10 December 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Gin #27: Tanqueray Rangpur

I was introduced to this gin a few years back by Neil Bhattacharya. Both Sharmila and I took an immediate liking to it. I am sure part of that was driven by our noses recognizing some aromas from the long past in India.

First, the root of the name “Rangpur”. Rangpur is an area (there is a city and a district by the same name) in north Bangladesh. There is a particular citrus fruit that is very popular there and the fruit itself is believed to have originated from there. Although it is referred to as “Rangpur lime”, in reality it is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin. It is reddish-orange and not green like a lime. The aroma is floral and is somewhat sour in taste like a lemon.

It is this Rangpur lime that lends this gin a memorable and a fiesty citrus profile. On top of that, this gin has bay leaves and ginger – something Sharmila and I grew up with all our childhood (very common ingredients in a Bengali kitchen). Of course, the gin has to have the juniper in it to be considered a gin.

Like the Harahorn gin, this gin met with great success in the San Francisco World Spirit Competition within one year of being born (2006). In fact, it bagged top awards three years in succession starting from 2007.

The nose, palette and finish – all are overwhelmingly citrusy – and a lot of different notes of citrus too. The juniper makes its bitter presence felt only towards the end. There is a chance that some puritans might consider the smothering of the juniper by the citrus in such a pronounced fashion to be rendering less of a “gin” character to this drink.

If you like citrus, you cannot go wrong with this. I tried on the rocks and it was delicious.

3 December 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Viking Corpse Reviver #2

This is the first cocktail I made with the Harahorn gin. Of course, given the origin of Harahorn gin in Norway, I had to call this a “Viking” Corpse Reviver. I stayed mostly true to the formula of the traditional Corpse Reviver with the sole exception that instead of mixing in the absinthe, I rinsed the cocktail glass with it and threw the excess part.

Next time, I will probably go with a lower amount of fresh lemon juice than the original recipe calls for. To me, at least, the sour citrus is overwhelming any traces of the sweet citrus (orange) or the junipers (and in this case the blackberries too).

Otherwise, as promised, with 92-proof gin, lillet blanc and Cointreau – not to speak of the 148 proof absinthe, this is sure to revive most corpses!!!

P.S. The way the Vikings played today, I might actually need a Falcons Corpse Reviver next 🙂

3 December 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Gin #26: Harahorn Gin

Here is another interesting gin from an interesting country – Norway!! I was not aware before this that Norway made any gins. In fact, this brand gin has been made for only 2 years (started in 2015). In their second year – 2016, they won the coveted San Francisco World Spirits Competition!

The name is derived from a mountain in the Hemsedal area (he distillery is in Grimstad) but their web site claims that they have been inspired a mythical figure – which looks alike a hare with horns. You can see the picture on the bottle label. As an aside, the word “harahorn” seems almost like the two English words – “hare” and horn” have been put together. Is Norwegian that close to English? I understand all SAS flights serve this gin.

Slightly more potent than standard gin at 46% ABV, this gin has the unique influence of blueberries. Other than the blueberries, it has juniper, of course, and rhubarb, angelica, wild marjoram, orange and bladderwrack (had no idea what this is till I looked it up; pretty interesting medicinal qualities; look it up).

The nose is predominantly juniper and citrusy. The palette is decidedly mellower than most gins. The sweetness of blueberries do a good job of softening the edges of the bitterness in juniper.

I will try some cocktails later with this. Corpse Reviver #2 is top of my list.

24 November 2017

From the bartender’s corner – English Harvest

This cocktail was built up by Food and Wine magazine contributor Ryan Fitzgerald. Apparently, he was inspired by the taste of apple with peanut butter. I recreated the drink almost exactly the same way – except instead of almond syrup (Ryan used it to get close to the peanut butter), I used a dash of almond butter. The rest of the ingredients are gin, dry vermouth, apple brandy, apple juice and bitters.

20 November 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Gin #25: Roku Gin

After the really tasty Gunpowder Gin from Ireland, made a swing to the other end of the world – Japan – to continue with the “tea” theme. Roku Gin – made in the Suntory distillery right outside Osaka – is a rather recent introduction to the international market. Meaning, it has been made available just this year.

My first reaction was marveling at the bottle. This is a very beautiful bottle which is hexagon in shape. The relevance of the hexagon shape was completely lost on me till I learnt what “Roku” means in Japanese. It means “six”.

In keeping with that theme of “six”, Roku gin has six strong local influences in the herbs and botanicals that defines the gin – two types of team – sencha (green tea) and gyokuro (refined green tea), two local cherry influences – the sakura blossoms and sakura leaves as well as sanshō pepper, and yuzu. This is on top of the eight herbals that are fairly standard in all gins: juniper, coriander, angelica root, angelica seed, cardamom seeds, cinnamon, bitter orange peel and lemon peel.

The starting point is a neutral grain spirit, but the distinctive feature of the production process is that the different herbals are taken thru different distillation processes e.g. vacuum distillation, vapor distillation and the standard distillation in copper stills.

I did not try the gin neat today. I had it with some tonic water. First off, the flowery nose can be immediately sensed as you start sipping. The palette was a more on the tighter and bitter side (the gin itself has some tones of bitterness and then the quinine adds to that). The tea makes it presence felt rather quickly. It leaves a creamy or buttery sense as it leaves the mouth. The finish clearly had the strong markings of juniper and citrus.

I am not sure pure tonic water is the best way to take this gin. Further research points to suggestions that a little ginger makes the G&T far better. I will try that tomorrow.

19 November 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Bourbon and Honey

You are probably wondering how come I am off gin cocktails. Well, Sharmila and I went to a Cheesecake Factory to wait for Nikita who was spending some time with her friend in the mall next door. This was my first time to a Cheesecake Factory. I was not expecting much at the bar but I was pleasantly surprised.

Of course, first thing I checked was their Gin collection and once I realized they had Hendricks, I was a little more comforted 🙂 It was cold and I wanted to start with a stiffer cocktail. So, I asked for a “Bourbon and Honey” from their menu. Imagine my surprise when the drink came in a martini glass. First time I can recollect having a Bourbon cocktail in a martini glass.

But it tasted pretty good. The bourbon and the bitters were distinctly recognizable but the taste was much softer and mellower. So, I asked the bartender for his secret. She mentioned that it is the house lemon sour.

Next day, I made myself some fresh lemon sour at home. Using her instructions, I boiled water and sugar and stirred till the sugar dissolved. Squeezed a full fresh lemon and half a lime and mixed it in the sugary water. Threw in a couple of ice cubes and stirred till the ice melted.

Some bourbon (Four Roses), honey liqueur (Barenjager) and bitters (Peychaud’s) later, I was able to recreate the “Bourbon and Honey”. Was very enjoyable. Try it sometime at home. If you do, see if you can slap thyme on as a garnish. I did not have any thyme at home.