Bank Holiday Gin Tonics

With the Bank Holiday upon us (the last one in the UK until December) and the possibility that at least a few days in the long weekend will actually be dry and hot, I thought I’d share a few simple ideas for some gin tonic serves to impress your guests this weekend.

Glassware

In this sort of heat (currently it is 28.8c here) I want a very cooling drink with plenty of ice, so a glass like the large copita/fish-bowl glass popular in Spain for the Gin Tonica is the best bet. It does take at least 8 cubes to fill one of these, however, so unless you have an ice maker, I suggest getting a bag or two of ice.

If you don’t have a copita glass, than a large wine glass or stemmed beer glass (think the Stella Artois Chalice) will also work well. The stem helps to keep your drink cool, keeping your warm hand further away from the drink.

 

Recipes

Typically, I use between 25ml-50ml of gin and 150ml of tonic. These are slightly weaker than many might usually enjoy their gin tonic, but these drinks are meant to be long and cooling, and too much alcohol in great heat is not a great idea.

Gin Tonica Aug 2016 - Plymouth and Millers

The Classic

Plymouth Gin with Lemon and Lime Wedges (aka the Evans Style)

Plymouth Gin has a light sweet spice to it, which is balanced out nicely by the slightly sharp lime, whilst and the lemon complements the citrus in the gin.

The 21st Century Gin

Martin Miller’s gin with Strawberries and Cracked Black Pepper.

An unusual garnish choice on paper, but ever since one of the Miller’s brand ambassadors showed me this, I’ve been hooked. Fresh, succulent fruit works well with the refreshing nature of the gin, and the black pepper adds balance and bite. For an extra chill factor, use frozen strawberries.

Gin Tonica Aug 2016 - Apostoles and Shortcross

The Leafy Gin

Principe de Los Apostoles Gin with Rosemary and Baby Spinach

The gin itself is quite “green” – herbaceous and leafy – and the rosemary gives the drink distinctive, aromatic herbal notes as well as adding to the visual spectacle. The spinach adds more to the look than the aroma or flavour, although the leaves can also be a pleasant snack to munch on as you drink.

The All-Rounder

Shortcross Gin with Orange and Coffee Beans

I’m a big fan of Shortcross Gin from Northern Ireland and it has great mixability, including in a gin tonic. I’ve been experimenting with non-typical, but readily available garnishes and my good friend Julia Nourney suggested coffee beans to me. The beans add a deep, dark element to the nose, whilst still allowing the juniper to slip through. When you sip the drink, it is almost all about the gin, with just a little lusciousness from the orange. Almost a two-phase gin tonic.

The Maverick

Bombay Sapphire & Cola with Orange and Chocolate Bitters

Gin Tonica Aug 2016 - Bombay Sapphire & Coke

Putting gin with cola is seen by many, in the UK, as heresy, despite the fact that this is how gin is enjoyed in many countries in Africa and further afield. The only point that matters is – does it taste good?

In my opinion, it does. Bombay Sapphire, with its complex botanical flavour and light pepper notes works really well with cola, creating a flavour that is reminiscent of an old-school botanical cola; there are even some dry, piney notes in the background. The orange adds a little zest, whilst the chocolate bitters contribute to the drink’s finish.

In Conclusion

Summer drinking is meant to be friendly and fun; it’s a time to relax with friends and family. As such, the drinks should be fun, too. Hopefully this article has provided a little inspiration for you to up your summer drinks game.

Cocktails with… Jodhpur Gin

JodhpurTitle
Jodhpur Gin is a London Dry Gin made in the UK, either at Thames or Langley; my money is on the latter. It’s made with a base of Neutral Grain Spirit and is made using 13 botanicals, including:

JodhpurBots

Bottled at 43%ABV, Jodhpur Gin received special acclaim when it was awarded a gold medal at the 2011 San Francisco Awards.

1) On its own
Nose: Quite light, with a little juniper and citrus.
Taste: Clean and quite smooth, with plenty of juniper, followed by some coriander, citrus and liquorice. Then there’s a little warmth at the end. I think this will have good mixing potential.

