Ginger Gin – Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet XVIIII

Today, we look at another old favourite of the flavoured-gin world and one of the easiest to make at home. I previously visited this last year when I made some Autumnal Gin with Sipsmith. To make this at home, simply steep some chopped ginger root in a gin of your choice for about a week, or to taste. I use about one cup of ginger for each litre of gin.

Own
Nose: Juniper, wood, butter, and ginger.
Taste: This seemed quite perfumed, with some ginger towards the end. The balance of the spirit seemed slightly off and, to be honest, it was not that pleasant a drink on its own.

Frozen:
Quite nice and very smooth; spicy, with some creamy notes, but – overall – quite a clean taste.

Gin & Tonic:
A very odd drink, which reminded me a lot of alcoholic ginger beer, although there was definitely some juniper towards the end. Sadly, I thought that this drink would have a bit more intensity and pizazz. Using Fentimans Tonic way well sort this out, giving the drink a zesty boost of lemongrass.

Martini:
Ginger was the predominant flavour, but it had an interesting, malty quality to it, too. There was some fire, but this was quite modest towards the end. Some sweet vanilla and coconut notes, too.

Collins:
OK, but the ginger seems to be very easily lost. Lots of room for improvement.

Negroni:
This works and works well. It’s like a usual Negroni, with the bittersweet balance and dry juniper, with the addition of some spicy fire from the ginger. It’s a warmer Negroni and one that’s packed full of flavour; very nice.

Sweetened:
I wasn’t quite happy with the unsweetened version of this gin, so I thought I’d add a little sugar, as was the custom with cordial gins of times past. The result was quite pleasant, although more like a ginger liqueur than a gin. The sugar also brought out some other spice notes, with a pleasant fire at the end.

In Conclusion
In the end, I think that Ginger Gin has potential, but my recipe needs tweaking. I found that, once bottled, the gin starts to lose some of its flavour, so a longer/more intense steeping program is needed. I think that some additional citrus peel would make the flavour a bit sharper, too.

The other potential route to go down would be to try making more of a cordial gin or liqueur. If I was trying this, I would add brown sugar, spices and maybe some orange.

Of course, the other – and, in my opinion, the best – alternative would be to try both! I’ll keep you updated with the results of my experiments.

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Raider’s of The Lost Cocktail Cabinet XVIII – Passionfruit Gin

Anyone who has been following the Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet series will know my fondness for T.E. Carling’s ‘The Complete Book of Drink’ and today’s lost ingredient was, again, inspired by an entry in that book: Passionfruit Gin.

This was relatively easy to make. I took the insides of two passionfruit, which I put in a jam jar and topped up with 300ml of gin (for this experiment, I used Broker’s Gin). After leaving to sit for a week, this was strained, bottled and ready to taste.

Own
Nose: Fresh and fruity, the passionfruit is immediately noticeable, along with a hint of sweet jamminess and that sweet tomato smell that always reminds me of passionfruit. A reasonable reflection on the fruit.
Taste: Initially, quite tart, almost sour, with a hint of malty vanilla. This is followed by the fruitiness of the passionfruit. The entire taste is very dry with a touch of tannin on the finish.

Tonic
This is a tropical G&T with lots of succulent fruity flavour, whilst retaining the same slight, dry bitterness that you’d expect from a regular Gin & Tonic.
Mrs. B thought it was really nice: very fresh, with a bright and invigorating fruit flavour. Very refreshing, it has a distinctive fruitiness that tapers off to a bitter finish.

Martini
An odd mix of jamminess and dry herbal notes play out before a very creamy finish with a slight maltiness. Full of flavour, but with a definite crispness, this is not your typical Martini.

Collins
Fresh and fruity, the lemon works well with the deeper exotic fruit notes of the passionfruit lifting the drink and making it lighter and more refreshing.

Negroni
Woah most odd! Funnily enough some mint/basil flavours come through. A juicy jamminess of the finish that tastes just like Passionfruit. This is a very smooth and light Negroni but it’s just so unusual I’m not sure if I like it or not.

In Conclusion
I quite like the Passionfruit Gin but I think it lends itself more to long drinks rather than the more intense Martinis and Negroni. Gin & Tonic was our favourite drink.

Grapefruit Gin – Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet XVI

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.Two of the flavoured gins that we first looked at were recreations of the Gordon’s Lemon and Orange Gins from the 1930s. More recently (in the last 30 years), however, Gordon’s (in the US)   made a Grapefruit (and a Spearmint) flavoured gin in the late 80 – 90s. This is the same period in which Beefeater was making three citrus-flavoured varieties; orange, lime and lemon.

My gin was made by adding the zest of a grapefruit to 250ml of gin and leaving it for a week (in hindsight this was too long!).

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Own
Nose: Dry, with notes of juniper and zesty grapefruit peel.
Taste: Very intense: zesty and tart with a good dose of bitterness, too; not for the faint-hearted.

Gin & Tonic
This was rather good and the best of all of the citrus flavoured gins that I have tried. It was very fresh and refreshing, and there was a real grapefruit twang at the end, too. This would be a good G&T for those who like a little bitterness in their life.

