snacks

Gin snacks: 5 amazing recipes to spice up your gin and tonic

There’s only one thing better than sipping on a freshly made G&T, built with care and garnished with love and that’s having the right snack available as you sip on our favourite drink. So, we thought we’d suggest some simple, nutty accompaniments which will make your G&T go down a treat. From sweet almond nibbles to a simple chickpea Bombay mix that you can make at home, these are the treats that will make your cocktails shine.  We love the spicy chili lime peanuts and the sweet spicy rosemary nuts the most.  But everyone’s different, so it’s up to you.

Because these are so moreish, we suggest that you make up a batch of these in advance and store them in a jar with a lid.  That way, you’ll always have something handy for happy hour (or any other time!)

Here are our 5 favourite snack mix recipes to help your G&T go down – you decide which one’s the best.

1. Honey sesame almonds: keep everyone sweet

Sometimes you want sweet. Sometimes you want savoury. Sometimes, it just depends on what kind of mood you’re in or what you’re drinking at the time. But if you like the best of both worlds, then here’s a perfect little 15 minute honey sesame almond recipe that blends honey and almonds together for a sweet, salty, spicy nut mix.  This delicious blend of sweet and savoury is just perfect for nibbling alongside your favourite cocktail. Plus, it’s full of healthy, natural goodness and it’s really easy to make. You can whip a portion up in no time and dispense them as you please.  These little beauties are simply delicious and they’ll work with a range of gins and cocktails. They’ll also pair well with gin liqueurs.

Best with: Hayman’s Old Tom

We think the sweet, nutty flavours here would complement a similarly sweet gin such as Haymans Old Tom gin with its notes of nutmeg, cinammon, cassia bark and licorice. Haymans led the Old Tom revival and we think these softer flavours will work really well with these honey sesame almonds.

2. Curried cashew nuts: heat things up with a taste of the East

As you’re sipping your perfect G&T, allow your imagination to transport you in the direction of the exotic far east. You’re sitting on a white verandah, sipping on a freshly made gin and tonic. The air is thick with humidity and the smell of rain and flowers sprinkles it’s exotic incense for us all to enjoy. Crickets chirp and parrots squawk in the background and the moon is lighting up the scene from on high.  The only thing that could improve this scene is the addition of a perfect snack to complement your gin. And here it is! Curried cashew nuts are the perfect snack. You can whip up a batch of these tasty treats in around half an hour using three simple, easy to find ingredients – curry powder, lemon juice and cashew nuts.

Best with: Bombay Sapphire

This classic colonial concoction can be found from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and from Delhi to Dubai.  Spicy nuts with a citrus cut-through make this combo especially delicious alongside a high quality standard London Dry gin such as Bombay Sapphire or Beefeater.

3. Chickpea Bombay mix: an easy 3-ingredient spice mix to tickle your tastebuds

All you need is three simple ingredients to make this delicious gluten-free Chickpea Bombay Mix. This may not be the classic Bombay Mix that contains fried chickpea flour noodles known as Sev.  Sev is hard to find and harder to make, so this recipe dispenses with it entirely, in favour of curried chickpeas.  And you’re going to have to make those first. This will take around 25 minutes. Then, you’ll need to add the chickpeas together with salted peanuts and raisins and pop them all into an oven to roast them to perfection. It takes less than 15 minutes to make this delicious, healthy snack. If you can’t live without your Sev, then you can buy pre-fried Sev from most Asian grocery stores.

Best with: Opihr

We think this might work well alongside a similarly spicy beverage. Opihr is one of those gins that divides opinion.  Some are put off by what is described as a “whiff of curry”.  But for those who think that’s a good thing rather than a bad thing, these tasty snacks, with their curried flavours, might be just the thing you’re after to keep your tastebuds in balance.

4. Sweet and spicy rosemary nuts: honey and heat to make your mouth water

These gorgeous snacks are just completely irresistible. I first fell for their charms in my favourite (now defunct) Barcelona cocktail bar, Toto.  They served these sweet and spicy rosemary nuts in a small dish, (beautifully flavoured) alongside a few thin triangles of manchego cheese.  It was love at first taste.  So, we thought we’d share a recipe that replicates that experience.  All you’ll need is a ration of mixed nuts, some honey, a little brown sugar, some cayenne pepper, a twist of sea salt and the most important ingredient of all, fresh rosemary.  The result is a totally irresistible mix of sweet, spicy, crunchy and salty.  These are so moreish that we think you ought to mix up a large batch of them to store for the holidays.  We don’t want you running out on Christmas Eve, do we!

Best with: Gin Mare

Gin Mare is a Mediterranean favourite and we love it. With its savoury olive notes and the gorgeous Mediterranean flavour of fresh rosemary, we think this is a match made in heaven. And that little twist of cayenne pepper just amps it all up a little bit.  The result is an addictively delicious mix that you can whip up in no time.  They’re addictive, so don’t say we didn’t warn you!

