Monkey 47

Monkey 47: strong, complex and packed with flavour

This is the one.
Universally liked for its complex botanicals, Monkey 47’s name [paid link] celebrates its 47 ABV strength. It also draws attention to the 47 rare and distinct botanicals that pack it with all that flavour. Quite simply, it’s hard to resist. It’s also a bartender’s favourite across the world and for good reason.
Infused with all those botanicals, Monkey 47 inevitably contains some unusual ones that are indigenous to its Black Forest location.

Botanicals foraged from Black Forest

These include spruce tips, verbena, cranberries and sage amongst a whole load more. Its full flavour is reminiscent of older style Dutch gins. And it’s complexity means it goes just as well with a basic standard tonic water as it does with vermouth or bitters. As with all great gins, not only does this one taste great but it has an equally exotic back story. This one involves an RAF pilot, a monkey named Max and lots of foraging in the Black Forest.  But more of that in another post.

A thing of beauty

This is a beautiful gin in a beautiful bottle. You’ll pick up mint and eucalyptus on the nose, followed by a blast of Black Forest fruits alongside citrus notes, angelica or a hint of Oak moss. Once you get tasting it you’ll pick up all of its complexity including a blast of smoky incense and a savoury shot of sage.  All in all, this is one of the best gins out there. It works well on its own or with  a simple light tonic water, poured over ice cubes and garnished with a slice of orange, this one’s for drinking not for sharing!

Bartenders’ favourite

Almost every mixologist who knows his onions will have a bottle of “Monkey” on the shelf behind them. It regularly features on the list of best gins in the world and it’s reputation is well deserved. We think this is one of the most complex, flavour-filled, well balanced gins out there – and we can’t recommend it highly enough!

Prost!

The perfect pour:

  1. Pour 50 ml of Monkey 47 into a large copa glass.
  2. Fill the glass with large ice cubes and top up the glass with Schweppes dry tonic water.
  3. Wipe the rim with a grapefruit slice and garnish with grapefruit zest.

Yum!

 


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 palaces

Victorian gin palaces: a 19th century game changer

There aren’t many real gin palaces left in the UK these days – and that’s a pity.

When I think of a gin palace, I imagine an ornate room with high ceilings, glamorous chandeliers and “over the top” decorations. I picture long polished bars, marble tiling and oil paintings and engravings on the walls. A sense of glamour and opulence. But it was not always that way. 

In the 18th century, gin began its journey in Britain. In those days, it was sold directly to customers from what were known as “dram shops”. These were often pharmacies (since that was where much gin was made in those days). They generally sold the gin to drink as a shot to drink right there or to takeaway. Dram shops were not places to linger and soak up the atmosphere. But there was no alternative and as the price of gin plummeted, their popularity soared. 

Mother’s ruin

By the 1750s, more than 7,000 dram shops were operating in London alone, distilling up to 10 million gallons of gin per year – mostly Old Tom. In fact, in those days, the average Londoner drank around a half a pint of gin per day. Social issues increased dramatically and violence and prostitution soared.

Then, as Britain changed its licensing laws, it also changed the approach to drinking gin.

So, to control consumption, the Government imposed taxes on gin and by the late 1700s, gin consumption had massively decreased. The backstreet gin shops died out, only to pave the way for the birth of a new phenomenon – the gin palace. Distillers started making their gin in quantities. They took their inspiration from the glamorous new department stores that were starting to appear in major cities, looking for new ways to engage with their customers. 

Gin goes upmarket

In the 1820s, the gin boom really kicked off.

In fact, between 1825 and 1826, gin consumption doubled from 3.7 million barrels p.a. to 7.4 million gallons p.a. The distillers saw an opportunity to capitalise on this growth in demand and began to build the first of the gin palaces. Based on the glamorous merchandising style of the new retailers, they spared no expense in fitting out these new, upmarket drinking establishments.

