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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Corpen gin: refreshingly honest!

Corpen Gin – refreshingly honest. 
That’s the perfect way to describe this brand new gin from Barcelona’s newest gin brand.
This gin is refreshing in two senses. Not only does it taste refreshing, but the brand is driven by a philosophy that is also refreshing. In a world where everybody seems to want to be a gin maker, these guys are the real deal – small, artisan and passionate about their product. 
Too many other “craft gin” brands are happy to add gimmicky flavours (think bubble gum or cola cubes). Others spend their money on fancy bottles and still others create exotic back stories made up by an ad agency they barely know. At Corpen, they stick with the basics.  They just want to make really good tasting gin – and they have succeeded!

It’s the gin that matters here!

We went to visit Corpen for an interview recently at their new craft distillery in Barcelona’s bohemian Poblenou district. We chatted with co-founders Pablo Barrera and Brian Burgess and they revealed the philosophy behind the brand and the challenges of launching a new gin in the middle of a pandemic.
They made it clear that they want to concentrate on the gin (and not the marketing!). Handmade in small batches in Barcelona, Corpen Gin was tested on hundreds of gin drinkers before the team finally decided on their gorgeous recipe.  So, what does it taste like and does it really live up to all the “non” hype?

Getting it right takes time

The Corpen team are not afraid of experimenting.  In fact, they tried more than 40 different botanical combinations before they settled on their final flavours.  They validated those findings in personal workshops, taking on the feedback and adapting the recipe to get the combinations just right.  They then ramped up production to make sure that the balance and complexity remained true in larger production runs.

According to Brian: “Instead of the fruity/floral or citrus/spicy flavour combinations that dominate the market, we wanted to develop a gin which celebrates more rooty, earthy, herbal, dry flavours. But we were also careful not to stray too far into eccentric or extravagant combinations just for the sake of being different”. 

And Pablo added: “We chose these flavours to bring something a bit different to the market. But we also believe that gin should be good enough to be consumed in cocktails but also good enough to be sipped neat. Corpen Llevant is full of complex and complementary flavours. It’s been made to be enjoyed in the right atmosphere”.

The verdict: elegant, sophisticated, complex

This sophisticated gin is subtle and complex.  First of all, the bottle is simple and elegant featuring a Corpen flag. This is a nod to Brian’s career in the US Navy and is a signal command for a change of direction. It is the perfect symbol for this gin. At 45% ABV, there’s plenty of strength here. There’s a strong blast of juniper on the nose, which keeps it true to its London Dry roots.  But linger a little longer and you’ll begin to notice complex notes of toasted coriander and fresh orange peel to get your taste buds tingling. Take a sip and those notes are joined by their playmates eucalyptus, black pepper, orris root and angelica root which dance a refreshing jig on your tongue.  The finish is smooth and lively. All in all, this is a really well balanced gin and a pleasure to drink.

A classic G&T – with an orange twist

We tried ours in a classic G&T but Corpen Llevant is definitely good enough to drink neat. Paired with a decent tonic water, you’ll taste a fantastic blend of refreshing citrus, with a warm blast of spice to add to its complexity. Plus, there’s a lush herbaceous flavour that comes through to keep your senses tingling until the last drop is finished. This gin is so good that it will stand on its own in a classic dry Martini.  The Corpen guys go with a drop of Dolin Dry vermouth in theirs. But you can find the one that works best for you.  Remember, the gin is the real star here.

Corpen Gin the perfect pour:  Corpen Llevant is definitely good enough to be drunk neat. But we think it is a perfect gin for a classic G&T.  We poured a large shot of Corpen Llevant gin into a copa glass. We added a few large, round ice cubes and gave the glass a little swirl. Then we wiped the rim with a wedge of orange, which we squeezed over the ice.  Next, we poured a freshly opened bottle of Franklin and Sons delicious, Natural Indian Tonic water, which had just the right balance of flavour and fizz.  No added sugar here, so it complements the gin rather than detracts from it.  We finished it all off with a simple twist of orange peel which we dropped in to the glass.