Martini
Very citrus-y, so no twist needed here. It was quite bitter, too, as well as being clean and crisp. This will really appeal to fans of grapefruit and/or cocktails with zing.

Gin Blade
Another simple cocktail: simply a gin shaken with ice.
The shaking lengthens and aerates the gin, curbing the grapefruit’s zestiness slightly and allowing you to enjoy the flavours of the underlying gin a little more. This chilled serve also makes for a more refreshing drink.

Pink Gin
I added an extra dose of bitters and the gin favour is quite strong. The result is a herbal and citrus bitterfest. If you like the like of campari and other bitter herbal liqueurs then you will probabaly like this. It leaves a really zing on your tongue.

Gin Buck
Rather nice; again, no extra citrus was needed, as this was even more zesty than a usual Gin Buck and, as a result, was very refreshing. Would be lovely for summer.

In Conclusion
As I mentioned previously I think I made and overly zesty and intense gin and as such this version worked best with long drinks, so the edge of the citrus bitterness could be curbed. As such my favourite drinks were the Gin & Tonic and Gin Buck.

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.

Swedish Punsch

Swedish Punsch is a product from Sweden (surprise surprise!), based on Arack. Although it is still available, it is much harder to get hold of then it was. The Batavia Arak came from Java and South-East Asia and was made from distilled sugar cane and Javanese rice.

Sweden is a long way from this part of the world and so you may be wondering what the connection is? The answer is the Svenska Ostindiska Companiet (Swedish East India Company), which was formed after the success of the English and Dutch East India Company. Although not as influential as its counterparts, the company lasted 82 years and brought many goods back to Sweden, including the precursor to Swedish Punsch.

Tasting Swedish Punsch, I am aware of some rum-like qualities and, in fact, Cocktail Database suggests that it was often mixed with low-quality rum in order to improve the rum’s flavour. There also seems to be an on-going debate as to whether it should be served hot or cold.

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The Taste

Own
It is a straw-coloured liquid with a nose of honey and thick, dark rum. It has a wonderful texture, so thick and silky, like honey, and slides around your mouth. There’s some warmth and it’s reasonably balanced in terms of sweetness, as well as being herbal, very sippable and altogether rather delicious.After Dinner Cocktail
[30ml Swedish Punsch, 5ml Lime Juice, 15ml Cherry Brandy – SHAKE]
Superb: rather rummy, with a slightly musky start, which is followed by lime and some pleasant sweet cherry notes. I thought that this was a good palette cleanser and a fine digestif cocktail. Mrs. B was rather keen, too.

Boomerang
[20ml Swedish Punsch, 20ml Rye Whiskey, 20ml Dry Vermouth, 1 Dash Lemon Juice, 1 Dash angostura Bitters – STIR]
This cocktail was dark amber in colour and had a rich buttery biscuit nose. Smooth and soft initially, the flavour builds to form a rich drink with a biscuit-y nuttiness and a hint of creamy butter. Rather involved.

Doctor Cocktail
[30ml Swedish Punsch, 20ml Lime Juice – SHAKE]
To me, this tasted strongly of dark sugar, almond and cherry stones. There was also a spice, similar to allspice or pimento, that works well with the slightly tart lime.

100% Cocktail
[35ml Swedish Punsch, 10ml Ornage Juice, 5ml Lemon Juice, 1 Dash Grenadine – Shake]
Rather sweet, the strong flavour of the punch is combined with a little jammy pomegranate in this cockail. The citrus juices liven up the drink, making it rather succulent.

Pooh Bah Cocktail
[15ml Swedish Punsch, 15ml Gin, 15ml Light Rum, 5ml Apricot Brandy – STIR]
This had a thick flavour: herbal and quite sweet. It may be too sickly for some, but the Dry Gin does even it out a little. This straw-yellow drink is rather liqueur-like and seems to be a relic of a time when bar patrons had a sweeter palette.

Roulette
[10ml Swedish Punsch, 30ml Calvados, 10ml Light Rum – STIR]
Fruity, with a sweet herbal finish. There’s a good dry/sweet balance, with a hint of light butteriness.

Tanglefoot
[15ml Swedish Punsch, 15ml Light Rum, 10ml Lemon Juice, 10ml Orange Juice – SHAKE]
Fresh and fruity, with a slight, but not unpleasant, muskiness. I noted flavours of soft, burnt sugar and spice that was rather appetite-rousing.

In Conclusion
Both Mrs. B and I thought this was a very interesting product, rather unique with the nearest substitute being Pimento Dram, but that’s a bit of a stretch.
My favourite drinks was the Roulette and Mrs. B’s was the After Dinner.

Raiders of The Lost Cocktail Cabinet III – Creme Yvette

For the third installment of Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet, I shall look at a liqueur that I have long been fascinated by and so I was exceptionally pleased to receive a bottle of it on the last day of 2010. Creme Yvette is part of a family of floral liqueurs, including Parfait Amore and Creme de Violette; the latter was, at one time, so rare that a John Steed & Emma Peel episode of The Avengers entitled ‘Two’s A Crowd’* revolves around its scarcity.


