Lind&Lime

Lind&Lime: the perfect gin in the perfect bottle?

Lind&Lime could just be the perfect gin for me. Sometimes you unwittingly discover a beautiful gin hidden inside a hideous bottle. Other times, you stumble across a terrible gin cunningly disguised inside an expensive looking bottle.  But the greatest delight of all is when you spot a gorgeous bottle and then discover that the gin inside is even more delightful than the packaging itself. And this week, that’s exactly what I found – and I might never go back. 

Welcome to Lind&Lime…

For me, the taste of refreshing lime drinks is a throwback to my childhood days, growing up in Calcutta. We would sit on a hot evening on our balcony in Chowringhee, listening to the parrots squawk and the frogs sing. We would watch the monkeys fooling around at the bottom of the garden in the humid post-monsoon heat.  Then, out of nowhere, our cook (and friend), Appaya, would quietly appear. He would be balancing several glasses and a jug full of delicious Nimbu Pani on a small tray.  Nimbu Pani is a simple, cooling local drink made from freshly squeezed lime, sugar syrup and soda water.

It was always served in a long glass filled right to the top with cooling ice.  And it was even better when Appaya followed up with a plate of warm, curried cashew nuts served straight out of the oven. It’s funny how, even all these years later, these things still feel as real as they did all those years ago.

The Holy Grail of lime gins

It’s a flavour that has eluded me in gin for many years now.  And these days, I’ve moved up the ladder to cocktails – and gins in particular. But until now, the closest I could find to the taste of Nimbu Pani was the tangy lime flavour of Tanqueray Rangpur.  And, since I discovered it 18 months ago, that has fast become my “go-to” summer gin drink.  And then last week, the world changed. I tried a glass of Scotland’s Lind&Lime gin, poured straight from its gorgeously sophisticated, classically-ribbed bottle and my summer was instantly transformed. 

Perfect way to cool down on a warm day

This is definitely my new “special occasion” gin for warm days and summer evenings.  But at Barcelona Gin, we believe all good things should be shared. So here are a few reasons why I think you should add this summer stunner to your birthday list (or at least drop some subtle hints around your gin loving friends around that time!).

So, what’s Lind&Lime like?

Deliciously complex, dry and very refreshing, Lind&Lime gin has a beautiful balance as a result of seven carefully chosen and complementary botanicals.  There’s an unmissable juniper taste that runs right through this premium gin. Then there’s a clear citrus blast delivered by the fresh lime rind that this drink is built around.  This zestiness on it’s own might not be enough. But the folks at Lind&Lime gin have compensated for that with an infusion of pink peppercorn that adds just the right level of complexity through the pink peppercorns that sit alongside the distinctive lime zest.

What’s the story, morning glory?

But every gin relies on a good story, and this gin is no exception.  It’s the first Scottish delight, from Scotland’s Port of Leith Distillery Co at its Tower Street Stillhouse. Born in the Port of Leith, just on the edge of Scotland’s beautiful capital city of Edinburgh, this is the product of one of Scotland’s most historic trading centres. Way back in the 17th century, there was a fellow called James Lind, who hailed from those parts.  He was born in Edinburgh, but life took him a long way from from there over his career and he ended up serving as ship’s surgeon aboard the Royal Navy ship, HMS Salisbury. 

Scottish Limeys…

Like most ships that spent a long time away from land, there was a big problem with scurvy due to a paucity of Vitamin C on their long voyages.  By all accounts, Lind was a curious man. And he had a curious surgeon’s mind.  So, he conducted a number of trials on serving members of the ship’s crew. It quickly became apparent that sailors who ate more citrus fruit were generally in better physical condition than those who didn’t. This observation was made and recorded and eventually led to the adoption of limes on board Royal Navy ships to keep the sailors fit and healthy. And that’s why the American’s call us Limeys.

How do they make it?

These guys take a base spirit of 96% ABV and then carefully re-distill it into a London Dry gin that stands out from the crowd. The result is a 48 ABV gin with a natural, crisp lime flavour that doesn’t taste of children’s sweets. This is because the taste is infused directly from the rind itself into the distillate.  The whole concoction is then brought together in a stainless steel electric still, powered by sustainable electricity from renewable sources. This gin has only been around since 2019 but it’s already making quite a name for itself.

The bottle and the brand

The bottle itself is a minor work of art.  As a trading port, Leith had always been associated with the European wine trade. As more and more cask wine arrived over several centuries, they needed bottles and the area soon became a centre for glass production. The Leith Glass Works was built to make sure that the port could stay ahead of demand.  Lind&Lime gin taps into this tradition and pays homage to the industrial heritage of the area.  Traditional wine bottles have inspired the stunning shape and design. The result is a design classic that adds real aesthetic value to an already delicious gin.

Lim&Lime perfect serve:

This is one of those gins that’s so good that the less you add to it, the better.  We think for this gin to shine, pour it straight over ice (the larger the better) into a long glass. The bigger the ice, the longer your drink will remain fizzing!) Then, fill it up to the top with your favourite, freshly opened premium tonic water and wipe the rim of the glass with a fresh lime. Then, squeeze the rest of the lime juice into the drink before giving it one final, gentle stir.  We recommend a traditional 2:1 ratio of gin to tonic. But if you prefer a cocktail, this gin works really well in a French 75. 

This distillery also gives daily tours, so if you find yourself at a loose end in Scotland, it might be worth popping in to see what all the fuss is about. 


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

  • Lind&Lime: the perfect gin in the perfect bottle?
    Lind&Lime could just be the perfect gin for me. Sometimes you unwittingly discover a beautiful gin hidden inside a hideous bottle. Other times, you stumble across a terrible gin cunningly disguised inside an expensive looking bottle.  But the greatest delight of all is when you spot a gorgeous bottle and then discover that the gin inside … Continued
  • Puerto de Indias: is blackberry the new pink?
    It seems like flavoured gins have been around forever. But in fact, they are a relatively new invention.  While many people may have experimented with home infusions for domestic consumption, it was only recently that commercial brands began to recognise their full potential.  One of the originals was Puerto de Indias who led the way … Continued
  • Gin and elderflower: the new taste of summer
    So, elderflower and gin is fast becoming the taste of summer. For many years, it was a staple ingredient of North Western Europe, but now elderflower cordials, gins and liqueurs are available around the world. But while this pretty flower’s culinary roots go as far back as the Romans, Europeans have been using the flowers … Continued
  • Gin and tonic granita: a cool drink to get you through the “dog days” of summer
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Puerto de Indias

Puerto de Indias: is blackberry the new pink?

