Garnishes, How To Guides

How To: Garnish Your Gin

Remember when we only used to drink G&T’s with lime?

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Coldplay were the hottest thing since sliced bread, beards were out and cucumber was reserved for tiny sandwiches at The Ritz. The only way to serve our favourite tipple was with a green wedge of fresh lime. OK, you’d have a slice of lemon, at a push…. Fast forward to 2015 and we are far more familiar with elaborate garnishes that range from exotic fruits to fresh herbs to bacon – so what’s happened? Hint: there’s method to the fabulousness. It’s not *just* for decoration…

If we look back into the history of the gin & tonic, some suggest that in fact lime was added to help fight scurvy in the mid-1800’s, however this cannot be verified. But it could be why we have since so faithfully remained wed to lime. (For a an in-depth look at this history of the G&T, this is a very good article)

Then, Hendrick’s Gin was introduced with wildly unusual rose and cucumber botanicals – arguably kick-starting the craft gin alternative botanical trend. And they did something unheard of…. They recommended we drink their gin with a slice of cucumber! This was revolutionary!

What most of us didn’t (and arguably some still don’t) realise is that this wasn’t just marketing fluff or an attempt to be different; the reason Hendrick’s is served with cucumber is because it enhances the botanical profile of the gin. Ah-ha!

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Garnish is to gin as food is to wine – some things just go better together. My top recommendation for garnish experimenters would be to visit Julia and the team at The London Gin Club – these guys really know their gin. Coppa glass, premium ice and intelligently selected garnishes will open your palette to a whole new world of wonderful. Indeed, I will never forget enjoying my first GinMare garnished with basil and cherry tomato – it blew my mind and really made me think I could be more selective with my garnish choices.

Photo courtesy of The London Gin Club website (thelondonginclub.com)

Photo courtesy of The London Gin Club website (thelondonginclub.com)

If you can’t get down to London, here are the basic principles of garnish pairing:

  1. Complimentary flavours – a garnish that is the same or similar to the predominant botanical and enhances the botanical note i.e. Hendrick’s Gin’s predominant botanical is cucumber, therefor serve with a slice of cucumber
  2. Contrasting flavours – a garnish that is the opposite to the predominant botanical that provides a unique take on the entire profile of the gin i.e. Sacred Cardamom is spicey, dry and peppery and served with a sweet slice of orange or ruby red grapefruit gives you a different perspective on the flavours

Additionally, our friends at The Craft Gin Club have been collating responses from distillers to create a definitive list of garnishes – a great place to start. Who knows better than the distillers themselves?

Finally, an important thing to say is let’s not get too puritanical here… garnish as you please and go for things you like. I can’t handle too much gin snobbery… let’s be aware, and then do as we like. Gin is much more about personal preference and enjoyment than rules. If you discover something that works really well, drop us a line on Twitter and tell us about it  @the_gin_club

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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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How To Guides

How to taste gin like a pro: the slimline version

Let’s face it – once you get off the nursery slopes and start feeling the fresh botanical winds of craft gins off-piste, it’s time to learn a few specialist techniques to hone your skills and improve the ride. Here are some top tips for nosing & tasting the “black run gins” in your life.

P.S. This is the slimline guide for busy people. You can find the full fat version with more detail here.

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#1: PREPARATION

Glassware
Get your hands on a tulip shaped copita glass, or a Glencairn nosing & tasting glass. The shape of these glasses ensures that the aroma of the gin you are tasting is concentrated. You can buy them from WineWare.

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Room temperature
To get the most out of your gin, you want to serve the gin room temperature (21-23 degrees C).

Bare, naked gin
No ice, no tonic, no garnish – not for nosing and tasting. Do however, have a little bit of water nearby.

#2: NOSING

The first nosing – in the glass
Get your nose right into the tulip of the glass. Take a slow, very gentle sniff. What are your initial impressions here? Sharp? Fresh? Spicey? Sweet? Make a note.

The second nosing – on your hands
Here’s a top tip I learned from Matthew Ferguson for nosing spirits to remove some of the alcohol:

#3 TASTING

The first tasting – neat

  • Hold the gin on your tongue for a moment – take note of what you get.
  • Move it around your mouth – what changes, what else do you get?
  • Swallow – what’s in the finish? Do new flavours arise on the pallet?

The second tasting – with water
Adding water will takes the sharp edge off the alcohol and saucily unbuttons layers of botanicals and flavours in your gin. Easy does it mind, drop by drop.

#4: ASSESMENT & GRADUATION

If you’ve enjoyed it and the gin has passed, graduate to a full serve G&T with complimentary garnish or serve as your favourite gin cocktail. I really like this handy guide from the Craft Gin Club – they asked Distillers directly what the best garnish was for their gin.

And there you have it. Now you know how to nose & taste gin like a pro!

What now?

Want more detail? Try the full fat version of this blog post, here.

