Gin Gazpacho

Gin Gazpacho: for when the heat is on!

When the heat is on and you just want something light, healthy and easy for lunch you could do worse than reach for a chilled bowl of home made Gazpacho soup.  But we started thinking about making this traditional Spanish summer soup with the help of a little gin, so we began looking for recipes from similar minds. And apparently Gin Gazpacho is not such a crazy idea after all.

Breaking the rules

I know the purists amongst my Spanish friends may throw their hands up in the air in horror at this untraditional approach, but trust me, Gin Gazpacho is delicious. The perfect, refreshing dish to take away your hunger on a hot summer’s day.  And the beauty of this (almost) guilt free lunch is that it’s easy to make and packed with healthy, natural Mediterranean goodness. But sometimes you have to break the rules. In another break with tradition, we’ve switched the traditional croutons for an easy to make olive biscuit that gives this liquid lunch a little extra body.

And then, for the all important gin kick, we’ve gone in with a Gin Mare, in keeping with our Spanish connection – and because it’s a damned good gin!

What is it about Gazpacho that makes it so special?

Originally from the far south of Spain, this Andalusian classic is basically a cold soup made with raw, blended vegetables and it’s now most widely eaten in Spain and Portugal.  While there are dozens of variations across the country and around the world, it is a refreshingly cool lunch. Sort of like a thicker Bloody Mary but without the booze.  Except for this recipe that unapologetically puts the booze right back in. 

Most traditional Gazpacho recipes include stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt and vinegar.  In the 19th century, the locals in Cordoba, Seville and Granada added tomatoes – and that’s how the most famous version has been ever since.  Although, it’s not uncommon these days to find versions made with watermelon, cucumbers and even strawberries.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at this recipe and get you going.

Gin Gazpacho recipe

INGREDIENTS:

For the gazpacho:

  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 large yellow pepper
  • ½ large red onion
  • ⅓ large cucumber
  • 3-4 very ripe vine tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 250ml cold water
  • 50ml Gin Mare
  • Salt and pepper

For the Kalamata biscuits:

  • 200g organic rolled oats
  • 140g plain flour
  • 140g cold butter, diced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 50g Kalamata olives, finely chopped and patted dry
  • Hot water, as needed

Method:

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus at least one hour chilling

Cooking time: 20 minutes Serves 8 as tapas

For the gazpacho:

  1. Remove the seeds from the peppers and set aside a 1.5cm strip of each for the garnish. Roughly chop the remainder.
  2. Set aside about one-sixth of the onion for the garnish and roughly chop the remainder.
  3. Set aside a 2cm piece of the cucumber for the garnish and peel and chop the remainder.
  4. Place all the chopped vegetables in a bowl.
  5. Add the tomatoes, garlic, oil and vinegar. Lightly season, cover with the water and place in fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.
  6. Remove from the fridge and, using a food processor, blend until smooth.
  7. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Keep chilled until required.
  8. Finely dice the vegetables that were set aside and mix together.
  9. Before serving, stir in the Gin Mare.

Serve in a small bowl or glass with a teaspoon of the diced vegetables on top and the olive biscuits on the side.

For the Kalamata biscuits:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°c/gas 6.
  2. Put all the dry ingredients except the olives and water in the bowl of a food processor.
  3. Gently blend until the butter is incorporated. Add the olives. On a low speed, slowly add hot water until a soft ‘dough’ is formed. Transfer to a floured surface and roll out until approx. 3-4mm thick.
  4. Cut out biscuits in the desired size and shape (we make 24 6cm biscuits from this amount) and place on a baking tray.
  5. Work quickly and avoid re-rolling the mixture too many times.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown.

Remember, you can make these biscuits in advance, as long as you store them in an airtight container.  They’re also delicious with cheese and paté. And a large Gin Mare and tonic – of course!
And we’ve chosen Gin Mare for a reason. With its unusual botanicals including wild juniper berries, Arbequina olives, basil, thyme and rosemary, it’s the perfect complement to this twist on a traditional dish. And it’s also one of our favourite Spanish gins, packed to the brim with the savoury flavours of the Mediterranean.


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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Franklin & Sons

Franklin & Sons: mixing it up with a good tonic water

There was a time when choosing a tonic water was really simple. Historically, there were only a few major brands on the market and most of those had been changed beyond all recognition from their original recipes. As tonic water became a mass consumption product in the hands of the big corporates, the recipes changed and more sugar was added, which radically altered their taste. Artificial flavours began to appear alongside a list of chemicals and artificial ingredients as long as your arm. 
And then along came the craft gin revolution, which changed everything and helped tonic water to rediscover its roots. A certain brand saw a gap in the market and made this their clarion call: If 75% of your drink is tonic, make it a good one. 

