a gin zombie

A Gin Zombie: no tricks, just a Halloween treat

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

After a couple of years where Covid managed to transform our once busy Halloween streets full of children dressing up as ghosts and goblins into what seemed like genuine scenes from a post apocalyptic Zombie movie, a Gin Zombie seems like the ideal cocktail to usher in the Halloween feast. Now, that life is returning to normal the ghosts and ghouls can return for their biggest night of the year. It feels like Halloween is back.

Be prepared for fright night

Whether you like it or not, those pesky kids will be ringing your bell again this year demanding treats and punishing anybody who dares to deny them unlimited access to sugar and candy.  Some of you will have prepared for this for months and will have bags of candy at the ready for anybody who rings your doorbell. Others will turn the lights out, lock the doors and hide in the back room until the threat has passed.

But whether you are hiding from the kids or fully embracing the spirit of Halloween yourself, an appropriate cocktail can help to make your evening a pleasure, not a chore. And that’s when our thoughts turn to Zombies. The cocktails, not the living dead.

High spirits

The Zombie first rose to popularity back in the 1960s as part of the Tiki cocktail revolution inspired by the slightly tacky, legendary (and tongue in cheek) Trader Vic’s.  But its history stretches further back into the mists of time.

The original Zombie is centred around 3 types of rum. They then add a bit of apricot brandy, some lime juice, some pineapple juice and a dash of grenadine. But, as you’d expect, we’ve switched up and adapted the original for our favourite spirit, gin and turned it into a Gin Zombie.

So, if you’re looking for a little something to keep your spirits high as the ghosts and ghouls stalk your neighbourhood, then fear not. Lock the door, turn the lights down and mix up a Halloween gin treat.  And that way, you get to eat all the candy yourself!!

Introducing the Gin Zombie

Ingredients:

  • Old Tom gin 1 oz
  • Navy Strength gin 1 oz
  • London Dry gin 1 oz
  • ¼ oz lime juice
  • ¾ oz grapefruit juice
  • ¾ oz elderflower liqueur
  • ½ oz grenadine
  • ¼ oz ginger syrup
  • 1 dash of Angostura bitters

Method:

  1. Put some ice cubes into a cocktail shaker with the 3 gins, lime juice, grapefruit juice, elderflower liqueur, grenadine, ginger syrup
  2. Pour into a chilled glass without straining (hurricane glass works well here)
  3. Add a large dash of Angostura bitters to the mix and float a little extra Navy proof gin on the top of the mix
  4. Decorate with a wedge of pineapple or and a slice of lime
  5. Sprinkle a little sugar over the top and serve

Happy Halloween everybody!!


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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Hot Gin Toddy

Hot gin toddy: cold comfort from an old friend

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

The seasons are changing.  The summer heat is now well and truly behind us and we are now in that lovely space where the last of the summer sun still occasionally breaks through. It is a time to hear the leaves crunch beneath your feet, to watch the colors change from green to brown and gold and purple.  It’s a time of year when we appreciate every day of sunshine as we get ready for the inevitable winter weather ahead. It’s nature’s transition time and it follows a rhythm as old as the earth. We dig out the scarves and the Wellington boots and seek refuge in long country walks.  Sometimes this manifests itself in the glory of warm shaft of sunlight on your face. Other days, it shows itself in your breath, visible in the colder air.

The season of mists, mellow fruitfulness…and colds

In North America it is the season of Halloween costumes, pumpkin carving and family gatherings around the Thanksgiving table.
In the UK, it’s all about long country walks through gorgeous foliage. The trees are in their ultimate glory, lighting up the countryside with a rich tapestry of colours. The lure of a gorgeous country pub with a roaring fireplace, comfy chairs and convivial company keeps the walkers motivated whatever the weather.
In Barcelona, the sun still shines, but  it’s a time of transition. Some hot days, some colder days, but the sky stays blue and the locals still pile on the autumn clothes, wrapped in scarves and enjoying a welcome relief from the heat of summer.

But this seasonal uncertainty has its consequences.  The frequent temperature changes, the wetter weather and the chillier days and nights mean that it is also a time when we all become subject to seasonal illnesses such as colds and flu. And we’re delighted to let you know that gin can be a great ingredient in your winter recovery plan.  You might have read our recent article about the healthy properties of gin. Well, here’s more good news. Hot gin toddies are here to save your day!

