khao san

Khao San gin: a fiery trip back to Thailand

Khao San Gin – the spirit of South East Asia and named after a street I remember well. 
It was many years ago now when I flew to Thailand to meet my girlfriend. She’d been backpacking across Asia for 6 months.  I’d heard her saying how she had been dreaming of hot showers and clean sheets. I thought I’d surprise her with a couple of nights at a smart hotel for a bit of soul-reviving luxury. She met me at the airport with a big banner welcoming me to her world and after a giant hug, I told her my plan to whisk her off for a few days of comfort. But the look on her face was not at all what I expected. 

The street that changed my life…

Instead of a broad, happy smile, an unmistakable look of disappointment appeared.  When I asked her what was wrong, she was very clear. She didn’t see the point of coming all the way to South East Asia and then staying in a cookie-cutter American hotel.  The whole point of travelling, she said, was getting in among the people and experiencing life a bit differently.  She told me about a street called Khao San Road, where adventures were to be had.  That conversation changed my life and led to 20 years of backpacking that I still find hard to give up.

The next day, we checked out of our characterless, modern hotel and checked in to a small, Chinese B&B just off the main Khao San strip, built around a pretty courtyard.  It had the best banana pancakes in town and it was less than $10 a night.  And that was where our adventure really began. So, imagine my excitement when I discovered that Tarsier were bringing out Khao San Road gin, infused with red chili peppers, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf (three of my favourite ingredients). I just had to try it. And this is what I found.

The back (packer) story

Well, here’s the thing. It seems like the folks behind Khao San gin had a similar experience to my own. Inspired by the sights, smells and sounds of this buzzing backpacking district, they harnessed the flavours they found on the street and created an amazing gin.
They cold-distill their three prime ingredients separately in a vacuum still before blending it with an additional 10 botanicals. Everything in the gin is carefully selected to conjure up the sights, smells and sounds of Thailand. In fact, the gin has been bottled at exactly 41.2% ABV, a little nod towards the length of the street which is exactly 412 metres long. 

Virtual reality

But, not satisfied with real world senses such as taste and smell, they’ve also come up with another clever idea to take you right to the heart of this buzzing street. Point your mobile phone toward the QR code on the back label of Khao San gin and click.  You’ll immediately be transported to a fabulous collection of content that is iconic to this famous road. See photos, videos and recipes that will allow you to enjoy the sights and sounds of Bangkok without leaving the house.  Very handy in these quarantine times. 
But enough of the marketing – the real question is does it taste good. And the answer is a resounding YES!

The verdict

Khao San Gin is made by the team at Tarsier Spirits and they’ve packed a big blast of flavour into a beautiful bottle. The result is a fragrant, spicy gin with plenty of juniper up front. There’s loads of citrus in there from the Kaffir lime, which cuts through the peppery heat from the chilli peppers. There is also a subtle, fragrant lemongrass flavour that is unmistakably Thai and which is a nice counterpoint to the fire of the chilli. But running through it all, there is still an unmistakable piney juniper reminding you that this is, after all, primarily a London Dry gin.

Plus, the squat, white bottle is as beautiful as the gin it contains, with a show-stopping red label featuring a large chilli, so you will be in no doubt of what the main ingredient is here. The bottle is then finished off elegantly with a stylish wooden stopper. It is bound to enhance any gin shelf and the virtual reality label offers an extra level of fun and fascination.

The perfect serve

We think this is so good, you really won’t want to dilute it with a flavoured mixer. Instead, we say serve this tall, in a Collins glass.

  1. Fill up your Collins glass to the top with large ice cubes.
  2. Pour in the required amount of Khao San Gin.
  3. Cut a large fresh lime wedge and squeeze it directly into the glass.
  4. Rub the rim of the glass with what’s left of the lime.
  5. Fill the glass to the top with a freshly opened premium Indian tonic water such as Fentimans or Fever Tree.
  6. Then garnish it with a thin lime wheel or a spicy, dried red chilli pepper.
  7. Take a sip, turn on the VR and you could almost be back in Thailand.

This may be as close as we all get for a while.



