Showing posts from February, 2019

We need to talk about gin (2)

In my last post, we took a lightning-fast sprint through 500 years of gin history, from juniper-flavoured tonic wines to the development of the London Dry style and discovering how well it mixed with medicinal compounds to make them enjoyable to take. ‘London Dry’ denotes a style of gin, not a geographical origin. It’s a clear spirit that has been distilled with roots, berries and seeds to flavour the spirit. A significant proportion of these flavourings must be juniper. Angelica and coriander are the most common other ingredients. No additional sugar is added. ‘Old Tom’ gin, an older style that is enjoying an increase in popularity, as modern drinkers seek out different experiences, is made with fewer, stronger flavourings and sweetened after distillation. During the cocktail boom of the early 20 th century, London Dry gin became the style of gin to use. Its clean taste and dry finish make it ideal for mixing with other flavours. Well-known cocktails like the White

We need to talk about gin (1)

Why do we need to talk about gin? 1) because it's a delicious and popular aperitif drink, and 2) because its growing popularity has led to certain practices I think need challenging. I'll look at the challenges next week, but first, a bit of history. Gin’s been around for the best part of 500 years. Dutch apothecaries were adding juniper berries to tonic drinks in the 16 th century, to mask the harshness of the malt wine base. A century later, they had switched to distillation to refine the base a little, but continued to add juniper. Because Jenever is distilled from malted grains, its taste has much in common with that of whiskey, but with the added bitterness of the juniper. English sailors and soldiers, returning from campaigns abroad, had been bringing back Jenever for a hundred years when William III, a Dutchman, came to occupy (with his wife Mary II) the throne of England, Ireland & Scotland. William pursued a trade war with France, i

Roses are red, violets blue

With St Valentine’s day coming up, I’ve been getting all romantic this week. Actually, I haven’t. the Beloved’s away trying to be a latter-day Billie-Jean King, and I’m at home with bins to empty and laundry to do. My nieces have always insisted St Valentine’s day is a celebration for everyone you love, not just for romantic feelings, so I took the opportunity for a night out with a friend on Friday and we frolicked gleefully in the local cocktail bar. Wanting to write about cocktails based on flower liqueurs, that’s what we drank. Flower flavours are not to everyone’s taste, I get that. I’ve only to mention violets to hear people screaming “Zoflora!” and “old ladies’ knickers!” I’ve never drunk either of those things, but, if your experience is broader than mine, feel free to denounce me. Personally, I love Turkish delight, elderflower G&T and orange-flower water in sweet coffee. Here are some ideas for flower-flavoured cocktails you might want to serve as a prel