Having just succumbed to my first major cold of the season, complete with stuffed up nose, headache, constant sneezing, a chesty cough and what seemed like a river flowing through my nose, I mixed myself up one of these.  And the results were great.

What is a hot toddy and how does it help?

Well, one thing a hot gin toddy won’t do is cure your cold. But it can be a big help in managing your symptoms and helping you to feel better until the infection leaves your system. Tradtionally, the home made remedies are made with honey, lemon, hot water and alcohol. The customary booze for this remedy is whiskey but, as you’d expect, we think gin is a great substitute. And here’s the reason why.

The complex botanicals in gin are opened up nicely by the addition of hot water. Choose a good gin (with a flavour profile that suits your taste) and suddenly taking your medicine gets a whole lot easier. In fact, the flavour release is so effective that you don’t need to add tea (or anything else, for that matter). Drier gins may work better for this concoction and its best to add water that is just at the end of its simmer to get the best from the gin. And there’s even more good news – this cold cure tastes great and only has 120 calories!

How does a hot gin toddy work?

Well, let’s take one ingredient at a time.

  • Hot water – hot water seems to have the effect of clearing congestion. But remember, not too hot. Just 45 seconds in a microwave should do the trick and release all the aromas and flavours of the botanicals within.
  • Lemon juice – Vitamin C is the best thing for fighting colds and flu. Lemons are chock-full of antioxidants that have been shown to be good at fighting colds. According to studies, regular doses of vitamin C can reduce the length and strength of a cold and regular intake can stop you getting one on the first place.
  • Honey – this natural treat has been playing a significant role in treating cold symptoms for hundreds of years. Not only is it packed with natural goodness, but it’s also really good at soothing sore throats, reducing coughs and helping to improve sleep quality.
  • Gin – the alcoholic content in gin is a great decongestant. It helps dilate the blood vessels making it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection. Plus, if you have one of these before bedtime, it can also make you a little drowsy, helping you to get a good night’s sleep – essential to a strong recovery.

Toddy tips:

  1. Use a juniper forward gin if possible. It’s bold flavours bring the best out of this drink
  2. High strength gins work better. Navy strength gins work particularly well.
  3. Use hot water, not boiling water. 30-45 seconds in the microwave should brng the best out of the botanicals

Hot Gin Toddy recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • ¾ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 oz hot water
  • Garnish with cinnamon stick or clove (other garnishes are available!)

Method:

  1. Gather your ingredients
  2. Add the gin, lemon juice and honey into an Irish coffee glass, brandy snifter or mug
  3. Heat your water to a high simmer, ad to glass and stir to dissolve honey
  4. Garnish with cinnamon stick, clove or a slice of lemon

Please note: alcohol may interact negatively with other cold treatment remedies, so be careful.


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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Larios Provenzal: the sweet taste of the Med

Let me be clear. Long before I discovered Larios Provenzal. I was a big fan of Larios gin. I have been a fan ever since I first moved to Barcelona, almost a decade ago. With a local heritage and a long tradition, it has been quietly making a name for itself as a great value Spanish gin. It has been offering excellent flavour at a great price for many years. It’s become one of those gins that you should always have behind your bar.  And it’s a gin with a history that goes back to early 19th century Malaga, when the Larios family moved into the distillation business.  

Since then, Larios has been building a solid reputation across Europe before being bought by the Pernod-Ricard Group back in 1997 before ending up with the Beam Suntory group. This partnership has catapulted Larios into the big time and it is now the number one gin in Spain and continental Europe and one of the top 10 gins internationally.

Expanding the brand…

Once the brand was built and established, they did what many gin brands have done over the last decade – look for ways to expand with new flavours and propositions.  I thought I’d tried most of them, including their original London Dry version (now rebranded as Larios Mediterranea). With its subtle notes of juniper and orange peel, this is a gin you should always keep in your cupboard just in case). I’ve also tried the sumptuous Larios Citrus (with a bitter orange sweetness that gives Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla a run for its money) as well as Larios 12, their premium version, with its 12 exotically sourced botanicals and its complex flavour balances. 
I’ve also heard good things about Larios Rose. One day, I’m looking forward to trying Indigo by Larios with its deep blue Macedonian juniper berries and citrus notes.  And I thought that was about it for the Larios range.

And then, I stumbled across Larios Provenzal while perusing the Duty Free store at Gatwick airport. At just over £12 for 1 litre, it was too good a bargain to refuse. I slipped one into my basket and boarded the plane in anticipation of a nice welcome home cocktail once I had landed back in Barcelona.
And I’m pleased to say, that’s exactly what I did.

