Ukiyo Japanese Blossom gin

UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin: is this my favourite gin ever?

Banzai! I think I’ve just had the best gin I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t expecting it. In fact it was a gift at a surprise birthday party. And I wasn’t expecting that either.  But this gin has just blown my Christmas socks off! The thing is, there are so many gins around to try now.  And increasingly, they are just variations on a theme. Some of them are just added flavours. Others barely stand out from each other. And then along came UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin.

One sip and I was taken.

A beautiful bottle for a beautiful gin

And what was so special about Ukiyo Japanese Blossom gin?

Well where do I even start? The bottle is an absolute stunner.  A classic rounded shape with a graduated tinted glass where the colours of blue and pink blend into each other in the same way that mountains blend into the sea. This gin is elegantly Japanese and subtly understated. The label is a simple, square with rounded edges and Japanese lettering spelling out its name.  The neck tapers up gently, like the slopes of the nearby Sakurajima volcano and the whole affair is crowned with a gorgeous, chunky flat cap that sets it off beautifully.  Before you’ve even tasted the first sip, you know this is a gin with a difference.

“Floating world” gin for the mindfulness generation

We also love the story behind Ukiyo Japanese Blossom gin.  The term ukiyo literally translates in English to “floating world” and it refers to “a state of mind that emphasises living in the moment, detached from the difficulties of life”.  This is a gin worth concentrating on. It will feed your senses. It’s sort of like a gin for the mindfulness generation.

So, what’s so special about it?

So much. This is not your normal gin.  In fact, this is a gin that all starts with Japan’s national drink, Shochu. This traditional Japanese spirit is distilled from barley and these guys have been practicing their art for more than 130 years.  They have drawn on all that knowledge and experience to distill this Shochu base from scratch. First, they distill the barley in a traditional Japanese pot still, which produces a gentler, more rounded flavour.

The fragrant, complex aroma of cherry blossom

They then redistill the mix with juniper, mandarin and spices before infusing it with the bright, citrus notes of yuzu and the subtle perfume of the sakura flower. The final blend offers up a soft, smooth mouth-feel, making this gin very easy to drink.  The Shochu adds a subtle, earthy flavour to the final product, that’s reminiscent of its more famous cousin Sake. This fragrant base is then redistilled with the required juniper, alongside mandarin and spice.  For the final touch, they infuse the gin with the delicate taste of Sakura flower, resulting in a perfumed, fragrant citrus-forward gin to delight your senses.

And on the nose? Boy, do those aromas tickle your taste buds.  Even before you take your first sip, your senses will be assaulted by a sweet, fragrant complex aroma that mimics the gentle scent of the cherry blossoms adorning the beautiful mountains that surround their beautiful Kagoshima base. And at a standard 40% ABV, this gin has just the right blend of strength and flavour.

So, what does it taste like?  Well, on the nose it is sweet and complex.  There is a fragrance that comes from the Shochu that delivers a perfume punch alongside the fresh, complex flavors of juniper, cherry blossom and orange. And there (f you look hard enough) lurking in the background, you’ll pick up more subtle notes such as woody spice, coriander and even a little Parma violet.

Ukiyo Japanese Blossom gin perfect pour:

This gin is too unusual and has too many contrasting taste sensations to waste on a flavoured tonic water.  This is one for a premium Fever Tree Indian tonic, large, square cubes of ice and a slice of orange.  Best served in a Collins glass, you’ll need to drop a large, square ice cube (the larger the better) into the bottom of the glass. Then, take a wedge of orange, squeeze it to release the juice and wipe it around the rim of the glass.  Pour a generous shot of the gin over the ice cube.  Then pour a premium quality tonic water such as Fever Tree premium into the mix allowing the bubbles to blend the liquids together naturally. Finally, a brief stir and then drop a sliced orange wheel on top and you’re “good to go”. A delicious, G&T just bursting with bright flavour!