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

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


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Gin Sea

Gin Sea: born in London, raised in Spain

Gin Sea’s 5-times distilled base spirit is sourced from England and imported directly to Manuel Barrientos’ little gin project in Galicia.
All the best gins start with the best ingredients and this is no exception. It’s the highest quality neutral grain spirit around and is sourced overseas before a touch of Galician magic is added in Spain. And that’s also why this gin combines the best of both worlds.
These guys aren’t in a hurry to get the quickest turnaround. Instead, they’re dedicated to making their gin the old fashioned, way – slowly, by hand. And this is one of the things that distinguishes Gin Sea from some of its upstart competitors. There’s a real dedication to getting this right, no matter how long it takes. The result is a pleasure to drink.

Once the five times distilled neutral grain spirit is imported from England to Galicia, Manuel Barrientos redistills this precious spirit with 11 botanicals including juniper, cardamom, coriander, thyme leaves, chamomile, licorice, peppermint, cinnammon and sweet and bitter orange peels. Each botanical is then macerated separately before being distilled in a 130 year old copper still made by Herve et Moulin in Bordeaux. This is one of the oldest stills still active within Europe. And that says it all, really.

So, where does this little beauty come from?

This is a classic example of European co-operation. With the purest of neutral grain spirits shipped in from London, the rest of the work is the combination of an ancient French still and a thoroughly modern sommelier.
Manuel is the man who makes the magic happen at the distillery in the rugged region of Galicia in Northern Spain and he had form before he started working in his dream gin project.
He brought 15 years of experience in the hotel industry, including 5 years as a sommelier in some of Galicia’s top restaurants to this project. And he was determined to produce something he could be proud of and which would represent the region of Galicia in all its uniqueness.
Born in London, raised in La Coruña.

As Manuel said: “This idea was germinated in Galicia and our first task was to select the right local ingredients. We had to carry out hundreds of tests until we found our final formula. More than 100 Galician hospitality professionals took part in our different tastings. We took all their opinions on board to develop the delicate and classic flavours of our final product!”

What does Gin Sea taste like?

This is a delicious and distinctive gin at a standard strength of 40% ABV.
Sweet citrus notes and earthy juniper play well against a background of candied ginger, thyme and chamomile. There are hints of lavender and a gentle spiciness that warms the palate nicely. There’s also a noticeable peppery herbal finish which balances the sweetness of the chamomile and the warmth of the ginger is very comforting. We think that Gin Sea (like most good gins) lends itself to a beautiful G&T. But it would work equally well as a cocktail spirit. Perhaps in a classic Negroni or even in the Queen’s favourite cocktail, a “Gin and It”.

The perfect pour

Since this is a Spanish gin, we think it should be served in the Spanish way. And that means digging out your copa glass!

  1. Fill your copa glass to the top with large, round ice cubes (the larger the better!).
  2. Give the ice a gentle stir. Wipe a little orange wedge around the edge of the glass before squeezing the juice into the ice.
  3. Pour a generous serving of Gin Sea over the ice directly into your glass.
  4. Top it up with a premium, fresh tonic water (such as Franklin and Sons premium Indian tonic water).
  5. Garnish with a twist of orange zest or some cardamom pods to bring out the flavour.
  6. Give it a gentle stir before raising it to your mouth, inhaling all those delicious citrus flavours and then diving in for a long sip.

This fabulous, complex, classic, well balanced London Dry gin will get you in the mood for fun. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Hope you enjoy their beautiful add: https://vimeo.com/55014833



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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Ginger Tom

The Ginger Tom: a spicy twist on a cocktail classic

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Here’s a fabulous cocktail recipe based on one of the most famous gin drinks of all time. Introducing the Ginger Tom. But before we share the recipe, we thought it would be a good idea to check out the heritage and history of this delicious drink.

The Cat’s Whiskers

The Ginger Tom is one of a family of gin cocktails that have all derived from a common source: the Tom Collins.
The original Tom Collins drink actually started its life as a John Collins. Apparently, John was a waiter at the infamous Limmer’s Old House in London’s Mayfair. The drink itself dates back as far as 1876, when it was first served by John in its original format.
The original classic began as a simple recipe that combined gin, fresh lemon juice, sugar and soda water. Served in a tall glass (now known as a Collins glass) it was traditionally topped off with a maraschino cherry.
Since those early days, more than 18 variations on the Collins theme have evolved as tastes and ingredients changed over the years. But the original Tom Collins remains one of the all time classics.