Creme Yvette was once made by the Sheffield Company of Connecticut, but later production was taken over by Charles Jacquin et Cie (makers of Rock & Rye). It was discontinued in 1969 due to lack of popularity.

Forty years on, it has been revived by Robert Cooper (the chap behind St Germaine Elderflower Liqueur) and is now made in France. Mr Cooper’s grandfather had acquired the rights to Creme Yvette in the 1930s, so an original recipe was easy to come by; however, as many of the original suppliers no longer existed, the hunt was on to find new sources of ingredients. The results are listed below:

From Provence:
Dried violet petals
From Burgundy:
Blackberries
Blackcurrants
Red raspberries
Wild strawberries
And finally:
A spiced blend of honey, orange peel and vanilla.

In order to check the authenticity of his new creation, Mr Cooper tested it against some existing,vintage bottles of Creme Yvette; in a similar fashion to those that have recreated Herbsaint Originale and, in a small way, my own recreations of Gordon’s Orange & Lemon Gin. Here are my notes on a variety of ways of drinking this liqueur yourself:

Créme Yvette is bottled at 27.75%ABV

#1) Own
Nose: Vanilla, strawberries and cream, but also floral, like sirop de rose.
Taste: Creme Yvette has a silky smooth texture, with flavours of sweet violets or violet creams. There are also faint hints of Turkish Delight and purple grape. Sweet & delicious.

The following cocktails come from the Creme Yvette website, Cocktail Database and Straub’s Drinks as well as a number of other vintage cocktail books.

#2) The Defender
[30ml Old Tom Gin, (Hayman’s), 30ml Sweet Vermouth, 5ml Creme Yvette, Dash Orange Bitters: STIR]
A bit like a sweet Martini, the sweet vermouth and the yvette go very well together. Some floral (violet and rose) and herbal notes on the finish. Lovely!

The New York Flyer

The New York Flyer

#3) NY Flyer
[40ml Rye Whisky, 20ml Lemon Juice, 10ml Creme Yvette, 10ml Marashino: SHAKE]
This is variation on the Aviation with the gin replaced with Rye whisky and the violette with Yvette.

#4) Blue Moon
[40ml Dry Gin, 10ml Creme Yvette: STIR – Lemon Twist]
Floral and anise flavours, although there is no pastis or absinthe in the drink. There’s also a little citrus and violet. Considering that this only contains two ingredients, this is a rather complex cocktail; elegant and excellent.

The Lavender Lady

The Lavender Lady

#5) Lavender Lady
[20ml Dry Gin, 10ml Calvados, 10ml Cointreau, 5ml Lemon Gin, 5ml Creme Yvette]
SHAKE!
Delicious! All the ingredients are exceptionally balanced. Sweet floral notes with hints of apples to start, then the citrus of the orange & lemon, then the bitterness of the gin, warmth of the Calvados and then flavours of apples and strawberries on the finish.

#6) Stratosphere
[15ml Creme Yvette in a Champagne Flute, Top up with 80ml Champagne]
Quite nice; an alternative to a Kir Royale. I often find the Kir Royale too dry, but by using Yvette this isn’t a problem as this liqueur is a bit sweeter. There are specific flavours of violet and strawberry. The bubbles of the Champagne also fit the name of the cocktail very well.

Angel's Dream Cocktail

Angel's Dream Cocktail

#7) Angel’s Dream
Very unusual: the cream acts as an intriguing barrier before you get to the rest of the drink. The cream smooths out the warmth of the liqueurs and results in the drink seeming to melt on your tongue. It was just the right quantity at this size and would make a novel, but tasty alternative to an after dinner mint.

#8) Belmont
[35ml Dry Gin, 10ml Creme Yvette, 10ml St. Germaine Elderflower, Top up with Soda Water]
This uses another creation of Robert Cooper, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur. This cocktail is quite sweet ans fruit but for my tastes it is a bit sweet, even with addition of extra soda. I would recommend upping the quantity of gin and adding 5-10ml of lemon juice.

Yvette's Rainbow

Yvette's Rainbow

#9) Yvette’s Rainbow
[Layer a barspoon of the following: Calvados, Benedictine, Galliano, Green Chatreuse, White Creme de Cacao, Marashino and Créme Yvette.]
An exceptionally warming drink, full of the warmth of herbs and spice, and finished off with faint floral notes, courtesy of the Yvette. That doesn’t even mention how quirky it looks, my wife thought it looked as if it had been knitted and was amused that the layers remained intact as she drank.

In Conclusion
It has probably already come across that I think Créme Yvette is an exceptionally fine liqueur and I am certainly glad that it, like Lazarus, has been brought back from the dead. I think it has a place both as a cocktail ingredient and as a liqueur to sip. One well-informed friend commented that it was much more easy to appreciate Créme Yvette on it’s own then Créme de Violette, I’m inclined to agree.
Top cocktails would have to be the New York Flyer and The Lavender Lady although it makes a cracking Aviation too. A comparison  of a Créme de violette vs. a Créme Yvette Aviation is available here.  I just hope that Créme Yvette will be available in the UK soon!
* This is one of my very favourite Avengers episodes.