Wow! It was a gorgeous G&T – simple, elegant and refreshing.

Bespoke gin, distillery tours and more…

For more information about Corpen gin, check out their website on Corpen Barcelona. Not only do these guys make a delicious gin, but they host small tastings, distillery tours and offer bespoke gin making for corporates, special events and anybody who is looking to make something unique and special.
If you’re ever in Barcelona, check them out. You won’t regret it!

tanqueray rangpur

Tanqueray Rangpur: my new gin hero

I know it’s not new and most of us have probably locked our lips around this already. But sometimes’ it’s worth reminding yourself the excellence that’s right in front of you. Having tried a few lime gins over the last year, I’ve developed a little taste for it. As a child, I grew up in India and my childhood memories form comfortably around a simple Indian drink that kept me cool on many a hot Calcutta day. It was called a Nimbu Pani and it was basically a freshly squeezed mix of lime juice, simple syrup and soda water, served with loads of ice. To this day, it evokes fabulous memories. Ever since, I’ve had a taste for lime.

A lime classic, delivered at a decent price

Whether it’s baked into a Key Lime pie or muddled with mint in a Gin Gin Mule , it’s a flavour I keep returning to. So, having tried several lime gin brands over the year, yesterday I returned to revisit Tanqueray Rangpur, one of my standard favourites. And it didn’t disappoint.
Sometimes, the standard brands are overlooked in favour of the trendiest bottles or the best back stories. But this classic lime gin deserves a place in everybody’s bar. And it’s not as expensive as some of those other fancy labels, so might be worth keeping one in stock for those lime emergencies.
So, why is it so good?

Tanqueray Rangpur does exactly what it says on the tin

Following in the footsteps of its siblings (including the ever popular Tanqueray Sevilla) this gin does what it says it will do. This is a straight, no-nonsense injection of lime infused into a standard London Dry Tanqueray mix.
Made with rare Rangpur limes (famous for their sweet, juicy zest) and then combined with juniper, coriander, bay leaves and ginger, this drink just screams “Passage to India”. It is a truly delicious drink, right down to the last drop. The resulting spirit retains a full-bodied flavour with a surprisingly smooth finish. On the nose, it is distinctly limey in a soft, perfumed kind of way. On the tongue, it’s a little explosion of lime with overtones of citrus dancing around to reveal hints of pineapple and lemon. There is no lack of lime flavour here. And the finish lingers long after you’ve swilled that last drop of this delicious elixir.
Fresh and clean, the taste hangs around for a little while, before a slow fade with no bitter aftertaste.

A refreshingly honest gin

What I like most about this drink is its honesty. If you want a lime gin, here it is. No convoluted, exotic backstory. Just a trusted Tanqueray pedigree. There’s no massive marketing hype around this like there was around the launch of Tanqueray Sevilla a few years ago. No gimmicky names required, it manages to avoid some of the slightly synthetic, artificial taste of some of the other lime gins. It’s a refreshingly honest gin. While the juniper taste is present for sure, it never dominates or gets in the way of the lime. This is an exceptional gin at a decent price.

So, how do you drink this delicious gin?

Well, preferably on a veranda, with a large ceiling fan wafting the delicious scents and smells of India all around you. But if that’s impossible, them make do with your own kitchen. Arm yourself with some simple ingredients. Franklin and Sons Natural Indian tonic water works a treat with this drink. Don’t ruin it with fancy flavours, there’s enough juicy zest in this to enjoy without any distractions. Serve it long in a tall glass, with ice. That’s what I did last night.

And it tasted just like a Nimbu Pani (but much more fun)!

Save me a seat!

