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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gin and tonic granita

Gin and tonic granita: a cool drink to get you through the “dog days” of summer

Now the heat is on, it’s time for a gin and tonic granita – the perfect way to beat the summer sun. We’re into the “dog days” of summer now. That generally means that we’re either complaining that it’s too hot or too cold.  But for many of us, we’re doing what we always do – taking the time to leave the city and find somewhere cooler to relax.  Some of us will be heading to the hills for a chilled out vacation surrounded by nature and endless views. Others will be flocking to the beaches so they can dive into cool, clear water to escape the heat of the sun or simply to top up their tan.  But whether you’re chilling out gazing at an infinite skyline from your perch up in the high hills or soaking up the sun and swimming on your favourite beach, you’re likely to have a G&T somewhere near by.
It’s the perfect summer drink for when the stress all becomes just a bit too much. 

A refreshing gin and tonic granita from a chef with a Michelin star

But gin in the summer is a very versatile beast and it doesn’t just go with tonic. Not only are there a panoply of delicious, easy-to-make, refreshing gin cocktail recipes for you to tap into, but these days, gin is increasing its popularity in summer recipes. Some of the world’s greatest chefs are now incorporating gin’s distinctive flavours in food recipes that will open up a whole new world of opportunity for anybody looking to give their gin habit an extra dimension. 

One of those chefs is Marcus Wareing.  Wareing has a proud pedigree which includes Michelin starred restaurants such as Le Gavroche, Petrus and Aubergine in London.  Currently, he is the main judge on the UK’s version of Masterchef and he runs The Gilbert Scott restaurant in London’s spectacularly extravagant St. Pancras Hotel.  Wareing is also the chef proprietor of his eponymous restaurant, Marcus, where he has been awarded yet another Michelin star.

So, this man knows a thing or two about cooking.  And he’s turned to our favourite drink, gin, for his latest summer recipe. This simple recipe is guaranteed to keep you cool as a cucumber over the hot weeks that we know lie ahead.

6 easy steps to a perfect gin and tonic granita

So, let’s take a look at Marcus Wareing’s delicate, refreshing and boozy gin and tonic granita recipe. Easy to make, more refreshing than ice cream and a nice alternative to a G&T on a hot summer’s day. This could become a mainstay of your summer. We think this recipe goes well with a juniper forward gin with citrus notes (such as Silent Pool) or for an extra blast of lemon, break out the Malfy Limone to dial up the taste.

Ingredients:

  • 100 ml water
  • 200 g of caster sugar
  • 150 ml of gin
  • 500 ml of premium Indian tonic water
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 1 handful of edible flowers

Method:

  1. Heat the water with the sugar for about 5 minutes until dissolved
  2. Add the gin, two lemons and tonic water
  3. Pour into a freezer proof container
  4. Cool to room temperature and freeze for two hours (whisking after the first and second hour)
  5. Before serving, break up the granita with a fork to give it a softer, texture
  6. Top it off with some edible flowers such as Viola for an extra touch of style
  7. Sit back and sip…c

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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home-made pimms

Home-made Pimms – put a little sunshine in your life

We’re now well and truly into summer and the social season lies ahead of us.  In the UK we have three of the most social events of the year coming up including Wimbledon this week (where people watch tennis and drink Pimms); the Henley Royal Regatta (where boaters in straw hats row, while people drink Pimms); and the Chelsea Flower Show (where people look at flowers and drink Pimms).  Are you picking up a pattern here?

The unmistakable taste of the English summer

Yes, the Pimm’s Cup is truly the drink of the English summer and you will find it on any sunny day being served and drunk in large glasses filled with fruit, ice, lemonade and the unmistakably herby taste of Pimms.  Pub gardens will be full of Pimms drinkers and large jugs of the stuff will be perched on bar tables around the country for the authentic taste of the English summer. For those who don’t know, Pimms is a gin cup first made in London by James Pimms way back in 1820. He actually owned an oyster bar and created this herbal concoction to settle the stomachs of any customers who might have over-indulged on his shellfish.

