Dux Bar

Dux Bar: Barcelona’s hidden gem

Down a narrow, twisted alley in Barcelona’s ancient and atmospheric El Born barrio, lies a little bar dedicated to all things gin. It’s hard to find if you don’t know where you’re going, but it’s well worth the effort once you find it. In the city that reinvented gin for the 21st century, Dux Bar was a pioneer. It was among the first cocktail bars to recognise the gin revolution that was coming.

All the best secrets are hard to find

Walk through the dark ancient streets of the old town and soak up the atmosphere before opening the doors to this vibrant little bar. They still take their gin here as seriously now as they did the first day they opened their doors. The atmosphere is convivial. Somewhere between the coziness of a pub and the cool buzz of a stylish cocktail bar. This place has got the balance just right.

Gins, cocktails (and much, much more…)

In addition to the wide selection of gins available behind the bar, they serve up signature cocktails with care and attention. Dux Bar even makes its own infused gins that can’t be found anywhere else. This is a classy place with classic gin drinks made to order with unusual creativity and flair. And if you’re not in the mood for gin then they have the standard range of inferior spirits available. They also have a decent selection of cold beers on tap.

Get in the swing – music to drink gin with

The other thing they’ve made a name for is their live music. More often than not, wander into this bar and relax to the sound of cool jazz. Or on another night, you might find a local DJ providing a relaxing and fun soundtrack to a memorable evening. This is a proper hidden gem and it’s hard-to-find location means that it is not over run with tourists in the way that some bars in the neighbouring Barrio Gotico can be.

Style, flair and imagination

This is a grown up place and the bartenders know their stuff.
Drinks are made with a certain style and flair that is common to Barcelona’s best bars. We think they are some of the very best cocktails in a town that’s already well known for its cocktails.
The vibe is nice, the crowd is fun and the cocktails are every bit as creative as the mixologists they employ.
The menu contains an entire page of infused gin and every drink is layered with several depths of hidden flavours and unexpected surprises such as gin cocktails infused with smoke, prepared at your table by Angel, the talented bartender and showman who runs the bar.

The decor is equally eclectic with everything from a working piano (for those impromptu jazz moments) to a beautiful collection of lead soldiers in an illuminated case. There’s even a welcoming fireplace complete with framed paintings of cartoon dogs. Another unique touch from this classy bar is that in addition to infusing their own gins, they offer personalised “gin boxes” and bespoke “gin packs”. These make ideal presents for your gin loving friends.

Classy (but affordable)

G&T lovers will be pleased to know that prices are in the 8-14 euro range, so there’s something for everyone. Given current restrictions, we’re not exactly sure what their opening hours are right now. But we definitely think this is one to put on your list for when things finally return to normal. We think it will be well worth the wait!

Saludos!

Dux Bar, C. dels Vigatans, 13, 08003, Barcelona, Spain


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

  • Dux Bar: Barcelona’s hidden gem
    Down a narrow, twisted alley in Barcelona’s ancient and atmospheric El Born barrio, lies a little bar dedicated to all things gin. It’s hard to find if you don’t know where you’re going, but it’s well worth the effort once you find it. In the city that reinvented gin for the 21st century, Dux Bar … Continued
  • The Ruddles Report: January
    Notes from a gin dog In the latest edition of the Ruddles gin report, our faithful gin dog has been sniffing out some news that you might find ginteresting. Winter is not his favourite time of year and lockdown hasn’t helped. He’s been keeping himself busy scouring the world’s media for the gin stories you … Continued
  • NUT gin: the clue is in the name!
    We stumbled across a lovely little gin the other day. It’s from right here in Catalunya and frankly it was too good for us not to share. Go nuts! Introducing NUT gin, craft-distilled in the Emporda region of Catalunya nestled between the rugged drama of the Pyrenean mountains and the cooling breezes of the Mediterranean … Continued
  • Gin-Gin Mule: a gin cocktail with a kick!
    Many of us will have heard of the legendary Moscow Mule.  It’s a classic cocktail and it’s been around forever.  It is a cocktail made with vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, garnished with a slice or wedge of lime.  The Moscow Mule is generally served in copper mugs and is one of the simplest and … Continued
Gin nut

NUT gin: the clue is in the name!

We stumbled across a lovely little gin the other day. It’s from right here in Catalunya and frankly it was too good for us not to share.

Go nuts!