And they had a point.

Welcome to Franklin & Sons

Since then, there has been an explosion of new tonic water brands and a renaissance of some old ones. We are almost at the point where there’s too much variety on the market. 
So many choices and flavours everywhere we look that sometimes it’s just hard to make the right choice. But it’s an important choice – as they say, why ruin a great drink with an average mixer?
So, we thought we’d help you out a little.  Over the years, we’ve tried many of the famous mixers out there and the jury is in. We have a current favorite.  Welcome to Franklin & Sons.

135 years of experience

Never heard of them?
Well they’ve been around for 135 years and here’s their story.  There were three Franklin brothers – all confectioners by trade.  Inspired by their Dad, who returned to London from the United States in 1886 with tales of innovative carbonated drinks, they decided they’d give it a go at their little sweetshop in Rickmansworth.  And all these years later, they’re still making a premium range of tonics and mixers that will add flavour, sparkle (and a touch of class) to whatever gin you’re drinking. They source only the finest ingredients and hand pick their fruits at the perfect point to ensure maximum flavour.  

Exceptional ingredients

Wherever possible, they use local fruit, roots and herbs in support of their local farming communities. Plus, it’s the best way to make a mixer – fresh and by hand.  They pride themselves on using exceptional ingredients and they only use natural flavours, extracts and colours. And they never use sweeteners or preservatives. The result is a delicious and unique range of mixers and soft drinks that have won industry awards all over the world.  

According to Alf (their irrepressible Brand Ambassador) all Franklin and Sons drinks use only natural extracts and colours. And they never include artificial flavours or sweeteners, so you can always be sure of a clean, natural taste. It all started with a home made ginger beer. Now there is a full range with something to suit all tastes.

It’s only natural….

Franklin and Sons’ range of mixers are made from the finest ingredients using natural spring water from Staffordshire, England. The high mineral content of this water makes it the perfect base to bring out the natural flavours and botanicals in the spirits. The result is one of the cleanest, crispest and most natural tonic waters around. The Franklin and Sons range has been awarded 5 stars at The Great Taste Awards (the Oscars of the food industry). The tastings were done blind and the results speak for themselves.

The taste test

Recently, on a visit to our friends at Corpen gin, we had a tasting of the Franklin & Sons range right here in Barcelona. They are now available in 56 countries around the world.  In addition to their classic Indian Tonic water, we tried some of their other award winning drinks.  With more than 15 flavours available, we can’t review them all. But we’ve picked out a few favourites – the ones that we think will go best with a high quality gin.

Franklin & Sons: the verdict

Natural Indian tonic water

This was a delight. The light effervescence of the Staffordshire spring water is mixed with Ecuadorean Cinchona bark and British sugar. The result is a crisp, clear tonic with a subtle bitterness that is carried across the palette by natural carbonation. This is a great tasting, natural and pure tonic water. It rightly belongs in a classic G&T, preferably a classic London Dry gin such as Sipsmith. With the perfect blend of fizz and flavour, this will elevate any good gin to a higher place. Pure class in a glass!

Natural Light tonic water

This one uses the same ingredients as the regular tonic water, but it relies on only half the sugar. The result is an easy to drink mixer with a slightly more bitter edge to it. We think it works really well with floral gins such as Silent Pool or Bloom. You could also use it as a mixer for sweeter gins such as Old Tom – its natural bitterness offers a nice counterbalance.

Sicilian Lemon tonic water

Now this is where things change up a gear. This unique blend of Staffordshire spring water and gently pressed whole Sicilian lemons is a revelation. They use all the peel and flesh of the fruit ensuring that every last drop of zesty oil is captured and the flavour balance is just the right blend of sweet and sour. This works really well with a traditional London Dry gin such as No.3 London Dry and it even peps up a Sloe gin, if you’re in the mood for something a bit different.

The Flavour Collection

Franklin & Sons have recently introduced their Flavour Collection with four unique dual-flavoured mixers made to the same high standards as their normal tonic waters. Developed in collaboration with some of the world’s best mixologists, each one has been specially created to complement the best spirits in the world and are highy carbonated to lift the lid on the most delicate flavours.