Introducing Pimms No. 1

The restaurant chain grew and his drink became increasingly popular, so he developed a version of the mix that he could sell to other restaurants – and he named it the No. 1 Cup.  Today, we just know it as Pimms.
But Pimms comes in different shapes and sizes including the No. 2 Cup (made with Scotch whiskey); the No. 3 Cup (or Pimms Winter) was relaunched in 2008; the No. 4 Cup (made with Rum); and the No. 5 Cup (made with Rye). Then comes the No. 6 Cup (made with Vodka) which is the second most popular of the variants. But this article isn’t about Pimms.  It’s about an alternative.  What if we could share a recipe for home-made Pimms that is even more delicious than the original and really easy to make?

Well, say no more – your wish has just come true. Here’s an amazing, easy to drink recipe that you can make at home.

Home-made is always best…

This recipe requires first making a fruit cup syrup, which is then mixed with gin and sweet vermouth to give your summer potion an unmistakable and distinctive character.  But to do this properly, you’re going to need to gather some ingredients.  You’re going to need a little caster sugar, some fresh strawberries, a cucumber, some grapefruit peel and some mint. And then, to spritz it all up you’ll need a juniper-forward gin, some vermouth (rosso), plenty of ice and some fizzy lemonade or ginger ale. It’s already making my mouth water just thinking about it. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Home-made Pimms recipe

Ingredients:

For the fruit cup syrup

  • 300g of caster sugar
  • 200g of thinly sliced strawberries
  • 150g of sliced, peeled cucumber
  • 30g of grapefruit peel
  • 10g of mint leaves
  • 300 ml water

For the fruit cup

  • 200 ml fruit cup syrup (see above)
  • 400 ml of juniper forward gin
  • 400 ml of red vermouth
  • Sparkling lemonade or ginger ale
  • Sliced strawberries, oranges, lavender leaves and bay leaves to garnish

Method:

  1. Sprinkle the sugar over the strawberries, cucumber, grapefruit, mint and lavender
  2. Place in refrigerator overnight (to draw moisture from the fruit)
  3. Add the water, then pour everything into a resealable plastic bag
  4. Heat a pan of hot water to a steady 55C (you may need a temperature probe for this)
  5. After 4 hours, remove from the pan and strain through a sieve

For the fruit cup:

  1. Once the syrup has cooled, mix it with the gin and vermouth and store in the fridge, where it should last for up to 6 months
  2. Mix one part of fruit cup with two parts of lemonade or ginger ale (or both) over plenty of ice
  3. Garnish as extravagantly as you like – game, set and match

Anyone for tennis?


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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Suffering Bastard

The Suffering Bastard: handle with care

When you’re young, you see things differently.  New experiences pile up all around you and you want to try everything.  And with the sharp, social competitiveness of youth, you want to test your limits to see if you can outdo your friends.  It’s all a part of discovering who you are. My teenage years were spent between the UK and the USA. In the UK, it was all about how many pints of beer I could drink and how hot my curry would be afterwards. It was a badge of honour and it took me many years to step out of that phase.
Too many, actually!  

How it all began

Then I went to college in the USA – and that’s where I found out that I had a taste for cocktails.  It wasn’t a very refined taste in those days. Some would say it still isn’t! All I know is that in those early days, I tended to gravitate towards the ones that were either easiest to drink or contained the most alcohol. 

So, after a few years on the “Long Island Iced Tea Diet”, I found myself on a road trip to Chicago, sitting at the bar of Trader Vic’s Tiki Lounge at the Conrad Hilton, when somebody bought me a  cocktail I had ever tried before.  It was called a Suffering Bastard (and I can only assume that it was named after the hangover that I had the morning after). If so, it’s the most appropriately named drink I’ve ever had.

And over the years, these deceptively strong drinks have been the source of some of my best evenings (and worst mornings) ever since! So, what is in this delightfully named drink that makes it so appealing?  Well, let’s take a look under the hood of this cocktail classic and see if you like it. If you do, it could easily become the taste of summer.