5. Spicy chilli lime peanuts: so addictive, you’ll keep coming back for more!

These spicy chilli lime peanuts are the snacks that have it all.  Peanuts for a little nutty protein, the spicy heat of chilli and the sharp cut through of fresh lime make this little mix an intriguing concoction.  And they’re so moreish, we think you’ll keep coming back for more.  It shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to whisk up the basic mix.  Then simply pour the mix onto a baking tray and heat in the oven for around 30 minutes.  You’ll start to smell those wonderful flavours as the oven brings them all together.  And I wouldn’t blame you if you chose to mix a drink while you wait in anticipation for these little beauties to be served. They also work really well with an ice cold beer or even a Tom Collins

Best with: Tanqueray Rangpur

The spice and lime in this snack is a perfect match for the citrus notes of Tanqueray Rangpur.  The citrus notes of the Rangpur lime blend well with the juniper forward flavour of this London Dry gin make it one of the purest and most refreshing gins around.  So, a little bit of citrus heat is just the thing to keep you sipping your G&T.  It might also work well with Brewdog’s Lone Wolf Cactus and Lime gin or Sipsmith’s Chilli and Lime gin.  Whatever you choose, you’re going to love these nuts.


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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christmas mince pies in foil paper

Boozy mince pies: let the Christmas fun be-gin

At this time of year, the pre-Christmas nibbling has probably already begun.
Mince pies are one of the most traditional of all English treats at Christmas time – and for many, they are the taste of Christmas. But if you’re not brought up with this tradition, it’s sometimes quite difficult to get your head around the term “mince pie”. In fact, these days, there’s absolutely no meat to be found inside a traditional mince pie.

These sweet little pies have been decorating English Christmas tables since the 13th century when they were first brought to England by crusaders returning from the Middle East. The original Mediterranean recipes included meats, fruits and spices representing the symbolism of the gifts delivered to the baby Jesus by the Magi. In fact, in the early days, mince pies were actually rectangular and “manger-shaped” and were often topped with a pastry image of the Christ Child.

From crusader cuisine to rich, sweet Christmas pies

Over the centuries, these tasty sweet and savoury treats began to lose the savoury.  In fact, these days, the meat has been removed altogether, in favour of traditional sweet mincemeat – a rich mixture of chopped, dried fruit, spices, sugar and distilled spirits. 

The fruits usually include chopped apple, fresh citrus peal, currants, candied fruits, citron and brandy or rum. It’s then all mixed together and aged so that the flavours deepen and the texture changes to a dark, sticky, boozy Christmas goo! This gorgeous mixture is then encased in little pastry packages of buttery goodness and baked. 

Once out of the oven, they receive a final light dusting of sugar powder to finish it all off. 

For the final step: top with a little cream or brandy butter and pop this little sweet, spicy, steamy Christmas parcel into your mouth. Christmas will follow. 

This amazing mince pie mixture is unlikely to last you the whole festive season, but if you maintain your discipline, it can be stored for up to 10 years. 

Sloe is better

But what if we were to substitute a little gin where traditionally there was rum or brandy?

And even better, what about sloe gin?

If that’s more to your taste, then here’s a simple little mince pie recipe that means you don’t have to mix your spirits – just stick with gin!

These festive pies are made with lashings of sloe gin for a truly festive blast of boozy, fruity, seasonal goodness and they’re really easy to make. We recommend using Sipsmith Sloe Gin for this recipe, with its deep, warming sloe-ness. But you can choose any sloe gin you prefer – or even use your own if you have some home made sloe already in the house.

Mince pies recipe

Ingredients:

Mince pies
  • 300g fresh cranberries
  • 300g dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, apricots etc.)
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 40z Sipsmith Sloe Gin
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 2tsp nutmeg
  • 2tsp mixed spice
  • 1 orange

For the pastry:

Mince pies
  • 350g flour
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Icing sugar (to dust)

Method:

Mince pies
  1. Heat the sloe gin and brown sugar in a saucepan, stirring until all sugar has dissolved
  2. Stir in the dried fruit, spices and grate ion the zest from the orange
  3. Add the cranberries and squeeze in the juice from the orange. Leave to stew for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  4. Remove from heat and place to the side while you make your pastry
  5. Rub the flour and butter together in a bowl until it forms a crumbly mixture
  6. Add the sugar and egg and knead together into a dough
  7. Roll the pastry out and use a circle cookie cutter to cut dough circles to the right size for your muffin tins
  8. Squeeze the dough circles into your muffin tin and generously fill with mincemeat
  9. Top each pie with a pastry star, sprinkle with sugar and bake in the oven for 18 minutes at 220C
  10. Pour one glass of Sipsmith Sloe Gin for you. Pour another one for Santa. Sit back and hope you’re not on the naughty list.

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 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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