2) Gin & Tonic
i) with Fentimans
A fresh, citrusy nose. In terms of taste, this is a perfectly pleasant and refreshing drink (it would maybe work well with a little bit of lime), but the characteristics of the gin are a little overwhelmed. Regardless, this is a very refreshing and pleasant drink.

ii) with Schweppes
Quite classic and clean, with a reasonable balance between the gin and tonic. Very straightforward, with classic juniper and citrus notes and a notable quinine bitterness at the start. I see this as being something of a blank canvas with which to express yourself using your garnish.

Jodhpur Gin Bottle

#3) Martini
Clean and crisp, with juniper and some sweet spice, like cinnamon or vanilla, and a lift of citrus on the finish. Light, but with plenty of flavour and a sweet middle. Altogether rather classic in style.

#4) Negroni
Well-balanced, with a good level of bitter-sweetness. This is right in the middle of the Negroni spectrum: exactly what you would expect. Full, with a well-rounded flavour.

#5) Gin Buck
This is a great gin for a Gin Buck: not too complicated, but all the boxes are ticked; there’s dry juniper, zesty citrus and a few earthy, herbal notes. All in all, this makes for a very refreshing drink, which is rather quaffable. A little sweet juniper comes through at the end – well-liked by all who tried it.

Jodhpur Pink Grapefruit Gin Tonica

Jodhpur Pink Grapefruit Gin Tonica

#6) GinTonica
i) Pink Grapefruit and Juniper
Excellent: very fresh and juicy, and improves even more with a little squeeze of the pink grapefruit wedge. It makes for a simple, yet attractive garnish in terms of sight, scent and taste. Exceptionally refreshing and rather moreish.

ii) Granny Smith Apple
If you are looking for crispness with a little sweet lift at the end, then this is the drink for you. When drinking, you get the same crispness that you would get from biting into a cool apple. The scent from the apples is also surprisingly prominent.

Jodhpur Granny Smith Apple Gin Tonica

Jodhpur Granny Smith Apple Gin Tonica

In Conclusion
Jodhpur is an example of a gin in the classic style: good and traditional, with no particularly unusual characteristics. This makes it excellent for mixing in a variety of gin drinks; my favourite cocktail was the Negroni.

Infugintonic – Gin & Tonic Infusion Bags

I’ve written a fair bit about Gin Tonicas and am quite keen on this very different way of serving the traditional Gin & Tonic. My enthusiasm is also shared by Bombay Sapphire, who held an event for the Jubilee and have also been running a free glassware promotion.

The Gin Tonica uses a balloon glass, plenty of ice and – usually – rather outlandish garnishes. Up until now, one of the issues with making them at home would be the need to have these outlandish garnishes readily available at home; how many of you regularly have rose petals on hand, for instance?

Well, perhaps the answer can be found over in the home of the Gin Tonica, Spain. Infusgintonic have come up with some nifty little flavour or infusion bags. They look very much like teabags and contain various mixes of dried fruit, flowers and spices. You steep them in the gin for a minute or two, before adding your tonic, and, as a result, you get the flavours you would gain from an elaborate garnish without the preparation and expense.

Here is an illustration:

There are ten flavours of bags, each designed to complement different types of gin. I decided to try each of them out.

#1) Beso de Frutas with Cool Gin
(“Kiss of fruit” – Blackcurrants, blackberries, redcurrants, strawberries and raspberries)

The gin has berry notes anyway and the infusion bag adds even more, both in terms of scent, sight and taste. It also adds a lot of berry flavours without sweetening the drink. Fruity and refreshing.

Other gins recommended: Brockman’s, Fifty Pounds, Monkey 47

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#2) Brisa de Trafalgar with GinSelf
(“Breeze of Trafalgar” – Lemon peel, orange peel and pieces of orange)

This made an exceptionally citrusy Gin Tonica with plenty of orange to match the 6 citrc botanicals in the gin; it was as if the flavour of these zesty fruits had been turned up to 11. Pink grapefruit and orange blossom come through in particular. This is a very intense drink that complements the gin well and results in a refreshing, dry beverage that would be great to sip before dinner.

