Belvoir to supermarket own brands. But we like the very French St. Germain which uses hand picked flowers that are taken back to the village by bicycle.

Just the tonic…

Most of the premium tonic brands now offer an elderflower alternative.  From the ubiquitous Fever Tree with their plain elderflower tonic to old standards such as Schweppes, it seems everybody now recognises this new flavour as a legitimate alternative to standard tonic.  One of our favourite tonic brands, Franklin and Sons, now offers elderflower and cucumber tonic water which is cooling and light and a perfect way to enhance your summer gin of choice.  Versions are available at all levels and prices.

Elderflower gins…

But, you could dispense with the commercial versions altogether if you choose an elderflower gin. My personal favourite is from JJ. Whitley – a refreshing, fragrant gin with a distinctive honey, orange and elderflower taste and at a great price.  It’s not overly strong at around 38.6% ABV, but that may not be such a bad thing since it’s so easy to drink.  Other brands to look out for include the Warner Edwards Elderflower gin which clocks in at a slightly stronger 40% ABV, but is almost twice the price. Gordon’s even does an elderflower version of their gin. 

Gin liqueurs – keeping things sweet

Then there are the elderflower gin liqueurs which are sweeter and more concentrated but can be a lovey aperitif or add a blast of summer to your cocktails. There are tasty versions of these over at Edinburgh Gin with a blend of elderflower, lavender. Orange peel and lemongrass (other brands are available).

Perfect for summer cocktails

And then, there is the elderflower as a gin cocktail ingredient, increasingly appearing in summer gin coolers, martinis and long cocktails topped up with soda or sparkling wine. But we could talk about the theory all summer long, but what you really want is an easy recipe to get your summer rolling.  So, we’ve found a really easy to make (and easy to drink) recipe for a Gin and Elderflower cooler that will impress your friends and give you an extra reason to get your shorts on, slip into the garden or terrace and elevate yourself smugly above those gin and tonic drinkers.

Welcome to the Gin and Elderflower Cooler.

Gin and Elderflower cooler recipe

Ingredients:

  • 100ml elderflower cordial
  • 150 ml gin (use JJ. Whitley to pump up the flavour)
  • 400 ml of soda (or sparkling water)
  • Ice cubes
  • 8 cucumber circles (thinly sliced)
  • 2 apple circles (thinly sliced)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 1 litre jug or pitcher

Method:

  1. Pour the elderflower cordial and gin directly into the jug
  2. Top up with the soda or sparkling water
  3. Scrunch up the mint leaves in your hands (bruising them lightly to release the flavour)
  4. Add it to the pitcher along with the cucumber and apple
  5. Add ice last and then give it all a good stir
  6. Leave it for a few minutes to infuse and when you’re ready, pour and sip smugly!

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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classic gins

5 “go to” classic gins you can rely on

In this new world of 1000 gins, sometimes too much choice can be your enemy.  We all know about the recent explosion of craft gins and often they can be quite expensive.  So, it’s good to have a handful of “old faithfuls” classic gins that you know you can rely on for a good, standard G&T.  There are times in life when it’s okay to  be a little adventurous.  And these days, there is literally a gin for everybody.  Whether you want gin with gold flakes floating around or gin made from crushed ants, you can simply log in and order one for next day delivery.  Whether you want an ordinary gin in a beautiful bottle  or a beautiful gin in an ordinary bottle, there’s one for you. 

Spoiled for choice

These days, we are spoiled for choice.  But sometimes, these gins can be a little expensive.  The Anty-Gin  for example sells for around £220.  But there are other times when you just want a simple, recognisable flavour that does the basic job well.  These are the gins that everybody should have in their bar, the “go to” gins.  They might not set the world on fire with their innovation or impress your friends with their complex infusions, but these are classic gins that won’t let you down.  And that’s good to know. 

Here are 5 of our “go to” favourite classic gins that are always worth keeping in the cupboard for when the posh stuff runs out.  In the end, it’s all a matter of personal taste, but we think these standard gins are well worth keeping in reserve.