But if you’re looking to try this in a cocktail, here’s one you might like to try…

Ukiyo Cherry Cobbler

Ingredients:

  • 40ml Ukiyo Japanese Blossom gin
  • 10ml cherry brandy
  • 10 ml blackcurrant syrup
  • 10ml lemon juice
  • 10ml blackcurrant liqueur
  • 190ml ice
  • 20ml soda

Method:

  • Add ice to a 10oz (300ml) highball glass
  • Pour gin into glass
  • Add cherry brandy
  • Add blackcurrant syrup
  • Pour in lemon juice
  • Top up with a dash of soda water
  • Pour a Creme de Cassis float onto the surface
  • Garnish with a Maraschino cherry
  • Just sit back and enjoy the blossoms…

Kanpai 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.


RECENT POSTS

  • UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin: is this my favourite gin ever?
    Banzai! I think I’ve just had the best gin I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t expecting it. In fact it was a gift at a surprise birthday party. And I wasn’t expecting that either.  But this gin has just blown my Christmas socks off! The thing is, there are so many gins around to try now.  … Continued
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    There’s an old English Christmas rhyme that goes something like this: “Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.”  And while we wholeheartedly endorse the spirit of generosity and kindness that is the hallmark of the festive period, we suspect that it won’t just be the … Continued
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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.


RECENT POSTS

  • UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin: is this my favourite gin ever?
    Banzai! I think I’ve just had the best gin I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t expecting it. In fact it was a gift at a surprise birthday party. And I wasn’t expecting that either.  But this gin has just blown my Christmas socks off! The thing is, there are so many gins around to try now.  … Continued
  • Merry Gin-mas everybody: 12 tips for a tipsy holiday!
    He’s been getting ready since January and his big moment is coming soon. The Jolly Old Elf (AKA Santa Claus) is already preparing to sprinkle holiday cheer around the world from his festive fleet of flying reindeer. Christmas is almost here and we’re all looking forward to welcoming Santa down the chimney as we celebrate … Continued
  • Gin and tonic lemon tart: getting into the Christmas spirit
    There’s an old English Christmas rhyme that goes something like this: “Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.”  And while we wholeheartedly endorse the spirit of generosity and kindness that is the hallmark of the festive period, we suspect that it won’t just be the … Continued
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    Entropia Gin is back in my life. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Looking back, it was probably always inevitable that I would fall in love with gin and tonic. I was born in post-colonial Malaysia, where G&Ts were sipped on whitewashed verandahs by men in Panama hats and linen suits. Later on, as a … Continued

RECENT POSTS

  • UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin: is this my favourite gin ever?
    Banzai! I think I’ve just had the best gin I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t expecting it. In fact it was a gift at a surprise birthday party. And I wasn’t expecting that either.  But this gin has just blown my Christmas socks off! The thing is, there are so many gins around to try now.  … Continued
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    He’s been getting ready since January and his big moment is coming soon. The Jolly Old Elf (AKA Santa Claus) is already preparing to sprinkle holiday cheer around the world from his festive fleet of flying reindeer. Christmas is almost here and we’re all looking forward to welcoming Santa down the chimney as we celebrate … Continued
  • Gin and tonic lemon tart: getting into the Christmas spirit
    There’s an old English Christmas rhyme that goes something like this: “Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.”  And while we wholeheartedly endorse the spirit of generosity and kindness that is the hallmark of the festive period, we suspect that it won’t just be the … Continued
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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.


RECENT POSTS

  • UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin: is this my favourite gin ever?
    Banzai! I think I’ve just had the best gin I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t expecting it. In fact it was a gift at a surprise birthday party. And I wasn’t expecting that either.  But this gin has just blown my Christmas socks off! The thing is, there are so many gins around to try now.  … Continued
  • Merry Gin-mas everybody: 12 tips for a tipsy holiday!
    He’s been getting ready since January and his big moment is coming soon. The Jolly Old Elf (AKA Santa Claus) is already preparing to sprinkle holiday cheer around the world from his festive fleet of flying reindeer. Christmas is almost here and we’re all looking forward to welcoming Santa down the chimney as we celebrate … Continued
  • Gin and tonic lemon tart: getting into the Christmas spirit
    There’s an old English Christmas rhyme that goes something like this: “Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.”  And while we wholeheartedly endorse the spirit of generosity and kindness that is the hallmark of the festive period, we suspect that it won’t just be the … Continued
  • Entropia Gin: lift your spirits with a little ginseng and guarana
    Entropia Gin is back in my life. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Looking back, it was probably always inevitable that I would fall in love with gin and tonic. I was born in post-colonial Malaysia, where G&Ts were sipped on whitewashed verandahs by men in Panama hats and linen suits. Later on, as a … Continued

