gin punch

Gin punch: a giant cocktail served in a bowl

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

We all like a cocktail. But 200 years before the term was invented, we had to resort to other creative ways of getting our alcohol fix. In those days, there were no cocktail glasses, fancy recipes or bartender’s tools in those days – so they turned to punch! In its earliest days, in the 18th century, a typical punch would contain ingredients that were considered exotic for the time. Often, these would include fruits that seem normal to us now, but which were extremely rare and expensive three centuries ago.
These included rare treats such as oranges from Asia, fragrant spices from the East and sugar, all the way from the Caribbean, which became the perfect match for the strong flavours of rum and brandy. The trouble was that rum and brandy were very expensive. On the other hand, English gin was increasingly affordable. It wasn’t long before gin became recognised as a better value concoction than some of its contemporary spirits and that was when it entered the mainstream world of punch.

A drink for the middle classes

The relative accessibility and affordability of gin quickly made punch more accessible to the burgeoning English middle classes.
However, strangely enough, the 18th century reveals no published gin punch recipes at all. According to a contemporaneous journal, “a hornful of punch should be administered to cattle in a bid to cure their distemper”. This is a clear indication that in those early days punch was initially considered something of low quality and not of much use to actual humans. However, towards the end of the 18th century, reports of its human medicinal qualities began to appear alongside suggestions that it could help to treat a variety of ailments. Gin Punch was soon believed to be a cure-all for everything from dissolving kidney stones, to curing Berri-Berri. It was also (bizarrely) considered a great way to encourage toxins to leave the body efficiently, in the form of sweat.

1776: the punch revolution

In 1776, at around the same time as the American’s were plotting their revolution, diarist James Boswell wrote (after a particularly good night on the town) that he: “drank rather too much gin punch. It was a new experience to me and I liked it much”.
By the end of the 18th century gin punch had elevated itself from its humble position at the heart of the local gin palace, into something more fitting. This elevation made it suitable for the more sophisticated and rarified atmosphere of London’s gentleman’s clubs. Stalwarts such as the Garrick or Limmer’s Hotel became the places that finally established punch as a popular and respectable, middle class drink. In fact, one of the first gin recipes at the turn of the 18th century, sounds rather nice (but very strong):
two pints of gin, oranges, lemons, orange sugar syrup and white wine.

Punch goes upmarket

A few decades later, London’s Garrick Club added a new twist to its own “house punch” – soda water. The original Garrick Club Punch recipe called for:

half a pint of gin, lemon peel, lemon juice, sugar, maraschino, a pint and a quarter of water and two bottles of iced soda water.

It didn’t take very long for its fame to spread around London and before you know it, punches and punch bowls were popping up everywhere. Over time, these punches evolved into more complex single serve variants which were popularised by Americans in the 1870s. They gave them personal names such as the John Collins and the classic Tom Collins. By the end of the century, punch had been truly established in English culture and English Dry Gin had become a mainstay of many of the best punches. But why is punch served in a punch bowl?

Why is punch served in a bowl?

It’s simple, really. As strong punch loosened inhibitions, it helped reserved Englishmen come out of their shell. It helped them to add a little well-lubricated wit to social gatherings, political discussions and business occasions. Drinking punch was always a fabulous social occasion and gathering around the punch bowl ended up becoming the popular focus for many a high spirited evening, loosening inhibitions and encouraging conviviality, conversation and sharing in a way that had never been seen before.

From simple punch bowl to sophisticated cocktails

These days, punches have fallen out of fashion, but that’s a real shame since these simple-to-make, sociable drinks can be a lot of fun. And they can be deceptively strong. Over the years, people’s tastes evolved once more and the simple punch bowl morphed slowly into the next big alcoholic fad in the 19th century – cocktails. Bartenders began to mix drinks to suit their specific customers and the approach to alcohol became increasingly bespoke and sophisticated. Now, the cocktail is definitely king – of that there is no doubt. But there are still some great gin punches out there – and it would be a great shame to let this fabulously simple tradition die out. Check out our recent article on a classic New Year’s Eve punch. And here’s another variant on the gin punch for when the weather gets a bit better.