Beefeater: 40% ABV

Beefeater ginA classic London Dry, Beefeater has been synonymous with gin since 1876. Surprisingly complex it combines the piney notes of juniper with the hoppiness of angelica flowers.  There’s a blast of coriander somewhere in there and lots of fresh citrus notes delivered by the orange peels.  You’ll also find notes of almond and liquorice to give it a rich, complexity. 

All of this results in a well balanced gin perfect for long lunches or early evening G&Ts.  This is a classic gin that doesn’t try to do too much and what bit does, it does very well.  This is a great drink for anybody who loves a classic G&T, but it also works well in cocktails such as a Negroni.

The perfect pour: Fever Tree Indian tonic Water, loads of ice and a slice of lemon

 

Bombay Sapphire: 40% ABV

The brand that kick-started the gin revolution in the UK with its lighter, more subtle recipe, Bombay Sapphire has a delicate nose with a refreshing blend of citrus, pepper and angelica along with plenty of juniper.  Most people think that this totemic gin has been around for centuries, but it actually first saw the light of day in the 1960s when New York lawyer Allan Subi saw an opportunity to create a brand new “English” gin to take on the likes of Tanqueray and Beefeater in the USA. 

He approached Greenalls to create the gin to match his brand and they built a drink based on an old Greenalls recipe from back in the 1760s.  This gin took off fast and its easy-to-drink blend of 8 botanicals includes cassia bark, liquorice and almonds.  Then in the 1980s, chef Michel Roux got involved in creating a new version of the gin that used Bombay Original Dry as a base to which he added 2 kinds of pepper, Grains of paradise and Cubeb berries resulting in a floral, peppery tasting gin with a sweet nose and a fresh clean taste. And that was how Bombay Sapphire came to be.

Fragrant and spicy, this is a great gin for a Negroni, but it really works best in a long, tall glass filled with ice and a slice.  You can’t go wrong with a bottle of this beauty. And if you’re ever in Hampshire, pop in for a fascinating gin tour in their award winning distillery on the banks of the beautiful River Test.

The perfect pour: Schweppes Premium Tonic Water, loads of ice and a slice of lime

Tanqueray: ABV: 43.1%

One of the classic gin brands, Tanqueray have been tickling our taste buds with this bone dry gin for centuries. With its notes of pine and coriander building on a strong juniper base, it all works well together. Its Christmas tree notes have made it a classic and reliable “go to” gin for all occasions. Made for a Dry Martini (with just the smallest drop of vermouth) or equally good in a long, refreshing G&T. Charles Tanqueray began distilling spirits in 1838 but it took him a few more years to come up with his classic gin recipe, which has stood the test of time and is as good now as it ever was.

In the 1950s, Tanqueray joined the Gordons family and was used to spearhead a marketing drive to secure it as a prestigious gin in the United States. It soon became the favourite tipple of evergreen stars such as Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Junior.  We think it’s one of the best classic gins out there and it’s a favorite of bartenders worldwide.

The perfect pour: Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic water, loads of ice and orange zest

Gordon’s (export strength): ABV: 47.3%

While we, in the UK, get to drink standard Gordon’s gin, this one is available overseas (or in duty free) so it’s worth keeping an eye out while you’re on holiday. It is considerably stronger than its domestic cousin (which clocks in at a rather feeble 37.5%).  It is also a very different beast as far as taste is concerned. With top notes of lemon peel and bittersweet lime, warming coriander, lavender and juniper in the mix and a lovely, lemony edge, this is a great gin. 

While regular Gordon’s gin struggles to retain its place in this brave new world of artisan gin, this one is still worth seeking out.  In the UK it may still be sold as Gordon’s Yellow Label, but you’re most likely to find this in a duty free shop somewhere around the world.  It’s a great gin for taking on holiday or for drinking on your return. Try this if you’re looking for an extra strong, extra spicy Tom Collins or in a Negroni.