RECENT POSTS

  • UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin: is this my favourite gin ever?
    Banzai! I think I’ve just had the best gin I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t expecting it. In fact it was a gift at a surprise birthday party. And I wasn’t expecting that either.  But this gin has just blown my Christmas socks off! The thing is, there are so many gins around to try now.  … Continued
  • Merry Gin-mas everybody: 12 tips for a tipsy holiday!
    He’s been getting ready since January and his big moment is coming soon. The Jolly Old Elf (AKA Santa Claus) is already preparing to sprinkle holiday cheer around the world from his festive fleet of flying reindeer. Christmas is almost here and we’re all looking forward to welcoming Santa down the chimney as we celebrate … Continued
  • Gin and tonic lemon tart: getting into the Christmas spirit
    There’s an old English Christmas rhyme that goes something like this: “Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.”  And while we wholeheartedly endorse the spirit of generosity and kindness that is the hallmark of the festive period, we suspect that it won’t just be the … Continued
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    Entropia Gin is back in my life. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Looking back, it was probably always inevitable that I would fall in love with gin and tonic. I was born in post-colonial Malaysia, where G&Ts were sipped on whitewashed verandahs by men in Panama hats and linen suits. Later on, as a … Continued
the Hugo

Gin and summertime: introducing The Hugo

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Gin and summertime are a perfect match. They go together as naturally as strawberries and cream.  In fact, there’s  nothing better on a hot summer’s day than a deliciously long, sparkling gin and tonic made in a Spanish copa glass. Especially if it’s filled with extra large ice cubes to keep you refreshed until the last sip.  But gin lends itself to so much more than just gin and tonics.  And maybe there is another way…

In the summertime, long cocktails become more popular than at other times of year and you can mix them up to match your mood. Whether you’re sunning yourself by a pool in the Mediterranean or sipping them gently by the BBQ in your back garden, they can make a lovely, easy to drink alternative to a cold beer and a more sophisticated way of drinking your gin than in a standard gin and tonic.

Summertime (and the ginning is easy…)

We know that as we ease into the summer social season, there will be lots of people reaching for that bottle of Pimms they’ve had since last summer.  They’ll be thinking about cutting up all that fruit, getting the proportions right and whether or not they have a jug or a punch bowl in the kitchen that’s big enough to mix up a summer batch.

But there is another way.  There are loads of refreshing, easy to make summer coolers that we think you might enjoy as the heat gets turned up and the summer starts to deliver on its early promise.  From standard summer punches to Singapore Slings and from Tom Collins‘ to Pomegranate coolers and Gin Fizzes, there’s something for everybody. 

But we thought we’d share a recipe for a delicious, refreshing summer drink called a Hugo
I like to think it’s in honour of one of my favourite teenagers, but he assures me that it’s nothing to do with him.

So, what is a Hugo and how do I make one?

This drink is so easy to make, it’s almost embarrassing.  It’s the perfect cocktail for summer sipping in the back garden, or for gathering around the pool for a cool down.  And it only has three key ingredients: gin, cava and elderflower cordial. It seems so simple and such easy flavours to combine. So, where did this refreshing drink originate? Well, according to legend it first appeared in Austria in the region of South Tyrol.  According to Mixology magazine, the first sighting of a Hugo was in 2005, when a barman called Roland Gruber was looking for an alternative to a Spritz Venetiano (prosecco, Aperol and soda water).  

In Roland’s version, he mixed gin, prosecco, lemon balm syrup and sparkling water and stirred it over ice.  As time went by, it became clear that elderflower syrup was easier to get than the lemon balm syrup (and tasted just as good).  Elderflower joined the party permanently and is now a standard ingredient of the Hugo. And in these days of flavoured gins, you can subtly switch up your flavour by choosing a gin. While a classic London Dry works really well with this mix, you could experiment with a few other trusted flavours. Dial up the citrus with a limey blast of Tanqueray Rangpur or give it a lemony lift with a shot of Malfy Limone. Add a little cucumber freshness with a classic Hendricks. Or make the most of that elderflower taste with a JJ Whitley elderflower gin.