Tanqueray Rangpur: the perfect pour

  1. Place a whicker chair onto the veranda.
  2. Fill up a tall highball glass with large ice cubes.
  3. Slice up two wedges of fresh lime.
  4. Wipe one around the rim of the glass and drop it in.
  5. Pour a decent shot of gin over the ice (Tanqueray Rangpur).
  6. Fill it to the top with a freshly opened premium Indian tonic water.
  7. Drop the second lime wedge into the glass.
  8. Sit back and imagine you’re in India.

PS – this is a great gin to give an extra lime edge to some cocktails (think Gin Gin Mule!)



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

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bitters and cocktails

Bitters: what are they and why should we care?

Anybody who enjoys a good cocktail will have come across the word bitters every so often.  And if you’re a gin drinker, you need to know what they are.
Basically, these are small bottles of highly alcoholic flavouring agents, generally infused with herbs and botanicals.  Like many things, they started off life as a medicinal potion. In fact, they have a medicinal history that has seen them prescribed as cures for everything from stomach aches to hangovers. They are also often the mystery ingredient in your gin cocktail.
But what are they and why should we care?

Back to basics

At their most basic, bitters are simply neutral spirits infused with aromatics such as spices, seeds, fruits, tree bark  etc.  Some of the more traditional flavours include cassia root, orange peel, cinchona bark and cascarilla. Generally, they contain a potent mixture of water, alcohol and herbs and they come in all strengths, ranging from the strong to the very strong.
As a mark of respect for their potency, they generally come in tiny bottles and are added to cocktails in small drops. This is due to their intense flavour and industrial strength.  The most commonly referenced brand of bitters is Angostura.
But what do these tiny drops of flavour do?

Smoothing out the edges

Cocktails often contain a delicate balance of flavours, generally in the sweet and sour range.  But by adding an additional primary taste bartenders can help to smooth out a cocktail neutralising any sharp or sweet edges and adding a little balance to the mix.  This complexity adds an extra layer of character to drinks and can subtly change your entire drinking experience.

So where did this all begin?

Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians were ahead of their time.  While they were constructing their mind-boggling pyramids, they also began to experiment with medicinal herbs.  Interestingly, they were also partial to a drop of wine.  They started to infuse their wine with those bitter herbal potions.  This not only changed the flavour profile of the wine, but also claimed apparent medicinal benefits.
Fast forward to the Middle Ages and the advent of organised distilling.  Preparations with deeper combinations of flavours started to appear, seemingly influenced by these ancient medicinal practices.
By the 19th century, the Americans started to add bitters to Canary wine as a preventative medicine.  And then the cocktail arrived.

Bitters become brands

That was when things started to make real progress.  Commercial distillers began to produce their own bitters – the most famous of which is Angostura (named after a Bolivian town of the same name).  As the years moved on and tastes became increasingly accustomed to these new flavours, other brands began to appear including Peychaud’s from New Orleans. This brand is now most generally associated with the Sazerac cocktail.
You may also  be familiar with bitters appearing in classic Pink Gin or Old Fashioned recipes.  This is where Angostura continues to make its mark.

During the latter half of the 19th century, orange bitters began to make their presence felt and began to appear in more and more cocktail recipes.  And then, in 1862, legendary bartender Jerry Thomas championed them in his book “How to mix drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion”.
This was the inflection point that brought them firmly into the territory of a mainstream cocktail ingredient.

The age of the cocktail

Bitters have added subtle flavour and aroma to drinks for centuries.  They are often drunk neat, as a digestif, in both Europe and America. But with the resurging interest in craft gins and bespoke cocktails, they are continuing to add an extra layer of complexity.
You will increasingly see them appearing in a range of cocktail recipes (not least in the common and garden G&T!).
And bitters have another excellent property which should not be ignored: they make a rather unpleasant tasting but highly effective hangover cure.
These days there are a plethora of new brands on the market and more and more people are experimenting with making their own craft versions at home.
Here are some of the most well known bitters, just in case you fancy mixing up a proper
pink gin (especially if you’re expecting a giant hangover any time soon!).

Some of the most popular bitters brands (paid links)

bitters selection



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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