The Ginger Tom

With all that choice available, it’s always hard to pick a favourite family member, but the Ginger Tom stands out.
It was adapted in 2003 from a standard Tom Collins recipe by legendary bartender, Jamie Terrell from Lab, London.
Since then it has become the stuff of gin legend! It’s full of fiery warmth and citrus sweetness. And the good news is that it’s really easy to make at home using common ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.
So, what’s in this delicious drink? Let’s take a look.

The Ginger Tom cocktail recipe

What do I need?

The first thing you need to do is to find a Collins glass (although any tall, skinny glass will do!) Then get your hands on some sliced root ginger and choose your gin (we recommend an Old Tom, of course!) The only other things you’ll need are simple syrup, lime juice and some freshly opened soda water. Sparkling mineral water will work just as well.
Here’s how easy it is to make this gorgeous drink:

Ingredients:

  • Two slices of root ginger
  • 2 shots of Old Tom gin (or your preferred choice)
  • 1 shot of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 shot of rich simple syrup (2 sugar:1 water)
  • Soda water

Method:

  1. Muddle the ginger in the base of a cocktail shaker
  2. Add two shots of gin
  3. Squeeze in fresh lime juice
  4. Add two shots of simple syrup
  5. Shake with ice and “fine strain” into a Collins glass
  6. Top up with a premium soda water
  7. Garnish it with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry on a cocktail stick
  8. Sit back and raise a glass to Tom, John and Jamie for creating this divine concoction

Sometimes the sequel can be even better than the original!



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

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


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botanicals

Botanicals: gin’s secret stars

Why is gin so different to vodka or any other white spirit? What makes gin so special? Well, the secret lies in the botanicals.

What are these botanicals and why are they so important? And how exactly do they turn a colourless, odourless, tasteless liquid into one of the most versatile and exciting spirits on planet earth?

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

Without juniper, there is no gin.

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

Juniper’s medicinal history

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

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

Botanicals: a world of fragrant opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laverstoke Mill: a temple to botanicals

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

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

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



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

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


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Malfy Gin con Limone

Malfy Gin con Limone: the best lemon gin out there?

I love it when a gin does exactly what it says on the tin. Malfy Gin con Limone is just such a gin.

As you’d expect, it’s literally a gin from the Amalfi coast of Italy that has been infused with juicy, sweet sun-ripened local lemons. They’ve even added some rare local Sfusato lemon peel alongside their hand-picked juniper and a small selection of other locally sourced botanicals. It’s that classic simplicity that shines through in what is, for me, the best lemon gin out there. This is a gorgeous, crystal clear gin with lashings of citrus on the nose and a complex lemon finish that lingers long after the last sip has been taken.
Somehow, this stunning gin manages to avoid the synthetic flavours of some other lemon gins. It doesn’t simply try to nostalgically mimic childhood sweets or recreate lost recipes from the past. This is a thoroughly modern gin that makes the most of its sunny location to dial up the citrus in every sip.

A family affair, oozing Italian chic

Malfy Gin con Limone absolutely oozes Italy. Its gorgeous modern bottle is decorated, with stunningly cool Italian designs and lemon circles, which suit this gin’s sunny vibe perfectly. Even looking at the bottle puts you in a holiday mood – but the drink inside is even better.

What makes this particular lemon gin the real deal? Well first of all, it’s a family affair. This gin is lovingly made by the Vergnano family. While this is a thoroughly modern gin, its roots go deep and the ingredients are intrinsically connected to the Italian landscape. The distillate base is Italian wheat and the juniper is from Tuscany.

Lemons are the star here

But the star of the show here is definitely those lemons. The team at Malfy have also dialed up the citrus by adding some extra botanicals including Italian coastal oranges and Sicilian grapefuits alongside the lemon, licorice and coriander.
The result is the perfect summer gin – ideal for long G&Ts to cool you down on those hot evenings we’re dreaming of.

But here’s a little secret – those lemons aren’t just any lemons. They’re special lemons, only produced in limited quantities (most of them go to make Limoncello). The ones they use at Malfy are ultra-rich in oil glands giving them a uniquely potent aromatic quality that really makes this gin stand out.