Nobody quite knows why this cocktails is called a Hugo and we don’t really care.  It is sweet, refreshing, delicate, easy to make and easy to drink. It’s absolutely perfect for summer – and that’s good enough for us!

The Hugo recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 measure of gin (to taste)
  • One Collins glass (half filled with ice)
  • A good splash of elderflower cordial
  • A handful of mint leaves
  • Lime wedge
  • Cava
  • Soda water

Method:

  1. Pour a generous measure of gin into a glass half-filled with ice
  2. Add a good splash of elderflower cordial
  3. Place several mint leaves into the drink
  4. Squeeze the juice of a lime into the drink and drop the wedge in
  5. Top up with cava
  6. Add a splash of soda water
  7. Serve chilled…

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.


RECENT POSTS

  • UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin: is this my favourite gin ever?
    Banzai! I think I’ve just had the best gin I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t expecting it. In fact it was a gift at a surprise birthday party. And I wasn’t expecting that either.  But this gin has just blown my Christmas socks off! The thing is, there are so many gins around to try now.  … Continued
  • Merry Gin-mas everybody: 12 tips for a tipsy holiday!
    He’s been getting ready since January and his big moment is coming soon. The Jolly Old Elf (AKA Santa Claus) is already preparing to sprinkle holiday cheer around the world from his festive fleet of flying reindeer. Christmas is almost here and we’re all looking forward to welcoming Santa down the chimney as we celebrate … Continued
  • Gin and tonic lemon tart: getting into the Christmas spirit
    There’s an old English Christmas rhyme that goes something like this: “Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.”  And while we wholeheartedly endorse the spirit of generosity and kindness that is the hallmark of the festive period, we suspect that it won’t just be the … Continued
  • Entropia Gin: lift your spirits with a little ginseng and guarana
    Entropia Gin is back in my life. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Looking back, it was probably always inevitable that I would fall in love with gin and tonic. I was born in post-colonial Malaysia, where G&Ts were sipped on whitewashed verandahs by men in Panama hats and linen suits. Later on, as a … Continued

RECENT POSTS

  • UKIYO Japanese Blossom gin: is this my favourite gin ever?
    Banzai! I think I’ve just had the best gin I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t expecting it. In fact it was a gift at a surprise birthday party. And I wasn’t expecting that either.  But this gin has just blown my Christmas socks off! The thing is, there are so many gins around to try now.  … Continued
  • Merry Gin-mas everybody: 12 tips for a tipsy holiday!
    He’s been getting ready since January and his big moment is coming soon. The Jolly Old Elf (AKA Santa Claus) is already preparing to sprinkle holiday cheer around the world from his festive fleet of flying reindeer. Christmas is almost here and we’re all looking forward to welcoming Santa down the chimney as we celebrate … Continued
  • Gin and tonic lemon tart: getting into the Christmas spirit
    There’s an old English Christmas rhyme that goes something like this: “Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.”  And while we wholeheartedly endorse the spirit of generosity and kindness that is the hallmark of the festive period, we suspect that it won’t just be the … Continued
  • Entropia Gin: lift your spirits with a little ginseng and guarana
    Entropia Gin is back in my life. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Looking back, it was probably always inevitable that I would fall in love with gin and tonic. I was born in post-colonial Malaysia, where G&Ts were sipped on whitewashed verandahs by men in Panama hats and linen suits. Later on, as a … Continued
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 cocktails

Gin cocktails: is this the perfect summer drink?

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Gin cocktails are getting ready for a summer flourish. As the weather starts to warm up and sunnier days are on their way, we’ll all be glad to leave the colder, wetter weather behind. We’re looking forward to stepping into the more carefree, sunnier season that lies ahead. And with the year we’ve just had with a (mostly) lost summer in 2020, we’ll all be embracing the return of normality with a spring in our step. Optimism is back and we’re looking for a better year ahead. And with the change in season comes a change in cocktail styles.
Sloe gins, gin toddies and heavier winter spiced gins are gradually being replaced with lighter, easier to drink cocktails with a more refreshing taste.

