Warm your cockles on a cold Autumn weekend with a Hot Gin Toddy – a hug in a mug!

Autumn is definitely in the air and we all know that Winter is just around the corner.

So, while you’re feeling the comforting crunch of fallen leaves beneath your feet and before the cold Winter wind drives you towards the mulled wine, how about something a little different – a nice warming Hot Gin Toddy to get you through the weeks between now and Christmas.

Hot gin might sound a bit weird but it’s delicious.

Why not give it a try this weekend if you need a little “gin hug” to revive your spirits..

There are some great seasonal gin cocktail recipes that are perfect for the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. They are easy to make and guaranteed to warm you up from the inside out as the nights grow colder, longer and darker.

You can even drink them from a coffee cup – nobody will ever know!

Here’s one of our favourites, a simple recipe, full of Autumn goodness and gingery warmth.

Wrap up warm, put the kettle on and enjoy.

Take:

  • 1 ginger tea bag
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 8 oz hot water
  • 1 lemon

Then:

Put all the ingredients in a mug.

Add 8 oz hot water.

Garnish with a cinammon stick.

Drink.

The Laverstoke

posted in: Cocktail of the month | 0

On a recent tour of the beautiful Bombay Sapphire distillery in Hampshire (highly recommended by the way!), I stumbled across the Laverstoke as one of my post-tour cocktail choices. It’s been my “go to” Summer drink ever since, because it combines some of my favourite ingredients including elderflower, lime, ginger and gin. Mixed together it is the lightest and most refreshing of summer cocktails. Perfect for sipping on a summer’s day overlooking the clear waters of the trout stream that flows swiftly under the amazing converted mill deep in the Hampshire countryside – now home to the Bombay Sapphire distillery (and one of the best and prettiest gin tours in the UK).

Here’s how to make one (courtesy of Bombay Sapphire’s head bartender, Sam Carter).

  • Squeeze 2 freshly cut lime wedges into a large copa (balloon) glass then drop in
  • Pour in 10 ml of Elderflower cordial
  • Add 15 ml of Martini Rosato vermouth
  • Pour in 50 ml of gin (preferably Bombay Sapphire!)
  • Fill glass completely with large ice cubes and stir well to chill
  • Pour ginger ale (or ginger beer) down a twisted bar spoon over the ice and gently stir cocktail at same time
  • Garnish with a snapped ginger slice and an awoken mint leaf
  • Sit back, put your feet up and enjoy…

For more of Sam’s delicious gin cocktail recipes (and info about the distillery tour) click here:

www.distillery.bombaysapphire.com

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Barcelona in a bottle

posted in: Gin of the month | 0

Barcelona – the capital of gin and one of the design centres of the world. Think Gaudí, Miró, Picasso, Tàpies and more, Barcelona is a design classic. It’s so laid back, they even named a chair after it, so why wouldn’t they name a gin?

Barcelona GINRAW isn’t actually made in the city of Barcelona but in a little town down the coast called Vilafranca del Penedes by four avant garde, Barcelona-born entrepreneurs with a real passion for their city. Either way, this gin is a design classic that deserves its place in your cocktail cabinet, for looks alone. This 42.3 ABV gin packs a reasonable punch and its bottle and label will make you look twice.

The striking design is a tall, thinnish bottle with a curved necknad a subtly frosted exterior, topped by an extra wide ash wood cap, covered by a subtle metal band. The label is a trendy sideways one and a little leather tag on the neck gives it that extra edge in the style stakes. But gin isn’t just for looking at, it’s for tasting as well, so what’s this one like?

Distilled at low temperature in a traditional copper still it’s made in small batches of 5000 (my bottle is labelled 953 out of the first batch they produced!)

The labels describes it as a gastronomic gin and claims a low temperature distillation process to make the most of the botanicals inside, which include lemon peel, kaffir lime, laurel leaves, black cardamon and coriander seeds. This mix delivers a citrus twang and the notes from the spices such as the smokey black cardamon and coriander lifts it from the ordinary.

Serve this with some ground black pepper, a generous slice of lemon or maybe even some burned rosemary to give it an extra Mediterranean twist. Sit back, pour into a long glass, add your favourite tonic water and ice, garnish to taste – and drink. You’ll love this on a hot summer night in Barcelona – and it will add an extra element of style to your gin cabinet. Enjoy!!