Gin Punch recipe

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Cut and combine all the fruits into a large punchbowl
  2. Add the gin, juice, syrups, creme de framboise (or alternative fruit liqueur) and water
  3. Refrigerate for 4-5 hours
  4. Before serving: add ice, fill to top with cava and stir
  5. Ladle into punch glasses with plenty of fruit (and ice)
  6. Repeat frequently!


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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Four apoteca gin bottles on green moss in a wood

Apoteca Festive Spiced gin: the spirit of Christmas

Everybody’s on the Christmas bandwagon now and with the holiday frenzy likely to be slightly muted this year, we though we’d share with you a unique craft gin that’s sure to add a little seasonal spice to this year’s gin bar. Apoteca Festive Spiced Gin might even become this year’s top tipple.

The folks at Honey Spirits Co. have taken their award winning Apoteca original gin and given it a festive twist, just in time for the holidays.

The result: a fun and flavourful gin blending the natural sweetness of honey with the seasonal tastes of cranberries, damsons, elderberry and winter spices.

If you’re looking for something a little different for the holidays, you might enjoy a glass or two of this seasonal spirit. It has a superb balance of rich Christmas flavours overlaying a rich, herbal juniper complexity. Apoteca Festive Spiced gin comes in a 50cl bottle and packs a decent alcoholic punch at 40% ABV.

Apoteca Festive Spiced Gin

Hello honey…

The award winning Honey Spirits Co. is a relative newcomer to the craft gin scene, but it’s been quickly building a strong reputation for itself. The story begins in a little village called Flagg, up in England’s stunning Peak District. That is where the honey magic happens.

This small family business was only launched in 2017, but it always had one clear objective in mind: create a selection of high quality products including spirits and meads without the use of artificial sweeteners, colours or additives. What makes this distillery stand out is that they only sweeten their spirits using honey or bee-based ingredients. They infuse these alongside a range of exotic botanicals that have been foraged in the UK and Lithuania.

Apoteca Festive Spiced Gin: 22 botanicals, bee-bread and a damson twist

Apoteca’s special edition gin is unusual in that it is built on a rye base. It is then lovingly distilled with a blend of 22 botanicals including the obligatory juniper plus unique ingredients such as bee-bread and propolis (to give a honey aroma without the sweetness). There are also herbal elements delivered by wormwood and St. John’s wort. There’s some sea buckthorn for a lemony citrus effect and even oak bark to help balance things out with a dry finish. Look out for other botanicals including hints of cinnamon, chamomile, mint and even blackcurrant leaves.

For the Apoteca Festive Spice Gin, they’ve pumped up this wonderful mixture with a selection of festive fruits such as damsons, elderberries and winter spices. The result: a superb Christmas drink to add some seasonal spice to your holiday sipping.

The perfect pour: This drink can be sipped on its own or poured into a highball glass filled with ice and topped up with some high quality ginger ale. Garnish with a slice or fresh orange.


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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overhead image with oranges, spices like cinnamon, pepper, raisins, a jar with honey and a mug with a hot drink

Hot Gin Toddy: a true winter warmer

The nights are dark and long, the summer feels like a different century and it’s way too cold to be thinking about a frozen cocktail.  But there’s still gin to be drunk.

So, what do you do on those cold evenings when you’re huddled around the fire trying to stay warm.  What’s the drink you want to put into your flask and sip on while watching your kids play winter sports or while walking in the woods with you family and friends?  These are the moments when you want to reach for a warming, invigorating hot drink, spiked with a little booze.

Most of the time, when the words “hot toddy” are used they are referring to a whisky-based drink.  But, since the gin revolution, all that has changed forever.  Gin is now available in both hot and cold.  This easy- to- make recipe warms you up from the inside out and it’s the perfect way to bring out those winter flavours of honey, orange, booze and cinnamon sticks. We recommend using a complex orange gin for this such as Tanqueray Sevilla (paid link), Silent Pool citrus gin (paid link) or Tarquins (paid link).

Plus, this is one of the easiest drinks you could ever make, packed with alcoholic flavour and wintery spice. And you can knock one of these up in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea!

TOP TIP: great for breakfast before (or after) a long winter’s walk. Just put it into a plain coffee mug and nobody will ever know!