New flavours for a new season

Short drinks are becoming long ones and gin variants such as Pimms Cups and fruity gin sangrias are starting to take center stage alongside champagne cups and summer coolers. This is the time of year when we rediscover gins with flavours that we’ve forgotten over the winter months. Seasonal cocktails such as the Bramble become more and more appealing. We start to experiment with mixers such as ginger beer and elderflower so that we get the very best from our gins. It’s also the time of year when distillers release more seasonal versions of their gins with lemon, lime and grapefruit becoming increasingly popular.

A beautiful distillery tour by a rolling trout stream

So, we thought we’d share a little cocktail recipe for you to make at home. A huge thank you to the folks at Bombay Sapphire for this recipe. It’s one I have tried and tested over the last few years and it never disappoints. I discovered it on a visit to their beautiful distillery on the banks of the River Test at Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire, from where this delicious cocktail gets its name. And just a little recommendation – if you find yourself in the Hampshire area, it’s well worth a visit.

This beautiful converted paper mill is centuries old and straddles the crystal clear waters of the River Test. Beautiful trout float just below the surface, keeping a beady eye out for flies in the sky above them. The tour is one of the best around and features the history of gin, the story of botanicals and the process behind making Bombay Sapphire. They also give you a taste questionnaire to identify your favourite flavour profiles. And here’s some good news – as of 17th May, they’ll be back in business offering Covid-safe tours again. A sure sign that things are starting to return to normal.

Introducing The Laverstoke

The tour takes place in a stunningly designed glass extension that showcases their botanicals and melds beautifully into the surrounding landscape. And of course, it all culminates with a drink on the terrace of their cocktail bar overlooking the stream running alongside. This is where I first discovered The Laverstoke – in beautiful surroundings on a summer’s day. And that’s why it has become my go to drink at this time of year. Simple to make, easy to drink and exquisitely refreshing.
A big thank you to Bombay Sapphire’s head bartender, Sam Carter for coming up with this delicious drink. It combines gin, dry vermouth, elderflower liqueur and lime wedges with a deliciously refreshing ginger ale “top up” and a sprig of fresh mint. Here’s to gin, cocktails and summer skies!

Ingredients:

  • 5o ml Bombay Sapphire
  • 15 ml Martini Bianco Vermouth
  • 15 ml elderflower liqueur
  • 100 ml Fevertree ginger ale (freshly opened)
  • 2 lime wedges
  • 1 thinly cut ginger root slice
  • 1 large mint sprig

Method:

  1. Squeeze the lime wedges into a large copa glass
  2. Add the ginger root slice, elderflower cordial, Martini Bianco and gin
  3. Swirl well to mix, fill glass with ice and stir to chill
  4. Top up with ginger ale and stir gently to combine
  5. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig
  6. Kick back, slip on your shades 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 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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Ginger Tom

The Ginger Tom: a spicy twist on a cocktail classic

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Here’s a fabulous cocktail recipe based on one of the most famous gin drinks of all time. Introducing the Ginger Tom. But before we share the recipe, we thought it would be a good idea to check out the heritage and history of this delicious drink.

The Cat’s Whiskers

The Ginger Tom is one of a family of gin cocktails that have all derived from a common source: the Tom Collins.
The original Tom Collins drink actually started its life as a John Collins. Apparently, John was a waiter at the infamous Limmer’s Old House in London’s Mayfair. The drink itself dates back as far as 1876, when it was first served by John in its original format.
The original classic began as a simple recipe that combined gin, fresh lemon juice, sugar and soda water. Served in a tall glass (now known as a Collins glass) it was traditionally topped off with a maraschino cherry.
Since those early days, more than 18 variations on the Collins theme have evolved as tastes and ingredients changed over the years. But the original Tom Collins remains one of the all time classics.

The Ginger Tom

With all that choice available, it’s always hard to pick a favourite family member, but the Ginger Tom stands out.
It was adapted in 2003 from a standard Tom Collins recipe by legendary bartender, Jamie Terrell from Lab, London.
Since then it has become the stuff of gin legend! It’s full of fiery warmth and citrus sweetness. And the good news is that it’s really easy to make at home using common ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.
So, what’s in this delicious drink? Let’s take a look.