Introducing NUT gin, craft-distilled in the Emporda region of Catalunya nestled between the rugged drama of the Pyrenean mountains and the cooling breezes of the Mediterranean coast. This is an area that is sure to inspire you with its natural beauty. The guys at NUT have created a unique gin in the traditional London Dry style and have infused it with a special blend of locally grown fruits, flowers, herbs and Mediterranean spices. The result is a distinctive tasting gin that really stands out from the crowd. At 45% ABV, NUT gin doesn’t hold back on the alcohol, yet it still delivers a smooth tasting, unusual and delicious gin with a long, smooth orange finish.

Inspired by rugged beauty and local botanicals

Like most Catalans, the team at NUT have a deep respect for beauty and nature. The rich, productive soils here allow flora and fauna to both survive and thrive. So, what is it that makes this London Dry style gin so special?

Only the best ingredients

They only use the best base alcohol, distilled four times. They then infuse it with a delightful combination of locally sourced botanicals, which they macerate for a minimum of 24 hours. These include the required juniper, but also 12 others including coriander, cardamom, angelica root, lemon peel, orange peel, rosemary, thyme, olive leaves and licorice. Then it gets interesting. They’ve added some local ingredients that are not often found in gin and which give it a unique character. The clue is in the name. In a stroke of genius, the guys at NUT have added walnuts and bitter almonds.

Complex, smooth and just a little bit nutty…

So, what does this unusual gin actually taste of? Well, the first impressions on the nose are that it has an elegant intensity. There are strong notes of citrus (in a nod towards its Mediterranean origins). There is also a noticeable herbaceous element. This brings out the best of all the other spices just waiting to be released into your mouth. And finally, there is a smooth, long finish to this gin where you should pick up traces of orange peels for a bittersweet ending.

Good enough to drink alone

All in all this is a great value treat, delivering confidently on all its promises. In fact, this gin is so good that it actually tastes rather nice all on its own. Just pour a measure into a rocks glass over a large ice cube and add a twist of orange peel. And if you’d like even more Mediterranean adventure in your drink, simply swap the orange peel for a sprig of burned rosemary. You could even a little fig for added sweetness.

However, drinking gin neat is not necessarily to everyone’s taste. You’ll be relieved to know that this gin is outstanding in a Mediterranean style G&T and is a great gin if you’re looking to give your cocktails a unique twist.

The perfect pour

This is a Mediterranean gin and we think it should be served in the Mediterranean style. Take a large copa glass and fill it to the top with big ice cubes (the bigger, the better!) Pour in a decent slug of gin (you decide what that means!) Fill it up to the top with a high quality Indian tonic water such as 1724 or a subtly flavoured premium tonic such as Fevertree Mediterranenan. Add a garnish such as a cinammon stick or a fresh orange wedge to bring out the best of the botanicals. You could even add a pinch of nutmeg if you’re feeling really adventurous. Your reward will be a distinctive gin, packed with intense Mediterranean flavours. Take that first sip and prepare to be instantly whisked away to the beautiful heart of Catalunya.

Saludos!


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

  • Dux Bar: Barcelona’s hidden gem
    Down a narrow, twisted alley in Barcelona’s ancient and atmospheric El Born barrio, lies a little bar dedicated to all things gin. It’s hard to find if you don’t know where you’re going, but it’s well worth the effort once you find it. In the city that reinvented gin for the 21st century, Dux Bar … Continued
  • The Ruddles Report: January
    Notes from a gin dog In the latest edition of the Ruddles gin report, our faithful gin dog has been sniffing out some news that you might find ginteresting. Winter is not his favourite time of year and lockdown hasn’t helped. He’s been keeping himself busy scouring the world’s media for the gin stories you … Continued
  • NUT gin: the clue is in the name!
    We stumbled across a lovely little gin the other day. It’s from right here in Catalunya and frankly it was too good for us not to share. Go nuts! Introducing NUT gin, craft-distilled in the Emporda region of Catalunya nestled between the rugged drama of the Pyrenean mountains and the cooling breezes of the Mediterranean … Continued
  • Gin-Gin Mule: a gin cocktail with a kick!
    Many of us will have heard of the legendary Moscow Mule.  It’s a classic cocktail and it’s been around forever.  It is a cocktail made with vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, garnished with a slice or wedge of lime.  The Moscow Mule is generally served in copper mugs and is one of the simplest and … Continued
gin mule

Gin-Gin Mule: a gin cocktail with a kick!