Other gins recommended: Beefeater, Beefeater 24, 6 O’Clock

#3) Ragos Árabes with Tanqueray 10
(“Arab Traits” – Apple, cinnamon and almonds)

Wow! Just great – this really illustrates the value of the infusion bags. The apple and cinnamon contrast, yet complement the gin’s dry citrus notes rather well to make an unexpected, but superb drink. It would be difficult to get this flavour any other way. Very good, indeed.

Other gins recommended: Port of Dragons Pure, William Chase, Ish

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#4) Classic Gin-tonic with Bombay Sapphire
(“Classic Gin & Tonic” – Lemon peel and juniper berries)

Undoubtedly, the impact of this bag is more subtle than some of the others, but what it does do is add some extra gin fragrances and some extra juniper and citrus to the taste. The finish also seems dryer and is longer than usual, intensifying the flavour. Definitely one for the traditionalists.

Other gins recommended: Zuidam, Jodhpur, Fifty Pounds

#5) Fruta Refrescante with Bulldog Gin
(“Refreshing Fruit” – Strawberry and mint)

The bag adds some lively freshness to the gin and the mint and strawberry work well with the dry fruitiness of Bulldog. A rather pleasant drink with this variety having a faint bit of potential for other gins.

Other gins recommended: Blackwoods, River Rose, Brockmans
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#6) Sabor a Azahar with Sacred Gin
(“Taste of Orange Blossom” – Strawberry, orange and orange blossom)

Jammy and fruity notes from the bag works well with the juniper and spice of Sacred. This is a good example of how the bag can modify, but also complement the flavour profile of a gin.

Other gins recommended: Brokers, No:209, Pink47
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#7) Sueño Andalusi with Port of Dragons Floral
(“Andalusia dream” – Roses and orange peel (floral))

This has a refreshing amount of cardamom, making for a very crisp and floral Gin Tonica. The citrus and rose excentuates these elements of the gin. Very good and Spanish in style.

Other gins recommended: Bloom, G’Vine Flouraison, The Botanist

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#8) Pasión Afrodisiaca with Whitley Neill
(“Aphrodisiac passion” – Ginger, cinnamon, pineapple, coconut, mango, papaya and tangerine peel (Cocktail gin))

A rather exotic drink with complex fruit and floral flavours, quite exciting and the amour quality does some how seem to be captured. Most interesting.

Other gins recommended: G’Vine, Ish, Mombassa
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#9) Angélica Gin with Millers
(“Angelica Gin” – Juniper, angelica and liquorice)

Very fragrant nose of angelica and citrus: the angelica infusion really pays well off of the fresh cucumber notes of the gin and adds a slight sweetness, but also a crisp, vegetal note reminiscent of celery and liquorice root. This intensifies the gin without taking away from the overall balance, making a very interesting drink that improves even as you continue drinking it.

Other gins recommended: Seagram’s, Geranium, Oxley

#10) Caricia Prohibida with Plymouth
(“Forbidden Caress” – Flower vine, grapes, orange, tangerine and lemon peels)

Lots of lemon, with some floral notes and juicy grapes, too, which all work well with the spicy notes of Plymouth and the slight sweetness of the spirit. Lively notes of lemon sherbet are prominent.

Other gins recommended: No:3, South, Beefeater 24

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In Conclusion
From my evangelism of  various Thomas Henry products it is pretty clear that I am rather a fan of Gin & Tonic innovation and I think that the Infugintonic are excellent.They solve a problem and contribute a good amount of flavour to the gin without overpowering the spirits’ characters.

My favourite flavours were “Angelica” and “Ragos Árabes”; the latter, I’d really like to try with rum or brandy, too.

http://infugintonic.com/
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Bombay Sapphire Ginbilee – Infused Gin & Tonics

It’s a rather special year for celebrations in the UK this year. What with the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, many drinks brands will, no doubt, be celebrating in their own special way. The English Whisky Company, for example, are releasing a new and unique Diamond Jubilee whisky.

Bombay Sapphire have come up with an idea that not only celebrates the reign of HM Elizabeth II, but taps into the growing trend of Spanish style Gin & Tonics, served with lots of ice in a balloon glass, also known as Gin Tonicas.