Larios Provenzal: exclusive and elusive

Larios Provenzal is an unusual and particularly elusive gin – and now I know why it to be “as rare as hen’s teeth”.  This gin appears to be a “one off” that has been created exclusively for travel retail. That’s why it can only be found at duty free stores, so keep your eye out for it as travel starts to open up again.  It comes in the same distinctively shaped bottle as all the other Larios brands, but this one has a particularly attractive green label that somehow transports you to a Provencal forest.  

A corn base for a smoother taste

This gin has been exclusively created for travelers and it features four distillations of wild juniper.  But what makes Larios Provenzal different is that it uses a corn base during distillation.  The purpose of this is to smooth out the flavour profile of the gin. Once they are happy with the smoothness of the base, they then flavour the resulting liquid with a selection of Mediterranean fruits and herbs. The result is an easy to drink gin with a twist that is both unique and exclusive.  Well that’s what the PR material says, but does this drink live up to its promotion?

There’s only one way to find out…

The perfect pour

I tried this as a perfect G&T.  Larios is as Spanish as it comes, so a large copa glass was the obvious choice for my new experience.  I gingerly dropped two giant, round tonic water ice cubes from my mold into the glass. Then, I squeezed a juicy lemon wedge directly over the ice and wiped the wedge around the rim. Then I dropped it into the glass (with a satisfying “plop”) and drizzled a generous double shot of Larios Provenzal over the ice cubes.  Finally, I poured a bottle of Fever Tree Premium tonic water over the blend to naturally shake up and mix it all together before the big reveal.

Citrus notes and herbal overtones: a taste of the Med

The first thing you notice is the colour – the liquid has a lovely herbaceous green tint that works well with the new label. The packaging instantly transports you to Provence. On the nose, this gin delivers instantly with notes of rosemary, thyme and basil up front.  This is all rounded off with a soft injection of citrus from the oranges and lemons that Larios have become known for.  And then, the all important taste test.  Smooth and well balanced (as promised) with an unmistakable Mediterranean character and a refreshing blast of juniper. So far, so good. 

Sweet, smooth and complex

Larios Provenzal has all the ingredients of a great gin. But that corn base gives it a distinctive sweetness that feels a little unfamiliar to a palette more used to drier, juniper forward gins. It’s this subtle sweetness that pervades the overall taste – and sometimes even dominates it.  If you’re looking for a traditional dry, crisp gin this is probably not the one for you.  But if your tastes errs on the side of sweetness and smoothness, this will not disappoint.  

Just the tonic

At first sip, it was not what I’d expected but now that my brain has caught up with my senses, this gin is really growing on me.  I served it with a Fevertree Indian Tonic water, but I suspect this will also go really well with the new generation of flavoured tonic waters such as the delicious Franklin & Sons Rosemary and Olive tonic water. It would also work with a Fevertree Mediterranean or even a ginger beer topper.  Garnishings can range from Basil leaves to toasted Rosemary sprigs and from lemons to oranges depending on your taste.  This will also be an excellent cocktail ingredient for any gin drink that requires smooth, sweet herbal and citrus notes.  

I have a feeling that this is a gin that will divide opinion.  It may not be to everyone’s tastes but give it a chance. I did and I keep going back for more, so it must be good after all.



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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key lime pie

Gin Key Lime Pie: a taste of summer sunshine

Summer is on its way!

It’s that time of year when the weather likes to tease us.  We’re offered little glimpses of sunshine before the warmth is dampened by the clouds.  We enjoy walking on the sunny side of the street, but freeze in the shade.  We have warm spells but we know we can’t rely on them. Yet!

But our time is coming.  Beyond spring lies summer – a time of long, hot sunny days, warm evenings, outdoor cocktails and barbecues. So, we have something good to focus on while we wait for the retreat of winter and dream of the better days that lie ahead. Some of us are dreaming of freedom to travel, others are dreaming of reuniting with loved ones.  I’m dreaming of Key Lime Pie.  That’s the space that I inhabit. 

Key Lime Pie – a Florida classic

Key Lime Pie is one of the great contributions of America to world cuisine. This amazing, tangy, sweet dessert is simple to make and delicious to eat. If you have lime juice, eggs, condensed milk and digestive biscuits in your larder, you can whip one of these up, no problem.  Some of us may be more familiar with lemon meringue pie, its better known cousin.  But this younger family member is even better. Sharper, tangier and lighter, it’s a great summer treat.  