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Many of us will have heard of the legendary Moscow Mule.  It’s a classic cocktail and it’s been around forever.  It is a cocktail made with vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, garnished with a slice or wedge of lime.  The Moscow Mule is generally served in copper mugs and is one of the simplest and most delicious cocktails ever.
But what does all this have to do with gin, I hear you ask? Well, there is a special variation of this drink for gin lovers and, just like the city it was born in, it was so good, they named it twice.  It’s called (for obvious reasons), the Gin-Gin Mule.

The beautiful “love child” of a Moscow Mule and a Mojito

Invented in New York in the year 2000, this delicious drink is the beautiful love child of a Moscow Mule and a Mojito, so it has good genes! But this is more than just a change of booze.  The subtle difference is that it substitutes gin for vodka and adds the muddled mintiness of a Mojito to create a gorgeous taste and flavour combination that, in my opinion, far exceeds the beauty of its two elderly parents.
Just imagine this – a muddle of sugary mintiness at the bottom, offset by the spiciness and bubbles of a freshly opened bottle of ginger beer (we recommend Fentimans or Fever Tree) with a little citrus tartness to give it a refreshing edge and a big blast of a decent london dry gin such as Beefeater or Bombay Sapphire.

The serve

Traditionally, a Moscow Mule is served in a small, handbeaten  copper mug, but this drink works almost as well in a highball glass or a tumbler.  But the copper mug is better for sure. Not only does it look good but it adds a bit of novelty to your regular drinking approach.  And apparently, drinking from a cold copper mug maintains and even increases the bubbliness of the ginger beer, ensuring that your drink will be sparkling every time.  You can pick up a set of four of these beautiful, hand beaten copper mugs for less than £20 and guarantee that the sparkle will remain right up to the last drop.

The verdict

Wow, Gin-Gin Mule is a great drink and its parents should be proud.  No wonder this quickly became a contemporary classic when it was first introduced to customers at New York’s Pegu Club 20 years ago. Deliciously spicy and citrusy at the same time, the fresh, muddled mint takes it to another level altogether.  We cannot recommend this cocktail highly enough, but make sure you use freshly opened,  high quality ginger beer to make sure the fizz is truly fizzing!

Gin-Gin Mule recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 mint sprigs
  • 1/2 oz of fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz of simple syrup
  • 2 oz gin (Bombay Sapphire)
  • 2 ounces of high quality ginger beer (Fever Tree or Fentimans)
  • Garnish with lime wedges and a sprig of mint

Method:

  1. Muddle the mint leaves in the bottom of the mug/glass using a wooden spoon
  2. Add the lime juice, simple syrup and gin
  3. Stir to combine
  4. Add ice and fill to top with ginger beer.
  5. Stir gently
  6. Wipe the rim of the glass with a lime wedge
  7. Garnish with lime and mint (or a slice of ginger root)

gin mule

Calories per serving: 177

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.


RECENT POSTS

  • Dux Bar: Barcelona’s hidden gem
    Down a narrow, twisted alley in Barcelona’s ancient and atmospheric El Born barrio, lies a little bar dedicated to all things gin. It’s hard to find if you don’t know where you’re going, but it’s well worth the effort once you find it. In the city that reinvented gin for the 21st century, Dux Bar … Continued
  • The Ruddles Report: January
    Notes from a gin dog In the latest edition of the Ruddles gin report, our faithful gin dog has been sniffing out some news that you might find ginteresting. Winter is not his favourite time of year and lockdown hasn’t helped. He’s been keeping himself busy scouring the world’s media for the gin stories you … Continued
  • NUT gin: the clue is in the name!
    We stumbled across a lovely little gin the other day. It’s from right here in Catalunya and frankly it was too good for us not to share. Go nuts! Introducing NUT gin, craft-distilled in the Emporda region of Catalunya nestled between the rugged drama of the Pyrenean mountains and the cooling breezes of the Mediterranean … Continued
  • Gin-Gin Mule: a gin cocktail with a kick!
    Many of us will have heard of the legendary Moscow Mule.  It’s a classic cocktail and it’s been around forever.  It is a cocktail made with vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, garnished with a slice or wedge of lime.  The Moscow Mule is generally served in copper mugs and is one of the simplest and … Continued
smokey ice cubes

Smoky ice cubes: are they really a thing?

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

No smoke without fire?

