Cocktails with… Oliver Twist Gin

Being based, as we are, near Portsmouth, you can’t help but know some of the city’s famous residents, such as:Conan Doyle, Peter Sellers, Brunel, Chritsopher Hitchens, HG Wells and Charles Dickens. It is the last of these great men who is of particular relevance today, as we look at a gin named after one of his most famous creations, Oliver Twist.

Oliver Twist Gin was created by the Guernsey-based SD Spirits Ltd. The gin is unusually described as a “Distilled London Gin”. Technically, it is also a London Dry Gin, but the Spirits wanted to emphasise the fact that the gin is made in London; this is a similar idea to that of “London Cut”, which is another geographical moniker.

The gin is made at Thames, is bottled at 40% ABV, and contains four botanicals.

Nose: Classic gin; dry juniper and coriander, a little salty, too.
Taste: Strong juniper with some lighter floral elements. Very dry coriander and bitter herbs on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
No nonsense, good strong juniper, with some sweetness at the end. All-in-all, a good classic-style G&T.

Very smooth, but still flavourful. The gin lets the vermouth come through, so there is synergy between the two. Soft initially, crisp at the end and pretty easy to drink.

Intense and quite sweet, but very herbally bitter on the finish, which is quick. Overall, this came across as being a rather extreme (intense) drink; it’ll knock your socks off, but, if you love Negronis, this is for you.

Pink Gin
Rounded and powerful with a juniper kick. This works quite well, but is quite strong, both in terms of flavour and of perceived proof. The herbs and spice of bitters come through and the texture is silky, almost syrupy.

Gin Old Fashioned
A smooth, but spicy number, I found this easy to drink and a great way of enjoying the characteristics of the gin.

In the spirit of invention, here are some more unorthodox cocktails:

Mr Bumble’s Bongo
Gin and Umbongo; an unlikely combination, but one that was recommended by the folks at Oliver Twist Gin. It works surprisingly well and I really like it. The combination seems to bring out grapefruit from somewhere, but neither the gin nor the juice contain any. Very refreshing, easy to make and really worth a try.

What the Dickens?
This is a recipe that I came up with recently, but hadn’t found a name for. It looks like it won’t work on paper, but, once in the glass, it is pretty tasty.

[35ml Oliver Twist Gin, 15ml Lemon Juice, 5ml White Creme de Cacao, 5ml Creme de Menthe 100ml Soda Water]

The drink looks like a normal Collins and, initially, that is the flavour that you get: a fresh, dry mix of gin and lemon juice, but after the lemon, juniper and coriander, you get a subtle finish of dry mint chocolate. It works surprisingly well and makes you keep on sipping.

The Artful Dodger (Gin & Jam)
A variation on a drink from the 1930s Savoy Cocktail book, The Marmalade Cocktail. I’ve substituted the marmalade for jam in a nod to the Jammy Dodger biscuits.

[35ml Oliver Twist Gin, Juice of Half a Lemon, 1tsp Jam – SHAKE]

This works well, although it’s important not to overdo on your measure of gin, so that you just get a jammy, strawberry finish subtly in the background. There’s a good amount of fresh tartness form the lemon juice, which works well with the angelica and coriander in the gin; to top it off, juniper comes through too. Scrumptious.

In Conclusion
Oliver Twist Gin has a small number of botanicals, but is still very flavourful. It is of a classic style of gin that works well in the traditional cocktails, such as a Gin & Tonic, but I also found that it made some delicious contemporary drinks such as the combination with Umbongo and in The Artful Dodger.

Oliver Twist Gin is available for around £26 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange

Martini Gadgets 7 – The Electric Martini Shaker

In these days of Margaritaville Margarita Makers (now with salsa dispensers), Hot Dog Grills, Mini  Cupcake Ovens and Candyfloss Machines, there is a shining light amongst the kitchen countertop clutter…

The Professional Waring Martini Mixer.*

Automated Martini makers have been a round for a little while; the picture below is of the Cocktailmatic from 1961.
The Waring Professional Martini mixer has three buttons: on/off, stir and shake.The Mixer comes with a metal, three-part (or Manhattan) shaker, which fits into a little holder in the machine. This moves up and down when ‘shake’ is pressed and spins around when ‘stir’ is pressed. The on/off button activates/deactivates the device. The green LED activity light appears as an olive in a little martini glass logo, which is a nice touch.

How well does it shake; how well does it stir?

A Shaken Oliver Twist Martini

The little platform that the shaker rests in pulsates up and down for abut 40 seconds; press the buttons again for an extra long shake. As a result, the Martini is given a lot of “mini shakes”; hard shakers eat your heart out.

Martini aficionados may notice from the picture that then drink is clear where as a shaken martini is usually cloudy. I can only think that the mix is not shaken with sufficient force to aerate or “bruise” the gin. Overall a very pleasant drink with an apparent lack of dilution, the gin really shines through, clean crisp and weighty.

A Stirred Oliver Twist Martini

A Stirred Oliver Twist Martini

As both drinks are made in the stirrers, the drink is merely rotated rather than stirred; there is no paddle inside to stir the liquid, the shaker just rotates.

Taste: Noticeably less cloudy than the shaken Martini (a good start for any stirred Martini),

The Score

I found the mixer very useful for drinks that need to be shaken for a long period of time, such as the Ramos Gin Fizz (9 minutes), but, beyond that, I have found it easier to get out my usual shaker and use a bit of elbow grease.
Practicality Score: 2 out of 5

The machine has some flair: the little LED lamp and its quirky, robotic movements are two attractions, but, as for you, the organ grinder, you just have to stand there and wait.

Showmanship Score: Machine: 4 out of 5, You: 1 out of 5

Curio Quality
This is very curious and no-one has come into our kitchen without commenting on it and asking to see it demonstrated. As it runs on the mains and is easily stocked (with ice and spirit), I’m usually happy to oblige.

Curio Quality Score: 5 out of 5
*I’m so glad it’s a professional one.