The company asked five British “creatives” to work alongside UK brand ambassador, Sam Carter, to come up with five unique Gin & Tonic recipes under the title “Ginbilee”. I was lucky enough to be invited along to their launch, to meet the creators and try their concoctions. This event took place at the The Rib Room Bar & Restaurant, which is one of Knightsbridge’s famous bars and is renowned for it’s roast rib of beef.

Anna Bullusʼ Bombay Sapphire Souchong Fizz

This was developed with Anna Bullus who invented the worldʼs first process that transforms chewed chewing gum into a usable plastic (Gumdrop).

50ml Bombay Sapphire, 100ml Fevertree Tonic Water, 15ml Lapsang Souchong tea syrup, 15ml Lemon Juice.

Method: Add syrup, lemon juice and gin to glass. Stir and add ice and then Tonic. Stir for a final time. Garnish with a straw and the 2 lemon slices. Serve.

I thought this was delicious; I am a big fan of tea-related cocktails and soft drinks and I’ve experimented with Lapsang Souchong liqueurs and syrups before, but I’d never thought of combining it with a Gin & Tonic. What I really liked about this drink was that it had a great equilibrium between the smoky tea and the fresh lemon juice, with the gin and tonic giving these flavours a strong, refreshing backdrop.

Robbie Honeyʼs Bombay Sapphire Orange Blossom

This was developed with Robbie Honey is one of Londonʼs most sought-after florists.

50ml Bombay Sapphire, 100ml Fevertree Lemon Tonic Water, and 10ml Orange Blossom Honey.
Garnish: 1 straw, 1 very long orange peel twist spritzed over the glass for aroma and orange blossom flowers in the drink for garnish.
Method: Add gin and honey and stir, then add ice and top-up with Lemon Tonic. Garnish.

I found this to be a little sweeter than a typical Gin & Tonic, with the orange blossom adding an array of floral, citrus notes and contributing to the confectionery air of this drink. Nonetheless, I found it very refreshing and easy to drink.

David Carterʼs Bombay Sapphire The Last Rasp

This was developed with David Carter an internationally acclaimed interior designer and founder/owner of 40 Winks boutique.

50ml Bombay Sapphire, 100ml Fevertree Tonic Water,
3 fresh whole raspberries + 2 for garnish, and 3 fresh basil leaves.
Garnish: 1 straw, 2 raspberries and a large basil sprig
Method: Muddle 3 raspberries in the bottom of a glass. Add gin stir to mix fully, then add  ice. Add 3 basil leaves and top with the tonic. Stir once again to combine flavours.
Garnishing with a straw, 2 fresh raspberries and a large, flamboyant basil sprig.

Visually, this was very impressive, and an appetising scent was quickly evident from the raspberry and basil leaves. Regarding the taste, as the smell suggested, this was a very crisp, slightly leafy, Gin & Tonic with a touch of tartness coming from the raspberry. As pleasant to drink as it was to look at.

Fiona Leahyʼs Bombay Sapphire Diamond Rose

This was developed with Fiona Leahy who runs a creative event design and production agency.

50ml Bombay Sapphire, 100ml Fevertree Tonic Water, a dash (to taste) of Rose Flower Water*, 5-6 medium sized mint leaves (clapped to release aroma), and Rose Flower Water diamond ice cubes with a mint leaf suspended in the middle.*

Garnish: 1 straw, 1 large lemon wedge and a large flourish of fresh mint leaf sprigs
Method: Pour gin and Rose Flower Water into glass and stir to mix. Add ice (or Rose Flower Water diamond ice cubes*, if you have them) and the clapped mint leaves and stir well. Do not
muddle, break down or bruise the mint. Top-up with tonic and stir one final time.

This was quite leafy and herbal, and drinking it felt a bit like strolling through a rose garden. There was also a slightly savoury element towards the end.