Hot Gin Toddy recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 1 oz gin
  • ¼ cup of hot water
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Orange slice

Method:

  1. Pour gin, honey and orange juice into a large mug
  2. Top up with hot water
  3. Stir honey in until dissolved
  4. Garnish with cinnamon stick and orange slice

And now, enjoy your Gin Toddy!


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 Sea: born in London, raised in Spain
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gin news

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

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin news | 0

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

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

A loyal soldier and a royal toast

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

gin news

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

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

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

gin news

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

gin news

Christmas is coming…

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

gin news

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

More from the gin dog next month!


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

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


RECENT POSTS

  • The Ruddles Report: February 2021 Gin News
    Ruddles has been at it again. As the hairy “face” of Barcelona Gin, he’s very easy to like – and his opinions carry weight. He’s lent his marketing power to a few Barcelona Gin posts recently and every time, they beat all our records for engagement. We think he’s our secret weapon. That’s why, in … Continued
  • Gin Sea: born in London, raised in Spain
    Gin Sea’s 5-times distilled base spirit is sourced from England and imported directly to Manuel Barrientos’ little gin project in Galicia. All the best gins start with the best ingredients and this is no exception. It’s the highest quality neutral grain spirit around and is sourced overseas before a touch of Galician magic is added … Continued
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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.


RECENT POSTS

  • The Ruddles Report: February 2021 Gin News
    Ruddles has been at it again. As the hairy “face” of Barcelona Gin, he’s very easy to like – and his opinions carry weight. He’s lent his marketing power to a few Barcelona Gin posts recently and every time, they beat all our records for engagement. We think he’s our secret weapon. That’s why, in … Continued
  • Gin Sea: born in London, raised in Spain
    Gin Sea’s 5-times distilled base spirit is sourced from England and imported directly to Manuel Barrientos’ little gin project in Galicia. All the best gins start with the best ingredients and this is no exception. It’s the highest quality neutral grain spirit around and is sourced overseas before a touch of Galician magic is added … Continued
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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.


RECENT POSTS

  • The Ruddles Report: February 2021 Gin News
    Ruddles has been at it again. As the hairy “face” of Barcelona Gin, he’s very easy to like – and his opinions carry weight. He’s lent his marketing power to a few Barcelona Gin posts recently and every time, they beat all our records for engagement. We think he’s our secret weapon. That’s why, in … Continued
  • Gin Sea: born in London, raised in Spain
    Gin Sea’s 5-times distilled base spirit is sourced from England and imported directly to Manuel Barrientos’ little gin project in Galicia. All the best gins start with the best ingredients and this is no exception. It’s the highest quality neutral grain spirit around and is sourced overseas before a touch of Galician magic is added … Continued
  • The Ginger Tom: a spicy twist on a cocktail classic
    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 … Continued
  • Botanicals: gin’s secret stars
    Why is gin so different to vodka or any other white spirit? What makes gin so special? Well, the secret lies in the botanicals. What are these botanicals and why are they so important? And how exactly do they turn a colourless, odourless, tasteless liquid into one of the most versatile and exciting spirits on … Continued
Barcelona cocktail bars

Barcelona cocktail bars: Dry Martini, Solange and Tandem

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

Looking for Barcelona cocktail bars? Then head to the city’s cocktail corner, on the corner of Aribau and Corcega, and enjoy the best Barcelona has to offer without moving a block. For starters, head to the king of Barcelona cocktail bars, the Dry Martini. There you could be forgiven for think you’ve just entered a time machine and ended up in the sophisticated 1930s (with the occasional time warp nod to the 1970s).  

This is without doubt the high end of Barcelona’s cocktail scene. It comes complete with white jacketed waiters, sophisticated cocktail bars and even a hidden Speakeasy.

Within a few hundred feet, you will find easy access to some of the coolest places in town for a quiet drink, a romantic liaison or just a casual encounter over your favourite gin-based beverage.

So, purely in the interests of science, we thought we’d try them out and let you know what we think.


Dry Martini, the king of Barcelona cocktail bars

A classic among Barcelona cocktail bars, often appearing in the top 10 lists of best bars in the world, Dry Martini is like stepping back in time. The bar is a decent size with panelled walls, leather chairs and banquettes. It has a long bar, retro and classic artwork and a jazzy, 1930s vibe. As the name suggests, it has become famous because of its excellent Dry Martinis (gin is best, obviously). And it even has a digital counter clocking up in real time every Dry Martini served.

