Uncategorized

Tonic is the new Gin

We all know that we are living through another Gin renaissance. In recent years a mirriad of small batch and craft Gin producers have been jostling for position, trying to stand out in an increasingly Gin-soaked market by playing on the subtleties of their botanicals and ingredients. Global Gin consumption is definitely on the rise, but what of that other ingredient in the most popular of Gin imbibes, Tonic Water?

Tonic water originated in early 19th Century India and other tropical outposts, where British officials stationed in these places started mixing Quinine powder, an insanely bitter extract from the bark of the cinchona tree and used as a preventative for Malaria, with soda water and sugar to make it more palatable.

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Cinchona bark – Courtesy of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.

For many years the standard Schweppes and Canada Dry brands of Tonic were the mainstay of G&Ts the world over, providing a fairly homogeneous, less bitter, sweet syrupy tasting tonic with far reduced amounts of quinine. In the US the FDA limits the amount of quinine used in Tonic waters to 83mg/litre, whilst any effective therapeutic dose is in the range of 500-1000mg/litre, so a partaking in a cheeky G&T in the tropics is not going to stop you getting malaria any more!

SchweppesAd1Canada DryIn recent years we have seen some premium tonics enter the marketplace, the likes of Tomr’s tonic, Fever Tree, and Q Tonic have made an emphasis on using real quinine and natural ingredients, as opposed to flavorings and corn syrup.
And most recently craft tonic syrups have started to appear from Tomr’s, Jack Rudy Cocktail Co and Johns Premium Tonic Syrup. This is coupled with the increase in cocktail bars mixing their own tonics and adding their own craft flavours.

Fever Tree, setup in 2004 by Charles Rolls, the former owner of Plymouth Gin, was driven by “…the fact that with the tonics available on the market at that time, it was difficult to tell the difference between different premium gins.” says Rolls, something that this Gin Club has found consistently with blind taste tests. We even find that with some Gins, even Fevertree itself has a tendency to drown out some subtle flavours.

This is less so with the Tonic Syrups and hand crafted tonics, where moderating the ratio of tonic syrup to soda, to bring out or emphasise the subtle flavours in the gin, can dramatically change the overall flavour of the drink.

So far this Gin Club has only been able to smuggle in Jack Rudy’s Tonic syrup for review, but will be bringing in samples of Tomr’s and Johns Premium for a side by side taste test in laboratory conditions in the near future, but initial tastings of these stateside have proved to be promising and we are excited to bring these into regular club circulation.  If you can’t wait for that, then you should take a look at these excellent tonic reviews from The Gin Is In Blog.

As Tomr’s says “Life’s too short to drink a crappy tonic”

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Gin Joints

Drink here : The Flintridge Proper, La Cañada Flintridge, CA. USA

On a recent fact finding mission to Los Angeles, I stumbled upon an article in LA Weekly proclaiming a bar in La Cañada Flintridge as the greatest gin bar in Los Angeles. Admittedly I had just googled “The best gin bar in LA”, but upon further investigation another article proclaimed that this bar, just north of Pasadena on interstate-210, as being in possession of the largest Gin selection in the known world. This was indeed a bold claim and too good to miss, and the only encouragement I needed to hail a taxi and get myself to La Cañada on a Friday evening to embark on some much needed potation.

Welcome to The Flintridge Proper.

Over 200 Gins, A Proper Gin bar.

Over 200 Gins, A Proper Gin bar.

 

The bar itself is situated in strip mall off the main drag, Foothill Blvd, and from the outside it was not really what I expected. I guess I was thinking large Victorian gin palace, purchased in the 1960’s and transported brick by brick from Southwark High Street to Los Angeles by a dedicated but slightly Ginebriated Californian oil man. Instead its rather prosaic appearance belied a veritable agglomeration of Gin within. This was nothing less than a California-style Gin Palace of the first degree.