It seems like flavoured gins have been around forever. But in fact, they are a relatively new invention.  While many people may have experimented with home infusions for domestic consumption, it was only recently that commercial brands began to recognise their full potential. 
One of the originals was Puerto de Indias who led the way with their pioneering strawberry gin. They were amongst the first to experiment with natural strawberries and claim to have been the inspiration for the current wave of pink gins that seem to be everywhere. 
It’s a Spanish gin from Sevilla but it has a global reputation and is now available in more than 50 countries around the world.  Since those early days, it seems that everybody has jumped on the bandwagon.  Pink gins are everywhere and at every price point, but being first does not always guarantee you’re the best.
But in the case of Puerto De Indias, they are definitely right up there. 

The story begins…

It all began in the exotic Andalusian town of Sevilla when two brothers got together to buy one of the oldest distilleries in the region and set about producing their own artisan gin.  Little did they know that they would be in the forefront of a gin revolution that would change the gin landscape forever. Their gins are made with water from an underground spring that has been quenching Spanish thirst for centuries and they use traditional techniques and copper stills to make this modern version of a summer classic. 
But nothing sets a business back quicker than resting on your laurels. 
Since introducing the strawberry gin a few years ago, they have continued to innovate and now produce a classic gin, a strawberry gin, an orange and peach blossom gin and a floral black gin that’s flavoured with orange blossom.  So many gins, so little time.

Blackberry is back

And then I spotted another one that caught my eye. Puerto de Indias have now launched a blackberry gin with a unique flavour all of its own. 
Blackberries dominate this gin, but there’s a fresh, citrus backdrop with hints of caramel on the nose. And then, it’s time to take a sip.  This gin is smooth on the mouth and eases its way gently into those complex wild fruits and rich blackberry flavours, with a slight bitterness and a touch of sweet cinnamon spice to round it all off.
This is a fabulous new gin and I think it stands up very well to its competitors including Bombay Bramble and Tanqueray Royale (both in taste and value). This is definitely a gin for those with a sweet tooth. We think it is a great match for a lightly sweetened tonic water such as Fever Tree Elderflower.
Or you could go straight to the Seven Up to keep the sweet vibe going even further.  

Recipe for Puerto de Indias Blackberry perfect serve

Ingredients:

  • 5cl Puerto De Indias Blackberry gin
  • 20cl of Seven Up or Tonic Water
  • Fresh or frozen blackberries
  • Cinnamon sticks

Method:

  1. Fill glass with large ice cubes and swirl to chill glass
  2. Empty water from glass and place several blackberries inside
  3. Drop in a cinnamon stick or two and add the gin
  4. Pour tonic or Seven Up over ice and stir gently.
  5. Sit back 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.

RECENT POSTS

  • Lind&Lime: the perfect gin in the perfect bottle?
    Lind&Lime could just be the perfect gin for me. Sometimes you unwittingly discover a beautiful gin hidden inside a hideous bottle. Other times, you stumble across a terrible gin cunningly disguised inside an expensive looking bottle.  But the greatest delight of all is when you spot a gorgeous bottle and then discover that the gin inside … Continued
  • Puerto de Indias: is blackberry the new pink?
    It seems like flavoured gins have been around forever. But in fact, they are a relatively new invention.  While many people may have experimented with home infusions for domestic consumption, it was only recently that commercial brands began to recognise their full potential.  One of the originals was Puerto de Indias who led the way … Continued
  • Gin and elderflower: the new taste of summer
    So, elderflower and gin is fast becoming the taste of summer. For many years, it was a staple ingredient of North Western Europe, but now elderflower cordials, gins and liqueurs are available around the world. But while this pretty flower’s culinary roots go as far back as the Romans, Europeans have been using the flowers … Continued
  • Gin and tonic granita: a cool drink to get you through the “dog days” of summer
    Now the heat is on, it’s time for a gin and tonic granita – the perfect way to beat the summer sun. We’re into the “dog days” of summer now. That generally means that we’re either complaining that it’s too hot or too cold.  But for many of us, we’re doing what we always do … Continued

Gin and elderflower: the new taste of summer

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

So, elderflower and gin is fast becoming the taste of summer. For many years, it was a staple ingredient of North Western Europe, but now elderflower cordials, gins and liqueurs are available around the world. But while this pretty flower’s culinary roots go as far back as the Romans, Europeans have been using the flowers of the European Elder to make cordial recipes to refresh thirsty Europeans for many centuries now. These days, it has become a common summer flavour and many people still make it in the traditional way, generally as a cordial, squash or syrup that is mixed with still or sparkling water – and it’s refreshing, healthy and easy to make at home.

What exactly is an elderflower?

Elderflowers generally grow between May and June, making them the perfect solution to summer heat and they can generally be found across Europe, North Africa and S.W. Asia. 
Making the cordial is actually a very simple process which involves steeping the flower heads in a solution of concentrated sugar which infuses the flavour directly into the syrup.  Some people add a little lemon juice to help add a little sharpness before covering it and allowing the infusion process to begin.  Once the flavours have really blended, it’s then a relatively simple process of straining the resulting product to extract as much juice as possible before mixing it with water, sparkling water and even gin. 

Keeping things cordial

Or, if you prefer, simply buy some commercial elderflower cordial and mix it up to your taste. For centuries, this light, refreshingly delicious summer drink has been served up at summer events and picnics.  And then, when the craft gin revolution began and distillers and craft gin producers started looking for ways to improve and enhance their gin, elderflower became the perfect match. It’s light, citrus sweetness made it an ideal partner for gin and a fabulous alternative to the standard choice of Indian tonic water to provide a refreshing, easy to drink mixer.  Many brands are available these days, from Belvoir to supermarket own brands. But we like the very French St. Germain which uses hand picked flowers that are taken back to the village by bicycle.