Waiters are in white jackets, food is of the elegant tapas variety and prices match the salubrious atmosphere. In addition to classic martinis, they have a good selection of gins served up in classic tumblers. Schweppes Premium tonic water (paid link) is standard.

The clientele is generally well heeled. But on the night of our visit, there was a mixture of affluent locals, curious tourists and cocktail fanatics sitting at the bar.

This place gets busy, especially later, so get there early for a seat. Service can be a bit patchy. But if you’re patient, you’ll get a well-made gin and tonic, a classic evening and a great cocktail. And if you’re in the mood and can get a table, try out the Speakeasy restaurant. It’s hidden behind a door in the panelled wall. Another connection to the 1930s.

Tanqueray 10

We started off the evening with a round of Tanqueray 10s (paid link). The drinks came with tonic, garnished modestly with a thinly sliced lemon wheel and poured down a “gin spoon” over large lumps of cocktail ice.

This seemed like a good choice to start off with at Dry Martini, since it was specifically blended to go into one. But we thought we’d see what it works like in a normal G&T. And we all thought they were excellent and set a good benchmark.

The waiter brought all the G&Ts to the table and presented them on a small tray, free poured direct to the glass. And with a decent measure of gin in each.

We all agreed that it was a great way to start the evening. Tanqueray 10 was especially created as the perfect gin for a Dry Martini, so we were in the right place. We enjoyed the citrus notes, the lime and grapefruit and the heavy juniper, all balanced nicely with the creaminess of the chamomile and the savoury notes from the coriander.

Afterwards, we ordered a round of different gin cocktails, some of which we had never tried or heard of before. Here are our thoughts:

The Foxtrot 

The Foxtrot  was the most refreshing and aromatic of our drinks. What made it special was the roof of frozen tonic and lime that brought out the citrus notes of orange and grapefruit and the powerful lime zestiness.

As we drank it, the lime came through loud and clear. For some of us it had notes of mojito. For others it was a bigger hit of lime, similar to a gimlet, which receded after the ice had started to melt, resulting in a better balanced and blended drink that retained its characteristic citrus sharpness.

Either way, it was delicious and one of our favourites of the evening.

Star of Bombay 

Bombay Sapphire’s flagship gin, Star of Bombay, like the others, arrived at the table with great fanfare. It ended up being one of our favourites of the evening.

Served in the standard Dry Martini tumblers with plenty of ice, it was also (bizarrely) served with a single chocolate (courtesy of the marketing team at Bombay Sapphire). This was a mistake and didn’t seem to go with the gin at all. We picked up a saltiness to this gin (alongside the citrussy taste) which just didn’t work with the gimmicky chocolate. But we concluded that this gin would be delicious on a hot summers day, sipping slowly at a little chiringuito or beach bar on the nearby Med.

Porte des Indes

This was the most disappointing of the gins we tried at Dry Martini.

While it received the same presentational treatment as the others, it lacked any distinctive flavour and competed with the Schweppes tonic water for taste. It was also slightly less carbonated than the other drinks (maybe a result of the stirring at the table). The overall impression was to make the drink taste like diet tonic.

Won’t be rushing back for this one (but their strawberry version is delicious).

Bloomsbury 

Bloomsbury gin was not bad at all, but definitely not the best that we had this evening.

Made by Tanqueray, it is the latest of their Limited-Edition gins. And to us it felt like it was tangy, dry, citrussy with floral notes that smelled almost like lavender. The angelica bark, cassia and juniper add some woody notes to the smell. But when added to Schweppes tonic water, it became almost piny with a pleasant bitterness that lasted until the bottom of the glass.

Note: Dry Martini also runs a cocktail school. Plus it has opened a Dry Martini terrace next door. Sign up to our blogs if you’re interested in knowing their tricks and secrets.


Solange

Right across the street from Dry Martini is one of the latest additions to the Barcelona cocktail bars scene: Solange.

Solange sits on the opposite corner, looking out at its more well-known neighbour. But this place is cosy, intimate, jazzy and sophisticated (in a sort of 1970s, chicken Kiev kind of way).

The gin selection is awesome. It features prominently on their bar display with some established brands and some more unusual ones all waiting there, tempting you to try them out.

Speak to the head bartender and you’ll find he has history: some of the Savoy bar staff popped in to check things out on my last visit there. This is a classic place with a growing reputation. And while it might be trying too hard for some people’s tastes, it’s ideal for a pre-dinner drink or a post-dinner nightcap. Or, frankly, anything in between. One thing is for sure. This is a place that takes real pride in every drink they pour. And it shows.

Talk to the knowledgeable staff about any cocktail and they’ll happily share their insight and knowledge with you while offering handy tips about things to do in Barcelona.

This is probably my favourite bar in town. It’s not cheap, but worth every penny if you want a sophisticated haven to escape the Barcelona heat in the Summer or for a warming drink in the winter.

Il Gin del Professore

Monsieur The Professor gin was dry, citrussy with notes of lemon peel. It tasted like a proper gin. Plus it had a slightly bitter edge, which reminded us of lime marmalade or bitter orange. It was Juniper dominant. And after a few sips, its spicy, aromatic side came through which worked well with the cardamom camomile, cinnamon and vanilla. Soft, with jammy feel in the mouth. We loved it

Delicious!

Old Raj 

Old Raj gin was a classic gin with loads of botanicals, including juniper, citrus, coriander, cassia. It had a slight golden tint delivered by a hint of saffron.

Served with a twist of lemon rind, it was slightly bitter. But we felt it lacked some of the structure and complexity of other gins available.

All in all, it was a bit disappointing bitter due to its lack of depth and neutral flavour balance.


Tandem

Tandem was the last of the classic Barcelona cocktail bars on our list. But it was definitely last but not least. In fact, all four of us (and I swear it wasn’t just the gin kicking in) said it was our favourite.

With some of the classic pedigree of Dry Martini, but less of the slightly tourist touristy vibe of Solange, this felt like it was an old school cocktail bar that has got it just about right.

A long bar, 1930s artwork and atmospheric lighting add to the art deco mood. And while we weren’t able to access a menu, the gin selection is extensive. And they know their stuff.

All the range

Our waitress guided us to the gin wall where we selected four gins that we had never tried before and we were delighted with the results. The crowd was low key and happy and it felt like this was tapping into the local neighbourhood for many of its customers. Classy and full of charm, this is the bee’s knees, the top banana and the dog’s bollocks all rolled into one.

You get the feeling that this place is the sort of place you stumble across once and then make a pilgrimage time and time again to get more. The music was low key, the crowd were chilled out and the bar staff were the most knowledgeable.

While Dry Martini felt like it had become a bit of a business and might be resting on its reputation, and Solange looks like it’s parked its tanks on the lawn opposite to stake its claim and build its reputation, the easy ambiance and relaxed vibe of Tandem felt like we’d discovered the real deal. Definitely our top pick for a classic cocktail bar and one of the best Barcelona cocktail bars to drink gin in.

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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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    Why is gin so different to vodka or any other white spirit? What makes gin so special? Well, the secret lies in the botanicals. What are these botanicals and why are they so important? And how exactly do they turn a colourless, odourless, tasteless liquid into one of the most versatile and exciting spirits on … Continued
Gin made from milk: Bertha's Revenge

A gin made of milk: Bertha’s Revenge

posted in: Gin and Juniper, Gin reviews | 1

In our relentless quest to find the most unusual and interesting gins from around the world, let us introduce you to Bertha, her revenge, and a gin made from milk.

Bertha was a lovely cow from the beautiful green fields of Co. Kerry in Ireland. She lived a happy life, chomping her way through the famous green grass of her homeland. She was so well looked after that she lived to the ripe old age of 48. By the time she passed on to chomp on the Elysian fields, she had become the world’s oldest cow. She gave birth to a staggering 39 calves over her lifetime.

She became a living legend in Ireland and her memory now lives on in Bertha’s Revenge (paid link), a fantastic, flavour packed small batch gin made by the Ballyvolane House Spirits Company. They have honoured her existence by creating a unique Irish gin made from (wait for it…) milk.

A gin made from milk?