I propped myself at the bar, in the traditional manner and gazed across the expanse of Gins proudly displayed behind the bar like trophies to be won in a shooting gallery; and this was some shooting gallery. I scanned the names on the bottles, some familiar, some unfamiliar, and some written on with a sharpie marker pen. They spoke of Gins like, Cap rock, Desert Dry and Deaths Door, produced domestically across the US to the more familiar European Gins, two Monkey 47’s, three Bathtubs, some classic Genevers, vintage Spanish and Italian Gins like a 1970’s Milton & 1960’s Bosford. I even spotted a bottle of Lighthouse from New Zealand. The Proper also produces it’s own Gins, which i will come to later.

Luckily I was joined at the bar by The Gin Club’s west coast ambassador, the aptly named Mr Necessary, a connoisseur of Gin and a full time tonic enthusiast. Where should we start?

St George, Dry Rye Gin from California

Why not start with a local Gin, well, sort of local, the St Georges, Dry Rye Gin, brewed in Alemeda, San Francisco. This is not a purists Gin by any means, but I am all about variety and was intregued to see how the rye flavours worked with the juniper. We threw some fevertree into it with some ice and the result was quite pleasing. It had a subtle sense of whiskey mixed in there and strong nose spiced with peppers and oak. Slightly reminiscent of a bold DRJ’s. Definitely a man’s gin.

Next up was a local bathtub type gin, this had been made from locally foraged botanicals found in the Seco, Arroyo Valley in the nearby Angeles National Forest. This was quite a raw affair, but had a distinct nutty flavor when taken neat, but is probably best consumed in a Tom Collins. A little too raw for a martini or a ricky, but certainly distinct in a G&T.

The drinks continued and as I made my way through a Dessert Dry, a Navy Strength Old Tom – The Professor C.A., a Distillers Cut Monkey 47, some Old Raj 110proof, a Jenson Old Tom, and an Uncle Val’s Botanical in a Martini. The guys behind the bar really knew their Gin, introducing me to knew cuts, and helping me navigate my way through the 200+ Gins on offer.
The clientele of the bar was as eclectic as the Gins themselves; possibly because the NASA JPL facility is a short distance up the road, this appears to be the go-to place for space scientists.
It took me a while to realise this, as i tried fruitlessly to purchase some actual Apollo Moon Buggy wheels that a guy sitting adjacent to me in the bar had in his office. And then in astonishment and wonder at the coincidence when I found that the quiet reserved chap I was sat next to was an actual legend from the Apollo space programme!

If you find yourself in Los Angeles, and you have an interest in Gin and space travel, then you really must pay a visit to the Flintridge Proper.

Gins at The Flintridge Proper

 

*many thanks to Ross Necessary, the Gin Club’s west coast correspondent, for his assistance and support at the Flintridge Proper.

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How To Guides

Merry Ginmas Sloe Negronis!

Thank you to all our members, followers and readers for everything this year. We are excited to join you for a spirited 2015!

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If you’re looking for something to drink this evening, its the perfect night for a sloe gin Negroni. Here’s how to make one… Or two… 😉

INGREDIENTS:
1 part London Dry gin
1 part sloe gin
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part Campari

TO SERVE:
Over crushed ice with a slice of clementine.

Combine the gin, Vermouth and Campari in a glass with ice and stir. Garnish with clementine.

Merry Ginmas everyone!

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Gin review, Naked Tasting

Gin tasting: Warner Edwards Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin

Price:                          ±£38

Profile:                        Rhubarb, citrus, crème brulee

Perfect serve:             Frozen, over ice as a sipping gin or a gin rickey

Our rating:                  8/10

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Gin fit for a Queen. No, really. This byoot-ee-fool gin is a Limited Edition from the chaps at Warner Edwards and it will really make you put your pinky up when sipping such a delightful drop. It’s made with rhubarb descended from a crop that grew in Queen Victoria’s garden – a most regal rhubarb that not only gives it a glorious flavour profile that’s both sweet and tart at the same time, but it colours the gin an elegant pink! And I, Lady Jenever, do heartily declare that this is one of my favourite gins of 2014.

