OK, I’ve got to admit that I had never had Beefeater’s Gin before. In the 1990’s, I only served and drank cocktails at parties, and that meant putting out bottles of booze and mixers, with a bucket of ice. I didn’t like or understand Gin, so I usually just bought whatever was third cheapest on the shelf. No one I knew drank it either, and one bottle of Gin usually lasted as long as five of anything else. With the turn of the Millenium, I got into cocktails. But I only started buying Gin to make Pegus, and then primarily Bombay Sapphire. Since then, especially since I started blogging, I’ve tried various Gins to expand my horizons, but almost always either new brands, or higher-end brands, and usually both. But I was in the liquor store the other day and found myself looking at Beefeater’s bottle. The first thing I noticed was it was new! The edges of the bottle are much sharper now, and the Royal Guard on the label is more modern looking.
Umm, Dude. They did the new packaging in January 2007. Where have you been, Mr. High and Mighty Mixologist?
Sue me. As I said, the last year or so, as I’ve been expanding my horizons, I’ve been snootily looking up the shelf from Bombay Sapphire, not down.
Anyway, the new packaging did its job, since it caught my attention and I thought I really ought to give a shot to the brand that back in the day my Dad thought was too premium to drink.
Of course, there is only one deciding test for a Gin, make a Pegu with it.
I gave it the full treatment: Fresh Lime, careful measures, new bottle of Angustora Bitters. And what did I taste? A remarkably good drink.
The Beefeater made for an extremely crisp and clean tasting cocktail. The bitter citruses sang through clearly in the Pegu, while the juniper and herbal tones of the Beefeater filled in the holes for a nice, complete cocktail. Like Sapphire, Beefeater offers no distinctive or competing elements, like some other Gins do. Sapphire adds a few more complementary elements than Beefeater, but whether you want those is a matter either of taste or simply mood. Sometimes, to extend the musical metaphor, you’d rather listen to a string quartet than to a full orchestra.
I think I’ll be keeping Beefeater’s on hand. I’ll use it in Pegus when I’m tired or hot, and want a slightly more refreshing drink. And I’ll also use it when trying new cocktails that look like the Gin is foundation, rather than feature. I’m guessing it’ll be splendid in a Corpse Reviver, but too plain for my Blue Beetle #2.
A final thought for you. The Beefeater’s website is worth a visit. It is stylish, fun, and actually has some interesting facts about the Gin (it’s the only London Gin actually made in London anymore), and the usual line up of tasty ways to feature the product. But the funnest part of the site is simply its look and operation. Have fun with the website, and especially the Gin!