Just the tonic…

Most of the premium tonic brands now offer an elderflower alternative.  From the ubiquitous Fever Tree with their plain elderflower tonic to old standards such as Schweppes, it seems everybody now recognises this new flavour as a legitimate alternative to standard tonic.  One of our favourite tonic brands, Franklin and Sons, now offers elderflower and cucumber tonic water which is cooling and light and a perfect way to enhance your summer gin of choice.  Versions are available at all levels and prices.

Elderflower gins…

But, you could dispense with the commercial versions altogether if you choose an elderflower gin. My personal favourite is from JJ. Whitley – a refreshing, fragrant gin with a distinctive honey, orange and elderflower taste and at a great price.  It’s not overly strong at around 38.6% ABV, but that may not be such a bad thing since it’s so easy to drink.  Other brands to look out for include the Warner Edwards Elderflower gin which clocks in at a slightly stronger 40% ABV, but is almost twice the price. Gordon’s even does an elderflower version of their gin. 

Gin liqueurs – keeping things sweet

Then there are the elderflower gin liqueurs which are sweeter and more concentrated but can be a lovey aperitif or add a blast of summer to your cocktails. There are tasty versions of these over at Edinburgh Gin with a blend of elderflower, lavender. Orange peel and lemongrass (other brands are available).

Perfect for summer cocktails

And then, there is the elderflower as a gin cocktail ingredient, increasingly appearing in summer gin coolers, martinis and long cocktails topped up with soda or sparkling wine. But we could talk about the theory all summer long, but what you really want is an easy recipe to get your summer rolling.  So, we’ve found a really easy to make (and easy to drink) recipe for a Gin and Elderflower cooler that will impress your friends and give you an extra reason to get your shorts on, slip into the garden or terrace and elevate yourself smugly above those gin and tonic drinkers.

Welcome to the Gin and Elderflower Cooler.

Gin and Elderflower cooler recipe

Ingredients:

  • 100ml elderflower cordial
  • 150 ml gin (use JJ. Whitley to pump up the flavour)
  • 400 ml of soda (or sparkling water)
  • Ice cubes
  • 8 cucumber circles (thinly sliced)
  • 2 apple circles (thinly sliced)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 1 litre jug or pitcher

Method:

  1. Pour the elderflower cordial and gin directly into the jug
  2. Top up with the soda or sparkling water
  3. Scrunch up the mint leaves in your hands (bruising them lightly to release the flavour)
  4. Add it to the pitcher along with the cucumber and apple
  5. Add ice last and then give it all a good stir
  6. Leave it for a few minutes to infuse and when you’re ready, pour and sip smugly!

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

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

RECENT POSTS

  • Lind&Lime: the perfect gin in the perfect bottle?
    Lind&Lime could just be the perfect gin for me. Sometimes you unwittingly discover a beautiful gin hidden inside a hideous bottle. Other times, you stumble across a terrible gin cunningly disguised inside an expensive looking bottle.  But the greatest delight of all is when you spot a gorgeous bottle and then discover that the gin inside … Continued
  • Puerto de Indias: is blackberry the new pink?
    It seems like flavoured gins have been around forever. But in fact, they are a relatively new invention.  While many people may have experimented with home infusions for domestic consumption, it was only recently that commercial brands began to recognise their full potential.  One of the originals was Puerto de Indias who led the way … Continued
  • Gin and elderflower: the new taste of summer
    So, elderflower and gin is fast becoming the taste of summer. For many years, it was a staple ingredient of North Western Europe, but now elderflower cordials, gins and liqueurs are available around the world. But while this pretty flower’s culinary roots go as far back as the Romans, Europeans have been using the flowers … Continued
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gin and tonic granita

Gin and tonic granita: a cool drink to get you through the “dog days” of summer

Now the heat is on, it’s time for a gin and tonic granita – the perfect way to beat the summer sun. We’re into the “dog days” of summer now. That generally means that we’re either complaining that it’s too hot or too cold.  But for many of us, we’re doing what we always do – taking the time to leave the city and find somewhere cooler to relax.  Some of us will be heading to the hills for a chilled out vacation surrounded by nature and endless views. Others will be flocking to the beaches so they can dive into cool, clear water to escape the heat of the sun or simply to top up their tan.  But whether you’re chilling out gazing at an infinite skyline from your perch up in the high hills or soaking up the sun and swimming on your favourite beach, you’re likely to have a G&T somewhere near by.
It’s the perfect summer drink for when the stress all becomes just a bit too much. 

A refreshing gin and tonic granita from a chef with a Michelin star

But gin in the summer is a very versatile beast and it doesn’t just go with tonic. Not only are there a panoply of delicious, easy-to-make, refreshing gin cocktail recipes for you to tap into, but these days, gin is increasing its popularity in summer recipes. Some of the world’s greatest chefs are now incorporating gin’s distinctive flavours in food recipes that will open up a whole new world of opportunity for anybody looking to give their gin habit an extra dimension. 

One of those chefs is Marcus Wareing.  Wareing has a proud pedigree which includes Michelin starred restaurants such as Le Gavroche, Petrus and Aubergine in London.  Currently, he is the main judge on the UK’s version of Masterchef and he runs The Gilbert Scott restaurant in London’s spectacularly extravagant St. Pancras Hotel.  Wareing is also the chef proprietor of his eponymous restaurant, Marcus, where he has been awarded yet another Michelin star.

So, this man knows a thing or two about cooking.  And he’s turned to our favourite drink, gin, for his latest summer recipe. This simple recipe is guaranteed to keep you cool as a cucumber over the hot weeks that we know lie ahead.

6 easy steps to a perfect gin and tonic granita

So, let’s take a look at Marcus Wareing’s delicate, refreshing and boozy gin and tonic granita recipe. Easy to make, more refreshing than ice cream and a nice alternative to a G&T on a hot summer’s day. This could become a mainstay of your summer. We think this recipe goes well with a juniper forward gin with citrus notes (such as Silent Pool) or for an extra blast of lemon, break out the Malfy Limone to dial up the taste.