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Anyone for Pimm’s?

posted in: Cocktail of the month | 0

There’s nothing more delicious on an English summer day than a long, refreshing jug of Pimms, served with lemonade, ice, mint, cucumber, sliced oranges and lemons and poured over a pile of ice cubes. It is the drink of Wimbledon and Ascot, Henley Regatta and the Chelsea Flower Show – but it’s at its best in your back garden on a (rare) English summer’s day. So why is it so hard to find in the land of Sangria and Tinto Verano? Well maybe that’s just it – there are so many established alternatives in Spain, so why should they bother with an English version off what they already do well?

I’ll tell you why – because its got gin in it and it’s absolutely delicious.

So what is it and how did it come about?

The original Pimms was invented in 1840 by James Pimm of London town. He was a restaurant owner with several establishments across the city and experimented by blending gin with liqueurs, spices and other special ingredients, which he then served in pint tankards. It proved so popular with his customers, that he saw an opportunity and he took it. He started bottling his concoction and his customers loved it. That began a great British love affair with this delicious, easy to drink gin-based spirit.

Shortly after the bottling started, so di the journey of Pimms itself. One of its first ever shipments was to the Galle Face hotel (I was there earlier this year and I can vouch for the fact that there can be no finer place in the world to sip it than on the verandah of this classic colonial, eating a fine curry and gazing out at the Indian Ocean). In 1898, a shipment of Pimms was sent up the Nile by boat to Sudan. Its mission: to help to quench the thirst of the forces who were digging in to defend Khartoum. I can only imagine General Gordon having a last glass of Pimms before his last stand at the Battle of Omdurman guaranteed his place in the history books forever.

Since then, Pimms has gone from strength to strength and a number of different Pimms Cups are now available including Pimms No. 2 (based on scotch); Pimms No. 3 (based on rum); Pimms No. 4 (based on rye whiskey); and Pimms No. 5 (based on vodka). But the Daddy of them all is still Pimms No.1 and it stll tastes of Summer.

Hard to find in Barcelona, but availabe at Colmado Quilez

Classic Pimm’s No. 1 Cup recipe

Mix 1 part Pimm’s No. 1 with three parts sparkling lemonade

Add strawberries, cucumber, mint and orange to a large jug

Pour the concoction over ice into a long glass (or a tankard)

Garnish to taste.

Enjoy.

Thank you, Mr. Pimm.

Bertha’s Revenge Gin: gin made from milk!!

posted in: Gin of the month | 2

In our relentless quest to find the most unusual and interesting gins from around the world, let me introduce you to Bertha and tell you a story about her revenge. Bertha was a lovely cow from the beautiful green fields of Co. Kerry in Ireland. She lived a happy life, chomping her way through the famous green grass of her homeland and was so well looked after that she lived to the ripe old age of 48. By the time she passed on to chomp on the Elysian fields, she had become the world’s oldest cow and gave birth to a staggering 39 calves over her lifetime.

She became a living legend in Ireland and her memory now lives on in Bertha’s Revenge, a fantastic, flavour packed small batch gin made by the Ballyvolane House Spirits Company, who have honoured her existence by creating a unique Irish gin made from (wait for it…) MILK.

Using whey alcohol from Irish dairy farmers, and incorporating a formidable mix of locally foraged and grown botanicals including many of the usual suspects (and some unusual ones such as sweet woodruff, elderflower, almond) alongside other listed ingredients such as “love”, “laughter” and “childish enthusiasm”, this is a delicious drink full of complex flavours. But don’t try pouring it on your cornflakes, since it packs a decent punch at 42% ABV.

But all the clever marketing in the world can’t disguise a bad gin, so what’s it like?

We had a little gathering to find out and in a blind test of 4 of our favourite small batch gins, this was our runaway favourite with a unanimous 4 out of 4 tasters making it their top choice.

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The Singapore Sling

posted in: Cocktail of the month | 0

This classic cocktail was invented in Singapore’s Raffles Hotel where it started off as a Straits Sling. However, this appeared a little too dry for the contemporary taste buds, so the head bartender decided to sweeten it up a bit. Kirsch was replaced with cherry brandy and the drink was lengthened to make it more refreshing. The result – one of the most famous gin-based cocktails in the world, ready to refresh your taste-buds on a hot day and transport you to a fan cooled veranda on a hot and humid Singapore day. Aaaah. I can taste it now.

How to make it at home:

30ml of gin

30 ml of Benedictine

30 ml of fresh lime juice

60 ml of soda water

A dash of Angostura bitters

Build the first 4 ingredients in a tall ice-filled glass, then stir, top up with soda water and add the bitters.