Legendary hotels and their cocktails

As we know, all good drinks contain a legend. And many of the greatest cocktails began their lives behind the bars of some of the world’s most legendary hotels. They often changed the lives and fortunes of the bartenders who invented them as well, many of whom went on to become household names.  We’ve recently written some articles about hotel cocktail classics such as the Singapore Sling, invented at the historic Raffles Hotel in Singapore.  But now it’s time to reveal the story behind the legendary Suffering Bastard and how it got its unique and dramatic name. So, here’s the deal…

Originally invented as a simple hangover cure by the bar team at Cairo’s Shepheard’s Hotel, the Suffering Bastard gained a small, local reputation before the hotel burned to the ground in a fire in1952.  But wind the clock back 10 years to see where the story really begins.  

A legend is born

It’s 1942, Cairo and the Shepheard Hotel is fast becoming party central for British troops based in North Africa and the press corps that were covering the war. They had seen a lot and often found their solace in drink. The head bartender at the Shepheard, a guy called Joe Scialom, was on duty at the bar when he heard some officers complaining about the size of their hangovers.  His ears pricked up and it got him thinking. 

He began playing around with some recipes that might cure the hangovers of some of the troops who were his regulars.  Joe tried a variety of combinations before deciding on his final mix, which combined two liquors with lime juice, bitters and the curative qualities of ginger beer. Apparently this drink became instantly popular.  Before long it was being shipped to the front lines to fortify the troops and to keep their spirits up for the hard times ahead.

An unholy alliance

The most common recipe combination for a Suffering Bastard calls for an unholy alliance of bourbon and gin.  To this day, that remains the favourite combination but many variants exist which substitute brandy for bourbon.  Rum also sometimes makes an appearance.  And sometimes ginger ale is substituted for ginger beer (which is harder to find in some places).  For those who like to tone down the spice or who prefer a dryer, more refreshing drink, this might be the combo for you. 

Tiki culture

After the war, news of the Suffering Bastard spread beyond Egypt and into the post-war cocktail culture before being hijacked by the burgeoning Tiki Culture of the 60s and 70s. Polynesian bars were popping up everywhere and fruit-based cocktails, served in giant ceramic bowls paying homage to Hawaiian culture became all the rage.  

The leader of this cocktail fad was the infamous Trader Vic (otherwise known as Victor J. Bergeron). His recipes leaned more towards rums and he added a slice of cucumber for garnish. But, he also added orgeat (for sweetness) and a splash of curacao liqueur (for some extra fruitiness).  Whichever version you prefer, is entirely up to you. But remember, these are strong drinks that are deceptively easy to drink. So, if you have too many the night before, expect to be suffering in the morning.  And we all know the best way to beat a hangover.  Have a taste of the hair of the dog that bit you. 

The Suffering Bastard – the legend lives on

And what happened to the legendary bartender responsible for creating this infamous concoction? Well, after the original hotel burned down in 1952, Joe decided to remain in Egypt.  Unfortunately after a while he was arrested on a charge of espionage and eventually, after the Suez crisis, he was exiled from Egypt by President Nasser. On arrival in the US, he ended up being hired by a certain Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton hotel chain. Joe spent the rest of his career opening bars for Conrad Hilton in Puerto Rico and Havana.  But he’ll always be known for one thing in particular – the Suffering Bastard.  And that’s the way it should be.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz London dry gin
  • ½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitter
  • Ginger beer
  • Mint sprig to garnish

Method:

  1. Add the bourbon, gin, lime juice and bitters into a shaker with ice
  2. Shake until well chilled (about 30 seconds)
  3. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice
  4. Top up with ginger beer (or ginger ale)
  5. Garnish with a sprig of mint

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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ice

Ice, ice baby! It’s crystal clear…

posted in: Gin and Juniper | 0

We all know that it’s always been about the gin.  But recently, it has also become more about the tonic with the explosion of artisan and flavoured tonic water brands that are currently riding the crest of the craft gin wave.  And now, there’s the third part of gin and tonic’s Holy Trinity: ice cubes.

Welcome to the wonderful world of ice. 

Getting the ice right

As gin drinkers, we tend to focus more on the first two ingredients. But look beyond your gin and your tonic. Your ice decisions can have big consequences for the taste of your G&Ts. The ice you choose can even impact the way your drink looks. Old ice can add a stale, rank taste that may ruin an otherwise perfect G&T.
Ice made from tap water doesn’t taste as good as ice made from mineral water. Small cubes don’t cool your drink as quickly as large cubes and cubes that dilute too quickly can radically alter the taste and character of your drink.

Plastic is a waste

For most of us, the problem with ice is that we’re looking to keep our drink extra cold, but none of us like the ice diluting our gin. Some people try to rectify this with “ice stones” or frozen plastic ice cubes.  But for me, all I can taste is the plastic. 

The science

For those who think less ice will avoid dilution, we have news for you – the more ice you put in your drink, the colder it becomes and the less it dilutes. The basic laws of thermodynamics tell us that the more ice you have in your glass, the slower it will melt. So, if you drink your G&Ts at a normal speed, your ice should still be intact and cooling right down to the very last drop.

Mythbusting

We thought we’d help you through the minefield that is ice by busting some myths, offering some easy tips and opening the door on ice – one of the most important elements of a good G&T.
Here are a few bartender’s secrets to ensure your drinks stay cold right to the very last drop. These handy ice tips will help your drink by retaining (and in some cases even enhancing) the flavour of your G&T. 
So, read on as we reveal the secrets of ice.

Big cubes vs small cubes

The perennial debate rages over what size your ice cubes should be. So, here’s the thing.  Science tells us that one large ice cube reduces the temperature of your drink more slowly than several small ice cubes. This is important, because the large ice cube exposes less of its surface area to the drink than lots of small, individual ice cubes. The result is that the slower melting larger ice cube will take longer to dilute. This means that your drink will retain its flavour and won’t be watered down so quickly by the melting ice within.

Round cubes vs square cubes

People often ask why professional bartenders prefer large round ice cubes to small, square ones. And here, as in the previous answer, we turn to science.
Basically, round ice cubes expose less of their surface area to the liquid (for the same amount of volume) than a cube of ice. This reduced exposure means that the sphere of ice melts more slowly. The result is a cocktail that cools down fast and melts slowly. That’s why round ice cubes allow you to sip your drink in a more leisurely fashion, enjoying its undiluted flavour for longer. 

Of course, spherical ice cube trays are a little harder to find, but there are plenty available in bartender’s shops and retailers as well as via Amazon.  We say, get the largest spherical mold you can find. And for best results, use natural spring water for a clean taste and a naturally cool look in your glass. Couldn’t be easier, really.

Fruity ice cubes

Now, here’s a really simple way to jazz up your drinks – fruity ice cubes.  In fact, nothing could be easier.  These work particularly well when the fruit is placed in oversized cubes, but it all depends on the fruit.  This weekend, I added a few frozen blackberries to my large, square ice cube mold.  Within a few minutes, the blackberry had started to change the colour of the ice from clear to a vibrant red.  Within an hour, I had a beautiful, giant ice cube forming in a beautiful shade of berry red. Once I’d popped it into my G&T, it floated in the liquid with the raspberries encased delicately behind a wall of ice.  But as the ice slowly melted, the fruit flavour gently seeped into my G&T infusing it with a “fruits of the forest” taste that added real character to an ordinary gin. 

You can do this with any fruit that fits inside your ice mold.  I’ve tried it with blackberries, a strawberry, a lemon wedge and zest of lime.  Also added a squeeze of lemon juice or lime juice into the mix for a little citrus hit when the cubes start melting. The last one I tried was adding pink peppercorns for a little spice and even juniper berries and cardamom pods.  You are only limited by your imagination.  This is a really simple way to pimp your G&T.