Ingredients:

  • 100 ml water
  • 200 g of caster sugar
  • 150 ml of gin
  • 500 ml of premium Indian tonic water
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 1 handful of edible flowers

Method:

  1. Heat the water with the sugar for about 5 minutes until dissolved
  2. Add the gin, two lemons and tonic water
  3. Pour into a freezer proof container
  4. Cool to room temperature and freeze for two hours (whisking after the first and second hour)
  5. Before serving, break up the granita with a fork to give it a softer, texture
  6. Top it off with some edible flowers such as Viola for an extra touch of style
  7. Sit back and sip…c

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

  • Lind&Lime: the perfect gin in the perfect bottle?
    Lind&Lime could just be the perfect gin for me. Sometimes you unwittingly discover a beautiful gin hidden inside a hideous bottle. Other times, you stumble across a terrible gin cunningly disguised inside an expensive looking bottle.  But the greatest delight of all is when you spot a gorgeous bottle and then discover that the gin inside … Continued
  • Puerto de Indias: is blackberry the new pink?
    It seems like flavoured gins have been around forever. But in fact, they are a relatively new invention.  While many people may have experimented with home infusions for domestic consumption, it was only recently that commercial brands began to recognise their full potential.  One of the originals was Puerto de Indias who led the way … Continued
  • Gin and elderflower: the new taste of summer
    So, elderflower and gin is fast becoming the taste of summer. For many years, it was a staple ingredient of North Western Europe, but now elderflower cordials, gins and liqueurs are available around the world. But while this pretty flower’s culinary roots go as far back as the Romans, Europeans have been using the flowers … Continued
  • Gin and tonic granita: a cool drink to get you through the “dog days” of summer
    Now the heat is on, it’s time for a gin and tonic granita – the perfect way to beat the summer sun. We’re into the “dog days” of summer now. That generally means that we’re either complaining that it’s too hot or too cold.  But for many of us, we’re doing what we always do … Continued
classic gins

5 “go to” classic gins you can rely on

In this new world of 1000 gins, sometimes too much choice can be your enemy.  We all know about the recent explosion of craft gins and often they can be quite expensive.  So, it’s good to have a handful of “old faithfuls” classic gins that you know you can rely on for a good, standard G&T.  There are times in life when it’s okay to  be a little adventurous.  And these days, there is literally a gin for everybody.  Whether you want gin with gold flakes floating around or gin made from crushed ants, you can simply log in and order one for next day delivery.  Whether you want an ordinary gin in a beautiful bottle  or a beautiful gin in an ordinary bottle, there’s one for you. 

Spoiled for choice

These days, we are spoiled for choice.  But sometimes, these gins can be a little expensive.  The Anty-Gin  for example sells for around £220.  But there are other times when you just want a simple, recognisable flavour that does the basic job well.  These are the gins that everybody should have in their bar, the “go to” gins.  They might not set the world on fire with their innovation or impress your friends with their complex infusions, but these are classic gins that won’t let you down.  And that’s good to know. 

Here are 5 of our “go to” favourite classic gins that are always worth keeping in the cupboard for when the posh stuff runs out.  In the end, it’s all a matter of personal taste, but we think these standard gins are well worth keeping in reserve.

Beefeater: 40% ABV

Beefeater ginA classic London Dry, Beefeater has been synonymous with gin since 1876. Surprisingly complex it combines the piney notes of juniper with the hoppiness of angelica flowers.  There’s a blast of coriander somewhere in there and lots of fresh citrus notes delivered by the orange peels.  You’ll also find notes of almond and liquorice to give it a rich, complexity. 

All of this results in a well balanced gin perfect for long lunches or early evening G&Ts.  This is a classic gin that doesn’t try to do too much and what bit does, it does very well.  This is a great drink for anybody who loves a classic G&T, but it also works well in cocktails such as a Negroni.

The perfect pour: Fever Tree Indian tonic Water, loads of ice and a slice of lemon

 

Bombay Sapphire: 40% ABV

The brand that kick-started the gin revolution in the UK with its lighter, more subtle recipe, Bombay Sapphire has a delicate nose with a refreshing blend of citrus, pepper and angelica along with plenty of juniper.  Most people think that this totemic gin has been around for centuries, but it actually first saw the light of day in the 1960s when New York lawyer Allan Subi saw an opportunity to create a brand new “English” gin to take on the likes of Tanqueray and Beefeater in the USA. 

He approached Greenalls to create the gin to match his brand and they built a drink based on an old Greenalls recipe from back in the 1760s.  This gin took off fast and its easy-to-drink blend of 8 botanicals includes cassia bark, liquorice and almonds.  Then in the 1980s, chef Michel Roux got involved in creating a new version of the gin that used Bombay Original Dry as a base to which he added 2 kinds of pepper, Grains of paradise and Cubeb berries resulting in a floral, peppery tasting gin with a sweet nose and a fresh clean taste. And that was how Bombay Sapphire came to be.

Fragrant and spicy, this is a great gin for a Negroni, but it really works best in a long, tall glass filled with ice and a slice.  You can’t go wrong with a bottle of this beauty. And if you’re ever in Hampshire, pop in for a fascinating gin tour in their award winning distillery on the banks of the beautiful River Test.

The perfect pour: Schweppes Premium Tonic Water, loads of ice and a slice of lime

Tanqueray: ABV: 43.1%

One of the classic gin brands, Tanqueray have been tickling our taste buds with this bone dry gin for centuries. With its notes of pine and coriander building on a strong juniper base, it all works well together. Its Christmas tree notes have made it a classic and reliable “go to” gin for all occasions. Made for a Dry Martini (with just the smallest drop of vermouth) or equally good in a long, refreshing G&T. Charles Tanqueray began distilling spirits in 1838 but it took him a few more years to come up with his classic gin recipe, which has stood the test of time and is as good now as it ever was.

In the 1950s, Tanqueray joined the Gordons family and was used to spearhead a marketing drive to secure it as a prestigious gin in the United States. It soon became the favourite tipple of evergreen stars such as Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Junior.  We think it’s one of the best classic gins out there and it’s a favorite of bartenders worldwide.

The perfect pour: Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic water, loads of ice and orange zest

Gordon’s (export strength): ABV: 47.3%

While we, in the UK, get to drink standard Gordon’s gin, this one is available overseas (or in duty free) so it’s worth keeping an eye out while you’re on holiday. It is considerably stronger than its domestic cousin (which clocks in at a rather feeble 37.5%).  It is also a very different beast as far as taste is concerned. With top notes of lemon peel and bittersweet lime, warming coriander, lavender and juniper in the mix and a lovely, lemony edge, this is a great gin. 

