Tag - Gin

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Why the Hell Are These Men Smiling?
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In Other News, Robert De Niro Has But the Most Tangential Acquaintance With What the F**k a Martini Is
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Gin-sperimentation: Caorunn Scottish Gin
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SideBlog: The Feathers Hotel on Oxfordshire Sets World Record For Most Gin
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Tiki Drink: Suffering Bastard
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Valentine’s Tiki Drink: The Pink Wink

Why the Hell Are These Men Smiling?

Question of the day: What in God’s name is making these men smile?

Pictured is a bunch of men pouring out huge bottles of bootleg spirits into the gutter in 1931. Awful as bathtub gin was during Prohibition, the glee at so much hooch going down the drain seems… strange.

They are smiling so much because they already poured the gin into another tank. I’m guessing this is water they are pouring out.

That makes a certain amount of sense. Even today, you can’t capture smells in a picture.

In Other News, Robert De Niro Has But the Most Tangential Acquaintance With What the F**k a Martini Is

From the instructions he sends out to you just in case he decides to attend your party: Gin, chilled glass, small pour size. Check, check, check. That last item is especially well put (read the New York Post’s article).
So far so good. He sounds like a reasonable man here. Why am I getting so hot under the collar?

Shake for 45 seconds…!
Muddled cucumber…?
“No vermouth necessary.”?!?!

Tangential. At. Best.
robert_de_niro_wireimage--300x300-2
Yes, I’m talkin’ to you, Bob. It might be a fine drink, whatever it is, but show some respect in the future. I don’t want to hear you taking the name of the Gospel of Gin in vain again.
(Thanks to @Teekeemon for his alertly twigging me to this cultural travesty.)

Gin-sperimentation: Caorunn Scottish Gin


It’s pronounced “ka-roon“. Caorunn is a new gin from that hot bed of white liquor production… Scotland? Produced at the Balmenach whisky distillery in the Speyside region, Caorunn is a small-batch gin with a uniquely Scottish character, a gorgeous bottle, and fascinating flavors. Given the nature of this blog and my own significantly Scot heritage, I am compelled at this point to ask Mike Myers for his opinion on Scottish gin:

Caorunn does not distill its base grain neutral spirit at Balmenach, since pot-distilled barley is not exactly a great base for gin. The Scot element comes from the water (of course) and the unique blend of botanicals, including five unusual ones which they identify as “Celtic botanicals“. Heather, Dandelion, and Bog Myrtle all are sharply evocative of Highland landscapes. Coul Blush Apples are an early 19th century hybrid, recently rediscovered. The final element is Rowan Berry, which the maker describes as “the very soul of Caorunn.” Rowan berries are traditionally used in a variety of Celtic herbal medicines, and seen as a powerful source of mystical good fortune. Also, they are popular eating and commonly used to make or flavor brandies, though I’ve never seen such here in the US.
The traditional botanicals are juniper, coriander, angelica, cassia, and lemon and orange peels.

The infusion of the alcohol into gin is what is performed at Balmenach and is performed in the above pictured 1920′s made copper berry chamber. The botanicals are spread out on the wide trays you see, then the chamber is filled with the alcohol vapor over a long period to infuse them into the gin. This contraption was originally designed for extracting essential oils used in the manufacture of perfume. It is a pretty uncommon device for distilling gin.

The spirit resulting from these unique as the processes and ingredients is pretty special in its own right. Caorunn is bright and very clean in flavor, and has for me the rather odd effect of smelling lightly sweet while tasting fairly dry. The apple in particular seems evident in the nose and less so in the mouth. It is certainly no Tanqueray, but I think it is closer in character to a London Dry than it is to the hard to define “New American” gins.

I like this gin. A lot. But it is not a gin you can deploy indiscriminately in all cocktails. Its real strength is in combination with other herbal flavors. To that end it is a simply magnificent Martini gin. It is difficult to describe why this gin goes so very, very well with vermouth, but it does. I don’t go with the whole olive thing, so I cannot attest to how things will go if you like to dirty up the waters. On their extensive and beautifully illustrated recipe page, they recommend garnishing a martini with a slice of apple, which I have not tried, but will next time I get my hands on some really good ones.