Smoky ice cubes are indeed a thing. And they’re so easy to make. You could go all out and spend a day preparing a fire, smoking the wood and delicately infusing the ice. Or, you could simply buy a small bottle of liquid smoke and add a few drops to your ice cubes.  Bingo!

This little hack is a gift from us to you – we know you’re busy and who has the time to do this from scratch?  As the ice cubes inevitably melt, your drink becomes infused with a gentle smokiness that can enhance strong, complex cocktails such as a Negroni or a gin Old Fashioned. It’s a little magic trick that will impress your friends. For more inspiration, check out our free Top 10 gin bartending hacks.

Here is a great recipe that will draw out the smoky  flavour from the ice to really lift your cocktail out of the ordinary.

Ingredients:

  • 10-15 smoky ice cubes
  • 1 lime (cut into 8 wedges)
  • 90ml of gin (citrus gins work best)
  • Premium tonic water

Method:

  1. Squeeze the juice of two lime wedges per glass
  2. Fill the glass with the remaining lime wedges and fill to top with smokey ice cubes
  3. Add the gin and top up with tonic
  4. Garnish with  half of the thin lime slice and serve immediately

smokey ice cubes

Relax. Continued

Jinzu gin

Jinzu (Japan/Scotland): Scottish gin with a Japanese twist

Dee Davis has created Jinzu, a lovely gin. Inspired by a visit to Japan and a lifelong interest in flavour combinations, she’s managed to  create a classic British gin with an elegant and subtle Japanese twist. The resulting gin (named after a Japanese river surrounded by cherry blossom trees) is a subtle triumph.  Dee has managed to blend fragrant Japanese Sake with a traditional gin. 
This Scottish gin is built on a solid base of traditional Juniper (from Tuscany).  Dee then allows the citrus flavours of Yuzu lemon and a hint of cherry blossom in to the gin. And then she adds the magic ingredient, distilled Junmai sake from Japan. The result: an elegant, creamy and refreshing gin that hits just the right spot.

A winning combination

jinzu gin cherry blossomThis gorgeous fusion of East and West was developed by Dee after she won Diageo’s “Show Your Spirit” competition, way back in 2013.  Distilled in traditional copper stills it is an innovative gin, perfectly blended to reflect the characteristics of its dual heritage. 
At 41.3% ABV, this is strong enough to show its character but not so strong that you can’t keep sipping.
Delicate on the nose, you may smell oranges and coriander seeds with a long, lingering juniper finish, taking you on a sweet, spicy journey to the East.  This is a great gin if you’re thinking of rustling up a “Bee’s Knees” cocktail (recipe coming soon!). 
Plus, it comes in a beautiful bottle featuring a Japanese Mejiro bird under an iconic British umbrella and a beautiful branch from a cherry blossom tree. This image is designed to reflect the idea that this gin has its “head in Britain and its heart in Japan” and pays homage to the dual traditions of this exceptional drink.

Perfect serve:

  1. Take a large highball glass and fill it to the top with ice cubes (the bigger, the better!)
  2. Pour in 50ml of Jinzu gin, straight over the ice
  3. Fill to top with Fentimans premium tonic water (or Yuzu premium tonic water for a citrus lift)
  4. Garnish with a slice of apple poured into a highball glass full of cubed ice.
  5. Sit back and enjoy. Kampai!


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

  • Dux Bar: Barcelona’s hidden gem
    Down a narrow, twisted alley in Barcelona’s ancient and atmospheric El Born barrio, lies a little bar dedicated to all things gin. It’s hard to find if you don’t know where you’re going, but it’s well worth the effort once you find it. In the city that reinvented gin for the 21st century, Dux Bar … Continued
  • The Ruddles Report: January
    Notes from a gin dog In the latest edition of the Ruddles gin report, our faithful gin dog has been sniffing out some news that you might find ginteresting. Winter is not his favourite time of year and lockdown hasn’t helped. He’s been keeping himself busy scouring the world’s media for the gin stories you … Continued
  • NUT gin: the clue is in the name!
    We stumbled across a lovely little gin the other day. It’s from right here in Catalunya and frankly it was too good for us not to share. Go nuts! Introducing NUT gin, craft-distilled in the Emporda region of Catalunya nestled between the rugged drama of the Pyrenean mountains and the cooling breezes of the Mediterranean … Continued
  • Gin-Gin Mule: a gin cocktail with a kick!
    Many of us will have heard of the legendary Moscow Mule.  It’s a classic cocktail and it’s been around forever.  It is a cocktail made with vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, garnished with a slice or wedge of lime.  The Moscow Mule is generally served in copper mugs and is one of the simplest and … Continued
5 kinds of gin

5 kinds of gin: do you know the difference?

