Coconut Gin – Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet XII

2011 saw the introduction, not without controversy, of a Coconut & Grapefruit Gin going by the name of Hoxton. Many gin aficionados have raised a cynical eyebrow at the use of this “taste of paradise” in a gin, but a recent perusal of an old cocktail book shows that coconut flavoured gins go back at least to the 1930s. As such, I thought I’d recreate one.
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As my supermarket was out of whole, fresh coconuts, I had use a little tub of pre-packed coconut pieces, still with the skin. After giving them a rinse, I added the coconut pieces to a jam jar and then topped up with gin. It took a while for the flavour to come out and so I had leave it three weeks; I then fine-strained and bottled it.
#1) Own
Nose: A slightly cloudy white colour, it had hints of juniper, coriander and nutty coconut on the nose.
Taste: Moderately sweet (although it contained no extra sugar), smooth and well-rounded. The predominant flavours were of coconut ice and juniper, but, thankfully, it is not too sweet.
I was dubious at how well it would work, but in the end I was very happy with the flavour. Even Mrs. B. (who hates coconut) thought it was “passable”.
#2) With Tonic
An odd mix; the coconut came through well, reminding me a bit of the Hoxton & Tonic. Overall, this was fresh and sweet, but, even so, this won’t be for everyone.

#3) From Freezer
Very sweet; it’s interesting how much the low temperature brings out this sweetness. This is followed by the strong coconut flavour and dry juniper; overall, it is a bit sickly. It is a bit thick, too, and has a tendency to freeze completely. Not recommended.

#4) Collins
Very refreshing; citrus and sugar notes are a good complement to the gin. The coconut flavours are there, but sit quite subtly in the background, being felt most on the finish.

#5) Alexander
Quite rich, with a strong dry note from the gin towards the end and a finish of chocolate and coconut. Very much a pudding or desert cocktail, this was, as you might have guessed, somewhat reminiscent of a Bounty Chocolate Bar. The more I drink this, the more I like the idea of coconut gin; it seems a perfect fit for this drink.#6) White Lady
In this cocktail the coconut is mostly lost, but there is a slight hint of it underneath the lemon juice. A mellow drink and a bit creamy; not bad, but not the best use for the gin.#7) Martini
Dry vermouth and coconut are not great partners. This drink is one almighty clash, although the soft coconut ending improves it ever so slightly. All-in-all. I would suggest avoiding this one.
One big benefit of using the coconut gin in cocktails is that you can add the flavour of coconut without having to add coconut cream or rely on sickly-sweet coconut liqueurs. As a result, you can create a drink that both tastes of coconut and is dry.
My favourite drinks were the Collins and the Alexander.

Home-made Fruit Cup; a low-cost alternative.

With the beautiful weather we’ve been having over the past few days (and on a Bank Holiday!) as well as the interest in the last few days in my Fruit Cup Tasting (thank you for all the kind comments) I thought I’d give a little more detail on my home-made alternative.

The ingredients for Home-made Fruit Cup

The ingredients for Home-made Fruit Cup

Fruit Cup#1

The Figures

(How much does it cost?)

Bellino Rosso Apertif (£2.79 for 70cl at Tesco)

Green’s Ginger Wine (£3.22 for 70cl at Tesco)

Using the above recipe you can make 2.1 litres of Fruit Cup for just £9.33 (that’s £4.44 per litre) When you combine this with being able to buy two litres of commercial for £26 (and that’s a good deal) it is a significant saving.

Mixing this One part Fruit Cup to three parts Lemonade/Ginger Ale gives you over 4 pitchers* worth of Fruit Cup drink.

If you fancy a drink with a bit more punch and a bit stronger may I suggest this recipe:

In Conclusion

I think Fruit Cup #1 is great if you’re having quite a few folks around for a BBQ or party as it’s tasty, refreshing and cheap. I mixed some up for a friends 50th Birthday party and it was the first to drink to run out. However I don’t think it is as good as the like of Pimm’s or Plymouth but probably represents better value for money.

Fruit Cup #2 has more flavour and is stronger (it has Gin in it) but it is a more expensive alternative than #1. In the end it depends on exactly what you’re looking for but whether you use #1, #2 or a Commercial brand it’s safe to say that Fruit Cups are one fo the best ways to relax and cool off with friends on a gloriously sunny day.

* My Pimm’s Pitchers hold 1.5 litres each

Red/Sweet Vermouth Recipe

Some of the ingredients for home-made Red Vermouth

Following the success of our Dry Vermouth Tasting in February, we’ve decided to arrange another vermouth tasting, this time focusing on Red/Sweet/Italian Vermouth; an essential ingredient for Manhattans, Martinezs and Negronis.

Looking at the results of our last tasting, one variety that was quite popular, was the home-made variety produced by Mr. Hartley, as per the instructions in the Plymouth Martini Book.  This being the case I was keen to add a home-variety to our up-coming event and so set about creating one.

One of the big differences between Dry and Sweet vermouth is typically the type of base wine that is used (usually each base wine is actually white) the Dry using a dry wine and the Red using a sweet/desert wine. The colour of Red vermouth usually given from the herbs used or artificial colourant.

Ingredients simmering

Ingredients simmering

The three main differences with this recipe to the dry one are:

1) Sweet instead of dry wine

2) Brown/Dark Sugar rather than white

3) Use of more citrus

This is quite easy to make and I tried to exclude some of the ingredients from the Plymouth recipe that were a bit hear to come by, I’ve not yet found a wormwood substitute yet though.

The Taste

Own
Nose: sweet herbal, orange and green moss.
Taste:Sweet initially, then some more bitter herbal notes and a slightly biscuity finish. Possibly a touch too sweet but quite good and it’s recognisable as Red Vermouth.Manhattan
Vermouth blends with the rye whisky very well, making an exceptionally smooth drink with a warming herbal after taste with a touch of sweetness and a hint of citrus.

Martinez
The three ingredients mix very well together, the red vermouth adds a touch of smoothness but does not overpower the gin, orange bitters rounds the drink off  nicely

Negroni
Sweetness of vermouth balances out the bitterness of Campari quite well but the Red Vermouth could do with a bit more flavour as it is a little overpowered by the Campari.

In Conclusion
This was very worthwhile experiment and I was quite happy with results. In the future I might add a little less sugar and perhaps a little more corriander and wormwood; just to fine tune the flavours.
It’s certainly going to be one of the entries to our Red Vermouth Tasting at the end of the month.