The Ginger Tom cocktail recipe

What do I need?

The first thing you need to do is to find a Collins glass (although any tall, skinny glass will do!) Then get your hands on some sliced root ginger and choose your gin (we recommend an Old Tom, of course!) The only other things you’ll need are simple syrup, lime juice and some freshly opened soda water. Sparkling mineral water will work just as well.
Here’s how easy it is to make this gorgeous drink:

Ingredients:

  • Two slices of root ginger
  • 2 shots of Old Tom gin (or your preferred choice)
  • 1 shot of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 shot of rich simple syrup (2 sugar:1 water)
  • Soda water

Method:

  1. Muddle the ginger in the base of a cocktail shaker
  2. Add two shots of gin
  3. Squeeze in fresh lime juice
  4. Add two shots of simple syrup
  5. Shake with ice and “fine strain” into a Collins glass
  6. Top up with a premium soda water
  7. Garnish it with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry on a cocktail stick
  8. Sit back and raise a glass to Tom, John and Jamie for creating this divine concoction

Sometimes the sequel can be even better than the original!



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

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gin mule

Gin-Gin Mule: a gin cocktail with a kick!

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Many of us will have heard of the legendary Moscow Mule.  It’s a classic cocktail and it’s been around forever.  It is a cocktail made with vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, garnished with a slice or wedge of lime.  The Moscow Mule is generally served in copper mugs and is one of the simplest and most delicious cocktails ever.
But what does all this have to do with gin, I hear you ask? Well, there is a special variation of this drink for gin lovers and, just like the city it was born in, it was so good, they named it twice.  It’s called (for obvious reasons), the Gin-Gin Mule.

The beautiful “love child” of a Moscow Mule and a Mojito

Invented in New York in the year 2000, this delicious drink is the beautiful love child of a Moscow Mule and a Mojito, so it has good genes! But this is more than just a change of booze.  The subtle difference is that it substitutes gin for vodka and adds the muddled mintiness of a Mojito to create a gorgeous taste and flavour combination that, in my opinion, far exceeds the beauty of its two elderly parents.
Just imagine this – a muddle of sugary mintiness at the bottom, offset by the spiciness and bubbles of a freshly opened bottle of ginger beer (we recommend Fentimans or Fever Tree) with a little citrus tartness to give it a refreshing edge and a big blast of a decent london dry gin such as Beefeater or Bombay Sapphire.

The serve

Traditionally, a Moscow Mule is served in a small, handbeaten  copper mug, but this drink works almost as well in a highball glass or a tumbler.  But the copper mug is better for sure. Not only does it look good but it adds a bit of novelty to your regular drinking approach.  And apparently, drinking from a cold copper mug maintains and even increases the bubbliness of the ginger beer, ensuring that your drink will be sparkling every time.  You can pick up a set of four of these beautiful, hand beaten copper mugs for less than £20 and guarantee that the sparkle will remain right up to the last drop.

The verdict

Wow, Gin-Gin Mule is a great drink and its parents should be proud.  No wonder this quickly became a contemporary classic when it was first introduced to customers at New York’s Pegu Club 20 years ago. Deliciously spicy and citrusy at the same time, the fresh, muddled mint takes it to another level altogether.  We cannot recommend this cocktail highly enough, but make sure you use freshly opened,  high quality ginger beer to make sure the fizz is truly fizzing!

Gin-Gin Mule recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 mint sprigs
  • 1/2 oz of fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz of simple syrup
  • 2 oz gin (Bombay Sapphire)
  • 2 ounces of high quality ginger beer (Fever Tree or Fentimans)
  • Garnish with lime wedges and a sprig of mint

Method:

  1. Muddle the mint leaves in the bottom of the mug/glass using a wooden spoon
  2. Add the lime juice, simple syrup and gin
  3. Stir to combine
  4. Add ice and fill to top with ginger beer.
  5. Stir gently
  6. Wipe the rim of the glass with a lime wedge
  7. Garnish with lime and mint (or a slice of ginger root)

gin mule

Calories per serving: 177