5 kinds of gin, really?

When most people think of gin, they think of England. It’s the classic, buttoned up English drink with hints of Empire, straw hats and times past.  But you couldn’t be more wrong. 
While it is true that the English adapted and popularised this juniper juice in the 18th century, its origins are not British at all, but Dutch.  Before it hit our shores, a drop of Dutch Courage (gin) was administered to calm the jagged nerves of those about to go into battle. The Brits liked this Jenever gin and wanted some for themselves.  But they altered forever the rich, almost smoky taste of the original by adapting the recipe. The result is what we now think of as traditional English gin styles, such as London Dry, Old Tom and Plymouth gin.  

The gin revolution begins

Now, fast forward to the 2010s, when the good people of Barcelona spotted a way of pumping up the style and invented the copa of gin (otherwise known as the Gin Tonic).  For the first time, gin and tonics were lovingly complemented with garnishes, herbs and exotic fruit to bring out the drink’s deeper aromas and flavours.  Once these gin pioneers had kick-started the gin revolution, small batch distillers and mixologists started to reappraise this extraordinary drink.
A decade later, there are more than 250 craft distilleries in the UK alone cranking out exceptional gins.  Craft distillers are pushing the boundaries of mixology further than ever.  Spain is not far behind with hundreds more dotted around the country. And Germany is a big player too. Even the Japanese are on the bandwagon! 

How many have you tried?

Genever gin

Genever ginThis is where it all began. Genever gin is the forerunner of modern gin. First heard of in 16th century Holland it is much maltier and more savoury than contemporary gins. This is due to the fact that it is distilled from malt wine spirits instead of neutral grain. It also works really well in a gin old-fashioned.  Originally, Genever was made by distilling malt to 50% ABV and then adding herbs to disguise the bitter taste, but it’s got much better since then. These days, there are two main types: Jonge Genever (Young Genever) has a neutral taste with a slight aroma of juniper and malt wine.  The second style is Oude Genever (Old Genever), aged in wood and with a maltier, smokier taste that is more reminiscent of whisky.

London Dry

London Dry ginContrary to popular opinion, London Dry gin doesn’t have to come from London. Or even the UK.  It is simply the name of a style that originated there in the aftermath of the genever wave. It is a very juniper forward style (as you would expect) and generally has citrus, angelica root and coriander as its other key flavours. Often bottled at high proof levels, this gin is great for cocktails, which is why it has become one of the most widely known gin styles on the planet.  This style became dominant and originally became known as Dry Gin to contrast it with its sweeter cousin, Old Tom.  London Dry gin has some additional rules to regular distilled gin.  It must be flavoured exclusively with distilled natural botanicals. No additional flavourings can be added after the distillation process.  In fact, nothing can be added except for neutral spirit, water and a maximum of 0.1 g of sugar per litre.

Old Tom

Old Tom ginA sweet style that developed in the 19th century this gin got its name from its secret history. In order to avoid paying taxes on gin, a certain Captain Dudley Bradstreet from London started selling bootleg gin. He advised people to look for it under the sign of the cat, where he had cleverly placed a lead pipe attached to a funnel on the inside. Customers would put money in the slot and he would dispatch their gin down the pipe directly into their glass, bottle (or even mouth!). Over time, the practice caught on and others started to change their door knockers or signs to feature an Old Tom Cat. Old Tom gin is a sweeter, maltier gin and is sometimes barrel-aged for flavour. It has become a classic ingredient for bartenders and mixologists around the world because it is such a versatile cocktail ingredient and features prominently in classic cocktails such as the Tom Collins.

Plymouth gin

Plymouth ginSmoother than its London relative this is generally produced in the south of England and is a lower strength gin than its big city neighbour. Juniper is less dominant in Plymouth gins, making it a great gin for drinking neat or in a Martini.  Plymouth gin can only be made at the Plymouth Gin Distillery in the beautiful South West of England and pops up frequently on bartenders shelves all over the world. It has a long history, dating back to that late 18th century.  It is the only gin to have its own geographical indication and is still made in the oldest operating gin distillery in the world.  This classic gin is still produced in an ancient still that has been operating for 150 years and it has a subtle, full-bodied flavour which avoids any bitter botanicals.  The result is a an earthy tasting gin with hints of orange and cardamom and a soft, smooth finish with a hint of spice. There are two versions of Plymouth gin – the original (41.2 ABV) and their Navy Strength version (which comes in at a hefty 57% ABV).