While regular Gordon’s gin struggles to retain its place in this brave new world of artisan gin, this one is still worth seeking out.  In the UK it may still be sold as Gordon’s Yellow Label, but you’re most likely to find this in a duty free shop somewhere around the world.  It’s a great gin for taking on holiday or for drinking on your return. Try this if you’re looking for an extra strong, extra spicy Tom Collins or in a Negroni.

The perfect pour: Britvic Indian tonic Water, loads of ice and a slice of lime

Plymouth: ABV: 41.2%

As befitting its Naval connections, Plymouth Gin once supplied more than 1000 casks of its Navy Strength gin to the Royal Navy but it fell out of fashion. The brand was revived in the late 1990s by Charles Roll, who went on to found the ubiquitous Fever Tree brand.  He increased the strength and created a heathery,  juniper gin with a lovely balance of savoury sage, sweetness and smoothness.  This has become a gin classic with its piney finish and well judged injection of citrus. 

Light, balanced and smooth, this is a great gin if you’re into G&Ts.  Strong enough to have some character but not so strong it will knock you out.  And great taste is not its only claim to fame – it was the favourite gin of Winston Churchill, it was the gin used in the world’s first Martini recipe and is the official gin of the Royal Navy. Keep a bottle of this in your cupboard at all times.

The perfect pour: Fentiman’s Premium Indian tonic water and a slice of grapefruit.

So, there you have it. Five classic gins that you can rely on. Like an old friend, these gins will be with you forever, ask no questions and never let you down. 

Now, how about a G&T?

 


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

  • Lind&Lime: the perfect gin in the perfect bottle?
    Lind&Lime could just be the perfect gin for me. Sometimes you unwittingly discover a beautiful gin hidden inside a hideous bottle. Other times, you stumble across a terrible gin cunningly disguised inside an expensive looking bottle.  But the greatest delight of all is when you spot a gorgeous bottle and then discover that the gin inside … Continued
  • Puerto de Indias: is blackberry the new pink?
    It seems like flavoured gins have been around forever. But in fact, they are a relatively new invention.  While many people may have experimented with home infusions for domestic consumption, it was only recently that commercial brands began to recognise their full potential.  One of the originals was Puerto de Indias who led the way … Continued
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home-made pimms

Home-made Pimms – put a little sunshine in your life

We’re now well and truly into summer and the social season lies ahead of us.  In the UK we have three of the most social events of the year coming up including Wimbledon this week (where people watch tennis and drink Pimms); the Henley Royal Regatta (where boaters in straw hats row, while people drink Pimms); and the Chelsea Flower Show (where people look at flowers and drink Pimms).  Are you picking up a pattern here?

The unmistakable taste of the English summer

Yes, the Pimm’s Cup is truly the drink of the English summer and you will find it on any sunny day being served and drunk in large glasses filled with fruit, ice, lemonade and the unmistakably herby taste of Pimms.  Pub gardens will be full of Pimms drinkers and large jugs of the stuff will be perched on bar tables around the country for the authentic taste of the English summer. For those who don’t know, Pimms is a gin cup first made in London by James Pimms way back in 1820. He actually owned an oyster bar and created this herbal concoction to settle the stomachs of any customers who might have over-indulged on his shellfish.

Introducing Pimms No. 1

The restaurant chain grew and his drink became increasingly popular, so he developed a version of the mix that he could sell to other restaurants – and he named it the No. 1 Cup.  Today, we just know it as Pimms.
But Pimms comes in different shapes and sizes including the No. 2 Cup (made with Scotch whiskey); the No. 3 Cup (or Pimms Winter) was relaunched in 2008; the No. 4 Cup (made with Rum); and the No. 5 Cup (made with Rye). Then comes the No. 6 Cup (made with Vodka) which is the second most popular of the variants. But this article isn’t about Pimms.  It’s about an alternative.  What if we could share a recipe for home-made Pimms that is even more delicious than the original and really easy to make?

Well, say no more – your wish has just come true. Here’s an amazing, easy to drink recipe that you can make at home.

Home-made is always best…

This recipe requires first making a fruit cup syrup, which is then mixed with gin and sweet vermouth to give your summer potion an unmistakable and distinctive character.  But to do this properly, you’re going to need to gather some ingredients.  You’re going to need a little caster sugar, some fresh strawberries, a cucumber, some grapefruit peel and some mint. And then, to spritz it all up you’ll need a juniper-forward gin, some vermouth (rosso), plenty of ice and some fizzy lemonade or ginger ale. It’s already making my mouth water just thinking about it. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Home-made Pimms recipe

Ingredients:

For the fruit cup syrup

  • 300g of caster sugar
  • 200g of thinly sliced strawberries
  • 150g of sliced, peeled cucumber
  • 30g of grapefruit peel
  • 10g of mint leaves
  • 300 ml water

For the fruit cup

  • 200 ml fruit cup syrup (see above)
  • 400 ml of juniper forward gin
  • 400 ml of red vermouth
  • Sparkling lemonade or ginger ale
  • Sliced strawberries, oranges, lavender leaves and bay leaves to garnish

Method:

  1. Sprinkle the sugar over the strawberries, cucumber, grapefruit, mint and lavender
  2. Place in refrigerator overnight (to draw moisture from the fruit)
  3. Add the water, then pour everything into a resealable plastic bag
  4. Heat a pan of hot water to a steady 55C (you may need a temperature probe for this)
  5. After 4 hours, remove from the pan and strain through a sieve

For the fruit cup:

  1. Once the syrup has cooled, mix it with the gin and vermouth and store in the fridge, where it should last for up to 6 months
  2. Mix one part of fruit cup with two parts of lemonade or ginger ale (or both) over plenty of ice
  3. Garnish as extravagantly as you like – game, set and match

Anyone for tennis?