Tonic water ice cubes

For those who complain about that feeling when their ice is watering down their cocktail, there is a better way.  As mentioned previously, if you really want to stop your gin from being watered down unnecessarily, the bigger the cube you can put in your drink, the better.  The larger the cube, the less melting.  But if you really want to remove all risk, try making your ice cubes with tonic water.  All you have to do is swap the water for your favourite Indian tonic water. That way, no matter how quickly it melts, it won’t dilute the taste and there will be no sense of flavour loss as the tonic water in the ice blends seamlessly with the mixer itself. 

But, why limit yourself to tonic water? 
You can add any mixer you prefer, from bitter lemon to ginger beer and from elderflower cordial to ginger beer.  As long as your ice flavour matches your mixer, then G&Ts with a diluted taste will be a thing of the past.   .

Smokey ice cubes

We revealed this tip recently in our “Bartender’s Hacks” downloadable pdf, which contains a collection of great tips for aspiring bartenders.  One of them is smokey ice cubes.

There are several ways of doing this, some of which include complicated steps such as lighting a fire and capturing smoke under glass.  We have a much simpler approach.  All you really have to do is to pop down to your local supermarket or amazon and buy a small bottle of liquid smoke. Simply add a couple of drops to the water you use to make your cubes and let it freeze. 
The result is an ice cube that slowly diffuses its flavours into your favourite gin cocktail adding a complex smokiness that works just as beautifully in a Smokey Martini as it does in a traditional Negroni.

Clear ice cubes

We’ve all seen those ice cubes.  The ones that look cloudy – and sometimes taste just a little bit strange. The ones with cracks in the middle or unidentified objects floating in the centre.  These are bad ice cubes. 

So, here are a few little tips to make your ice cubes look crystal clear and to impart a glassy clarity to your favourite drinks.
The problem is that often the water used to make your ice has been frozen from the outside in. This pushes bubbles to the centre of the cube while the crystallisation process takes place.  One of the key reasons for cloudy ice cubes is the speed at which they set.  As a general rule of thumb the slower they freeze, the clearer the ice will be. Just think of an icicle dripping off a snowy roof.  It’s the same process. 
So, to get this effect at home, simply place a small, insulated cooler inside your freezer. Anything inside the cooler will freeze more slowly, allowing the air bubbles to escape before getting trapped inside the ice.  It’s really simple. 

  1. Place your cooler box inside your freezer. 
  2. Line up some plastic ice cube trays inside the bottom and leave the cooler uncovered. 
  3. Fill the trays with water (bottled, distilled or boiled water works best). 
  4. Fill the bottom of your cooler with water (filling in around the ice tray).  This will seal off your ice cubes and stop cold air from freezing the sides.
  5. Leave the cooler (with lid off) for 24 hours.
  6. Remove the cooler and take out the full block of ice containing the frozen ice molds.
  7. Chip away around the edges and remove your ice cubes.
  8. Leave them out for a minute to let the cloudy water melt off, then quickly drop them into your drink. 

Hey, presto – glacier like ice cubes for the perfect cocktail!


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

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


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Barrel-aged gin cocktail

Barrel-aged gin cocktails: our guilty pleasure?

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

There are some gins that tick all the boxes on paper, but when it comes down to the perfect serve, it can be hard to know how to get the best from your gin. 
Last week, we took a look at barrel-aged gins.  We focused on the history and process of making these delicious gins. So this week, we’re looping back to share some perfect cocktail blends that are bound to get the best out of your barrel-aged gins.

Roll out the barrel

The Scots got the ball rolling by ageing their gins in leftover whiskey barrels.  There are plenty of those lying around Scotland. Then America took up the baton, ageing gins in old bourbon and rye whisky casks. But anywhere there are innovative distillers, there are bound to be barrel-aged gins somewhere nearby.  Last week, we suggested 5 barrel-aged gins that are worth adding to your wish list. But what’s the best way to drink these beauties, if sipping neat gin isn’t your thing?