Rhea Thiersteinʼs Bombay Sapphire Zesty Surprise

This was developed with Rhea Thierstein who creates highly imaginative sets, costumes and props

50ml Bombay Sapphire, 15ml vanilla sugar syrup, 10 fresh grapefruit segments 100ml Fevertree Tonic Water.
Garnish: 1 straw, small, triangular grapefruit segments, and 1 vanilla pod as a stirrer.
Method: Pour the syrup and gin into glass and stir to mix. Add the grapefruit segments, ice and tonic. Stir for one final time to combine. Garnish with a straw and a vanilla pod.

The grapefruit and vanilla combination form a transmogrification to produce a dark chocolate flavour.

I got the grapefruit notes to start with, followed by a rich, dark chocolate note with a hint of nuttiness. This was very unusual and reminded me of some chocolate gin that I had once. In fact, the nuttiness of the chocolate was so substantial that it reminded me of peanut butter cups (a favourite confection of mine). Unusual and unexpected; exactly what it was designed to be.

Earl of Essex

Inspired by the Earl Grey Tea Syrup at the RibRoom and named after a member of the New Sheridan Club.

50ml Bombay Sapphire, 100ml Fevertree Tonic Water, and 15ml Earl Grey Syrup.
Garnish: Orange pieces and peel.

Refreshing and crisp, but also quite bitter from the tannins in the tea and the orange peel, oil and flesh. This was a crisp, cutting Gin & Tonic, with the floral Earl Grey rising up at the end. Rather different, but still quite tasty. If you like Earl Grey, orange and gin then this is for you.

The Richard Briars

This was inspired by the GinMonkey’s Rhubarb and Ginger Gin & Tonic, which, in itself, was rather tasty.

50ml Bombay Sapphire, 120ml Fevertree Tonic Water, 10ml Vanilla Syrup, and 10ml Rhubarb Syrup.

In this drink, you have the crisp, refreshing Gin & Tonic flavour, which is then subtly accented by hints of rhubarb and custard. The flavour of the old-fashioned sweet comes through, it’s neither overpowering, nor too sickly. Another G&T that is unusual, unexpected, but delicious.

Pepper & Ginger
This was created by Fiona Hicks of The Lady magazine.

50ml Bombay Sapphire, 100ml Fevertree Tonic Water, and 15ml King’s Ginger Liqueur (the only ginger I have in at present). Garnish with slices of yellow, red and green peppers.

This was a delicious, almost savoury, cocktail with plenty of kick, spice and warmth. Despite this, it was still very refreshing, like a cool, crisp salad, and the peppers really made a difference.

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The Bombay Sapphire ‘Ginbilee’ masterclasses will be held on Saturday 19 May and Saturday 26 May 2012 from 2.30pm-5pm (max. 10-12 people per class). To reserve a place, please call 020 7858 7250 or email reservations@theribroom.co.uk

Making Syrups & Flavoured Ice

Vanilla
Brew 250ml of boiling water with 3 slit vanilla pods for 20 minutes. Add 500g of fine caster sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then leave to cool. Take out the vanilla pods and pour into a sterilised container. This will keep in the fridge for up to ten weeks.

Tea Syrups (Lapsang/Earl Grey)
To make the Lapsang Souchong/Earl Grey tea syrup – brew 500ml of boiling water with 2 Lapsang Souchong tea bags (approx. 12g fresh loose tea) for 5 minutes. Take out bags and add 500g of fine caster sugar. Stir till the sugar is dissolved then leave to cool. Pour into a sterilised container and keep in the fridge for up to ten weeks.

Rhubarb Syrup
Brew one large stalk of peeled rhubarb (chopped into pieces) with 250ml for 20 mins. Add 200g of sugar and stir. Leave to cool, then refrigerate.

Rose Flower Water Ice
To make the Rose Flower Water diamond ice cubes – take your clean diamond shaped ice cube tray (you can use other shapes if you wish!), place a clapped mint leaf into each segment. Fill with Rose Flower Water and place in the freezer for around 9-10 hours to freeze depending on your machine.

Cocktails with… Number Zero Gin, from Spain

When it comes to gin, I always have my ear to the ground to find out about new products, in particular if they have something unique about them. Some have unusual botanicals, such as Gilpin’s, with its borage, whilst others are different in other ways: Nevada Distilling’s Gin, for example, uses an alcohol base that is a mix of three grains, and Port of Dragons Gin who, in addition to having some of the best packaging I’ve seen, have created a range of gins, using a sort of “A gin for every occassion” model.