Contemporary gin

Contemporary gin The gin revolution that blew in earlier this decade has resulted in a contemporary international selection that could have only been imagined a decade ago. Now, contemporary gin makers are dispensing with tradition and experimenting with new flavours and techniques that are challenging everything we thought we knew about this traditional drink. From the UK to Spain and from Japan to Latin America there’s something for everyone – you are only limited by your imagination.



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

  • Dux Bar: Barcelona’s hidden gem
    Down a narrow, twisted alley in Barcelona’s ancient and atmospheric El Born barrio, lies a little bar dedicated to all things gin. It’s hard to find if you don’t know where you’re going, but it’s well worth the effort once you find it. In the city that reinvented gin for the 21st century, Dux Bar … Continued
  • The Ruddles Report: January
    Notes from a gin dog In the latest edition of the Ruddles gin report, our faithful gin dog has been sniffing out some news that you might find ginteresting. Winter is not his favourite time of year and lockdown hasn’t helped. He’s been keeping himself busy scouring the world’s media for the gin stories you … Continued
  • NUT gin: the clue is in the name!
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The Monkey gland cocktail.

The Monkey Gland: 1920s Viagra in a classic cocktail

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

We seem to have developed a bit of a monkey theme this week.  So in that spirit, here’s the bizarre story behind one of the world’s most famous gin cocktails – the Monkey Gland. 

This classic cocktail was first mixed up at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris.   Let’s take a step back in time to the 1920s, when legendary bartender Harry MacElhone was starting to build a reputation for himself in the heart of Paris.  He was well known for mixing up fabulous American style cocktails for his glamorous roster of international clients.  In 1922, in a clever marketing move, he thought he’d collect his best recipes and publish them in a book of cocktails which he called “Harry’s ABC of mixing cocktails”.  The book contained one particular drink with a strange name and a bizarre story. 

Building the Monkey gland legend

The art of cocktail making isn’t simply about mixing the right ingredients, there is also the little matter of building a reputation.  Harry knew that and concocted a wickedly strong cocktail by mixing classic London Dry gin with a little orange juice and a few dashes of Grenadine. To top it off, he added the final detail – 3 dashes of high strength Absinthe to guarantee an out of this world experience.  He mixed it all up, shook it with ice and poured it into a Martini glass. It was delicious, but he knew he had to have a name for it if he was to create a classic cocktail.  He called it the Monkey Gland – and he took inspiration from a bizarre source. 

Monkey glands, Viagra and a Russian scientist

In those pre-Viagra days, a Russian scientist called Serge Voronoff was experimenting with ways of maintaining men’s “staying power” and he hit on a very strange technique.  He grafted monkey glands onto men in a bid to boost their virility.  While this was a bit extreme (and there is no evidence that this technique actually worked) Harry was inspired.  He knew that sex sells, so in honour of Prof. Voronoff, he decided to name his new drink “The Monkey Gland” with all the promises and hope that a stimulating drink like this brings to men of a certain age. 

It has been a bartender’s classic ever since.  While we can’t vouch for the medical benefits of this drink, we can highly recommend it for its flavour and strength. For the prefect pour, we recommend making it with a good, classic London Dry such as Sipsmith [paid link].

Handle with care

Beware of the Absinthe – it’s not to everyone’s taste, but it packs a real alcoholic punch, so handle with care.

Bottoms up!

Here’s our classic recipe for a traditional Monkey Gland:

Ingredients:

  • 3 dashes of absinthe
  • 3 dashes of Grenadine
  • ⅓ orange juice
  • ⅔ London Dry gin

Method:

Shake well (over ice) and stir into cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange slice or a twist of burnt orange peel for a little extra flavour. 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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Corpse Reviver

Corpse Reviver No. 2: a Halloween treat

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Halloween is here and this evening, it is very likely that you will get a knock on the door. When you answer it, you will probably be confronted with a child dressed as a witch, or a famous superhero or even a headless ghost. They will charm you, and you will fall for their charms. And then, they will demand candy in return for not messing up your front doorstep. This has become the modern Halloween tradition that we all recognise.
But Halloween is not just a contemporary combination of a fancy dress party and a sugar-rush. It is an ancient festival, dedicated to remembering the dead and is thought to have evolved from ancient Celtic harvest festivals with pagan roots.