The new gin palaces looked opulent and “over the top”, often built with large glass front windows and lit by gas lights. They were somewhere you wanted to stay for a while, somewhere you wanted to be seen, somewhere with a bit of glamour. They were a world away from the dingy, often violent surroundings in which gin had previously been drunk.

Adding a touch of glamour

High ceilings and ornate mirrors dominated these glorious spaces – and for the first time, customers were encouraged to sit down and enjoy their gin in these extravagant new surroundings.

Gin was poured directly into glasses from giant barrels on the walls and pretty barmaids sold it to customers over the “bar”, which was simply an evolution of the chemist shop counter where gin was originally sold.

This style became hugely popular and paved the way for the even more glamorous gin palaces and pubs of the Victorian era. Sadly, none of the original gin palaces remain, but a few glamorous and ornate Victorian pubs still exist to give you a sense of the style and opulence that they once embodied.

If you ever find yourself in London, here are a few nice places where you can spend the afternoon sipping a G&T, staring at the ornate ceiling:


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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Whitley Neill

Whitley Neill Scottish Raspberry gin: a real gin, bursting with red fruit

If any of you saw my post on our Facebook page the other day, you might know that I’m on a bit of a Whitley Neill tasting drive. I like their gins anyway, but this little bottle was courtesy of a lovely birthday gift from my sister. Well, I broke out the Whitley Neill Scottish Raspberry gin (paid link)  just the other day and I am pleased to report that it was absolutely delicious. Much better than I had expected. 

So, let me tell you all about it.

Powerful, but not overpowering

I know that Whitley Neill flavoured gins are not to everyone’s taste, but I love them. I think they’re  great value and in the past, they’ve come up with some really creative and unusual combinations.

These include rhubarb and ginger (paid link) and one of my favourites from last year, their Lemongrass and Ginger gin. So, when I opened the bottle, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. What I got was a big blast of raspberry on the nose, which I found powerful, not overwhelming – a very seductive start.  This is a full-on gin , sweet (but not too sweet!)

When I poured it (long) into my brand new Silent Pool gin tumbler (paid link), I could really smell the raspberry.

Then I loaded the glass up with giant ice cubes and filled it to the top with some standard Nordic Tonic Water. Finally, I added a slice of orange and took a long deep sip.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Big burst of “raspberry-ness”

I got a full on hit of pure Scottish raspberry – but not the kind of raspberry taste you get from a Raspberry Ripple ice cream. It was the kind you get from freshly picked raspberries from a hedgerow. It was packed full of delicious raspberry-ness. It tasted of lush, slightly over-ripe fruit, but it also had a little edge of bitterness which stopped it becoming a “bubble gum” gin.

A big blast of flavour opens the account, with a tangy fruity burst that lingers in the mouth.

The Scottish raspberries come through loud and clear and it doesn’t taste fake.

The guys at Whitley Neill have added coriander, licorice and hibiscus (amongst other botanicals) all of which give way to delicious red fruit. But it’s well balanced and not too much.

Whitley Neill first  introduced this mouth-watering gin to the Whitley Neill range in 2018 and, I’m pleased to say that it’s not as sweet as I had expected.

The perfect pour: At 43% ABV, they have not sacrificed strength or flavour. Whitley Neill seem to have the knack of producing  great gins at great prices. I highly recommend this one. Somebody has suggested that it tastes even better when paired with frozen raspberries and elderflower tonic.

I think I’ll have to give it a go.

www.whitleyneill.com

www.silentpoolgin.com


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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Negroni cocktail

Negroni: the Holy Grail!

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

All good drinks should have a story attached and this classic Negroni cocktail is no exception. 
Some time, way back in the 1920s,  Italian Count Camillo Negroni walked into a bar called Cafe Casoni in Florence looking for a drink that required freshness, acidity and a touch of bitterness.  He asked the bartender for an Americano (equal parts Martini Rosso and Campari, topped with soda water).  But he didn’t think it was quite doing the trick.  So, he took out the soda and put in a shot of gin. The rest is history.
In fact, the Negroni cocktail is the bartenders Holy Grail.
Get it right and it’s a sublime drink. Get it wrong and it can taste a little bitter.
But one thing is certain, it is a true cocktail classic – up there with the Old Fashioned (for Bourbon fans). That’s why it is so important for you to get the Negroni cocktail recipe right.