Subtle and smoky

Well, we thought we’d help by suggesting a few delicious barrel-aged gin cocktails that will help you to get the very best out of your gin. Barrel-aged gin combines the subtle botanicals of gin with the smooth smokiness of a whisky, which all sounds great on paper, but how are you supposed to drink it?
In the last decade or so, these hybrid gins are slowly and steadily building a reputation. But they’re not for everyone.

The early days

One of the early pioneers was the French gin company Citadelle, who launched their Reserve gin way back in 2008. Since then, many other players have followed in their footsteps, with up to 100 varieties available in the market as we speak.
Some of them are scooping up big awards and they’ve become quite a talking point in the industry. But the public are confused. Some people are fooled by the light gold colour and expect it to taste like whiskey (which is understandable). Others assume it must be an Old Tom gin. But in reality, barrel-aged gins are not a new thing. In fact, Genever (the world’s original gin) was made and transported in a barrel of malt liquor to give it a unique characteristic.

The great experiment

These days, it’s all about experimentation, with distilleries trialing new varieties of wood, new barrels and new techniques to get the very best out of the gin. And some of the snobbery of only drinking barrel-aged gins “on the rocks” is also disappearing as drinkers increasingly understand the infinite variety and complexity that these gins possess. Some people claim that their gins are a perfect substitute for cocktails that would normally require a bourbon or whisky base, such as an Old Fashioned (particularly useful in the summer months when you want something a bit lighter or more refreshing). Others prefer lighter gins to add depth to the more subtle flavours of a Bee’s Knees or an Aviation.

It’s a rum thing…

Stronger flavoured barrel gins also work particularly well as a substitute for rum. Think rum cocktails, Mai Tai’s and even traditional rum drinks such as a Dark and Stormy. The depth of flavour of barrel-aged gins works well with the spicy and ginger notes that favour rum and it can be a real delight to drink. But these gins are made for drinking neat or adding complexity to cocktails. They don’t work so well in a standard G&T. So, after last week’s suggestions of some great barrel-aged gins to get into your collection, here are some great cocktail recipes to help you mix things up a little.

You’re welcome!

3 (easy) barrel-aged gin cocktails to make your spirits soar

The New Fashioned

  • 2 oz Citadelle Reserve gin
  • 0.75 oz of simple syrup (infused with orange, lemon and rosemary)
  • 4 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • A sprig of Rosemary for garnish
  1. Stir the gin, simple syrup and bitters over ice
  2. Serve over ice in a rocks glass
  3. Garnish with a rosemary sprig

Classic Tom Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz New Riff barrel-aged gin
  • 0.5 teaspoon of Demerera syrup
  • 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Lemon or orange twist (for garnish)
  1. Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass
  2. Add ice and strain over ice into old fashioned glass
  3. Squeeze citrus twists into drink and garnish

Over a barrel (cask-aged gin cocktail)

  • 1.5 oz barrel-aged Big Gin
  • 0.5 oz of maple syrup
  • 0.3 oz sherry
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters
  • Ice
  • Blood Orange wheels (for garnish)
  1. In a cocktail shaker, stir the gin, maple syrup, sherry and bitters with plenty of ice
  2. Pour into an ice filled glass
  3. Garnish with orange wheels and serve

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 smoothie

Gin Smoothie: healthy, delicious and fun

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Sometimes, people think of gin as an unhealthy drink. Images of drunkards on Gin Lane, a speculative association with depression, unfortunate nicknames like “Mother’s Ruin”. None of these things really represent the truth. Gin is no worse for you than any other spirit – and in some ways it’s better! So, like any drink that is taken too much and too often, moderation is always the best policy. However, it’s worth noting a few things for the record. Gin doesn’t make you cry or feel depressed. In fact, it is one of the healthiest booze choices out there. For those looking to count their calories, it’s worth noting that gin is one of the least calorific of all the major spirit categories. Weighing in at under 100 calories per shot, you can pair it with a zero calorie tonic water and have a decent drink without worrying about putting on the pounds. Plus, with the addition of some fruit garnishes, it even starts to look healthy!

