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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Spring gin cocktail: Elderflower Collins

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

It’s that time of year again. Every spring, we are teased with fleeting glimpses of bright sunshine and clear blue skies. We are seduced by the promise of warmer air and longer evenings.  And then, we return to the cooler weather and grey skies for a few days, feeling a little cheated and let down.  It’s what’s called a false spring – and it can be a little frustrating.  But the good news is that the direction of travel inevitably takes us towards summer.  And we’re so looking forward to enjoying it with more freedom than we had in 2021.  After a year of restrictions and confinement, I suspect there will be a lot of celebrating once normal life has returned.

Post lockdown drinking

For more than a year now, we have been restricted to drinking at home and raising a glass to our friends and loved ones via Skype or Zoom.  That’s all been very nice but what we’ve all really wanted is to laugh and smile in the company of those we love.  Every moment shared is now more precious than ever.  But, of course lockdown ending has other consequences.  And we don’t know exactly if or when restrictions will return.  We do know some things for sure. Statistics tell us that people have been drinking more during this lockdown.  Not really surprising, given the circumstances.  We will also have to get used to pub measures once again.

Have you had your shot?

While we have been pouring gin into our glasses more regularly over the last year, we’ve also been quite generous with our shots.  Anecdotally, it appears that while the number of gins we drink is one thing, how much booze goes into those drinks has changed dramatically.  A single measure of gin?  Forget it.  A double? We’re getting there. A free-poured treble – now that’s more like it!
Sadly, as the world opens up, we’re going to have to get used to bar-made drinks again with their controlled measures and strict recipes.  Nowhere near as much fun as a free-poured cocktail.

Freedom to play, freedom to pour

While we are in no way condoning excessive drinking, we appreciate the free-pour method more than ever and are likely to embrace it more as we get used to paying bar prices for weaker drinks than we get at home.  So, we thought we’d suggest a little cocktail that allows you to take back control.  This gorgeous, light, spring elderflower drink is the perfect refreshing cocktail to toast those blue skies and little fluffy clouds that herald this time of year.  Refreshing, natural, light and delicious, this spring cocktail is going to put you in a positive, optimistic mood for the sunshine that surely lies ahead.  Plus, it’s also really easy to make – and even easier to drink.  This is a perfect cocktail for spring, but we think once you’ve tried it, you’ll be sipping on these well into the summer.

The Elderflower Collins – a taste of spring

Introducing the Elderflower Collins – best served in a tall Collins glass, with lots of ice and a refreshing slice of lemon. This lovely cocktail only uses a few ingredients and is really simple to make.  Basically, all you need is gin, lemon and elderflower cordial (and a slice of lemon for some citrus zest!)  We think this cocktail lends itself to the clean, vapour-infused taste of Bombay Sapphire – a gin that doesn’t overpower the elderflower.  Martin Miller’s is another deliciously smooth option that is a perfect, smooth match for elderflower.  And while the recioe might call for 50 ml of gin, freedom means you can keep pouring until you’re happy. All you need now is a hammock and some nibbles!

Elderflower Collins cocktail recipe

Ingredients

Method

  1. Blend all ingredients in a glass, stirring well
  2. Add soda water (while stirring glass)
  3. Pour into a tall glass full of large ice cubes
  4. Garnish with lemon wedge

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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four different cocktail glasses toasting

Summer gins: 5 mixes to keep you cool

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

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

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

Citrus zest… and so easy to drink

Chase pink grapefruit and pomelo gin (England)

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

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

www.chasedistillery.co.uk

The taste of summer

Puerto des Indias, strawberry gin (Spain)

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

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

A summer classic

JJ Whitley elderflower gin (England)

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

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

www.jj-whitley.com

Where Spanish passion meets English elegance

Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla gin (England)

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

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

www.tanqueray.com

A true taste of the Mediterranean 

Gin Mare (Spain)

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

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

www.ginmare.com