Fire up the grill, load up those plates with sausages, burgers and steaks – and save enough room for a little dessert.  After all that heavy, rich food this light, citrus tart cuts through all those heavy flavours with a little lime goodness that immediately let’s you know that summer is coming.  Key limes are a special type of lime, mostly found in Southern Florida. The juice is yellow instead of green – and so is the pie.  But the taste is pure lime and wonderfully unique. 

No history, but a great tradition

There is no clear history to this pie – and nobody quite knows when it was actually invented.  But it first gained fame in the 1950s when it began to be promoted as “Florida’s most famous treat”. Once this glorious dish had achieved its initial fame and notoriety, it has never looked back.  But one thing could make this dish even better – the addition of a well chosen gin to this Florida favourite.

So, with that in mind, here’s an easy to make Key Lime Pie recipe that won’t challenge casual cooks too much. It’s simple, delicious – and with the addition of a large measure of gin to the recipe, it is almost as good as a gin and tonic. 

We recommend using Tanqueray Rangpur for a little extra lime zestiness.  Plus, if you keep a bottle nearby while you’re cooking, it’s even simpler to cut up a few extra limes and fix a large G&T.
You’re the chef. Nobody deserves it more!

Gin Key Lime Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

key lime pie
  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 100g sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 4 limes
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 oz Tanqueray Rangpur gin

Method:

  1. Crumble the digestive biscuits into a blender.
  2. Blitz into a nice, crumbly mixture.
  3. Melt the butter and pour it into the blender.
  4. Grate it into the zest from the limes and mix together.
  5. Press the crumbs into the bottom of a greased cake tin.
  6. Bake at 200c for 10 minutes.
  7. Pour the gin, condensed milk and sugar into a bowl.
  8. Grate the zest from two of the limes into the mixture and the zest from the third into a bowl.
  9. Place the bowl in the fridge.
  10. Squeeze the juice from all four limes into the mixture.
  11. Add the egg yolks.
  12. Whisk together until smooth.
  13. Place some parchment paper around the edges of the cake tin.
  14. Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base and smooth off the top.
  15. Bake for 25 minutes at 180c.
  16. Chill in the fridge until cool and serve with the remaining zest.
  17. Pour out a large Rangpur and tonic 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 news

The Ruddles Report: gin news and notes from a gin dog

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin news | 0

Today is Ruddles‘ first day on the job in his new role as Barcelona Gin’s chief newshound. Our gallant Gin Dog has been busy all week, sniffing out the best gin news stories for your reading pleasure. We already know he has a great nose for a story, so we are expecting great things from him, as he delivers a regular, bite-sized digest of gin-related news.

Here’s the first Ruddles Report for your reading pleasure. Hope you enjoy it!

A loyal soldier and a royal toast

Amongst the news stories that our Gin Dog has uncovered this week, find out about the latest craft gin to be produced by the Royal Family. Following on the heels of Buckingham Palace Gin and Highgrove Gin, Her Majesty has launched yet another craft gin. This time it’s Sandringham Gin, craft distilled at her Sandringham Estate Norfolk. Perhaps one to have ready for the loyal toast on Christmas Day.

gin news

And while we’re on the subject of special gins, let’s raise a glass to Captain Sir Tom Moore. The 100 year old WW 2 soldier inspired the nation earlier this year by walking 100 laps of his garden and in the process, raising more than £39 million for the NHS workers. His amazing commitment and cheery spirit found a place deep in the hearts of people around the world. This simple act of determination inspired a nation in some of its darkest moments and it changed his life forever. He was promoted to Major, went to visit the Queen, received a knighthood and even released a hit record. Not content with that, this year a new gin has been released in his honour. Captain Sir Tom’s London Dry gin has been made by the folks at the Otterbeck Distillery and all the proceeds will be going through the Sir Tom Moore Foundation to support charities such as Mind and The Royal British Legion.

The best bars in the world, snow globes and small gin!

