23 May 2018

From the bartender’s corner – Gin #38: Bombay Dry

In most bars in US, you are guaranteed to get the iconic blue colored bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin. The one that might be less seen is the gin that predated the Sapphire – called the Bombay Dry gin. The bottles look very similar except that Bombay Dry Gin is a clear bottle (not blue).

The original batch of Bombay Dry was made around 1960 and the recipe calls for an original one from nearly 100 years before that. The botanicals are Juniper Berries, Coriander Seeds, Liquorice Root, Almonds, Lemon Peel, Cassia Bark, Orris Root and Angelica Root. The base is neutral grain spirit.

What is slightly unique about this gin is the distillation process. Around the 1960s, the more common process was to throw in the botanicals into the base alcohol and boil it and distill it altogether. This distillery uses the vapor infusion. Basically the vapors of the boiling base alcohol is made to go thru a few copper baskets that are heavily perforated and hold the botanicals. Experts claim that this gives it a more full flavor since the oils do not get destroyed.

Coming to the gin itself – it is all juniper and citrus. Specifically juniper and lemon. The nose is clearly lemony. The palate starts with the juniper but slowly cedes ground to the lemon if you hold it in your mouth for some time. The length is reasonably long.

Good gin to have neat, with tonic water or just about any cocktail that I can think of!

16 May 2018

From the bartender’s corner – Gin #37: Beefeater

This is one of the most staple Gins in USA. Most all bars carry this. In the 60s, 2 out of every 3 gin bottle imported was this gin. Because of its ubiquitousness, I had decided to try this towards the end of the series of gin tastings.

The story of the distillery goes back to 1860 in the city of London and is one of the rare big distilleries that is still in the middle of a big city (Kensington). Beefeater refers to the Yeoman Warders who are the guards with the elaborate uniform at the front of the Tower of London. The picture on the bottle shows one of those guardsmen.

One of the notable fact about this gin is that most of it has remained unchanged throughout the years. The formulation of the gin can be seen documented way back in the 1880s and is still done with the same nine botanicals – juniper, angelica root, angelica seeds, coriander seeds, liquorice, almonds, orris root, Seville oranges and lemon peel.

The gin is made from neutral grain spirits. One twist in the distillation process is that the botanicals are macerated for about 24 hours before it is put in the 8-hour distillation process. Because of this, it tends to extract more flavors from the botanicals. There are two versions of this 80-proof and 94-proof. The 94-proof is the preferred one (and that is what I am featuring here).

In terms of taste – this is as traditional a London Dry gin can get. Clear in color. Juniper forward with lots of hints of citrus.

The nose is strongly juniper with a little citrus coming towards the end. The palate is citrusy and of course there is the juniper. The finish is on the shorter side…

10 May 2018

From the bartender’s corner – Gin #36: New Amsterdam No.485

I am getting to the end of the library of gin bottles I have. I am still looking to procure a bottle of Napue from Finland or a Puerto Indias from Seville, Spain. Or for that matter, any other interesting gin that I have not researched, tasted and written on my blog about.

Today’s featured gin is New Amsterdam No.485. I have never had this gin before. Frankly, I was half expecting it to be very pine-y like all gins from the Netherlands. Given the color is crystal clear, I did not expect it to have any aging symptoms (like smoky flavors) as all other Tom Gins do from the Netherlands.

Imagine my surprise when I found out during my research that this gin is actually made in USA. Well, my guess was that it is from a distillery near New York (if you remember, New York was originally called New Amsterdam). Turns out this is made in Modesto distillery in California (yes, where a lot of Gallo wine is made).

The gin is rather intriguing. In fact the first question you might have after sipping a couple of times is “Is this really gin?”. It is overwhelmingly citrus forward. The juniper is very very light. I can see why some people have compared this to a flavored vodka. That said, there is a little juniper in the palate – so you cannot call this a vodka – or rather you have to call this a gin.

While some call it London Dry style, that is very confusing to me. With so little juniper, this is out and out an American Style gin to me. I am going to put this as a very citrus forward, American style gin.

The base is pure grain spirit. I have not come up with the exhaustive list of botanicals, but it is very safe to say that it has lemon rinds, orange peels and juniper.

The nose is citrus – mostly lemon and orange. The palate is very strong on the lemon and orange front. Towards the absolute back, you sense some of the pine characters of juniper. Else it is all citrus. The finish is on the shorter side and a little abrupt.

I tried it on the rocks today. Will try the G&T tomorrow.

8 April 2018

One of the better Perky Goths!!!

A great advantages of going to the same watering hole every Sunday with Sharmila after dinner is that you get to know the folks who work at the bar intimately. Over the years you get to know their background, their aspirations and their difficulties. We have seen some deal with a lot of challenges in life. Frankly, I have always thought that I and my family live an advantaged life and have only a modicum of understanding of how most Americans lead their lives. These folks at the bar with their life stories have kept me grounded on the struggles of many young men and women. Driving back from the bar, many a time I have remarked to Sharmila that we live a blessed life and we need to do something for the younger generation.

On the other hand, we have also shared with these folks some of their most joyous moments. We have seen some of them get engaged, get married and some of them move on to great careers. Over the years we have missed them – Joe, Alexis, Michael…. and so many more – but have been glad that they got some great breaks in life.

The other mundane upside of getting to know everybody at the bar, of course, is that I can ask them to make any drink I want. Real example…

“Can you make me a Perky Goth?”
“What is that?”, would have been a legitimate and somewhat expected response. Not too many people would know a Perky Goth – certainly not in the cocktail form.
And that is what precisely Caroline asked – who was rather startled with my request – right in the middle of giving us an update on her son and daughter.
“Gin, Ginger Liqueur, Absinthe, Blood Orange Bitters and Simple Syrup”

She was rather happy with the output once she was done carefully making it. It actually tastes pretty good – if you have not tried it out, I would recommend it. She also had the portions perfect.

It was good enough that I wanted to keep the moment for posterity with a picture of the drink and the creator!!

8 April 2018

From the bartender’s corner: Green House Negroni

Following up with my last two write ups on the Green House gin – unique gin but felt can’t go well with most cocktails. The citrusy one I tried – Lime Rickey – did not work well. Tried one where the gin does not have to carry most of the character – a Negroni. And this one turned out to be far better. Of course the palate and the nose of Campari and somewhat that of the Sweet Vermouth took the dominance out of the Gin.