From pagan roots to hobby horses

Over the years, we have become familiar with the most recent incarnations of those ancient rituals. These include pumpkin carving, costume parties, telling scary ghost stories and generally spooking people out. But before the current tradition of trick or treat began, earlier versions were taking place.
From as early as the 16th century, the tradition of mumming was common in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. People went from house to house exchanging songs and verse for food. In those days, they would dress up as the souls of the dead. At around the same time, over in England, a man with a hobby horse led youths from house to house reciting verses with pagan overtones. And in Scotland people in masks went from door to door threatening to do mischief if they were not welcomed.

Turnips, pumpkins and cross-dressing Scots

Fast forward to the late 19th and early 20th century and it appears that the youth of Glamorgan and Orkney went for a bit of cross-dressing. In the 20th century, the pranks became more common in England as well and naughty kids would hollow out turnips and carve grotesque faces in them to use as lanterns. These in turn became the Jack ‘O’ Lanterns that we now carve out of pumpkins.
Echoes of these roots can still be glimpsed in our 21st century version of Halloween. And given the year we’re in, strangers knocking on your doors in masks may have a particular resonance.

Manning the barricades

So, if you’re planning on manning the barricades this Halloween, it’s best to be prepared. Obviously, you’ll need a large bag of assorted candy to ward off the ghosts and ghouls – and a strong gin cocktail to keep your own spirits up.
And what cocktail could be better than a Corpse Reviver?

Corpse Reviver classic cocktail was invented by the eminent Harry Craddock, original head bartender at the American Bar of the Savoy (and all round legend). It features in his famous Savoy Cocktail Book, first published in 1930. Ever helpful, right underneath the recipe, Harry offers the following advice:

Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.

Harry Craddock

TOP TIP: We don’t necessarily recommend downing four Corpse Reviver cocktails in a row, unless you really want to see spirits. But one or two won’t do you any harm. And it will help you to deal with those pesky Halloweeners outside your front door.

Harry Craddock’s original recipe for a Corpse Reviver No.2:

Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass

Happy Halloween!


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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A scottish castle in front of a lake and its reflection in an autumn atmosphere.

Scottish Gin Day: Smoky Martini, anybody?

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

It’s time to celebrate International Scottish Gin Day. And there’s no better way to do that than by raising a glass and sipping on a Smoky Martini.

Over the last few years, Scotland has had a real gin renaissance. The country most associated with Scotch whiskey is now building a huge reputation as a centre for craft gin distilling. In fact, last year there were more than 240 gin distilleries listed in Scotland. And, when you think about it, why not.

Scottish gin: based on centuries of knowledge

The country is chock full of whiskey distilleries, with centuries of knowledge carefully contained in the minds of its famous distillers. And the country is rich in natural, exotic, local ingredients such as heather, honey, naturally foraged herbs, raspberries and even seaweed, which make this one of the most diverse gin landscapes in the world. Some are even run through whiskey casks to absorb some of the heavier whisky aromas, while others remain more true to the original London Dry.

Two spirits, one cocktail

So, how can we combine the rich tradition of whiskey making and the rich tradition of gin drinking in one simple recipe. Welcome to the Smoky Martini. This is a wicked combination of Scotch and gin. Basically it’s a Scottish version of a Dry Martini, but it replaces a drop of vermouth with a drop of Scotch whiskey. It’s a really relaxing drink – perfect for an after dinner tipple. But since it only has two main ingredients, you’d better make sure you use the good stuff. A premium gin such as Caorunn (paid link) or Isle of Harris gin would work well, but really it’s a matter of your own preferences. And for your whiskey, we recommend something smoky and peaty such as a Laphroaig (paid link) to give it just the right balance. It’s really easy to make and it tastes absolutely delicious. So, if you’re looking for a change this evening, whip out a Scottish gin, a Scottish whiskey and a Martini glass and make a toast to the glories of Scotland.

Or as they say in these parts, Slainte!


Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 oz premium Scottish gin
  • A dash of your favourite Scotch whiskey (the peatier and smokier the better!)
  • Lemon twist

Method:

  1. Gather the ingredients above
  2. Pour gin into a mixing glass, filled with ice
  3. Stir well
  4. Strain into a chilled Martini glass
  5. Garnish with a lemon twist

Slainte!


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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