Tell us what you think in the comments below or tweet us. If you’re doing a tasting, share a pic on instagram and tag us (@theginclub).

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How To Guides

How to taste gin like a pro – the full fat version

Let’s face it – once you get off the nursery slopes and start feeling the fresh botanical winds of craft gins off-piste, it’s time to learn a few specialist techniques to hone your skills and improve the ride. Here are some top tips for nosing & tasting the “black run gins” in your life.

P.S. This is the full fat guide. You can find the slimline version here.

BLOG - GC - N&T_notes

#1: PREPARATION

Cleansed palette
Simple: don’t nose and taste directly after eating strong flavoured foods (garlic, onions, spices etc) and avoid having chewing gum in your mouth.

Cold, weak coffee and a sniff of coffee beans can help to cleanse the palette, for the really pernickety amongst you.

Glassware
You’re going to want to put your highball and tumbler glasses to one side and get your hands on a tulip shaped copita glass, or a Glencairn nosing & tasting glass. The shape of these glasses ensures that the aroma of the gin you are tasting is concentrated up into the thinnest curve of the glass, allowing you to really explore the aroma of the gin.

Personally, I like the stemmed copita glass only because the stem allows you to swirl the gin a little more easily than a Glencairn (more traditionally used for whisky tasting). They are elegant to look at too. You can buy them from WineWare.

BLOG - GC - N&T_glass

Room temperature
Temperature affects the aromas and flavours you will experience when nosing and tasting your gin. To get the most out of your gin, you want to serve the gin room temperature (21-23 degrees C). If the gin has been in a cold corner of the kitchen, consider placing it on the radiator for a bit. If the gin has been on a warm back bar or some such, perhaps leave it to cool down to room temperature first.

Bare, naked gin
No ice, no tonic, no garnish. Not to start with anyway. Tonic and garnishes are designed to enhance the flavours in the gin – you want to see, smell and taste this gin in it’s birthday suit to start.

Do however, have a little bit of water near by – best to have it in a mini jug. You’ll need it in a minute.

#2: NOSING

The first nosing – in the glass
Get that coppita up, stare that gin right in the chops and get your nose right into the tulip of the glass. Take a slow, very gentle sniff. You’re nosing the gin undiluted, so it’s going to pack a powerful alcohol punch (good for clearing the airways) which for most, reveals little more than overwhelming ethol alcohol. That’s OK, your nose and palette will acclimatise.

What are your initial impressions here? Sharp? Fresh? Spicey? Sweet? Make a note.

The second nosing – on your hands
Yup, that’s right. Your hands! We want to try and nose a second time, but to remove some of the punchy alcohol from the experience. Here’s a top tip I learned from Matthew Ferguson for nosing spirits:

  • Place your hand on top of the nosing glass, turn the glass upside down and allow the gin to wet your palm.
  • Turn the glass back up the right way and remove your hand.
  • Wipe your palms (don’t rub) together to remove the strong alcohol and bring them, cupped, to your nose.
  • Take a deep whiff.

Here’s a quick video on how:

How lovely is THAT? Now what do you get? Different to the first nose? Do you get more? Take note.

#3 TASTING

The first tasting – neat
Finally! The GOOD stuff! We are going to take a small sip of the gin, neat. It’s room temperature; we’ve prepared our palette and nose…. We’re cooking with gas now.

  • Hold the gin on your tongue for a moment – take note of what you get.
  • Move it around your mouth – what changes, what else do you get?
  • Swallow – what’s in the finish? Do new flavours arise on the pallet?

IMPORTANT NOTE: Proceed with caution on the first tasting… if you’re used to only tasting gin with the influence of tonic or mixers, you will likely find neat gin an unpleasant experience. The more refined your palette becomes, the more you’ll be able to decipher profiles neat, but if it’s your first time, perhaps skip straight to the second tasting below and add water.

The second tasting – with water
Distiller’s often take a spirit down to 30% ABV with a bit of water. Most gins are bottled at around 40% ABV (unless your drinking a navy strength gin which will be around 50% ABV), but benefit from being taken down to sometimes even 20%. Adding water will takes the sharp edge off the alcohol and saucily unbuttons layers of botanicals and flavours in your gin. Easy does it mind, drop by drop. Try the gin with tiny sips a few times, adding a drop or two more as you go. Notice if that changes anything.

#4: ASSESMENT & GRADUATION
Hopefully you’ve been jotting down a few tasting notes on a piece of paper for your gin as you’ve been going, but now is the time to asses and form your opinion on the gin.

If you’ve enjoyed it and the gin has passed, graduate to a full serve G&T with complimentary garnish or serve as your favourite gin cocktail. I really like this handy guide from the Craft Gin Club – they asked Distillers directly what the best garnish was for their gin.

And there you have it. Now you know how to nose & taste gin like a pro. May the junipers be ever in your favour.

Tell us what you think in the comments below or tweet us. If you’re doing a tasting, share a pic on instagram and tag us (@theginclub).

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