The perfect pour: Britvic Indian tonic Water, loads of ice and a slice of lime

Plymouth: ABV: 41.2%

As befitting its Naval connections, Plymouth Gin once supplied more than 1000 casks of its Navy Strength gin to the Royal Navy but it fell out of fashion. The brand was revived in the late 1990s by Charles Roll, who went on to found the ubiquitous Fever Tree brand.  He increased the strength and created a heathery,  juniper gin with a lovely balance of savoury sage, sweetness and smoothness.  This has become a gin classic with its piney finish and well judged injection of citrus. 

Light, balanced and smooth, this is a great gin if you’re into G&Ts.  Strong enough to have some character but not so strong it will knock you out.  And great taste is not its only claim to fame – it was the favourite gin of Winston Churchill, it was the gin used in the world’s first Martini recipe and is the official gin of the Royal Navy. Keep a bottle of this in your cupboard at all times.

The perfect pour: Fentiman’s Premium Indian tonic water and a slice of grapefruit.

So, there you have it. Five classic gins that you can rely on. Like an old friend, these gins will be with you forever, ask no questions and never let you down. 

Now, how about a G&T?

 


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

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


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Gin Gazpacho

Gin Gazpacho: for when the heat is on!

When the heat is on and you just want something light, healthy and easy for lunch you could do worse than reach for a chilled bowl of home made Gazpacho soup.  But we started thinking about making this traditional Spanish summer soup with the help of a little gin, so we began looking for recipes from similar minds. And apparently Gin Gazpacho is not such a crazy idea after all.

Breaking the rules

I know the purists amongst my Spanish friends may throw their hands up in the air in horror at this untraditional approach, but trust me, Gin Gazpacho is delicious. The perfect, refreshing dish to take away your hunger on a hot summer’s day.  And the beauty of this (almost) guilt free lunch is that it’s easy to make and packed with healthy, natural Mediterranean goodness. But sometimes you have to break the rules. In another break with tradition, we’ve switched the traditional croutons for an easy to make olive biscuit that gives this liquid lunch a little extra body.

And then, for the all important gin kick, we’ve gone in with a Gin Mare, in keeping with our Spanish connection – and because it’s a damned good gin!

What is it about Gazpacho that makes it so special?

Originally from the far south of Spain, this Andalusian classic is basically a cold soup made with raw, blended vegetables and it’s now most widely eaten in Spain and Portugal.  While there are dozens of variations across the country and around the world, it is a refreshingly cool lunch. Sort of like a thicker Bloody Mary but without the booze.  Except for this recipe that unapologetically puts the booze right back in. 

Most traditional Gazpacho recipes include stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt and vinegar.  In the 19th century, the locals in Cordoba, Seville and Granada added tomatoes – and that’s how the most famous version has been ever since.  Although, it’s not uncommon these days to find versions made with watermelon, cucumbers and even strawberries.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at this recipe and get you going.

Gin Gazpacho recipe

INGREDIENTS:

For the gazpacho:

  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 large yellow pepper
  • ½ large red onion
  • ⅓ large cucumber
  • 3-4 very ripe vine tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 250ml cold water
  • 50ml Gin Mare
  • Salt and pepper

For the Kalamata biscuits:

  • 200g organic rolled oats
  • 140g plain flour
  • 140g cold butter, diced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 50g Kalamata olives, finely chopped and patted dry
  • Hot water, as needed

Method:

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus at least one hour chilling

Cooking time: 20 minutes Serves 8 as tapas

For the gazpacho:

  1. Remove the seeds from the peppers and set aside a 1.5cm strip of each for the garnish. Roughly chop the remainder.
  2. Set aside about one-sixth of the onion for the garnish and roughly chop the remainder.
  3. Set aside a 2cm piece of the cucumber for the garnish and peel and chop the remainder.
  4. Place all the chopped vegetables in a bowl.
  5. Add the tomatoes, garlic, oil and vinegar. Lightly season, cover with the water and place in fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.
  6. Remove from the fridge and, using a food processor, blend until smooth.
  7. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Keep chilled until required.
  8. Finely dice the vegetables that were set aside and mix together.
  9. Before serving, stir in the Gin Mare.

