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.




Tea Up! – Experiments with Home-made Tea Liqueurs

Tea Up!

Home-Made Tea Liqueurs

Whilst reading the 1997 edition of Pacult’s Kindred Spirits, I was intrigued by his scathing review of an “oozing” Earl Grey English Liqueur; figuring that such a product was unlikely to be available, I became fascinated with the idea of creating my own. After a little research, I managed to cobble together a recipe from a few different sources and found myself eagerly on a quest for some loose tea leaves.

After the relative success of the resultant liqueur, I started to think about possible variations. I finally settled on three: the first was inspired by a discussion on tea that I had had at a Beefeater 24 event with Clayton and Liz, where Lapsang Shoshong was mentioned; Green Tea seemed a natural fit for the second; and thirdly, Mrs. B, with her unique sense of humour, suggested using English Breakfast Tea.

Lapsang Souchong, Earl Grey, English Breakfast I, Green Tea

Here are my tasting notes of the results:

Earl Grey Liqueur

With a citrus nose, it started like iced tea. The initial sweetness was replaced by the bitter tannins, which then faded to a tea-like muskiness; afterward, there was a comeback of warm vanilla and a slightly bitter bite that eventually left behind a pleasant warmth.

Green Tea Liqueur

This smelt like soggy cabbage, this tasted like soggy cabbage.
To give it its due, this started pleasantly enough, in a sweet fashion, but it turned out to be merely a diversion prior your being hit with a harsh bitterness that remained until the end. The initial false sweetness reminds me of certain herbal liqueurs, such as Suze & Campari.

English Breakfast I

This was a warm shade of ochre and smelt like tea sweetened with honey.
It was the sweetest of the bunch and started off with a honey-like sweetness that made way for an understated bitterness. It ended with a warming punch and, although it had the same alcohol content as the others, it certainly tasted stronger. It improved when cut with a little water.
I found that this made a palatable cream liqueur when mixed two parts liqueur to one part cream.

Lapsang Souchong

Until I decided to make a liqueur out of this, I had never tried this tea before. This liqueur smelt like cedar wood and smoked wood chips. Its taste reminded me of Bonfire Night, with flavours of cured meats and Bavarian smoked cheese. Smoky. This had a lovely warmth and was truly unlike anything I have ever had before (so much for modesty), and it didn’t have the bitterness of the others. Definitely my favourite.

English Breakfast II

A second version involved a more complicated manufacturing process and, additionally, contained some gin, as I ran out of vodka. I also combined the tea and sugar before adding any spirits, and some water was added to the final product to balance out the flavour. The result was a slightly thicker, sweeter version, which resembled commercially available liqueurs more closely than the others. I took some along to a recent tonic tasting at Graphic and it seemed to go down well.

I also took the Lapsang Souchong liqueur along to Graphic and one of their great Bartenders, Adam, created this:

Mrs. B enjoys a Fag Hag Cocktail

The Fag Hag Cocktail
30ml Plymouth Gin
20ml Lemon Juice
15ml Lapsang Souchong Liqueur
10ml Sugar Syrup
20ml Egg White

Double shake, strain and serve.

All in all, I’ve immensely enjoyed experimenting with these liqueurs and I have already had requests for more; in particular, more batches of Lapsang Souchong and English Breakfast are in the pipeline. I’ll be sure to keep you posted with updates on any future experiments.

If you have any comments or suggestions about what other teas I could try please comment below: