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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botanicals

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 planet earth?

We thought we’d spend a little time looking at these secret ingredients. We want to help us all to understand what makes these little blasts of flavour so important in the world of gin. So, let’s start with the most obvious: juniper.

Without juniper, there is no gin.

For a drink to be classified as gin, Juniper is a must. According to legal definitions, gin must always be a minimum of 37.5% ABV and Juniper must be its dominant spirit. That seems pretty simple and clear. But this is actually where the fun begins! Once the minimum requirements are met, distillers are working on an empty canvas where the art is only as good as the artist. From here on out, all you are limited by is your imagination.

Juniper’s medicinal history

The juniper berries you are most likely to find in your gin are actually a type of pine cone from a shrub called juniperus communis. This is generally found growing wild across most of the Northern hemisphere. It’s what gives gin that distinctive taste of pine, camphor and lavender.

In fact, its medicinal qualities have been recognised for millennia. An ancient Egyptian papyrus from 1500BC refers to juniper as a cure for tapeworm infestations. Juniper berries have also been found as part of the embalming process in ancient Egyptian tombs. Through the ages they were used to cure infections, prevent epilepsy and even cure the plague.
These days, the best juniper is grown on the hillsides of Macedonia and Italy and is rich in aromatic oil. This is one reason why its important for distillers to try a number of different samples to get the mixture exactly right.

Botanicals: a world of fragrant opportunities

Most of the botanicals that we use in gin have medical roots that go back hundreds (sometimes thousands) of years. Some of them are still used for their medicinal qualities.

As we know, juniper berries are integral to creating gin. Unsurprisingly, they feature in every gin that is produced.

As well as juniper, there may be some other common botanicals that may surprise you.
Wormwood (more commonly associated with absinthe) is a popular botanical for many distillers. Others such as coriander are extraordinarily popular and you will see it make an appearance in many gins imparting a fresh, spicy sage and lemon flavour.

Beyond that, you enter a world of opportunities with more fragrant botanicals such as frankincense (sweet and oily) and cassia bark (sharp and pungent) appearing more and more often.

Many other gins feature angelica (woody and earthy), citrus and orris root (aromatic and floral).

But the list goes on to include almonds (marzipan sweetness), bergamot peel (musky, perfumed) and cardamom pods (warm and spicy). These are becoming increasingly popular alongside cubeb berries (peppery), elderflower (sweet and floral).
Citrus peels are always in demand and ginger (spicy and warm) and even licorice (woody and sweet) are making more frequent appearances.

Each of these botanicals help to build up the complex layers of flavours that we enjoy in our G&Ts today. As gin makers experiment and become more comfortable with the possibilities of ingredients that they are using, they have become increasingly bold.

Laverstoke Mill: a temple to botanicals

If you’re interested in learning more about botanicals, it’s worth paying a visit to the stunning Bombay Sapphire distillery in Hampshire.
Here, the main distilling process takes place in Bombay Sapphire’s converted 18th century Laverstoke Mill straddling the crystal clear waters of the River Test. But in a stroke of architectural genius, a swooping glass extension (reminiscent of the river that flows underneath it) covers a fascinating gin museum with wonderful gin tours. You will have the opportunity to taste a wonderful Laverstoke cocktail too!
Inside this extraordinary glass building they grow some of the botanicals that they use to make Bombay Sapphire. They have dozens of different botanicals beautifully presented in jars and bags for guests to touch and smell.

In their Discovery Experience they’ll help you map out your flavour tastes and even offer a well crafted cocktail mixed in their on-site bar. Their drinks are made to recipes by their in-house mixologist Sam Carter – and they’re delicious. The variety of botanicals on display is breathtaking and the flavours so individual and eclectic, that this will definitely need to be on your list for a fascinating visit once life returns to normal.

So, next time you try your latest gin, see which ones you can identify and raise a glass to our secret botanicals. They are the reason the magic happens.



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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