Using whey alcohol from Irish dairy farmers, this is a delicious drink full of complex flavours. It incorporates a formidable mix of locally foraged and grown botanicals including many of the usual suspects (and some unusual ones such as sweet woodruff, elderflower, almond). Plus it lists ingredients such as “love”, “laughter” and “childish enthusiasm”. But don’t try pouring it on your cornflakes, since it packs a decent punch at 42% ABV.

But all the clever marketing in the world can’t disguise a bad gin, so what’s this gin made from milk like?

We had a little gathering to find out and in a blind test of four of our favourite small batch gins, this was our runaway favourite with an unanimous four out of four tasters making it their top choice. Why don’t you try it too and let us know what you think?

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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.


RECENT POSTS

  • The Ruddles Report: February 2021 Gin News
    Ruddles has been at it again. As the hairy “face” of Barcelona Gin, he’s very easy to like – and his opinions carry weight. He’s lent his marketing power to a few Barcelona Gin posts recently and every time, they beat all our records for engagement. We think he’s our secret weapon. That’s why, in … Continued
  • Gin Sea: born in London, raised in Spain
    Gin Sea’s 5-times distilled base spirit is sourced from England and imported directly to Manuel Barrientos’ little gin project in Galicia. All the best gins start with the best ingredients and this is no exception. It’s the highest quality neutral grain spirit around and is sourced overseas before a touch of Galician magic is added … Continued
  • The Ginger Tom: a spicy twist on a cocktail classic
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Cotton House Hotel roof terrace

The Cotton House roof terrace in Barcelona

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

Following our colonial theme, try out the Cotton House Hotel roof terrace for a classic colonial vibe, sipping a nice G&T looking up at the rooftops of Barcelona.

We went there on a recent early Summer evening and swept up the grand staircase towards the lift, which whisked us up to their classic roof terrace where we ordered a round of classic and unusual gins and soaked up the atmosphere…

Despite a slow start to service, the terrace itself is a hidden treasure, full of colonial ambiance with cane chairs and hanging flowers. We went in for dinner (the most amazing pop up Indian restaurant by Atul Kulchar) before returning after dinner to try another round of G&Ts chosen from their reasonable selection of gins.

Cotton House Hotel roof terraceVerdict: the Cotton House Hotel roof terrace has lovely atmosphere and ambiance in a stunning hotel. Only let down by confused and disorganised service and very expensive drinks (although I guess that should be expected at a 5 star hotel on one of the main streets in Barcelona).
We would return, for the atmosphere, not for the service.

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gin bars born barcelona

Born again tasting walk

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

El Born is one of the most interesting areas of Barcelona. Originally an extension of the more famous Barrio Gotico next door, it is a maze of twisty atmospheric medieval streets and alleys reeking with atmosphere (like its cousin next door) but with less tourists and shops and more bars and restaurants. The perfect place for a short gin walk as it is full of little gems.

Tha Barcelon Gin dream team tried 4 bars on a Friday night, all within a few minutes walk of each other and all with a completely different vibe.

DuxBCN

Dux cocktail  bar is tucked away on a side street in El Born, very close to Jaume I metro station and just off the busy Via Laietana.

The place is a modern twist on an old school cocktail bar and serves a good range of standard and hard to find gins at reasonable prices. It also has a range of interesting infused gins and (perhaps with a nod to the Roca brothers or Heston Blumenthal), even serves some gins infused with smoke at the table under glass jars.

A comfortable, civilised, stylish bar with excellent and helpful bar staff, this one is well worth a try (and a great place to start your evening).

Most gins were in the 8-14 euro range.

The vibe was cozy, vintage modern, quirky, jazzy with nice details such as a working piano (for their regular jazz evenings), a beautiful collection of lead soldiers in an illuminated case, and a fireplace with framed paintings of cartoon dogs.

Drinks were strong, well presented and served in large “copa” style balon glasses with 4 big ice cubes and well garnished to enhance the botanicals of each gin.

Service was good (and prompt). Our bartender, Angel was charming and explained all the options, made the drinks and even served them at our table.

They also organise regular live jazz/swing music evenings, guest bartenders, themed events and have daily/weekly specials.