For a spicy twist on the classic recipe, replace soda water with ginger beer or ginger ale, sit back and pretend you’re in Singapore.

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Gin Sling?

posted in: Gintriguing facts | 0

So, what exactly is a Gin Sling?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Born again walk

posted in: Gin and Juniper | 0

El Born is one of the most interesting areas of Barcelona. Originally an extension of the more famous Barrio Gotico next door, it is a maze of twisty atmospheric medieval streets and alleys reeking with atmosphere (like its cousin next door) but with less tourists and shops and more bars and restaurants. The perfect place for a short gin walk. We tried 4 bars on a Friday night, all within a few minutes walk of each other and all with a completely different vibe.

DuxBCN

This bar is tucked away on a side street in El Born, very close to Jaume I metro station and just off the busy Via Laietana. DuxBCN is a modern twist on an old school cocktail bar and serves a good range of standard and hard to find gins at reasonable prices. It also has a range of interesting infused gins and (perhaps with a nod to the Roca brothers or Heston Blumenthal), even serves some gins infused with smoke at the table under glass jars. A comfortable, civilised, stylish bar with excellent and helpful bar staff, this one is well worth a try (and a great place to start your evening).

Most gins were in the 8-14 euro range.

The vibe was cozy, vintage modern, quirky, jazzy with nice details such as a working piano (for their regular jazz evenings), a beautiful collection of lead soldiers in an illuminated case, and a fireplace with framed paintings of cartoon dogs.

Drinks were strong, well presented and served in large “copa” style balon glasses with 4 big ice cubes and well garnished to enhance the botanicals of each gin

Service was good (and prompt), our bartender, Angel was charming and explained all the options, made the drinks and even served them at our table.

They also organise regular live jazz/swing music evenings, guest bartenders, themed events and have daily/weekly specials.

Rubi Bar

Just a few blocks down the road is Rubi, unassuming from the outside but this place picks up once you get inside with a long crowded bar, exposed brick walls draped with red velvet curtains and ambient lighting to give it a clubby feel. We got there at 10pm on a Friday night and it was already packed (but it was pouring with rain outside which might have had something to do with it)

Gins were between 7 and 9 euros, the place was loud and filled with a young crowd (early 30s) and mostly English speakers ex-pats and a few visiting tourists and some cozy couples

Vibe, buzzy, pre-club atmosphere, more girls than guys – more like a party bar that serves gin than a specialist gin bar.

They offered between 30 and 50 different gins ranging from exotic foreign gins to locally produced brands – they also have their own Rubi gin brand available for only 7 euros a glass.

The busy staff behind the bar did the best to keep up with the crowds  demands

Other – loud and crowded, 70s R&B pumping out from the speakers at volume. A great place to go for a late night drink or to top up before hitting the clubs. They also serve a limited range of basic tapas to help to soak up the booze. Not really a gin bar (despite the vast range of gins, most people were drinking something else). Also, please note that at the time of our visit, they did not accept credit cards, so bring cash.

Paradiso

Stagger a few blocks down the road to find Paradiso, a cool and stylish bar with a modernist “speakeasy” vibe and a sophisticated but quirky style. The front of the bar is a small tiled pastrami shop with a few stools at the counter. But  look to your left and you’ll see a closed door and if the doorman lets you in, you enter another world. A stunning curved wooden ceiling pays homage to modernism and the place is buzzing with an eclectic mix of customers in their 30s and 40s all obviously having a great time. The soundtrack is sexy laidback house music and the vibe is buzzy but chilled. Plus, you can get their delicious pastrami sandwiches (served on rye bread with mustard and sauerkraut or if you prefer you could try their delicious pulled pork bagel) brought to your table. The pastrami is amazing, hand-smoked by local artisans direct from the Barcelona-based Rooftop Smokehouse – absolutely delicious.

http://www.rooftopsmokehouse.com/

The vibe here is cool, buzzy, sexy, sophisticated.

While they had a decent selection of gins it was nothing exceptional. Also a vast range of quirky cocktails served in teapots, jam jars, glass pipes and other unusual vessels.

Our gins were served in beautiful, large, vintage tumblers made of old fashioned cut glass to add a little extra style to our evening

Service was amazing. We were seated within 5 minutes, everyone was charming, helpful and attentive and we were even brought glasses of water before they took our order. They discreetly manage the steadily increasing volume of a group of guys seated next to us and despite bringing our food at different times (they were busy) they apologised to us twice and were instantly forgiven when the food arrived!

