Cocktails with… COOL Gin (from Spain!)

I am always keen to keep abreast of the latest innovations in gin, tonic and garnishes in Spain; it’s quite an exciting place, with lots of innovation going on, so imagine my excitement when I contacted COOL Gin about the possibility of trying their gin and they sent me a bonus bottle of their sister gin, 1211, too.

COOL Gin is made by Benevento Global and is a self-styled contemporary gin, although it suggests that it has gone even further and is simply cool gin.

It is made using 12 botanicals, notably including wild strawberry and blackberry, and is also violet in colour.

#1) On its own
Nose: Floral, with lots of vanilla and notes of jelly; fruity and jammy. Juniper also makes an appearance, accompanied by the berry freshness.
Taste: Very unusual for a gin: sweet vanilla and fruit to start, followed by more classic gin flavours: juniper and coriander. Additional sweetness then appears in the form of jammy blackcurrant and strawberry, before a long finish of rose and violet, much like Parma Violets or crystallised violets.

#2) Gin & Tonic
Being light violet in colour, this is a most intriguing drink. Again, there’s quite a lot of vanilla, making this taste almost like a gin & cream soda, but the finish is quite dry, with juniper and quinine. The fruity, berry and floral notes reminds me of the Camp David Gin & Tonic.

#3) Martini
Intense and floral, with some sweetness and notes of vanilla. This is a very, very unusual drink, but an attractive violet colour and very smooth, too; nice and clean.

#4) Negroni
Slight violet on the nose. Rather pleasant, with a good balance of bitterness and sweetness and a creamy violet and vanilla strand throughout that’s nonetheless not overpowering. Whilst not 100% traditional, this is still rather tasty and has a subtle difference that I quite like.

#5) Sweet Martini
Cool Gin makes a sweeter Sweet Martini than usual, with more floral notes and being, generally, more dessert-like. There’s also lots of vanilla, reminding me of cupcakes; as such, this is definitely a drink for after, rather than before, dinner.

#6) Aviation
This is a perfect match for this gin: the fruity, berry notes and hints of floral bring a lot to this drink and make it intense, but delicious. If you are a fan of an Aviation cocktail, then this is surely for you.

#7) Gin Buck
I find this a bit sweet and that the ginger clashes with the berry and floral flavours. It’s not an awful drink, but there are better ways to enjoy this gin.

#8) Gin Collins
A very clean and exceptionally light Gin Collins, with only a hint of juniper and some jammy blackberry and violet floral notes. There’s some sweetness, but not too much, making this a great, lighter drink to enjoy COOL Gin in, especially given the hint of purple in its colour.

In Conclusion

From first appearances, COOL Gin is unusual and this may put off some who prefer their gins to be more traditional, but it’s well worth trying. The floral and berry flavours bring something new, whilst maintaining the character of the gin and ensuring that its flavours are well-balanced. If you are a gin adventurer, a fan of the Aviation, or both, then this is most certainly a gin worth trying.

My favourite drinks were the Aviation and the Gin & Tonic

Hendrick’s Garnish Taste Test

Anyone who has ever bought a bottle of Hendrick’s will know that Hendrick’s and cucumber go hand-in-hand. When I first tried it six years ago, I have to admit to being a tad surprised at being served a glass of gin & tonic with a slice of cucumber in it; surprised, but ultimately delighted, as it was delicious.

Since then, I have come across other gins that suggest garnishing drinks with one of their botanicals, two examples being:
– Pink Grapefruit with Tanqueray No. 10; and
– Cape Gooseberries with Whitley Neill.

I’ve been asked why companies don’t just add more of that botanical’s flavour to the spirit to negate the need for additional garnish. It’s a good question and I’m not sure of an answer.
However, aesthetically, a slice of cucumber or a handful of strawberries makes the drink more appealing, not to mention the fact that you get a little snack you get once you’ve finished the drink.

Hendrink’s is pretty versatile when it comes to garnishes: I have had it served with cucumber, lemon, lime, strawberries, and even rose petals! After I received a bottle of the 44% (Export) Hendrick’s from relatives returning from abroad, I thought I would evaluate each of these garnishes alongside one another in a blind Hendrick’s & Tonic Garnish Taste Test.

Our garnishes were as follows: lemon, lime, cucumber, rose petals, strawberries,  and plain (no garnish, as a control). We tried all six with both the 41.4% and the 44% strengths of Hendrick’s. The gin & tonics were mixed in a 1pt Gin : 2pts Tonic ratio and served in covered coffee cups (thanks to my local Café Nero for supplying those), as we thought this was the best way to avoid identifying the garnish by sight.

Prepared garnishes, clockwise from top left, Plain, Lemon, Lime, Cucumber, strawberries, Rose Petals.

Hendricks 41.4% ABV – (UK Domestic)

No Garnish: The tonic comes through a lot more in this one; there is an initial bitter tang followed by floral perfume notes.

Cucumber: Strong cucumber with a fresh, slightly watery element; it tastes more of the skin than the flesh, but is very fine nonetheless.

Lemon: Exceptionally well-balanced, with subtle citrus and hints of vanilla. Very popular.

Lime: Fresh, citrus and a hint of cucumber, although this was possibly a touch on the bitter side and too sharp.

Strawberries: Hints of cucumber and sweet notes of strawberry. This adds a new flavour to the drink that complements the already summery profile of Hendrick’s. Bright and flavourful. Simply delicious.

Rose Petals: Soft and light, sweet and a touch syrupy, but well-balanced overall.

Hendricks 44% ABV – (USA)

No Garnish: Slightly savoury, with a subtle pepperiness. Well-balanced and complex.

Cucumber: Very strong flavours of cucumber, which dominate the drink. Quite fresh and rather pleasant.

Lemon: A strong bang of citrus, which pleasantly complements the gin, and a fresh sweetness akin to cool lemonade.

Lime: The most bitter and dry of the gin & tonics that we tired. Slightly fruity, but not very sweet.

Strawberries: Very good indeed; sweet and juicy, a touch of strawberry jam.

Rose Petals: Fresh, floral flavours, that aren’t overpowering; sadly lacking in flavour.

In conclusion, we both really liked the strawberries as a garnish as it made the drink rather summery, I was quite fan of the cucumber but Mrs. B found it a little over-powering. In contrast she like the delicacy of the rose petal garnish whereas I thought it too weak. A lemon garnish with the 41.4 also scored well.

The real conclusion we can draw is that we both preferred the 41.4% in a gin & tonic and that my wife and I don’t always agree!

For our coverage of our Tasting of 11 Scottish Gins, click here.