Rubi Bar

Just a few blocks down the road is Rubi, unassuming from the outside but this place picks up once you get inside with a long crowded bar, exposed brick walls draped with red velvet curtains and ambient lighting to give it a clubby feel. We got there at 10pm on a Friday night and it was already packed (but it was pouring with rain outside which might have had something to do with it)

Gins were between 7 and 9 euros, the place was loud and filled with a young crowd (early 30s) and mostly English speakers ex-pats and a few visiting tourists and some cozy couples.

Vibe, buzzy, pre-club atmosphere, more girls than guys – more like a party bar that serves gin than a specialist gin bar.

They offered between 30 and 50 different gins ranging from exotic foreign gins to locally produced brands – they also have their own Rubi gin brand available for only 7 euros a glass.

The busy staff behind the bar did the best to keep up with the crowds  demands

Other – loud and crowded, 70s R&B pumping out from the speakers at volume. A great place to go for a late night drink or to top up before hitting the clubs. They also serve a limited range of basic tapas to help to soak up the booze. Not really a gin bar (despite the vast range of gins, most people were drinking something else). Also, please note that at the time of our visit, they did not accept credit cards, so bring cash.

Paradiso

Stagger a few blocks down the road to find Paradiso, a cool and stylish bar with a modernist “speakeasy” vibe and a sophisticated but quirky style.

The front of the bar is a small tiled pastrami shop with a few stools at the counter. But  look to your left and you’ll see a closed door and if the doorman lets you in, you enter another world. A stunning curved wooden ceiling pays homage to modernism and the place is buzzing with an eclectic mix of customers in their 30s and 40s all obviously having a great time.

The soundtrack is sexy laidback house music and the vibe is buzzy but chilled.

Plus, you can get their delicious pastrami sandwiches (served on rye bread with mustard and sauerkraut or if you prefer you could try their delicious pulled pork bagel) brought to your table. The pastrami is amazing, hand-smoked by local artisans direct from the Barcelona-based Rooftop Smokehouse – absolutely delicious.

The vibe here is cool, buzzy, sexy, sophisticated.

While they had a decent selection of gins it was nothing exceptional. Also a vast range of quirky cocktails served in teapots, jam jars, glass pipes and other unusual vessels.

Our gins were served in beautiful, large, vintage tumblers made of old fashioned cut glass to add a little extra style to our evening

Service was amazing. We were seated within 5 minutes, everyone was charming, helpful and attentive and we were even brought glasses of water before they took our order. They discreetly manage the steadily increasing volume of a group of guys seated next to us and despite bringing our food at different times (they were busy) they apologised to us twice and were instantly forgiven when the food arrived!

This has quickly become one of my favorite bars in Barcelona and I’ll be going back soon. I loved everything about it from the decor to the service to the drinks – and my pastrami sandwich was one of the best things I’ve eaten in a bar for years.

Collage

Collage cocktail bar is a quirky, cool, old style drinking bar with a sexy twist, we really like this place.

Converted from what looks like two shops, its walls are filled with vintage 60s wallpaper, interesting wall art (for sale) and a cozy atmosphere created by clever use of indirect light.

The bar serves standard gins such as Sipsmith, Citadelle, Bombay Sapphire (paid links)  and BCN Raw Gin (a delicious Catalan gin made locally), but they only had one tonic water available when we were there.

The crowd were mostly in their 30s and were a bit more casual and laid back than at the other bars – you got the sense that for many of them this was a regular hangout. Despite this, we were able to quickly get a table for 4 on the mezzanine upstairs, with a view of the hipster bartenders doing their thing downstairs.

The vibe was quirky hipster, casual and laid back “vintage” style (with a dash of irony). Groovy elevator music was playing in the background (but this got more appealing as we drank our gins). It was quite loud and not easy to have a conversation but everybody seemed to be having a good time. Water was brought to our table when we sat down and while the waitress was polite and charming, she wasn’t that knowledgeable about gin and she couldn’t remember the name of the tonic water they served.

Drinks were served in IKEA style tumblers and garnished appropriately with fruits and spices. Well organised and the perfect place to end our evening. We’ll definitely be going back

Service was good, friendly, efficient. This is not technically a “specialist”gin bar and that was reflected in the service and product knowledge of the servers.

This place could be dangerous. I could see myself popping in and staying for a while or extending my evening with a nightcap or two. Felt like a local place with an honest approach and its “shabby chic” vibe felt instantly comfortable.

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