This has quickly become one of my favorite bars in Barcelona and I’ll be going back soon. I loved everything about it from the decor to the service to the drinks – and my pastrami sandwich was one of the best things I’ve eaten in a bar for years.

Collage

A quirky, cool, old style drinking bar with a sexy twist, we really like this place. Converted from what looks like two shops, its walls are filled with vintage 60s wallpaper, interesting wall art (for sale) and a cozy atmosphere created by clever use of indirect light. The bar serves standard gins such as Sipsmith, Citadelle, Bombay Sapphire and BCN Raw Gin (a delicious Catalan gin made locally), but they only had one tonic water available when we were there. The crowd were mostly in their 30s and were a bit more casual and laid back than at the other bars – you got the sense that for many of them this was a regular hangout. Despite this, we were able to quickly get a table for 4 on the mezzanine upstairs, with a view of the hipster bartenders doing their thing downstairs.

The vibe was quirky hipster, casual and laid back “vintage” style (with a dash of irony). Groovy elevator music was playing in the background (but this got more appealing as we drank our gins). It was quite loud and not easy to have a conversation but everybody seemed to be having a good time. Water was brought to our table when we sat down and while the waitress was polite and charming, she wasn’t that knowledgeable about gin and she couldn’t remember the name of the tonic water they served.

Drinks were served in IKEA style tumblers and garnished appropriately with fruits and spices. Well organised and the perfect place to end our evening. We’ll definitely be going back

Service was good, friendly, efficient. This is not technically a “specialist”gin bar and that was reflected in the service and product knowledge of the servers.

This place could be dangerous. I could see myself popping in and staying for a while or extending my evening with a nightcap or two. Felt like a local place with an honest approach and its “shabby chic” vibe felt instantly comfortable.

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The Aviation

posted in: Cocktail of the month | 0

A cocktail classic – simple to prepare with complex flavours. Created by Hugo Ensslin, head bartender at the Hotel Wallick in New York in the early 20th century, it was refined in the 1930s by Harry Craddock, head bartender of the Savoy, this classic gin cocktail has stood the test of time. Try it out and let us know what you think…

 30 ml of Old Tom Gin

20 ml of Maraschino

15 ml of fresh lemon juice

Shake all the ingredient together with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish with a cherry

 

Challenge: these are delicious. See if you can stop at one…

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WE LOVE GIN. WE ARE WARRIORS IN THE GIN REVOLUTION. GIN LOVERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!

Silent Pool Gin

posted in: Gin of the month, Ginspiration | 0

Silent Pool Gin – April’s Legendary Gin of the Month

Hand made in small batches in the beautiful Surrey Hills, south of London, this is not only one of the tastiest gins we’ve tried recently, but it comes in one of the prettiest bottles we’ve ever seen.

It even has a 600 year old legend attached.

Named after a local beauty spot near Guildford known as the Silent Pool, legend has it that some time in the 14th century, wicked King John of England was passing by the pool on his horse when he spotted the local woodcutter’s daughter, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, bathing in the crystal clear water. He wanted his wicked way with her and she refused to yield her honour to the evil monarch and waded backwards into the water to escape him, when she stumbled and drowned.

Even now, her ghost is said to be seen at midnight in the reflections of the dark water of The Silent Pool.

And now for the legendary gin itself – the bottle is stunning, with an unusual glass stopper and a beautifully intricate design of autumn colours set against an aqua tinted bottle reminiscent of the pool itself. The bottle features scenes illustrating the legend (including tiny figures of the King and the Maiden hidden among the leaves). The gin is made on site by Master Distiller Cory Mason who uses a copper pot still heated by steam from local wood, burned in its wood fired burner.

The result is a delicious full-bodied, fresh gin full of complex flavours derived from its blend of 24 specially chosen botanicals including local lavender and honey. These well chosen ingredients enliven the senses and play tricks on the mind, but the result is a taste sensation that is sure to get people talking. Its dominant botanicals include locally sourced chamomile, kaffir lime, elderflower, coriander, lavender, orange and pear (amongst others).

It tastes of the English countryside and is fed from the same spring that feeds the legendary pool itself. Mix it with a decent tonic water such as Fever Tree and garnish it with a thin orange wheel or a wedge of lime (to bring out the citrus notes). You could even add a mint sprig (or two) to give it a fresh twist and wait for the honey and lavender to come through on your tongue. You’ll love it.

ABV 43%

Gin tours available by arrangement

Other products available (including seasonal gins)

Order on line www.silentpooldistillers.com

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

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