I had seen Warner Edwards gin about, as one does, but had not got round to trying it until we met Sion Edwards and Tom Warner at Taste of London Christmas this year on a Gin Club mini-meet. The guys are such fun, a delight to chat to and I imagine the kind of chaps who would just make a dinner party with witty banter and good humour. Chatting a little more to Tom, he offered us a taste of Victoria’s Rhubarb and we had to buy a couple of bottles immediately for the rest of the Gin Club to taste.

Everything about this gin is delightful, from the story of how they came to become gin distillers (they met at agricultural college and started out with the intention of making essential oils..!) to the story of the rhubarb to the story of their still (it’s called ‘Curiosity’ thanks to the Distillery cat). It’s all delightful. The good folk at Gin Foundry wrote an awesome blog post about the Warner Edwards story – we won’t try and write one better, do have a read.

But to the gin itself… it’s a surprising gin to the palette, yet heart warming. We can thoroughly recommend getting your hands on a bottle before it’s all gone.

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#1:      ON THE NOSE

This is a summer Saturday afternoon with good friends in a glass – English rose, crème brulee, baked rhubarb and apple pie and a hint of lavender.

#2:      ON THE PALETTE

 A big hit of rhubarb (as you’d expect), soft citrus, pecans and caramel. This could easily be a sipping gin served ice cold.

#3       THE FINISH

Dry & warm but syrupy.

The Perfect Serve

We tried it straight up and of course as a classic G&T (Fever Tree tonic) with a slice of fresh lemon.

This would make a great gift for Christmas – if you’re looking for a last minute gift, get to your local gin retailer ASAP and bag a bottle, or do an IOU and buy from Warner Edwards direct.

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How To Guides

How to: Let it SLOE, let it SLOE, let it SLOE!

So, back in October I wrote a post on how to make sloe gin. And, with less than 10 days to go until Christmas day, tonight was the night to filter & bottle the good stuff! Here’s a quick guide to getting your sloe gin out of the KILNER and ready to gift.

What you’ll need…

  1. I have used 250ml KILNER clip top bottles. You’ll need as many as you have made gin for!
  2. Muslin. I use butter muslin from Kitchen Craft. You probably only need one pack.
  3. Conical sieve. I like the Kitchen Craft 16cm conical sieve for this.
  4. Stainless steel funnel. I use this one, again from Kitchen Craft. It has a small filter you can remove.
  5. Labels. I used chalkboard labels this year. You could buy some like these ones from NotOnTheHighStreet.com

Let's get these sloes on the road

So. First things first. You need to remove the sloe’s. Simples! Just pour your gin out of the jar through a large sieve or colander and throw your sloes away.

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Next, you want to line your conical sieve with a few layers of muslin. This will help to filter away some of the sediment. Note: it will never get rid of all of the sediment, but that’s OK. This is homemade sloe gin and a little sediment never hurt anyone. We aren’t talking professional chill filtration here, clearly. Do fold the muslin over a few times though before you line the sieve – the more times, the better the filter. Pour the gin through the muslin and sieve slowly (or is that sloe-ly?). Under the sieve, make sure you have another pyrex pouring jug or similar.

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Now that you’ve filtered your gin, you may wish to go again for a second filtration. Up to you.

Finally, you’re ready to decant into your bottles using a funnel.

Get those bottles labelled and you’re away! You could add some festive ribbon or decorations if you liked.

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Word of caution: I use these clip top KILNER’s because I like them and they are easy for the recipient to reuse, but they can leak (even though they aren’t meant to). Recommend wrapping and keeping the bottles upright under the tree!

So from everyone at The Gin Club and from myself, Lady Jenever, here’s wishing you the most wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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How To Guides, Uncategorized

How to: Making cocktails with Jam Jar Gin

We need to tell you more about a bloody marvellous gin –Yerburgh’s JAM JAR GIN. It hasn’t even come on the market yet, but we were lucky enough to try Botanical No. 1 last weekend. Read our earlier post from the naked gin tasting here.