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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angostura bitters

Small bottle, big label: the story behind Angostura bitters

We recently published a little article about gin and bitters (including Angostura) – a pairing almost as old as gin itself. As cocktails become more daring and our tastes become more and more exotic, we are constantly searching for new twists and flavours to make sure we get the very best out of our drinks. As we mentioned in our article, bitters have been a bartender’s friend for many years now.  And with the recent explosion in interest in all things gin, new and interesting brands have emerged to put their latest spin on this classic concoction.

The “Daddy” of all bitters

And that got us looking at the “Daddy” of all bitters – Angostura. And the more we looked, the more intrigued we became.  We noticed that the label on a bottle of Angostura Bitters is way too big for the bottle itself. It almost looks like it’s been taken from a bigger bottle and simply slapped onto a smaller bottle, despite its overgrown proportions.  It looks a bit like a teenage boy wearing his Dad’s over-sized shirt.
So, after a little bit of research, we discovered the reason – but you’ll have to wait until the end of the article before we reveal it.
First, here’s the story of Angostura bitters and how a little bottle with a big label changed the way we think about drink.

What are bitters?

Just a little reminder, bitters are alcoholic preparations flavoured with carefully chosen botanicals and characterised by a highly concentrated bitter or bittersweet flavour.  Many of the famous brands of bitters began their life as medicines. But most are now sold as digestifs or cocktail flavourings.  A small drop of bitters can radically alter the taste of your drink bringing out flavours that you might not have noticed before. They also add layers of complexity to give your drink a richer, more rewarding  flavour profile.

But amongst all the bitters out there, one stands tall and proud.  It is the “Daddy” of them all and it is called Angostura.  We thought we’d take a look at this little beauty and see just why it has become the most popular brand of bitters on the market – and why it has a label that is much too big for its tiny bottle.

Angostura bitters – the original (and still one of the best!)

Angostura bitters are made by the House of Angostura in the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago, but the bitters were originally produced in a little town called Angostura, in Venezuela. It is there that the liquid first got its name.  Interestingly, Angostura Bitters (unlike many of its rivals) does not actually contain any Angostura bark (yet another quirky fact about this interesting and long-lasting brand).

So, how did it all begin?

There was a German surgeon called Dr. Siegert who served in the Venezuelan army of Simon Bolivar.  It was he who originally developed the recipe as a medical remedy and in 1824, Siegert began to sell it commercially. By 1830, he had opened up a distillery exclusively for the production of these bitters and he used local knowledge about botanicals from the indigenous people who lived in the area of the town.  By 1853, bitters began to become popular abroad and by 1875, the plant was moved to its current location in Port of Spain.  At this point, Angostura bitters was growing its reputation. It even won some prestigious medals (which are still displayed on the legendary oversized label, which also features a profile image of Emperor Franz Joseph 1 of Austria).

A closely guarded secret

And, like many brands, its recipe remains a closely guarded secret. Rumour has it that only one person knows the full recipe and that it is passed down by word of mouth to each new generation. Angostura makes a range of different bitters now, including an orange one.  But it’s the original that sets the standard and has remained in charge for almost 200 years.

Reach for the Angostura…

Bitters are more popular than ever now and everyone from top mixologists to casual drinkers should keep a bottle close to the bar – if you like Pink Gins, Old Fashioneds or Manhattans, you’ll need to reach for the Angostura. So, that’s a little bit about the story behind the brand.  But what about that oversized label?

So, what’s the story behind the over-sized label?

Well, here it is. It was actually a mistake that has stood the test of time. When Dr. Siegert died in 1870, he passed the business on to his sons. They decided it was time to get some publicity, so they decided to do a rebrand of their precious product. One of the brothers set to work designing the new bottle while the other went about designing the new label.  Unfortunately, they didn’t bother to talk first and by the time the competition entry was due, they had no time for a redesign, so they left it how it was. The rest, as they say, is history. History tells us that the brother’s didn’t end up winning the competition.  But apparently, on the advice of one of the judges, they kept the oversized label going forward so they would stand out from the competition.

To this day, the tradition continues and it has now become an intrinsic part of the character of this little drink that packs a big punch.  Now, there is a new generation of imitators, but none have taken the crown from the King. Some have even tried to replicate the over-sized label.  But this is a case where the original retains its pole position at the forefront of its category.

So, in tribute to the longevity of this cocktail classic, here’s a little Angostura bitters recipe that you might enjoy.  In a world where Pink Gin seems to simply refer to a colour, we return to the original Pink Gin with a classic recipe that might be worth revisiting.  Over to you!

Pink Gin cocktail – the classic

This drink works best with a strong, Navy Strength gin such as Tarquins Navy Strength.  The point of this mix was originally to help make the strong alcohol taste a little easier to drink.  Sometimes, dilution can actually be your friend in a cocktail – it’s not always about the strongest.  In this version, the strong gin is “cut” by water from the melted ice to help to improve the flavour of over-strength gin. And it works a treat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Navy Strength gin
  • Angostura Bitters
  • A twist of lemon (for garnish)

Method:

  1. Gather your ingredients
  2. Express the oils of the lemon peel over the drink and drop the peel in
  3. Add a dash (or two) of Angostura bitters to a mixing glass filled with ice
  4. Swirl this “bittered” ice and water around in a cocktail glass
  5. Dump out the water, leaving the glass with a bitters rinse
  6. Back in your mixing glass, pour a large measure of gin (2 oz is good) and fill it with ice
  7. Stir well and strain into a cocktail glass
  8. Serve 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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Rawal gin

Rawal Gin: a taste of the sea from the beating heart of Barcelona

posted in: Gin and Juniper | 0

El Raval. For centuries, it has been one of Barcelona’s most raw and exotic neighbourhoods.  Just behind the gentrified, touristed street that is known as Las Ramblas, sits one of the greatest food markets in the world. La Boqueria is known globally for its bustling, buzzy atmosphere and its generations old connection to this amazing city.  It’s true that tourism has started to eat away at the real, authentic local market that has served the people of Barcelona with fresh fruit, seafood, meat, nuts and treats for generations. But it still retains its extraordinary character and its well worth a visit if you’re ever in Barcelona. And just behind this Barcelona landmark lies a genuine local barrio, with a colourful history of tolerance, integration, culture and hedonism.