Guilt-free drinking…

So we thought we’d find a recipe that we can all enjoy – healthy, boozy and delicious. Welcome to the Barcelona Gin Smoothie.

This fruity, healthy little number is a simple blend of strawberries, lime juice, diet tonic water and…more strawberries!
Basically, it has all the ingredients required for guilt-free drinking and it’s delicious at any time of day. So, let’s take a look at how easy this gin smoothie is to prepare.
Here we go – an easy to prepare, delicious and healthy way to mix your gin (and get a little fruity goodness at the same time).
Enjoy!

Gin smoothie recipe

Ingredients:

  • 30 ml gin
  • 80g fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 lime (juiced)
  • 200 ml low calorie tonic water
  • More frozen strawberries (for garnish)
  • Ice

Method:

  1. Mix gin, frozen strawberries and lime in a blender
  2. Mix until smooth
  3. Add ice cubes and some frozen strawberries to your favourite glass
  4. Slowly pour in the fruity mixture, leaving space at the top
  5. Add tonic water to top up
  6. Sit back 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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Gin Sangria

Gin Sangria: the best of both worlds

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Some people think it’s impossible to have the best of both worlds.  At Barcelona Gin, we respectfully disagree.  Barcelona and London. Gin and tonic. Sun and sea…
But there’s a magical combination that combines all of these things in one delicious, refreshing jug of summer loving.  For most people, Sangria is a drink mostly tasted on holiday in Spain.  From Malaga to Madrid and from Barcelona to the Balearics, Sangria has become a tourist favourite. 
Easy to drink and easy to get drunk on, for some people it’s the perfect holiday cooler.  The trouble is that most tourists get to drink the tourist version. It’s fine, but the locals spin their Sangria any number of different ways.

Good, old fashioned bloodletting…

Sangria is a traditional alcoholic drink that originated in the Iberian peninsula and that remains popular across both Spain and Portugal.  In fact, only those two countries are officially entitled to use the name Sangria, so make sure you’re trying the real stuff.
And here’s an interesting fact – the word Sangria literally means “bloodletting” and it began to be popular as early as the 18th century. 

Punch and Sangria – cousins, separated at birth

It generally belongs in the punch family of drinks and is most often served in a large jug, filled with red (or white) wine, chopped fruit and ice. 
But often, other ingredients make an appearance including spirits. In fact, there are any number of variations of this delicious drink across Spain. It’s traditionally made with Rioja red wine. But it can also be made with white wine or cava.
Fruit is generally added to the mix depending on seasonality and region. Peaches, nectarines, apples and pears are common ingredients, but you’re only limited by your imagination.
In recent years, Sangria from white wine is becoming increasingly popular. And for those looking to add a bit of strength to their mixture, feel free to add a splash of brandy or a fruit liqueur.

The gin is in!

And this is where our good friend gin enters the scene. As usual, while we fully respect the tradition of a Sangria (and we know we might be breaking some of the rules), we think gin is the missing ingredient. It is the thing that links Spain and London. It makes regular appearances in old fashioned punches and it can add a little boost to the spirits. This is a drink that truly bridges both worlds.

So, here’s a cheeky Gin Sangria recipe that is really easy to make and that makes use of a little gin to pep up this traditional Spanish drink.

Gin Sangria recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 bottles dry Spanish red wine
  • 6 oz gin (Gin Mare or Gin Xoriger Mahon)
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 4 oranges (3 juiced, 1 whole)
  • 2 limes (1 juiced, 1 whole)
  • 4 lemons (3 juiced, 1 whole)
  • Ice
  • 24 oz guarana soda

Method:

  1. Combine the wine, gin, sugar and the juice from the 3 oranges, 3 lemons and one lime
  2. Slice the remaining orange, lemon and lime and add them to the pitcher as well
  3. Stir the pitcher and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator
  4. Pour the sangria into glasses filled with ice and top up with guarana soda
  5. Sit back and drink.

Salud!


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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