A taste sensation

So, what is it like? Well the first impression on the nose is that it is immediately and noticeably citrus. There’s loads of lemon in there up front, with a bit of orange and even some underlying pine notes. But when you take a sip, it all comes together in a fiesta of citrus flavours. There’s a little spiciness from the coriander, but mostly this is all about the lemon which dances on your tongue in a frenzy of Mediterranean flavours that are hard to resist.

This is one of the best flavoured gins out there to make a classic Mediterranean G&T – and I think that’s a great way to start.

Splash a little sunshine in your glass

Just imagine yourself in a little rooftop cafe, perched on the edge of a steep cliff in a little village on the Amalfi coast. You’ve had a long hot day at the beach and now you want to unwind watching the sunset over the beautiful Mediterranean Sea sparkling below. The drink you want with you is Malfy Gin con Limone.

Malfy Gin con Limone: the perfect serve ( ABV 41%)

We think that there’s only one glass for this drink: a large copa glass.

  1. Fill the glass to the top with large ice cubes.
  2. Add a generous shot of Malfy Gin con Limone.
  3. Cut a lemon into wedges and then wipe the rim of your glass with the lemon wedge.
  4. Squeeze the lemon into the glass and fill to the top with a premium Indian Tonic water letting the fizz of the tonic water gently mix all the flavours together.
  5. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel and drink.

You’ll be transported to the Amalfi coast in no time.

TOP TIP: this gin works equally well in any citrus cocktails. I tried it last night in a classic Tom Collins and it was delicious. Really pumped up the citrus!



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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cherry julep

Cherry Julep – Wow! Just wow…

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Tailgating… Southern style

In my 20s I lived in America. Richmond, Virginia, in fact.
Every year, my family would gather with friends for a great Virginia tradition, The Strawberry Hill Races. This was a traditional American steeplechase, but I knew nothing about horses.
What I did know was that this was a great party. Every year, we’d roll up in our American station wagon, packed to the gills with English treats such as Coronation chicken, fresh strawberries and cream and a big silver punch bowl full of Pimm’s.

Three measures of gin (and no Bourbon)

We would lay out all our treasures on a big folding table and, understandably, we quickly became the centre of a big tailgating party. But everyone else was drinking Mint Juleps, made with Bourbon, sugar and mint.
As the years passed, I became less and less enamoured with the taste of Bourbon and more and more enamoured with the taste of gin. So, imagine my delight when I discovered a recipe for a Cherry Julep made with not one but three measures of gin (and not a drop of Bourbon to be seen!)
It almost sounds like my perfect drink, so this week, I thought I’d give it a go. And I’m delighted to report that it is truly lovely.

A Julep – but not as we know it!

Forget everything you imagine a mint julep to be. This is different for sure. Fruity, instead of minty. Sweet cherries, sugar and gin. Plus an extra measure of Sloe Gin for depth and natural flavouring. All served up ice cold in a highball glass, this promised to be a real treat. And it didn’t disappoint. Fruity, rich, cooling, this drink ticks all the boxes for a delicious spring cocktail. Plus, almost all the ingredients are likely to be somewhere at the back of your bar (or easy to find in your local grocery store).

So, what exactly is a Julep?

Traditionally, a Julep is an American cocktail. It’s generally made from Kentucky Bourbon and it’s often drunk at major social events in the southern states of the USA. From the Kentucky Derby to the Master’s in Augusta, Mint Juleps can be found in the hands of Southern gentlemen and Southern belles from Richmond, Virginia to Lexington, Kentucky. But it’s also a cocktail staple in bars across the globe. Normally served in silver or pewter cups, these drinks should be held by the bottom and top edges only to guarantee a chilled drink every time. However, these days you are just as likely to be served yours in a highball glass.

The Spanish connection

Interestingly, this classic American drink has a Spanish connection. A Julep is generally defined as a sweet cocktail. But the word itself is derived from the Spanish word “julepe”, taken form Spanish Arabic and derived in turn from the Persian word Golab, which means rosewater. Who knew?