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The whole philosophy behind Jam Jar Gin is one of experimentation. Borne out of experiments made in their home using ingredients found in their Victorian kitchen garden like raspberry leaves, Founders Dan & Faye Thwaites positively encourage you to try something different whether you are a mixologist or not – it makes for a welcomed attitude in the world of craft gins.

So what does Botanical No. 1 taste like? Well, call us crazy… but you know that first day of Spring in London? The one where you step outside and it just SMELLS different? If you could bottle that, it would taste like this gin! All Magnolia breeze, fresh fruits and cut grass… delicious! So we thought we’d try something full of fresh flavour, but the rules were to only use ingredients we had in the fridge and cupboard. We made two cocktails and we served them, appropriately, in jam jars!

Jam Fine

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You’ll need…

  • 5cl serve of Jam Jar Gin Botanical No. 1
  • 2-3 handfuls of frozen raspberries
  • Teaspoon of seedless bramble jam
  • 50ml Sugar water
  • Handful fresh mint leaves
  • 1 lime
  • A few drops of rosewater
  • Sprinkle of sherbet

How to make it….

  1. Boil the kettle and pour 50ml over some fresh mint leaves. Leave to steep for 3 minutes & then strain.
  2. Add 3 heaped spoons of sugar to the mint water and stir until dissolved. Place in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes.
  3. Place the frozen raspberries, a few drops of rose water, juice of half a lime and the cold mint sugar water in a blender. Or wait a few minutes (the berries will soon thaw) and crush them in a shaker. Muddle well.
  4. Place the teaspoon of bramble jam on the bottom of the jar and roughly spread. Pour your serve of gin over the jam and stir well.
  5. Spoon the frozen berry mixture into the jam jar right to the brim, lightly stir.
  6. Add a few blueberries to decorate, a fresh slice of lime and fresh mint. Sprinkle a few pinches of sherbet on the top.

Earl-y MarmeJamJam

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You’ll need…

The cocktail

  • 5cl serve of Jam Jar Gin Botanical No. 1
  • 1 tablespoon of marmalade
  • 100ml of cold steeped Earl Grey tea
  • 50ml Sugar water
  • 1 clementine

Garnish

  • 1 dehydrated clementine slice
  • Ice shards
  • Candied orange peel (shop bought is fine and is what we had in the cupboard)

How to make it….

  1. Pour 100ml cold water over some loose Earl Grey and allow to steep for an hour (cold steeping stops the liquid turning cloudy and produces a less bitter flavour – the truth is, it will go cloudy when you add the marmalade and the clementine juice, but the flavour is better)
  2. Hand squeeze and strain one clementine – this won’t produce a lot of juice, that’s ok. You just want the flavour. Mix with sugar water and the marmalade and stir till the marmalade dissolves. If you’re using a rough cut marmalade, strain once more. Place this mixture in the fridge or freezer so it get’s really cold!
  3. Once your tea is steeped, mix with the liquid you have had chilling in the freezer and your Jam Jar Botanical No. 1 gin – stir thoroughly.
  4. Pour into jam jar and garnish with a candied orange peel or dehydrated clementine slice and an ice shard.

And there you have it! Two delicious cocktails! We really encourage you to pop over and support the good folks at Jam Jar Gin on their crowd-finding page – help us get them on our shelves as soon as possible!

Tweet us if you give the cocktails a go too!

 

 

 

 

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Gin review, Naked Tasting

Gin tasting: Jam Jar Gin, Botanical No. 1

Hand’s up if you’ve heard of Yerburgh’s JAM JAR GIN? No? We hadn’t either. Jam Jar Gin is a new gin that hasn’t even made it to market yet, but this evening they made their crowd-funding target just 3 days after it went live. You can imagine how chuffed we were here at The Gin Club to get some samples of their first born to try! We tried Botanical No. 1 and can confirm it really does the Founders, Dan and Faye Thwaites, proud.

