Cocktails with.. Lebensstern Dry Gin – From Austria

Recently, I received a gin care package from Germany; inside was a bottle of The Duke Munich Dry Gin and another of Lebensstern. Both are produced at the Freihof Distillery in Austria, near the border of both Switzerland and Germany, and are made for the Einstein Bar in Berlin. The Lebensstern forms the base for the excellent Lebensstern Pink Gin that we featured a few months back and is bottled at 43 %ABV.

Own
Nose: Lots of rather fruity, jammy notes, with some sweet juniper, pine, apricot and peach.
Taste: Quite smooth, with plenty of juniper and rich, jammy, fruity flavours, including peach, raspberry and apricot. Very good.

Gin & Tonic
Really good: refreshing, succulent and very fruity; no garnish is needed at all. The dominant flavours are: raspberry, peach, plum and apricot. Again, this is quite jammy. The juniper is still there, but it’s in the background, making for a very unusual, but nonetheless fantastic G&T!

Martini
A rather fruity Martini, full of luscious, fresh fruit flavours, reminding me of biting into a ripe peach. This is well-balanced and not sickly; despite the rich flavours, the drink maintains the cocktail’s signature dry finish. Not a conventional Martini by any means, but a very good one nonetheless.

Pink Gin
Unusual and full of jammy berry notes mixed with sweet spice, this reminded me of an English winter tart. Once again, this is a step away from the cocktail’s usual profile, but remains an enjoyable drink.

Milano
Another lovely drink. The tartness from the lemon and the vanilla-sweetness from the Galliano worked well with the fruity gin, creating a well-rounded cocktail.

Gin Buck
The by now familiar jammy, fruity notes of the Lebensstern worked well with the citrus and sweet, spicy ginger. This is a drink that is both refreshing and comforting.

Negroni
This gin really stands up well to the Campari and makes a lovely Negroni: bittersweet, with an extreme, bitter finish that is rounded off by the rich, succulent fruitiness of the gin. With distinctive notes of peach & plum, this is one of my favourite Negronis.

Gin Old Fashioned
The gin came through well, but, with the extra sugar from the cube, I found this a tad too sweet, tasting more like a gin liqueur.

In Conclusion

Overall, I was impressed with Lebensstern Dry Gin. Its rich, fruity and jammy style is distinctive, being almost halfway between dry gin and sloe gin. Not only distinctive, it also gives some fresh and tasty twists on the characteristics of some Classic gin cocktails.

Drink highlights included the Negroni and the Gin & Tonic.

The Pink Gin Cocktail & Lebensstern Bottled Pink Gin

The Pink Gin Cocktail is an old navy drink, a mix of gin and Angostura Bitters. Gin was the Naval Officer’s drink of choice and the bitters were thought to have medicinal properties. Traditionally, the drink is associated with Plymouth Gin, a spirit from a city with strong naval connections.

But recently I tried Lebensstern Pink Gin, which was kindly sent to me along with a bottle of Adler Berlin Gin (see the review here).

Not to be confused with the likes of Edgerton Pink or Pink 47*, Lebensstern Pink is actually Lebensstern Gin with added Bitter Truth aromatic bitters.
The gin was originally made specifically for the Lebensstern Bar, which is situated on the 1st floor of Cafe Einstein, a Coffee House in Berlin.

Also in the brand portfolio of Lebensstern is a London Dry Gin (43%) and a Caribbean Rum.

Annual production of Lebensstern is limited to 1,000 bottles and is bottled at 40%ABV.

Lebensstern Pink Gin vs. A freshly made version with Plymouth Gin

Lebensstern Pink Gin vs. A freshly made version with Plymouth Gin

As I mentioned before, the Pink Gin Cocktail is synonymous with Plymouth Gin and so I wondered, how does a freshly mixed drink fare against the bottled Lebensstern Pink Gin? The tasting was done blind; here are the results:

I Plymouth Gin
Quite herbal, with nice juniper and citrus notes, but perhaps a touch watery and a bit flat at the end.

II Lebensstern Pink
A richer, herbal taste, with a hint of sweetness. Complex and intense. Clear winner.

Frankly, I was surprised at the result as I am a big fan of Plymouth**, but the Lebensstern pipped to the post in my Pink Gin tasting. I expected the freshly mixed one to be superior, but the Lebensstern was more complex and had a more defined and lasting flavour.

I also tried Lebensstern Pink in some other drinks:

Own:
Room Temperature: Juniper, cinnamon and other spices & roots. Quite soft and very similar in character to a Pink Gin. Some warmth and a finish of juniper, cinnamon and anise.
Frozen: Surprisinglyly non-syrupy texture; very cold, but very flavourful. From the freezer, the gin is more herbal and more bitter. It’s tasty, but, for me, not as good as drinking it at room temperature.

Gin & Tonic
Quite refreshing; a pleasant way to lengthen the gin with hints of cinnamon and sweet spice coming through. A dash of lemon juice or a wedge improves the balance, I think.

Martini
Seems quite strong***, crisp and the sweet spice comes through again. For my money, though, I’d rather have the gin on its own.

Old Fashioned
Excellent: easily the best cocktail I have tried with Lebensstern. Smooth and soft, it is complex, bitter-sweet and rather lovely. A great drink to have whilst you contemplate and mull-over the day.

In Conclusion

I was definitely impressed with Lebensstern Pink and the idea of making a cocktail within a cocktail definitely intrigued me. My tasting of this comes at a time when I’ve recently tried some other good-quality bottled/premixed cocktails (see my Hand-made Cocktail Company Review) and the Lebensstern certainly fits that label, too. My favourite ways of drinking it were on its own at room temperature, with ice, and in an Old Fashioned.

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* By this, I mean that neither Pink 47 or Edgerton Pink (to my mind) follow the flavour profile of the Pink Gin Cocktail. Pink 47 has a very faint pink tinge and Edgerton, although being very pink, is flavoured with pomegranate, not bitters.

** I’d like to see a true re-match sometime, with a professionally-made Pink Gin vs. the Lebensstern; maybe a task for the next time I’m down at the Plymouth Distillery?

***(i.e. alcoholic strength)