No more than 20 Negronis per day!

The Negroni  first became popular in the 1920s and has been an iconic, classic cocktail ever since. In fact, Frances Harper of London wrote a letter to the ailing Count in 1920 which was delivered to his hospital bed. It offered some valuable advice:
– “You say you can drink, smoke and laugh just as much as ever. I feel you are not too much to be pitied. You must take no more than 20 Negronis in one day!”
This classic Negroni cocktail is the perfect drink for before (and after) dinner, but (like the Count) you can drink it any time.
Welcome to the king of drinks. Here is our version of the classic, simple  Negroni cocktail recipe that the Count inadvertently created back in the 1920s.

Negroni Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Equal parts of gin, Campari and Italian red vermouth

Method:

  • Mix in an ice filled mixing glass
  • Stir gently and pour into an Old Fashioned glass or tumbler

Garnish with chunky orange wedge and drink.


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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Inflight gins: EasyJet and Fever-Tree team up with premium gin bar

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin news | 0

Last month, I found myself on an EasyJet flight to London. I’d paid a few quid extra for some for a front-row seat and was dreaming of my first gin and tonic as the cabin crew prepared their service. The flight attendant duly came to take my order. I asked what inflight gins they had.

What happened next took me by surprise. “Which gin would you like, sir? I’ll bring you the gin menu.”

Gin menu? On EasyJet? I kid you not!

I was presented with a beautifully produced, well-designed, glossy bar menu featuring high-class photos of the inflight gins, which included Bombay Sapphire, Bloom, Hendricks and The Botanist (paid links). All 50 ml bottles. All paired with specially selected Fever-Tree tonics. And all priced under €9 (including the tonic).

Now I know this isn’t cheap – but it is fun.

They even had a small section devoted to vodka and whiskey (but that’s for another blog).

So, back to the gin

I was thirsty, so I ordered two: Bloom and The Botanist.

According to the menu, The Botanist is a “small-batch Islay Dry gin, made with 22 hand-picked local botanicals, paired best with Fever Tree naturally light tonic.”

Despite the plastic airline glass, it tasted delicious. Dry and fragrant. And the lightness of the Fever-Tree tonic gave it just the right amount of zest, while allowing the complex flavours from the botanicals to shine through on the palette. It worked a treat, so I thought I’d break out the second one.

This time, I ordered Bloom, described by EasyJet as “refreshingly light and delicate, enriched with honeysuckle, chamomile and pomelo, paired best with Fever-Tree Elderflower tonic.”

This was a triumphant combination. The fruity notes from the gin were enhanced and enlivened by the subtle notes of elderflower from the tonic water, making it refreshingly easy to drink and the perfect accompaniment for my short journey between Barcelona and London.

Hats off to EasyJet and Fever-Tree for this aerial tribute to gin – and for elevating my humble budget airline seat into a true luxury experience.

Who needs a business class seat with a budget bar service like that?

 


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

Warm your cockles on a cold Autumn weekend with a Hot Gin Toddy – a hug in a mug!

posted in: Cocktails | 0

Autumn is definitely in the air and we all know that Winter is just around the corner.
So, while you’re feeling the comforting crunch of fallen leaves beneath your feet and before the cold winter wind drives you towards the mulled wine, how about something a little different – a nice warming Hot Gin Toddy to get you through the weeks between now and Christmas.
Hot gin might sound a bit weird but it’s delicious.
Why not give it a try this weekend if you need a little “gin hug” to revive your spirits..
There are some great seasonal gin cocktail recipes that are perfect for the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. They are easy to make and guaranteed to warm you up from the inside out as the nights grow colder, longer and darker.
You can even drink them from a coffee cup – nobody will ever know!
Here’s one of our favourites, a simple recipe, full of Autumn goodness and gingery warmth.
Wrap up warm, put the kettle on and enjoy.

Hot Gin Toddy Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 ginger tea bag
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 8 oz hot water
  • 1 lemon

Method:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a mug.
  2. Add 8 oz hot water.
  3. Garnish with a cinammon stick.

Cheers!


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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Toto, our Barcelona gin joint of the month

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin bar reviews | 0

Update: Toto closed in 2019. See our gin bar reviews for other great bars in Barcelona.

Imagine if you could click those ruby slippers and transport yourself to a classic cocktail bar, with a great bartender, a nice selection of gins and the best almonds in town.
You’ve just landed at Toto – one of my favourite places to sip on a gin in Barcelona (and a great place to eat as well!).
Nestled on the corner of Valencia and Balmes (in Barcelona’s elegant Eixample district) and only a block away from Barcelona’s iconic Rambla Catalunya, this is one of the classiest bars in Barcelona. Inside, it’s all art deco and modernism with a classic bar with half a dozen barstools, a stunning and well stocked selection of bottles, antique mirrors and a fab wine and cocktail list.
But the king here is Mathias, their Argentinean bartender, who will mix you up a fabulous drink of your choice. Gins behind the bar include some of the classics – Monkey 47, Gin Mare, G-Vine, Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire.

They also have a delightful little gin trolley that they can wheel out to your table and mix right in front of you. G&Ts are served in giant Barcelona style Copas, ice cubes are round and large and you can choose from Schweppes or Fever Tree tonic to give it that extra fizz. But the star of the show here is the presentation – a beautiful selection of small glass jars adorn the bar and Mathias plunders these regularly to make sure that the ingredients – from dried rosemary to chili peppers, to burned orange peel adorn your drink in the prettiest way possible while adding a unique flavour and character to each drink.

It can take a bit of time to mix one of these babies up, but it’s well worth the wait. Order up a G&T, soak up a little of that fabulous classic cocktail bar atmosphere, listen to the jazzy soundtrack and order a little plate of snacks. Their almonds are delicious, but then so is their cheese, locally sourced dried sausage and giant, juicy olives (in a jar the size of a small child, tantalisingly perched on the edge of the bar).
If you don’t fancy a G&T, then there’s a nice selection of cocktails on offer here – some gin-based and some not, but all good. Ask Mathias for a Lost in Caribbean Sea – they are to die for.  Officially, this is a vodka based drink, but ask him to substitute gin and it becomes the perfect gin cocktail. Spiced up with ginger and dried chilli peppers, it has a lovely sweet/spicy kick that’s a great way to start or end the evening.

This is a great place to sit at the bar and soak up a little classic 1920’s ambiance.
It must be good, since I sat next to Bono at the bar after a U2 gig last year. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.

For more information about Toto, click here:


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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5 beautiful gin bottles

We all know that gin is a thing of beauty, but beauty exists not only on the inside but the outside too.
Packaging is increasingly important as the gin revolution gathers pace, so here are our top 5 gins that both look good and taste good.
Let us know what you think are the most beautiful bottles out there and send us some pictures.
Here’s our personal top 5 beautiful gin bottles.

1. Silent Pool gin

A  true work of art, it reflects the colours of the legendary pool itself, nestled in the Surrey Hills in the south of England.
A pale blue wash on the bottle and a stunningly embossed exterior etched with bronze Autumn leaves (like the pool itself), it’s a real stunner. Plus, they do beautiful copa glasses to match!


2. GINRAW

As befits a city with Barcelona’s design heritage, GINRAW bottle breaks the rules with its elegant shape, subtly frosted exterior, hand-made ash wood stopper and aluminium ring to top it all.
This is a modern design classic and will stand out on any gin bar.

gin bottles


3. Opihr 

A bulbous, squat, rounded bottle with a richly coloured exterior with gold and purple and a gold cord around the top, there’s something “fez like” about this presentation.
Eye-catching, exotic and bold, it makes a statement, and that statement is “drink me”.

gin bottles


4. Beefeater 24

Its confident straight lines, heavy glass base and big blob of red glass anchoring its bottom, this is a gin bottle that looks stunning.
With a little light shining from behind and that red blob, it always reminds me of a lava lamp from the 60s.
A bottle fit for a cocktail bar (and a great gin as well).

gin bottles


5. Saffron 

A classic French bottle that feels like it’s been made for an 18th century pharmacy.
But the real star of the show is the golden orange saffron colour of the gin itself. Liquid gold, this one lets the gin do all the talking.


From all the beautiful gin bottles you’ve ever seen, which is your favourite one?
Drop us a line or even better, post a photo in Instagram tagging @barcelonagincommunity and mentioning #myfavouriteginbottle.


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 drinking countries

Gin drinking countries: the top 5 in the world

So, which are the 5 gin drinking countries in the world? Prepare to be surprised!

  1. The Philippines tops the list drinking a massive 1.4 litres of gin per person per year (almost 6 times as much per head than the USA)
  2. Slovakia comes in an impressive second place in the gin drinking table, clocking up an impressive 1.2 litres per person per year
  3. The Netherlands lands at number 3 with around one standard 70cl gin bottle per person consumed every year
  4. Spain is in 4th place and consumption is on the rise, driven by its leading role in the gin revolution, its huge copa glasses and its dramatic garnishes, Spain has elevated drinking gin in to an art form
  5. The UK comes in at a lowly number 5. Despite being synonymous with all things gin. Brits drink around 400 ml of gin per person, per year. However, let’s put this in some sort of perspective. I have many friends who could easily quaff that much in an afternoon

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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 Xoriguer

Xoriguer and 100 years of gin making in Menorca: Spanish gin, the old-fashioned way.

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin reviews | 0

Most gin lovers have already heard of Gin Mare (paid link) – probably the best known of the Spanish brands. But Spain, having changed the way the world thinks of gin, is now starting to discover a range of new gin brands to add to its traditional gin distilleries. This new attention is also helping to revive the fortunes of some older Spanish gin brands that have been around for a long time.
One of these is Gin Xoriguer, made by Destilerias Xoriguer on the tiny and beautiful island of Menorca, set like a glittering jewel in the beautiful Balearics – it’s the perfect setting for a gin and tonic.

Gin and Menorca

Not something you would always connect, but there is a reason why this little distillery exists.
In the mid-18th century, Menorca was briefly under Dutch and British rule and the locals were encouraged to make gin to keep the naval forces happy. At one stage, there were 5 distilleries on the island, producing a diverse range of gins, but now there’s just one.
In 1910, master distiller Miguel Gusto established a little distillery on the harbour front of Mahon and the Xoriguer distillery is still making 60,000 litres of Mahon gin every year along with a couple of budget gins and almost a dozen local island liqueurs.

Tasting notes

This local gin doesn’t get much airplay outside of the island and is heavily juniper dominant. In fact, that’s the only botanical they use in their domestic version. The berries, hand picked from the Pyrenees, are stored in hampers for a couple of years to concentrate the oils before being macerated and added to the neutral grape based spirit.

While the ingredients and the process are simple and the product perhaps lacks some of the complexity of a Monkey 47 or a Silent Pool, it packs a big juniper punch with a hint of pine sap and a soft, oily palate. Peppery and with a hint of tobacco, it’s a great drink to sip on while watching the sun set over the Mediterranean, nibbling on local cheese and sucking on plump, juicy giant olives.

Drink it with tonic, by all means.

But to drink it like a local, have a “Pomada”, traditionally made by mixing the gin with freshly squeezed local lemon juice. And at only 38% ABV, you can afford to have a couple of them!

 


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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