Serve in a small bowl or glass with a teaspoon of the diced vegetables on top and the olive biscuits on the side.

For the Kalamata biscuits:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°c/gas 6.
  2. Put all the dry ingredients except the olives and water in the bowl of a food processor.
  3. Gently blend until the butter is incorporated. Add the olives. On a low speed, slowly add hot water until a soft ‘dough’ is formed. Transfer to a floured surface and roll out until approx. 3-4mm thick.
  4. Cut out biscuits in the desired size and shape (we make 24 6cm biscuits from this amount) and place on a baking tray.
  5. Work quickly and avoid re-rolling the mixture too many times.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown.

Remember, you can make these biscuits in advance, as long as you store them in an airtight container.  They’re also delicious with cheese and paté. And a large Gin Mare and tonic – of course!
And we’ve chosen Gin Mare for a reason. With its unusual botanicals including wild juniper berries, Arbequina olives, basil, thyme and rosemary, it’s the perfect complement to this twist on a traditional dish. And it’s also one of our favourite Spanish gins, packed to the brim with the savoury flavours of the Mediterranean.


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

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


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angostura bitters

Small bottle, big label: the story behind Angostura bitters

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

The “Daddy” of all bitters

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

What are bitters?

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

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

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

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

So, how did it all begin?

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

A closely guarded secret

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

Reach for the Angostura…

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

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

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

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

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

Pink Gin cocktail – the classic

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

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


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Franklin & Sons

Franklin & Sons: mixing it up with a good tonic water

There was a time when choosing a tonic water was really simple. Historically, there were only a few major brands on the market and most of those had been changed beyond all recognition from their original recipes. As tonic water became a mass consumption product in the hands of the big corporates, the recipes changed and more sugar was added, which radically altered their taste. Artificial flavours began to appear alongside a list of chemicals and artificial ingredients as long as your arm. 
And then along came the craft gin revolution, which changed everything and helped tonic water to rediscover its roots. A certain brand saw a gap in the market and made this their clarion call: If 75% of your drink is tonic, make it a good one. 

And they had a point.

Welcome to Franklin & Sons

Since then, there has been an explosion of new tonic water brands and a renaissance of some old ones. We are almost at the point where there’s too much variety on the market. 
So many choices and flavours everywhere we look that sometimes it’s just hard to make the right choice. But it’s an important choice – as they say, why ruin a great drink with an average mixer?
So, we thought we’d help you out a little.  Over the years, we’ve tried many of the famous mixers out there and the jury is in. We have a current favorite.  Welcome to Franklin & Sons.

135 years of experience

Never heard of them?
Well they’ve been around for 135 years and here’s their story.  There were three Franklin brothers – all confectioners by trade.  Inspired by their Dad, who returned to London from the United States in 1886 with tales of innovative carbonated drinks, they decided they’d give it a go at their little sweetshop in Rickmansworth.  And all these years later, they’re still making a premium range of tonics and mixers that will add flavour, sparkle (and a touch of class) to whatever gin you’re drinking. They source only the finest ingredients and hand pick their fruits at the perfect point to ensure maximum flavour.  

Exceptional ingredients

Wherever possible, they use local fruit, roots and herbs in support of their local farming communities. Plus, it’s the best way to make a mixer – fresh and by hand.  They pride themselves on using exceptional ingredients and they only use natural flavours, extracts and colours. And they never use sweeteners or preservatives. The result is a delicious and unique range of mixers and soft drinks that have won industry awards all over the world.  

According to Alf (their irrepressible Brand Ambassador) all Franklin and Sons drinks use only natural extracts and colours. And they never include artificial flavours or sweeteners, so you can always be sure of a clean, natural taste. It all started with a home made ginger beer. Now there is a full range with something to suit all tastes.

It’s only natural….

Franklin and Sons’ range of mixers are made from the finest ingredients using natural spring water from Staffordshire, England. The high mineral content of this water makes it the perfect base to bring out the natural flavours and botanicals in the spirits. The result is one of the cleanest, crispest and most natural tonic waters around. The Franklin and Sons range has been awarded 5 stars at The Great Taste Awards (the Oscars of the food industry). The tastings were done blind and the results speak for themselves.