Barcelona’s edgy melting pot

For years, El Raval was the place where the immigrants settled.  With it, like every port area, it brought with it a slightly edgy, bohemian atmosphere.  It has been known as Barcelona’s Chinatown. It has been called Rawalistan (due to the influx of immigrants from India, Pakistan and the Middle East).  And taking up the centre ground in the area are the hipsters and bohemians that embrace that diversity and who love a sense of adventure.  So, it’s no wonder that this diverse, hip and tolerant barrio gave birth to some of Barcelona’s best cocktail bars and Barcelona’s first boutique gin. A local gin that reflects the diversity and edginess of this extraordinary neighbourhood.

So, when we heard about the latest craft gin offering from Rawal Gin (pronounced Raval in English!), we were more than excited. Our heads were full of questions.  Why Rawal? Why gin in Rawal? What’s this all about?

A beautiful gin in a striking bottle

So, let’s be clear.  I first saw a bottle of Rawal gin on my Facebook feed.  I was on the hunt for new Barcelona Gins and this one popped into my feed. The first thing that struck me was its beautiful label.  At this stage, I hadn’t even sniffed the gin.  But the label said it all.  It had a Barcelona vibe written all over it.  The diving figure demonstrated risk taking and adventure.  It spoke of the daring spirit of this extraordinary city and it paid homage to its willingness to think differently.  So, I reached out to the man behind the brand to find out a little more about his story. And this is what he told me:

Tell me a little bit about yourself.  Where are you from, what’s your background and how did you get into gin?

My name’s Sergi and I’m from Barcelona. I grew up in El Raval, so it’s been part of my life since the beginning. I feel very connected to this barrio. This story starts after I had been the chef-owner of my own cocktail bar for around twelve years.  Bartending was my passion and I’d been working as a bartender for all that time. The cocktail bar was called “Pesca Salada”. In Catalonia, “Pesca Salada” (salted-fish) is a generic name that the locals use to describe shops that sell salted cod, anchovies and canned fish.

The bar itself had a great atmosphere.  It was oozing with all the memories and shadows of its ancient origins and all the interior decoration was inspired by the sea.  The bar was on the same street that I’d grown up on and it specialized in gins.  It was a tiny bar but it served more than 40 different brands of gin. For all that time, I existed in this small island in the heart of Barcelona’s iconic Raval neighbourhood.  And this is where I first became familiar with the world of distillates and creative cocktails. Submerged in this gin and tonic sea, I had the idea of concocting my own, special Barcelona gin.

What made you start a gin brand/distillery?

I come from a home distilling background and as with most obsessions, it all began as a hobby. But I soon found that I enjoyed making my own fermentations so much, building my own copper stills, designing condensers, capturing the essence of botanicals through experiments. It eventually became a passion and I decided that it could become a part of my way of living. So, after some “Breaking Bad” style experiments, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and I went off to study Brewing and Distilling at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University.

My dream was to create a one hundred percent local, handcrafted, organic gin. After a lengthy journey, the dream finally came true.

We started to produce Rawal Organic Dry Gin in Barcelona City’s first gin micro-distillery. It was anchored in a small spot, in a tiny neighbourhood, in this beautiful city.  And just like the neighbourhood in which it was born, it has a seafaring spirit. So, in April 2019, I decided to moor the “Bar Pesca Salada” for a while and I set sail for my new adventure.

What was the hardest thing for you to do as you launched Rawal Gin?

The hardest part is getting people to know about your product.  If you don’t have a large marketing budget it takes much more time and effort to make your product stand out. Especially now. That was definitely a challenge in the early days and it remains challenging now.

Is there a clear philosophy behind your brand and what do you stand for?

Rawal Gin is a local product, organic and environmentally friendly. My original purpose was to bring a level of environmental awareness into the world of distillation. It was also a formidable challenge to build a micro distillery in the city.

Over the last decade, we have been lucky enough to see many successful craft breweries open up in our country. So, it’s a really good feeling to be able to say that I built Barcelona’s first micro distillery and that I’ve transferred this philosophy to distillates.

The main philosophy behind Rawal Gin is “do-it-yourself”. As you can imagine, making gin  requires a lot of time and effort. But if you make it yourself, it can also be very rewarding indeed.

Tell me about the gin: what process do you use to make it and what makes Rawal Gin stand out from the crowd?

Rawal Dry Gin is a natural product.  We add no sugars or chemicals. The neutral spirit is made from organic wheat and all botanicals used to flavour this high quality neutral spirit are organic certified.

We infuse 12 distinctive botanicals for 24hours in the diluted neutral spirit and then we distill it using a hand-made copper still that we call Rufino. Even the copper still is home made and I built it myself through a combination of speculation, imagination and the practical  soldering of large diameter copper pipes. The result was a still that was perfect for my needs. Rawal Organic Dry Gin is craft-distilled in small batches of one hundred bottles. That’s because the slow pace of distillation requires a full working day to produce this number of bottles.

What botanicals do you use and how would you describe the flavour profile of your gin?

These are the basic botanicals that make up the unique flavour profile of Rawal gin:

  • Juniper berries
  • Coriander seeds
  • Angelica root
  • Liquorice
  • Cassia
  • Allspice
  • Cardamom
  • Orris root
  • Almond
  • Lemon peel
  • Orange peel
  • Kombu

Through accurate doses and increasing familiarity with each other, Rufino still continues to delight us with a distillate where juniper berries are still clearly in charge. It delivers the essential and familiar character of gin, offering up the refreshing notes of pine leaves with a slight bitterness, which leaves the palate crisp and dry.  This delicate distillate balances sweet and bitter tones with warm spice and floral mellowness, all rounded off to deliver a drink that has the unmistakable taste of the sea that inspired it.

What is the perfect serve to enjoy Rawal Gin?

For first timers, I always recommend simply mixing Rawal Gin with a good, premium tonic water.  They are a perfect match for each other and by starting off like this, you’ll be able to notice more of the subtle nuances of this delicious gin. We all know that perfection doesn’t exist.  But we think a Rawal G&T with a twist of lemon peel and a small strip of Kombu is about as close to perfection as any of us are likely to get.  

You have a very distinctive brand and label. What’s the significance behind the design and who designed it?

The design relates to my old cocktail bar, the “Pesca Salada”.  This is where the initial idea of creating a gin began. Also, I was born in a port city, so the sea has always been part of me. It was an essential requirement to create a gin that was related to the sea.  After a long period of research I realized that an algae called Kombu would be my partner in crime.