Yup, you guessed right - bottled in Jam Jars!

Yup, you guessed right – bottled in Jam Jars!

This is a delightful London Dry with a divine story – you can read it on their website. Delivered in miniature jam jars, the samples just looked the business. The real deal is of course going to be bottled in large jam jars – they’ve even invented a pourer for those wishing to be more accurate on their serves. This gin is going to really stand out on shelves. It doesn’t just look good – it tastes fantastic.

Inspired by ingredients found in their Victorian kitchen garden, Dan & Faye have created a truly British gin. Carefully selected botanicals, like raspberry leaf, give the gin a clean, citrusy & uplifting fragrance. On the palette, a rounded, peppery sweet taste with a long, creamy finish. Dan says of the botanicals, “They’re all inspired by the original experiments we did in our garden. To get the volume and quality, we select them from the best sources to make a flavour that we love.” Watch this space! They plan to build a distillery in their garden, right at the source of inspiration!

Their recommendation is to freeze the gin before serving; we tried it both frozen and room temperature – both work. (If you want some top tips for nosing & tasting gin like a pro, read this earlier post).

Quite simply, this gin is bloody marvellous. We were so inspired by the profile of Botanical No. 1 during the neat tasting that we immediately experimented with ingredients in the cupboard. And do you know what? It worked! Here’s what we came up with:

  1. ‘Jam Fine’ – blended frozen raspberries, organic bramble jam, mint, lime & Botanical No. 1 served with lime, fresh mint and a sprinkle of sherbet on the top.
  2. ‘Earl-y Marmejamjam’ – cold steeped Earl Grey tea, marmalade, candied orange peel, soda & Botanical No. 1 served with dehydrated clementine slice and ice shards. A breakfast gin if ever there was one! (Drink responsibly folks…)

We’ll post the recipes tomorrow – you’ll just have to wait!!

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Our experiments: ‘Jam Fine’ and ‘Earl-y Marmejamjam’ cocktails made with nothing more than what we found in the cupboard.

As it goes, we enjoyed this gin so much we had to go and support these determined GINdependants as soon as we tasted it and buy a bottle. They’ve already hit their target, but take a look at their crowd-funding page here and support them – that way we won’t have to wait long to get Jam Jar Gin in more G&T’s. Hoorah! *Makes room on the shelf for Jam Jar Gin*. Dan told us, “We’ve got big dreams for our lovely gin but the drinks business can be pretty tough, so we need to get as much of a head-start as we can. With some very generous backing, we’ve already hit our minimum target. We’re keen to keep going to see if we can get a jar of our lovely gin on as many shelves as possible!”

The official Gin Club Review

#1:      ON THE NOSE

If you could bottle the first day of spring in London… you know, that day when you can just SMELL it and everything feels GOOD? That’s this gin! Floral, freshly cut grass, lime zest and gooseberry.

#2:      ON THE PALETTE

 So much… just… so much! Gentle pink peppercorns come through at first which make way for a fleeting burst of bitter dark chocolate and orange peel. Surprising, to say the least.

#3       THE FINISH

Boiled sweets that remind you of younger days on Brighton beach, warming custard and blackberry crumble too.

The Perfect Serve

Here’s the best bit… there isn’t one! This is a gentle gin that can play with lots of flavours. The whole philosophy behind Jam Jar Gin is to hold a space in the world of cocktails for those of us who aren’t necessarily professional mixologists, but who enjoy experimenting.

“The perfect garnish? We’re simple souls, we like frozen fruit! We have a lot of produce from the garden, but more often than not it all comes at once. So we often end up bunging some in the freezer. One time, when I was making some drinks, we had run out of ice, so I just grabbed what was to hand – some frozen blackcurrants. Not only did they cool the drink beautifully, but they slowly infused the mixture.” – another top tip from Dan. We love this!

Rating: 9/10

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