In the month in which Barcelona and London featured heavily in the annual list of the Top 50 bars in the world, we thought you’d like to see the whole list, just in case this quarantine ever lifts. Once again, London delivers the world’s best bar in the world as the Connaught Bar took first place. But Barcelona performs really well with 3 bars featuring in the world’s top 50 – Paradiso coming in at number 19 and Two Schmucks entering the charts at an impressive number 26. Not bad for a small city on the edge of the Mediterranean.

gin news

If you like your gin full of flavour (but less full of alcohol), you’ll love the latest offering from Haymans. Their latest Haymans Small Gin means you can mix a real G&T with only 0.2 units of alcohol and as little as 15 calories per serve. Packed with flavour, this gin might appear small, but it has a huge heart. This one might be worth checking out over the holidays when your liver is a bit tired but you still have a taste for gin!

gin news

Christmas is coming…

And finally, Christmas is coming and nobody can have gone through the last few weeks without noticing the gorgeous gin globes that are appearing around the country right now. But where do you get these things of beauty and how much do they cost? Here’s an article on the gorgeous Marks and Spencer version. It is illuminated by an LED light and rains little flakes of 23k gold leaf for a shimmering snow effect. This gorgeous Clementine and Rhubarb gin liqueur just happens to be delicious as well. They won’t last long, so don’t miss out.

gin news

That’s all for this edition of the Ruddles Report. Hope you enjoyed it.

More from the gin dog next month!


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 news

Gin news: Ruddles – the ultimate gin dog!

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin news | 0

Introducing our gorgeous newshound, Ruddles. Or Señor Ruddles if you prefer.
This shaggy, laid back bundle of love is a vital part of our team here at Barcelona Gin and all our gin news.  We recruited him from a local refuge a few years ago.  He had spent much of his early life living outdoors in a huge field. It was full of other abandoned dogs, overlooking the Mediterranean, not far from Barcelona.  Before that, he’d lived with an old Spanish shepherd high up in the hills of El Garraf.  He was a lovely man, but he was old and he couldn’t give Ruddles the love he needed.
So, when the Barcelona Gin team went to meet Ruddles in his dusty field, it was love at first sight. And he’s been with us ever since.  At first, we weren’t sure about his taste for gin.  But then something changed.  A few years ago, I was walking him past the doors of my favourite underground Barcelona gin bar.  It’s a little late-night dive bar right in the heart of town.  As we walked past, I could feel him gently straining on the leash.

The dog made me do it…

He was trying to pull me in.  I was never one to put up a fight, but he was insisting.  So, we wandered on down the stairs for a late night copa of Martin Millers with tonic.  As soon as we were down there, he made it clear that he likes gin just as much as we do.  He literally lapped up my G&T, right in front of me.  And he seemed to give it a good review.

So, now we’ve recruited Ruddles full time (we may as well make him work for a living).

A nose for news…

And now he’s sniffing out great gins for us, as well as using that newshound nose to uncover great gin news and  stories from the world of gin that you might not normally come across.  So, keep an eye out for regular gin news reports from Ruddles in our regular Gin the News section.  And feel free to reach out to him directly via email at ruddles@barcelonagin.com.  He’ll usually get back to you pretty quickly.

Plus, if the lockdown ever ends and you find yourself in Barcelona, we can highly recommend popping down to Les Gens Que J’Aime.  A great little bar in a great town, with great gins at great prices.  Ruddles likes it, so it must be good!

 


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 toddy

Hot sloe gin toddy: an easy recipe for autumn comfort

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Summer is officially behind us and these days, the weather’s much colder, the rain’s more frequent and sometimes you can even see your breath in the air. This is the season of long nights, darker mornings, conkers, log fires, cozy walks, sturdy walking shoes and Wellington boots. But it is also sloe gin season in the UK.
You might have seen our interview with our friends Jenny and Hamish Prentice about how and when to harvest sloe berries. They’ve been making sloe gin in the Wiltshire countryside for years and they offered some handy tips on exactly how and when to harvest these elusive little berries and turn them into sloe gin. It’s well worth a read if you missed it. But once you’ve got your sloe gin, what exactly do you with it on a cold autumn evening?

Spice up those autumn nights

Well one thing you could do is warm yourself up with a delicious hot sloe gin toddy. So, we thought we’d make it nice and easy for you by giving you a simple recipe that will add a little spice to those cold, dark nights. When you’re trapped indoors (maybe enjoying the warmth of a log fire or wondering what gin based drink you should have) you could get your evening going with a burst of delicious, spicy alcoholic warmth.
Welcome to our hot sloe gin toddy – we think you’ll FALL in love with it (see what I did there?)

Sloe gin toddy recipe

Ingredients: Continued

Ingredients: Continued