Cocktails with… Gordon’s Pink Gin

In the past, I’ve written various times on the popularity of strawberry gin in Spain and I have long expected gins to follow suit in the UK, although it seems to have taken a few years for the first major strawberry gins to emerge. This is Gordon’s “Pink” Gin, which is pink in colour and has nothing to do with the old naval cocktail of the same name.

The gin is made using Gordon’s gin, along with strawberries, raspberries and redcurrants. It is described as having “natural fruit flavours and a subtle touch of juniper” and is bottled at 37.5% ABV.

Gordons Pink FINAL

On its own
Nose: Strawberries and cream with a tart hint of raspberry and the faintest whiff of earthiness.
Taste: Sweet upfront, with a flavour reminiscent of jelly and slooshy (slightly melted) ice cream. This develops into florid notes of blossom and blackberry. The finish has a subtle dryness and a little coriander.

Gin & Tonic
The berry notes really come through well, with juicy, sweet flavours of strawberry and raspberry and a hint of creaminess. There is a touch of dry juniper and angelica on the finish. This would work well garnished with strawberries or, if you’re feeling decadent, a sliver of vanilla pod.

Martini
A particularly perfumed Martini, sipping this cocktail is a bit like kissing a Great Aunt: the berry notes seem to merge with those of the vermouth to create a florid flavour that overwhelms the drink. This is definitely not the best way to enjoy this gin.

Negroni
This makes a rather sweet Negroni; the berry notes of the gin really come through and, if anything, the red vermouth and possibly even the Campari are the ones that are overpowered. An unusual take on this cocktail, which will not appeal to all, but is worth trying, especially for those that might have tried a Negroni once and found it way too bitter.

Gin & Cola
Very sweet with lots of bright berry notes – mostly strawberry, but with a bit of raspberry, too. I fear this may be too sweet for many hardened gin drinkers, but that in itself doesn’t make it a bad drink. It will certainly appeal to those with a sweet tooth, being slightly reminiscent of a coke float made with raspberry ripple ice cream. Actually, the more I drink it, the more I like it – it’s unexpectedly indulgent!

In Conclusion
I think that Gordon’s Pink Gin is a much better product than many of the Spanish strawberry gins; it is less sweet and has a dryer profile, and the additional fruit notes add complexity. Whilst I don’t think it works in all classic gin drinks, it worked particularly well when mixed with tonic and cola.

Advertisements

Introducing Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic

I’ve been a fan of the Pink Gin & Tonic – described as a Gin & Tonic with a dash of Angostura Bitters or a Pink Gin with added tonic – for at least a decade. In fact, it was once my go-to post-work drink.

Some brands have created a Pink Gin (a combination of gin and bitters), so you only have to add tonic, but – until now – there has never been a tonic where the flavours of bitters have been conveniently added.

Fever-Tree Aromatic Angostura Tonic FINAL1

That has changed in the summer of 2016, with the release of Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic Water, which is made with angostura bark. The tonic also has fresh citrus, cardamom, ginger, and pimento berry (All Spice) as ingredients.

It is worth mentioning that Angostura Bitters made by the House of Angostura (the bottle with the over-sized label) does not actually have angostura bark as an ingredient, although another old brand of bitters, Abbott’s, did.

Both have long been associated with the health and well-being of the sailors of the Royal Navy, with surgeons prescribing angostura bark as an alternative or supplementary anti-fever treatment to quinine bark. As such, it seems like a natural companion to the natural quinine in Fever-Tree Tonic.

On its own
Colour: Pale rose
Nose: Fragrant citrus, along with cola nut, cherry blossom, and woody, aromatic spice.
Fizz: A medium-level of fizz, with a pleasant intensity on the tongue as the bubbles burst.
Taste: Exotic spice to start, then almond and wintergreen, before moving onto cherry and citrus blossom. Pimento and cardamom then make a subtle appearance. This has a long, dry citrus finish with deep and clean, bitter, earthy notes.