Pink Grapefruit Tonic with Bergamot

Grapefruit gins seem to be having a moment right now, so this blend of natural sparkling spring water, natural bergamot and pink grapefruit which results in a high quality, citrusy mixer that suits floral gins such as JJ Whitley Elderflower gin or tea-based gins such as Drumshambo, which will help to bring the bergamot to the fore.

Rosemary Tonic with Black Olive

This is the one that stands out from the crowd. Rosemary Tonic water with Black Olive has a gorgeous, savoury, briny taste that is unmistakably unique. Its savoury notes make it the perfect match for both savoury gins such as Gin Mare and sweeter gins such as Haymans Old Tom. It has a unique flavour that brings you immediately back to the Mediterranean making you think of olive groves, al fresco dining and good times. This was unusual and stunning and we can’t recommend it highly enough!

Rhubarb Tonic Water with Hibiscus

For those who enjoy a bit of tartness, this Rhubarb Tonic Water with Hibiscus offers the perfect balance. The sharpness of the rhubarb is tempered by the subtle sweetness of the hibiscus flower. This pink-hued tonic works really well in spiced gins or ginger-flavoured gins. We think it could be a perfect match for Ophir lovers, but we’re sure you’ll find the pairing you like best.

Elderflower Tonic water with Cucumber

This one is quite unique – a subtle blend of elderflower, tonic water and cucumber which manages to be both light and naturally sweet. The result is a refreshing tonic water that brings the best out of any mixed drink. It has a hint of cucumber sweetness that cuts through the bitterness of the quinine making it the perfect match for citrus forward gins that favour lemon, lime or grapefruit notes. we think this is a perfect match for a summer citrus gin such as Malfi Limone from Italy

So, there we go – a fantastic, natural mixer range designed for gin lovers. It’s time for the tasting to begin. And when we’ve worked our way through this little lot, we can’t wait to try their ginger beer and ginger ale. But that’s another story, for another day.


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

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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gin mussels

Gin mussels – flexing your tastebuds

We all know how versatile gin can be and increasingly it is appearing in more and more interesting recipes. With so many complex ingredients and unique flavours, a carefully chosen gin can add layers of undiscovered flavour to traditional dishes that would have probably been unthinkable only a few years ago.
But as the gin revolution has accelerated and gastronomy has gone mainstream, the two world’s have collided with some interesting results.

Creamy, bacon sauce, fresh mussels and rosemary

Over the last year, Barcelona Gin has shared a selection of gin recipes to delight the senses. From gin venison casserole to orange gin drizzle cake and from gin ice cream to gin scampi, we’ve found some great recipes that are packed with flavour, delicious to taste and easy to make. But here’s something we haven’t explored: gin and mussels.
The UK mussel season used to last from winter to mid March. But these days, it seems to be extending, so good, fresh, plump mussels are more accessible than ever. As we’re still on the edge of prime season, we thought we’d share this delicious recipe which calls for a large dose of gin to bring it properly to life.

We’ve hunted down a delicious, creamy gin-fuelled mussels recipe that features the compulsory gin and mussels alongside the smoky richness of bacon, the herbal spice of thyme and rosemary, the savoury taste of celery and the comforting richness of cream to finish it off.
We think you’ll like it – it’s really easy to make, absolutely delicious and you can do it all in 10 easy steps.

Add a dash of gin…

We suggest that you pair this with Spain’s delicious Gin Mare (to dial up those rosemary notes) or try it with a creamy gin to add richness and depth to the dish. You could also try our old favourite, Bertha’s Revenge or branch out into the Scottish islands with the beautiful Tobermory Hebridean gin (with a dash of local whisky to add a little depth).

Gin Mussels recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 kg fresh mussels
  • 4 shallots
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 4 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 50g butter
  • Thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, red chili
  • 2 sticks of celery (plus leaves)
  • Ground paprika
  • Hot chili powder
  • 200 ml gin
  • 100 ml cream

Method:

  1. Clean mussels in cold water and remove the “beards”
  2. Scrub the shells and soak them in cold water to remove any grit
  3. Finely chop the onion, garlic, chili and bacon and fry in the butter
  4. Tie the herbs in a bunch and add to the pan
  5. Stir the pan to ensure the herbs are covered in butter
  6. Add the gin, cream, chopped celery sticks, chili powder and paprika
  7. Simmer to reduce and thicken the sauce
  8. Add mussels and celery leaves
  9. Cover and steam for 3-4 minutes until mussels have opened up
  10. Serve in bowls, pouring extra sauce over the top.

Serve with chunks of crusty bread and a strong G&T – and dig in!


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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