Number Zero Gin has not only a curious name, but also a very unusual botanical; notably, quinine, the essential ingredient of tonic water. I was fascinated and eager to see how including quinine in the gin would affect the cocktails that it made.

Number Zero Gin (and Number Zero Rum) bill themselves as “Low-cost Premium”. This may seem contradictory, but I believe that it is possible to have a competitive balance of both quality and value for money. Examples of gins in a similar category are: Limbrey’s, Taurus and, of course, Plymouth.

Here is Number Zero’s own explanation:

“The concept aims to provide the general public with a special selection of the best recipes for the preparation of spirits from some of the most prestigious and oldest distillers.”

The product is a London Dry Gin and its botanicals include: juniper, coriander, angelica, iris, cinnamon, and cinchona (containing the quinine) from Peru.

0) Own
Nose: Very light.
Taste: Smooth initially, with some sweet, floral notes, such as violet, a touch of citrus and some sweet earthiness, like liquorice. This then morphed into a more earthy, bitter taste with a hint of anise.

1) Gin & Tonic (using Schweppes)
This had some bitterness to it, along with a lot of floral aspects; a good dose of violet reminded me a little of a Camp David, but, after the sweet floral notes subside, a dry, earthy bitterness appears until the finish. Very unusual and one I’d like to try again for a fuller inspection.

2) Martini
Very crisp; the bitterness of the quinine really made itself known in this cocktail. There was also a touch of Violette towards the end. It’s rare that I think of colours when tasting drinks, but this one reminded me of purple and black. It was an intense Martini with an intriguing contrast between sweet floral and earthy bitter flavours.

3) Negroni
Floral, fruity and slightly jammy. This drink was sweet and flowery to start with and then herbal and bitter towards the end. Unusual, but tasty.

Number Zero Gin Crusta


4) Gin Crusta
This was reintroduced to me at Monday’s meeting of the London Cocktail Society by Dr Adam Elmegirab and is a nod to him.

This was sweeter and more flowery than the usual dryer Gin Crusta; the juniper was there, but less prominent. Nevertheless, the ingredients do work well with each other, with the citrus elements balancing out the sweeter aspects of the gin and maraschino.

5) GT Turbo
Very floral and bitter, this was exceptionally intense and crisp, and probably won’t appeal to everyone.

6) Aviation
Number Zero was a natural match for this cocktail and fans of Creme Violette (I’m thinking of one New Yorker in particular!) will be pleased that the flavour really comes through without overpowering the cocktail. If you did want a little more crispness, I’d suggest upping the gin to lemon juice ratio from 4:1 to 3:1. On the finish, I also got a strong, earthy bitterness, courtesy of the quinine, which is unexpected, but nonetheless welcome.

7) Bramble (Suggested by Olivier of the Gin Blog)
This was a good suggestion. I used Boozeberries’ Blackcurrant Liqueur rather than straightforward Creme de Mure, which is a little more tart. This worked really well with the sweet, floral notes of the gin, creating a very fresh, juicy and tart Bramble. It was so fresh that you might even think that you had muddled blackberries in the bottom of the glass.  An excellent combo.

Number Zero Gin Tonica with Green Tea!

Number Zero Gin Tonica with Green Tea!

8) Gin Tonica
This had a bitter, earthy start, courtesy of the quinine in both the tonic and the gin. Dry juniper notes followed, then the sweet, floral and citrus notes: lavender and violet, and, finally, the dry, slightly bitter tannins of the tea. This was really a rollercoaster of flavours that left me rather impressed. Mrs B described it as a “Perfect combination of a Gin & Tonic and iced tea”.

In Conclusion
Number Zero is, without a doubt, a very unusual gin; it has divided the opinions of the various gin folk who have tasted it with me. That said, I do think that it has a profile unlike anything else and, as a result, works exceptionally well in certain cocktails. Their Gin Tonica is a fine example of the kinds of innovation currently going on with the classic G&T and is, quite simply, superb.

 

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