Cocktails with… COOL Gin (from Spain!)

I am always keen to keep abreast of the latest innovations in gin, tonic and garnishes in Spain; it’s quite an exciting place, with lots of innovation going on, so imagine my excitement when I contacted COOL Gin about the possibility of trying their gin and they sent me a bonus bottle of their sister gin, 1211, too.

COOL Gin is made by Benevento Global and is a self-styled contemporary gin, although it suggests that it has gone even further and is simply cool gin.

It is made using 12 botanicals, notably including wild strawberry and blackberry, and is also violet in colour.

#1) On its own
Nose: Floral, with lots of vanilla and notes of jelly; fruity and jammy. Juniper also makes an appearance, accompanied by the berry freshness.
Taste: Very unusual for a gin: sweet vanilla and fruit to start, followed by more classic gin flavours: juniper and coriander. Additional sweetness then appears in the form of jammy blackcurrant and strawberry, before a long finish of rose and violet, much like Parma Violets or crystallised violets.

#2) Gin & Tonic
Being light violet in colour, this is a most intriguing drink. Again, there’s quite a lot of vanilla, making this taste almost like a gin & cream soda, but the finish is quite dry, with juniper and quinine. The fruity, berry and floral notes reminds me of the Camp David Gin & Tonic.

#3) Martini
Intense and floral, with some sweetness and notes of vanilla. This is a very, very unusual drink, but an attractive violet colour and very smooth, too; nice and clean.

#4) Negroni
Slight violet on the nose. Rather pleasant, with a good balance of bitterness and sweetness and a creamy violet and vanilla strand throughout that’s nonetheless not overpowering. Whilst not 100% traditional, this is still rather tasty and has a subtle difference that I quite like.

#5) Sweet Martini
Cool Gin makes a sweeter Sweet Martini than usual, with more floral notes and being, generally, more dessert-like. There’s also lots of vanilla, reminding me of cupcakes; as such, this is definitely a drink for after, rather than before, dinner.

#6) Aviation
This is a perfect match for this gin: the fruity, berry notes and hints of floral bring a lot to this drink and make it intense, but delicious. If you are a fan of an Aviation cocktail, then this is surely for you.

#7) Gin Buck
I find this a bit sweet and that the ginger clashes with the berry and floral flavours. It’s not an awful drink, but there are better ways to enjoy this gin.

#8) Gin Collins
A very clean and exceptionally light Gin Collins, with only a hint of juniper and some jammy blackberry and violet floral notes. There’s some sweetness, but not too much, making this a great, lighter drink to enjoy COOL Gin in, especially given the hint of purple in its colour.

In Conclusion

From first appearances, COOL Gin is unusual and this may put off some who prefer their gins to be more traditional, but it’s well worth trying. The floral and berry flavours bring something new, whilst maintaining the character of the gin and ensuring that its flavours are well-balanced. If you are a gin adventurer, a fan of the Aviation, or both, then this is most certainly a gin worth trying.

My favourite drinks were the Aviation and the Gin & Tonic


Cocktails with… Port of Dragons 100% Floral Gin – From Spain!

Earlier on today, we introduced Port of Dragons 100% Pure Gin, a gin in the classic style, but with a slight contemporary twist. Port of Dragons also make a spirit for more unusual cocktails and when you fancy a more contemporary flavour: Port of Dragons 100% Floral Gin. It is packaged in the same ornate decanter-like bottle as the 100% Pure, but uses a pink colour scheme, which is reflected in the article below.

Port of Dragons 100% Floral takes the 12 botanicals of the 100% Pure gin with the addition of Rose and Poppy petals.

Nose: Floral, with a slight breadiness, cardamom, violets and pine.
Taste: Smooth and silky to start, then the warmth and flavour builds: juniper and citrus, before  perfumed, floral notes, such as rose and violets, and pine needles. Finally, spicy cardamom and liquorice appear on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
This was a very floral G&T with good hints of violet, almost as if Creme de Violette had been added. There were some hints of rose, too. Still, it was very refreshing and worked well with Schweppes, but I think that Fevertree Mediterranean or 1724 may work even better.

A very perfumed Martini, heavy on the floral with some deeper herbal notes, citric coriander and sappy juniper towards the end. The finish has lots of sweet violet and rose. This is a very different spin on a classic Martini.

A cocktail of intense flavours: the heavy floral notes mixed well with sweet and bitter herbal notes. Complex, with a lot of flavours going on and a lasting bitter finish.

Gin Tonica
Fresh, floral and fruity. This was very refreshing and reminded me of a spring or summer garden. As well as being visually attractive, the flavours of the gin were really enhanced by the luscious fruits in the garnish and a good alternative to the usual slice of lemon or lime.

An unusually floral and perfumed Gimlet. Interestingly, the lime and the rose worked rather well together, creating a lime-rose marmalade flavour.

I comfortably sit in the camp that says that an Aviation isn’t an Aviation without Creme de Violette (although I make the odd allowance for Creme Yvette), so, given the floral character of the gin, this seemed to be an obvious cocktail to try it in.

I worried that it might be a bit too floral, but actually this drink has a really nice balance. Incredibly fresh, the Violette came through well; if you like a bit of Violette in your Aviation, then you’ll probably be rather keen on this version.

Gin Collins
Lighter, more floral and softer than most Collinses, this makes for a more subtle cocktail. I thought it was very enjoyable, indeed. There were some hints of spice and vanilla, too, with more cardamom than the 100% Pure. Very refreshing and unusual, but very, very good.

In Conclusion
It was a real pleasure to try these gins and, on my travels around the gin establishments of the UK, they have been well-received by many a connoisseur. There has also been quite a bit of excitement from bartenders as to how the flavours would work in cocktails.

As for me, it was great to see a Spanish gin producer stepping out on their own and trying to develop the Spanish style further.

I find it tough to choose between the Pure and the Floral. The folks that I’ve asked were pretty much split between the two, but I think that the stronger flavour of cardamom in the 100% Pure just about has it for me.

For more information on Port of Dragons – check out their website.

Thanks to Oscar and Joanna for their help with this article.

Cocktails with… Joséphine Gin

I picked up my bottle of Joséphine Gin  from the fine selection of nearly 100 gins available at the Whisky Exchange. The cost? A reasonable £17, but this was only for 35cl, so the gin works out at £34 for 70cl, a handsome sum indeed.Josephine Gin is named after Joséphine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoléon Bonaparte and first Empress of France. It is made by the cognac house, Camus, and it has been suggested it was designed with female drinkers in mind.In my experience, this gin is not spoken about often and is not well-known; in fact I have only ever seen one other bottle, in the extensive Gin Bar of the Feather’s Hotel in Woodstock. (Edit: It is now stocked at Graphic Bar in Soho)
1) Neat
Nose: Anis and floral – like a cross between Fruit Salad chews and Blackjacks (liquorice & aniseed). Quite sweet, with a hint of Dandelion & Burdock.
Taste:Very soft; the juniper was pretty subdued. Very floral, sweet, with anise at the end. Very unusual and certainly not a classic style.
2) Gin & Tonic
There’s a strong nose of Dandelion & Burdock and it was quite sweet, making for a very odd Gin & Tonic. There were strong notes of sarsaparilla, as well as some herbal notes. Bitter at the end, any dryness came from the gin. If I had tasted it blind, I’d never have guessed that it was a Gin & Tonic. Despite my outcry at how unorthodox this was, Mrs. B. quite liked it.

3) Martini
An interestingly floral Martini. Not so crisp as a classic example of the drink, but the juniper does come through. Better with a large lemon twist.

4) Gimlet
Pleasant, but not distinctive; the gin needs a bit more eumph! It was quite a nice drink, but doesn’t seem to have any discerning characteristics to it, making it rather forgettable.

5) Aviation
Horribly sharp, unbalanced and waste of all of the ingredients involved. Not recommended.

6) White Lady
Reminds me of Orange Chocolate Creams, but the juniper is quite sharp. A touch unbalanced, with the orange flavour in particular being quite strong. The finish is rather dry and there was an unpleasant aftertaste that stuck to my mouth.

7) Negroni
High anise, almost as if it had absinthe in it. A little sarsaparilla, surprisingly sweet and any real bitterness from the Campari is only at the end. Quite good.

8 Alexander
Truly superb; the floral and light herbal elements mix exceptionally well with cacao and cream. The dry juniper stops the drink from becoming too sweet. This was the perfect balance of sweet and dry, silkiness and flavour.

In Conclusion

Even though Josephine Gin made some exceptional drinks (the Alexander, for example), in general, it just wasn’t for me. It was too far removed from any gin base-line and, at times, it was too sweet, too sickly or too floral. It didn’t work in a Gin & Tonic and, for me, that is a major downfall.

It just goes to show that, despite recent outcry at the likes of Brockman’s & Hoxton calling themselves gin (everyone’s opinion has it own validity), non-conformist gin outliers have existed for a while. For the rebel gin-lover, this may be worth a punt.