I came up with the idea of using a swimmer for the brand design – but the folks at Dorian Studio were able to really bring the design to life. In Spain, we have a saying, which is: “tirarse a la piscina”.  This is used to indicate that it is time to take a risk.  The closest English expression would be: jump in the deep end. This image of a guy diving head-first into the sea is also a metaphor of my own sense of daring and adventure.

What are your ambitions for Rawal Gin? Will you be producing more gins?

I’m not an ambitious guy but if making gin is enough to make me a good living I will be very happy. I love experimenting with new botanicals so it’s highly likely that I will produce more gins to add to my range. I’m already thinking about organic vodka too.

Where is your gin stocked and how can people buy it?

Right now, you can buy it online from my website.  You can also find it in many of Barcelona’s best bars and liquor stores.

Any final words of advice for our readers?

Please taste it!! And if you like it, please taste it again…


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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the Hugo

Gin and summertime: introducing The Hugo

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

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

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

Summertime (and the ginning is easy…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hugo recipe

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

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


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Suffering Bastard

The Suffering Bastard: handle with care

When you’re young, you see things differently.  New experiences pile up all around you and you want to try everything.  And with the sharp, social competitiveness of youth, you want to test your limits to see if you can outdo your friends.  It’s all a part of discovering who you are. My teenage years were spent between the UK and the USA. In the UK, it was all about how many pints of beer I could drink and how hot my curry would be afterwards. It was a badge of honour and it took me many years to step out of that phase.
Too many, actually!  

How it all began

Then I went to college in the USA – and that’s where I found out that I had a taste for cocktails.  It wasn’t a very refined taste in those days. Some would say it still isn’t! All I know is that in those early days, I tended to gravitate towards the ones that were either easiest to drink or contained the most alcohol. 

So, after a few years on the “Long Island Iced Tea Diet”, I found myself on a road trip to Chicago, sitting at the bar of Trader Vic’s Tiki Lounge at the Conrad Hilton, when somebody bought me a  cocktail I had ever tried before.  It was called a Suffering Bastard (and I can only assume that it was named after the hangover that I had the morning after). If so, it’s the most appropriately named drink I’ve ever had.

And over the years, these deceptively strong drinks have been the source of some of my best evenings (and worst mornings) ever since! So, what is in this delightfully named drink that makes it so appealing?  Well, let’s take a look under the hood of this cocktail classic and see if you like it. If you do, it could easily become the taste of summer.

Legendary hotels and their cocktails

As we know, all good drinks contain a legend. And many of the greatest cocktails began their lives behind the bars of some of the world’s most legendary hotels. They often changed the lives and fortunes of the bartenders who invented them as well, many of whom went on to become household names.  We’ve recently written some articles about hotel cocktail classics such as the Singapore Sling, invented at the historic Raffles Hotel in Singapore.  But now it’s time to reveal the story behind the legendary Suffering Bastard and how it got its unique and dramatic name. So, here’s the deal…

Originally invented as a simple hangover cure by the bar team at Cairo’s Shepheard’s Hotel, the Suffering Bastard gained a small, local reputation before the hotel burned to the ground in a fire in1952.  But wind the clock back 10 years to see where the story really begins.  

A legend is born

It’s 1942, Cairo and the Shepheard Hotel is fast becoming party central for British troops based in North Africa and the press corps that were covering the war. They had seen a lot and often found their solace in drink. The head bartender at the Shepheard, a guy called Joe Scialom, was on duty at the bar when he heard some officers complaining about the size of their hangovers.  His ears pricked up and it got him thinking. 

He began playing around with some recipes that might cure the hangovers of some of the troops who were his regulars.  Joe tried a variety of combinations before deciding on his final mix, which combined two liquors with lime juice, bitters and the curative qualities of ginger beer. Apparently this drink became instantly popular.  Before long it was being shipped to the front lines to fortify the troops and to keep their spirits up for the hard times ahead.

An unholy alliance

The most common recipe combination for a Suffering Bastard calls for an unholy alliance of bourbon and gin.  To this day, that remains the favourite combination but many variants exist which substitute brandy for bourbon.  Rum also sometimes makes an appearance.  And sometimes ginger ale is substituted for ginger beer (which is harder to find in some places).  For those who like to tone down the spice or who prefer a dryer, more refreshing drink, this might be the combo for you. 

Tiki culture

After the war, news of the Suffering Bastard spread beyond Egypt and into the post-war cocktail culture before being hijacked by the burgeoning Tiki Culture of the 60s and 70s. Polynesian bars were popping up everywhere and fruit-based cocktails, served in giant ceramic bowls paying homage to Hawaiian culture became all the rage.  

The leader of this cocktail fad was the infamous Trader Vic (otherwise known as Victor J. Bergeron). His recipes leaned more towards rums and he added a slice of cucumber for garnish. But, he also added orgeat (for sweetness) and a splash of curacao liqueur (for some extra fruitiness).  Whichever version you prefer, is entirely up to you. But remember, these are strong drinks that are deceptively easy to drink. So, if you have too many the night before, expect to be suffering in the morning.  And we all know the best way to beat a hangover.  Have a taste of the hair of the dog that bit you. 

The Suffering Bastard – the legend lives on

And what happened to the legendary bartender responsible for creating this infamous concoction? Well, after the original hotel burned down in 1952, Joe decided to remain in Egypt.  Unfortunately after a while he was arrested on a charge of espionage and eventually, after the Suez crisis, he was exiled from Egypt by President Nasser. On arrival in the US, he ended up being hired by a certain Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton hotel chain. Joe spent the rest of his career opening bars for Conrad Hilton in Puerto Rico and Havana.  But he’ll always be known for one thing in particular – the Suffering Bastard.  And that’s the way it should be.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz London dry gin
  • ½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitter
  • Ginger beer
  • Mint sprig to garnish

Method:

  1. Add the bourbon, gin, lime juice and bitters into a shaker with ice
  2. Shake until well chilled (about 30 seconds)
  3. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice
  4. Top up with ginger beer (or ginger ale)
  5. Garnish with a sprig of mint

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

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