Introducing the Cherry Julep

Juelps continued to be popular throughout the 19th and early 20th century and, as I mentioned, they are generally associated with Bourbon. But these days, as gin takes centre stage and cocktails are increasingly “de rigeur”, my eyes lit up at the discovery of the Cherry Julep. This little beauty is a perfect combination of gin, sloe gin, cherry brandy, grenadine and sugar syrup. No need for a silver chalice here – just a glass that doesn’t leak!

The finishing line…

I mixed one of these up the other day and I think this works particularly well with an Old Tom gin such as Haymans. That slightly sweeter edge seems to marry well with the soft, fruity ingredients of the drink. Honestly, this drink was a revelation. I may not be able to swig a Mint Julep at the Kentucky Derby this year, but there’s every chance that I’ll be sipping on one for the Grand National, while waiting for my annual betting spree to end in its customary disappointment. No stress. As long as I have a Cherry Julep in my hand, I’m already a winner. Cheers, dears.

The Cherry Julep recipe

Ingredients

  • 3-4 ice cubes (plus crushed ice to serve)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of simple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of grenadine
  • 2 measures of Old Tom gin
  • 1 measure of cherry brandy
  • 1 measure of sloe gin
  • Lemon rind strips to garnish

Method

  1. Place the ice into a cocktail shaker.
  2. Pour the lemon juice, simple syrup, grenadine, cherry brandy, sloe gin and gin over the ice.
  3. Shake until a light frost appears on the outside of the shaker.
  4. Strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice.
  5. Garnish with strips of lemon rind.

Top tip: if you really want to dial up the cherry, add a maraschino cherry straight form the jar and drizzle a little of that gorgeous cherry juice (straight from the jar) directly into your mixture.
You won’t regret it!

Place a bet on your favourite horse and wait…



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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5 pink gins

Love is in the air: 5 pink gins to set your heart a-flutter

5 pink gins to get you in the mood for romance.

This Sunday is Valentine’s Day. And for many of us, it won’t be quite the same as usual. No romantic restaurant dinners gazing into each other’s eyes, whispering sweet nothings. No flickering candle-lit dinners, romantic balloon rides or weekend breaks in Paris. This year, it’s more likely to be a domestic dinner, with the kids in tow . But we all know that a little gin can help to get that sparkle back.
So, here are 5 pink gins to help get you “gin the mood” this Sunday.

1. Eden Mill’s Love Gin, ABV 42%

The name says it all. This romantic gin from the team at Eden Mill is guaranteed to make your heart beat faster this Valentine’s Day.
This innovative Scottish distillery knows that love is in the air this weekend.
Eden Mill’s Love Gin is a delicious gin infused with juniper, coriander seed and angelica. Then things get a bit frisky.
It has flavours including rhubarb root, rose petal, goji berries, marshmallow root and raspberry leaf.  And for a whiff of floral notes, Eden Mill has infused this mix with hibiscus flowers. 
The result is a delicious gin with notes of juniper, lime and strawberries on the nose.  Love Gin’s taste is unique. Red berries and rose shines through on the palate, then fade into a refreshingly dry finish. And it comes in a classic white ceramic bottle.
This is exactly the kind of gin you should be sharing with someone you love this Valentine’s Day.

2. Pinkster, ABV 37.5%

This gorgeously fruity gin is made with real raspberries. It was launched eight years ago as an “agreeably British gin.” 
Pinkster‘s distinctive raspberry flavour arises from fresh fruit steeped in the gin. The fruit lends it a beautiful pink hue.  On the nose, keep an eye out for notes of orange peel and angelica, backed up by sharp raspberries.
Take a sip: you’re also likely to detect a bit of pepper alongside the vanilla, resulting in a well-rounded taste. Pinkster finishes with a blast of raspberries that lingers long after the final sip. Its squared-off bottle and modern label make this a great way to melt your partner’s heart this weekend.

Try serving it with a garnish of well-spanked fresh mint and a raspberry for that extra touch of romance. Let’s raise a glass to love!

3. Edinburgh Gin (Valentine’s edition), ABV 43%

5 pink gins

Edinburgh Gin has released a deliciously subtle gin that we think you’ll just fall in love with. First bottled six years ago, this is a limited edition gin that is made romance.
There’s a nice fresh crispness to this gin. It’s courtesy of a well-considered blend of lemon balm, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf. Add to that a delicate infusion of rose and hibiscus which introduces a pink hue to the spirit. And a light, perfumed taste which will keep you feeling in the mood for love.

This is a great gin on its own (with tonic and ice) or served up in a romantic cocktail. It’s definitely too good to drink alone. Share it with someone you love.

4. Larios Rose gin, ABV 37.5%

5 pink gins

Spain’s love affair with gin has been going on for centuries and Larios Rose is a pink gin you can rely on. Part of the growing Larios range, this is a great-value gin.
It has a beautiful pink colour to match the roses that are bound to arrive on this most romantic of days. The Larios team has combined delicious strawberry sweetness with classic Mediterranean citrus notes.
It results in a smooth, refreshing easy-to-drink gin that we think you’ll love.

Serve it with some Fever Tree elderflower tonic and a strawberry garnish.

5. Mermaid Pink gin: ABV 38%

Mermaid pink gin

Our final romantic gin is Mermaid Pink gin. This is from the folks at the Isle of Wight distillery. It’s another beautiful gin infused with island strawberries. It uses 10 ethically sourced botanicals including lemon zest and grains of paradise.
Rock samphire balances out its sweetness with a little salty taste of the sea. The result: a beautifully balanced pink gin. And without some of the overpowering sweetness of some of its rivals.
Plus, it is the colour of romance, making it the perfect drink to share with the one you love this Sunday (or any other day of the year!). Serve this with a premium tonic water and garnish it with lime, mint or strawberry.

This gorgeous gin come in one of the most stunning bottles around. And it is dedicated to reducing the impact of plastic on the oceans. Mermaids have rights too!



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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tanqueray rangpur

Tanqueray Rangpur: my new gin hero

I know it’s not new and most of us have probably locked our lips around this already. But sometimes’ it’s worth reminding yourself the excellence that’s right in front of you. Having tried a few lime gins over the last year, I’ve developed a little taste for it. As a child, I grew up in India and my childhood memories form comfortably around a simple Indian drink that kept me cool on many a hot Calcutta day. It was called a Nimbu Pani and it was basically a freshly squeezed mix of lime juice, simple syrup and soda water, served with loads of ice. To this day, it evokes fabulous memories. Ever since, I’ve had a taste for lime.

A lime classic, delivered at a decent price

Whether it’s baked into a Key Lime pie or muddled with mint in a Gin Gin Mule , it’s a flavour I keep returning to. So, having tried several lime gin brands over the year, yesterday I returned to revisit Tanqueray Rangpur, one of my standard favourites. And it didn’t disappoint.
Sometimes, the standard brands are overlooked in favour of the trendiest bottles or the best back stories. But this classic lime gin deserves a place in everybody’s bar. And it’s not as expensive as some of those other fancy labels, so might be worth keeping one in stock for those lime emergencies.
So, why is it so good?

Tanqueray Rangpur does exactly what it says on the tin

Following in the footsteps of its siblings (including the ever popular Tanqueray Sevilla) this gin does what it says it will do. This is a straight, no-nonsense injection of lime infused into a standard London Dry Tanqueray mix.
Made with rare Rangpur limes (famous for their sweet, juicy zest) and then combined with juniper, coriander, bay leaves and ginger, this drink just screams “Passage to India”. It is a truly delicious drink, right down to the last drop. The resulting spirit retains a full-bodied flavour with a surprisingly smooth finish. On the nose, it is distinctly limey in a soft, perfumed kind of way. On the tongue, it’s a little explosion of lime with overtones of citrus dancing around to reveal hints of pineapple and lemon. There is no lack of lime flavour here. And the finish lingers long after you’ve swilled that last drop of this delicious elixir.
Fresh and clean, the taste hangs around for a little while, before a slow fade with no bitter aftertaste.

A refreshingly honest gin

What I like most about this drink is its honesty. If you want a lime gin, here it is. No convoluted, exotic backstory. Just a trusted Tanqueray pedigree. There’s no massive marketing hype around this like there was around the launch of Tanqueray Sevilla a few years ago. No gimmicky names required, it manages to avoid some of the slightly synthetic, artificial taste of some of the other lime gins. It’s a refreshingly honest gin. While the juniper taste is present for sure, it never dominates or gets in the way of the lime. This is an exceptional gin at a decent price.