Fever-Tree suggest that their Angostura Tonic goes particularly well with juniper-forward gins, so I thought I’d try it out with some of my favourites.

Fever-Tree Aromatic Angostura Tonic FINAL 2

With Plymouth Gin
There is a pleasant harmony between the gin and the tonic, likely in part because of some shared ingredients, including cardamom. There is a sweet lift at the end, accompanied by woody spice notes.

With Hayman’s Royal Dock
The extra strength of flavour and alcoholic power from this combination really gives the drink an additional “Wow!” factor. The gin adds a clean, crisp basis to the drink, whilst the tonic adds a lively character with citrus and spice. Refreshing to the last drop and well-balanced with a bitter finish.

With Makar
The crisp juniper of the gin counteracts the sweeter spice notes of the tonic, resulting in a deep and complex flavour, and a particularly dry Gin Tonic.

With Hayman’s Family Reserve
The light, woody notes and strong botanical flavours work well with the citrus and woody spice of the tonic. The result is a flavoursome mix that still provides lots of refreshment.

With Crossbill 200
Even though the tonic has a strong character, this punchy gin holds its down. The resinous vanilla and juniper wood notes of the gin, along with the floral rosehip, are neatly complementd by the spice and citrus of the tonic, creating a well-rounded drink.

In Conclusion
Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic is a great addition to their range, getting the balance between extra flavour and mixability just right. It is also one of the tastiest tonics to drink on its own, my favourite since I tried Fever-Tree Mediterranean. It also works well when mixed with vodka and I’d love to try it with aquavit.

All-in-all, this is well-worth trying and will be available in Waitrose from July 2016.

Cocktails with… Pinkster Gin

Several companies have experimented with making coloured gin over the last five or so years, with shades including yellow, pink, blue, green, orange and purple. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems that the focus on the colour gets in the way of having a spirit that distinguishes itself in terms of flavour, leaving the gins open to accusations of superfluous gimmickry.

Given this precedent, I was intrigued to have a chance to taste and mix with a bottle of the pink-hued Pinkster Gin early on in 2014, having heard some positive reviews from friends and colleagues.

Pinkster Gin Bottle FINAL
Pinkster Gin is made at Thames Distillers in Clapham, London and is bottled at 37.5% ABV. The gin uses a recipe of five distilled botanicals and then, post-distillation, is infused with raspberries; this adds both flavour and colour to the spirit.

The Taste

On its own
Colour: Rose pink
Nose: Dry juniper and angelica, followed by a rich, jammy raspberry note.
Taste: This is quite a “plump” gin, in that it seems like a pretty classic, dry gin to start with, with notes of juniper and coriander, but the character then changes as the jammy, fruity sweetness of the raspberries enter, stage right. The finish is clean and dry. An unusually sippable gin.

Gin & Tonic
A rather suppable, pretty classic Gin & Tonic, with the raspberries adding texture and flavour toward the end. Neither the sweetness, nor jamminess of the fruit throw the drink out of balance. I think that the suggested garnish of fresh raspberry and mint leaves has great potential.

Martini
This cocktail has a notable, pale pink colour. The flavour of the raspberries is a little more subtle than in other drinks, just adding a touch of juiciness to the finish. All-in-all, this is a clean and crisp Martini with a fruity twist at the end.

Negroni
A soft and succulent drink, which is not a bad way for a Negroni novice to first approach the cocktail. Despite this accessibility, there are still an array of interesting flavours for the ardent Negroni fan, although the character is more subtle and less punchy than versions made using some other gins.

On the Rocks
This a good way to enjoy both the colour and the flavour of this gin, with lots of botanical notes presenting themselves, including juniper, coriander and angelica, all of which complement the berry notes and touch of leafiness in the gin. Another accessible way to drink gin neat.

In Conclusion
I expressed some concerns over some coloured gin early on in this article, but Pinkster is, amongst others, one of the exceptions. I like the balance of its flavours and the gin definitely fills a gap in the market for a fruity gin that is not overly sweet or sickly. I particularly like serving it with ice or in a 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.

.

* 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)