I’m into my second bottle of Caorunn, largely because it’s about the only thing I’m making Martinis with any more. When I find a particular brand that seems perfect in a particular drink I make regularly, I tend to just dedicate it to that particular purpose. But of course, as with all gins I had to try Caorunn in the Greatest Cocktail Ever Mixed™. I actually tried this first, and it almost made me give up on Caorunn from the start. I think the product has a Kryptonite, and it is indeed green: The Lime. There is some chemical interaction happening between the two that triggers a very slight but notable acridity in the mix. If you peruse the brand’s recipe page, you won’t see lime listed at all in the excellent Search by Ingredient feature.

So, no Pegus, no Rickeys, no lime with your Caorunn. It seems to go quite nicely with other citruses, however, and some whose taste I trust say it works particularly well with grapefruit. Rather than get frustrated with this weirdness, I just chalk it up to the marvelous opportunity for experimentation cocktails offer.

Caorunn is not yet available all over the US, so I am happy indeed that Ohio is among the first states where it is distributed. I’m guessing that it will be appearing in lots more markets before too long, so if it isn’t in your local store right now, keep looking. In the meantime, it is available from several online retailers such as DrinkupNY.

SideBlog: The Feathers Hotel on Oxfordshire Sets World Record For Most Gin

The Feathers Hotel in Oxfordshire has just set the Guinness World Record for largest gin selection in a bar. Make your travel arrangements accordingly… via @AngusWinchester

Tiki Drink: Suffering Bastard


This one is an absolute classic Tiki drink. It has an awesome name, which was stolen by Trader Vic for a variant on his Mai Tai. It has all sorts of varients, such as the Dying Bastard and the Dead Bastard. It is not in fact a rum drink, which makes it stand out. It has a very distinctive, unusual, and exotic taste. And it is one of those drinks that is once again accessible to normal drink mixers because of the sudden plethora of good ginger beers that you see in mainstream grocery markets these days.

SUFFERING BASTARD

  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. brandy
  • 1/2 oz. Rose’s Lime
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 4 oz. ginger beer

Shake all except the ginger beer with large ice. Add the ginger beer and pour unstrained into a double old-fashioned glass, or better yet, a Suffering Bastard Tiki mug. Garnish with orange and mint.

Plenty of folks in the non-Tiki Cocktailosphere have covered this one before me. Matt Hamlin notes its similarity to but greater complexity than the more widely known counterpart, The Dark ‘n Stormy. Interestingly, while the Dark ‘n Stormy is in fact made with rum, it’s not generally thought of as a Tiki drink! Both, of course, are Bucks….

The Dead and Dying variations are billed as hangover cures, and SeanMike, back in his LiveJournal days, offered his own caffine-laden version, the Wake Up and Suffer, You Bastard.

Among the awesomeness that surrounds this drink is the array of Suffering Bastard-themed Tiki mugs out there. The iconic one is Trader Vic’s, even though these would not have been served containing a real Suffering Bastard. These are quite collectible, selling for over $100 on eBay in the last few months.

My favorite of the bunch is MunkTiki’s Wannabe Bastard offering. This little guy almost makes a hangover sound fun. Almost.
It, like most of the really cook Bastard mugs out there, is also expensive, which is why you see a snifter used in my own photograph above.

For a completely sober and serious take on the nature and construction of the Suffering Bastard, I leave you with the classic first episode (that’s worth a damn) of TikiBarTV:

Valentine’s Tiki Drink: The Pink Wink


Today is the 14th of Tiki Month, I mean February, so I thought I’d look for a Valentine’s Tiki drink to give a whirl. Over at my new February lurking grounds, Tiki Central, I ran across this little offering, The Pink Wink.

THE PINK WINK

  • 3 parts London Dry gin
  • 1 part dry vermouth
  • 1 part Cointreau
  • 1 part coconut rum
  • grenadine

Grenadine should be approximately 1 tsp per ounce in a part. Stir lovingly with ice until well chilled. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with pomegranate arils at the bottom of the glass, and drizzle more grenadine into the drink to settle among the arils.

I took a few liberties with WoofMutt’s recipe. First, I replaced his cherry garnish with the pomegranate arils because I think they are more Tiki-like, and more importantly so that whomever you offer them to will be yours forever!

Second, I guess the grenadine used in the original is the artificially colored stuff, because my natural grenadine made no impact on the color of this drink in the called for amount. I doubled it, and also drizzled a bit more to settle into the bottom of the glass among the pomegranate arils.

The result is an odd duck, but exotic. Contrary to the poster’s original comments, I don’t see this one wining over any gin-o-phobes. And and the frou-frou drink crowd won’t get it either. But if you are looking for a Tikified Martini, with some pleasant Valentine’s Day symbolism, the Pink Wink may be your destination.

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