So, how do you drink this delicious gin?

Well, preferably on a veranda, with a large ceiling fan wafting the delicious scents and smells of India all around you. But if that’s impossible, them make do with your own kitchen. Arm yourself with some simple ingredients. Franklin and Sons Natural Indian tonic water works a treat with this drink. Don’t ruin it with fancy flavours, there’s enough juicy zest in this to enjoy without any distractions. Serve it long in a tall glass, with ice. That’s what I did last night.

And it tasted just like a Nimbu Pani (but much more fun)!

Save me a seat!

Tanqueray Rangpur: the perfect pour

  1. Place a whicker chair onto the veranda.
  2. Fill up a tall highball glass with large ice cubes.
  3. Slice up two wedges of fresh lime.
  4. Wipe one around the rim of the glass and drop it in.
  5. Pour a decent shot of gin over the ice (Tanqueray Rangpur).
  6. Fill it to the top with a freshly opened premium Indian tonic water.
  7. Drop the second lime wedge into the glass.
  8. Sit back and imagine you’re in India.

PS – this is a great gin to give an extra lime edge to some cocktails (think Gin Gin Mule!)



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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bitters and cocktails

Bitters: what are they and why should we care?

Anybody who enjoys a good cocktail will have come across the word bitters every so often.  And if you’re a gin drinker, you need to know what they are.
Basically, these are small bottles of highly alcoholic flavouring agents, generally infused with herbs and botanicals.  Like many things, they started off life as a medicinal potion. In fact, they have a medicinal history that has seen them prescribed as cures for everything from stomach aches to hangovers. They are also often the mystery ingredient in your gin cocktail.
But what are they and why should we care?

Back to basics

At their most basic, bitters are simply neutral spirits infused with aromatics such as spices, seeds, fruits, tree bark  etc.  Some of the more traditional flavours include cassia root, orange peel, cinchona bark and cascarilla. Generally, they contain a potent mixture of water, alcohol and herbs and they come in all strengths, ranging from the strong to the very strong.
As a mark of respect for their potency, they generally come in tiny bottles and are added to cocktails in small drops. This is due to their intense flavour and industrial strength.  The most commonly referenced brand of bitters is Angostura.
But what do these tiny drops of flavour do?

Smoothing out the edges

Cocktails often contain a delicate balance of flavours, generally in the sweet and sour range.  But by adding an additional primary taste bartenders can help to smooth out a cocktail neutralising any sharp or sweet edges and adding a little balance to the mix.  This complexity adds an extra layer of character to drinks and can subtly change your entire drinking experience.

So where did this all begin?

Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians were ahead of their time.  While they were constructing their mind-boggling pyramids, they also began to experiment with medicinal herbs.  Interestingly, they were also partial to a drop of wine.  They started to infuse their wine with those bitter herbal potions.  This not only changed the flavour profile of the wine, but also claimed apparent medicinal benefits.
Fast forward to the Middle Ages and the advent of organised distilling.  Preparations with deeper combinations of flavours started to appear, seemingly influenced by these ancient medicinal practices.
By the 19th century, the Americans started to add bitters to Canary wine as a preventative medicine.  And then the cocktail arrived.

Bitters become brands

That was when things started to make real progress.  Commercial distillers began to produce their own bitters – the most famous of which is Angostura (named after a Bolivian town of the same name).  As the years moved on and tastes became increasingly accustomed to these new flavours, other brands began to appear including Peychaud’s from New Orleans. This brand is now most generally associated with the Sazerac cocktail.
You may also  be familiar with bitters appearing in classic Pink Gin or Old Fashioned recipes.  This is where Angostura continues to make its mark.

During the latter half of the 19th century, orange bitters began to make their presence felt and began to appear in more and more cocktail recipes.  And then, in 1862, legendary bartender Jerry Thomas championed them in his book “How to mix drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion”.
This was the inflection point that brought them firmly into the territory of a mainstream cocktail ingredient.