The taste test

Recently, on a visit to our friends at Corpen gin, we had a tasting of the Franklin & Sons range right here in Barcelona. They are now available in 56 countries around the world.  In addition to their classic Indian Tonic water, we tried some of their other award winning drinks.  With more than 15 flavours available, we can’t review them all. But we’ve picked out a few favourites – the ones that we think will go best with a high quality gin.

Franklin & Sons: the verdict

Natural Indian tonic water

This was a delight. The light effervescence of the Staffordshire spring water is mixed with Ecuadorean Cinchona bark and British sugar. The result is a crisp, clear tonic with a subtle bitterness that is carried across the palette by natural carbonation. This is a great tasting, natural and pure tonic water. It rightly belongs in a classic G&T, preferably a classic London Dry gin such as Sipsmith. With the perfect blend of fizz and flavour, this will elevate any good gin to a higher place. Pure class in a glass!

Natural Light tonic water

This one uses the same ingredients as the regular tonic water, but it relies on only half the sugar. The result is an easy to drink mixer with a slightly more bitter edge to it. We think it works really well with floral gins such as Silent Pool or Bloom. You could also use it as a mixer for sweeter gins such as Old Tom – its natural bitterness offers a nice counterbalance.

Sicilian Lemon tonic water

Now this is where things change up a gear. This unique blend of Staffordshire spring water and gently pressed whole Sicilian lemons is a revelation. They use all the peel and flesh of the fruit ensuring that every last drop of zesty oil is captured and the flavour balance is just the right blend of sweet and sour. This works really well with a traditional London Dry gin such as No.3 London Dry and it even peps up a Sloe gin, if you’re in the mood for something a bit different.

The Flavour Collection

Franklin & Sons have recently introduced their Flavour Collection with four unique dual-flavoured mixers made to the same high standards as their normal tonic waters. Developed in collaboration with some of the world’s best mixologists, each one has been specially created to complement the best spirits in the world and are highy carbonated to lift the lid on the most delicate flavours.

Pink Grapefruit Tonic with Bergamot

Grapefruit gins seem to be having a moment right now, so this blend of natural sparkling spring water, natural bergamot and pink grapefruit which results in a high quality, citrusy mixer that suits floral gins such as JJ Whitley Elderflower gin or tea-based gins such as Drumshambo, which will help to bring the bergamot to the fore.

Rosemary Tonic with Black Olive

This is the one that stands out from the crowd. Rosemary Tonic water with Black Olive has a gorgeous, savoury, briny taste that is unmistakably unique. Its savoury notes make it the perfect match for both savoury gins such as Gin Mare and sweeter gins such as Haymans Old Tom. It has a unique flavour that brings you immediately back to the Mediterranean making you think of olive groves, al fresco dining and good times. This was unusual and stunning and we can’t recommend it highly enough!

Rhubarb Tonic Water with Hibiscus

For those who enjoy a bit of tartness, this Rhubarb Tonic Water with Hibiscus offers the perfect balance. The sharpness of the rhubarb is tempered by the subtle sweetness of the hibiscus flower. This pink-hued tonic works really well in spiced gins or ginger-flavoured gins. We think it could be a perfect match for Ophir lovers, but we’re sure you’ll find the pairing you like best.

Elderflower Tonic water with Cucumber

This one is quite unique – a subtle blend of elderflower, tonic water and cucumber which manages to be both light and naturally sweet. The result is a refreshing tonic water that brings the best out of any mixed drink. It has a hint of cucumber sweetness that cuts through the bitterness of the quinine making it the perfect match for citrus forward gins that favour lemon, lime or grapefruit notes. we think this is a perfect match for a summer citrus gin such as Malfi Limone from Italy

So, there we go – a fantastic, natural mixer range designed for gin lovers. It’s time for the tasting to begin. And when we’ve worked our way through this little lot, we can’t wait to try their ginger beer and ginger ale. But that’s another story, for another day.


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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