The age of the cocktail

Bitters have added subtle flavour and aroma to drinks for centuries.  They are often drunk neat, as a digestif, in both Europe and America. But with the resurging interest in craft gins and bespoke cocktails, they are continuing to add an extra layer of complexity.
You will increasingly see them appearing in a range of cocktail recipes (not least in the common and garden G&T!).
And bitters have another excellent property which should not be ignored: they make a rather unpleasant tasting but highly effective hangover cure.
These days there are a plethora of new brands on the market and more and more people are experimenting with making their own craft versions at home.
Here are some of the most well known bitters, just in case you fancy mixing up a proper
pink gin (especially if you’re expecting a giant hangover any time soon!).

Some of the most popular bitters brands (paid links)

bitters selection



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 bramble

The Bramble: a cocktail full of the joys of spring

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

Spring is in the air (almost…)

Sometimes, a cocktail comes along that quickly becomes an instant classic.  The Bramble is one such drink.  At some point in the early 1980s, legendary bartender, Dick Bradsell was working in a bohemian cocktail bar, deep in the heart of London’s Soho. This was back in the days when cocktails were still a guilty secret in a city that got its kicks from beer, wine and whisky. 

Right, said Fred!

The bar was called Fred’s Club and it served its slightly dangerous concoctions to an eclectic Soho mix of artists, writers, musicians, drag queen’s and the occasional confused tourist.  That was when Fred said: “Right. Let’s create a British cocktail we can be proud of”.  Dick decided to rise to the challenge and his mind wandered back to his childhood, where he had his happiest memories.  He remembered his early years wandering the beautiful fields, winding lanes and gentle hills of the picture perfect Isle of Wight. 

Island inspiration

For those of you who don’t know, the Isle of Wight is a beautiful little island. It’s nestled just a few miles off the South Coast of England.  This special place is like England in miniature.  It’s surrounded by the sheltered waters of The Solent on one side and the exposed Southern Coast gazing wistfully towards Northern France on the other side.  The island is only 22 miles long and is filled with impossibly cute villages, thatched cottages and beautiful beaches.  Perfect for those long country walks.  The fields and lanes are lined with beautiful vibrant hedgerows bursting with flowers, berries and fruit and teaming with birds, bees and a wide diversity of local wildlife.

Wandering down memory lane

As a  child, Dick wandered these lanes, picking wild fruits and berries under an English sun.  Those perfect days must have made quite an impression on the young Dick.  And this is where the Bramble cocktail first started to take root in the childhood imagination of this soon to be legendary cocktail king. Years later, when the burgeoning bartender was asked to create a new British cocktail for Fred’s Club, this is where he turned for his inspiration.   

The Bramble is born

He knew he wanted to make a spring cocktail, so he combined the distinctly British taste of gin (we recommend Martin Miller’s) with the citrus freshness of lemon.  And then he added his secret weapon – Creme de Mure.  He finished it all off with some simple syrup and when he gave it a stir, this heady, fruity mixture immediately took him back to those childhood walks.  He knew he had cracked it and he called this drink The Bramble (the name given to the local name for  blackberry bush).  Dick went on to greater things and throughout his career, he has invented other world famous cocktails including the ubiquitous Espresso Martini. But this is the drink that made his name.

So, what’s it like?

Well, spring is in the air, so whether you’re already basking in the early sunshine of Barcelona or dreaming of brighter days from the cozy comfort of a UK winter, this drink should be coming your way soon.  Basically, all you need is a few simple ingredients.  Pour your gin into a separate mixing glass.  Add the fresh lemon juice and simple syrup and shake the mixture over ice.  Strain the resulting liquid into a highball glass full of ice. Then, slowly drizzle the creme de mure through the liquid to give the drink a beautiful, marbled effect.  And if you’re all out of creme de mure, then creme de cassis is a perfectly good alternative.

The joys of spring

So, that’s it.  Welcome to The Bramble.
All you have to do now is sit back, give it a gentle stir and sip. If that doesn’t fill you with the joys of spring, nothing will.

The Bramble cocktail recipe:

Ingredients

  • 40 ml gin
  • 20ml of fresh lemon juice
  • 20 ml of simple syrup
  • 20 ml creme de mure 
  • Blackberries
  • Ice

Method

  1. Shake the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup over ice
  2. Strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice
  3. Dribble the creme de mure through the ice and stir gently
  4. Garnish with a blackberry or a slice of lemon

You can check other amazing cocktail recipes here.

 


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

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


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