8 August 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Bees Knees

This is a cocktail from the Prohibition era. Gin was made in all sorts of spurious ways. The cover up from the smell and taste, often honey and lemon juice was added. And then called Bees Knees – what is a Prohibition era slang for “The Best”. I tried with more authentic gin – The Botanist and used Barenjager honey liqueur with fresh lemon juice.

6 August 2017

From the bartender’s corner – The Tuxedo #2

Even if you are not a big fan of martini, chances are you will like this cocktail. The ingredients include gin (I am experimenting with The Botanist), Dry Vermouth, Maraschino Liqueur, Orange bitters and Absinthe. The Absinthe is not mixed with the ingredients – rather used to rinse the inside of the martini glass (and then the excess is thrown away). Garnish with a cherry to keep the theme of Maraschino liqueur.

The result is a big mixture of aniseed and cherry in the nose with the juniper mostly in the length.

6 August 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Gin #17: The Botanist

This is another great gin from an unlikely place – Scotland! I was surprised long time back to find that Hendricks was from Scotland. You usually do not mentally map cucumbers (Hendrick’s key feature) to Scotland.

This is another of those anomalies. Right off the mainland of Scotland on the west side is a bunch of islands called the Inner Hebrides islands. One of the bigger islands there – if not the biggest – is the Islay. This island, along with the neighboring island of Jura, is particularly known for their famous whiskies.

Well, Botanist 22 is made in the Bruichladdich distillery in the island of Islay.

A few distinctive features of this gin:

First the distillation process is very very slow. When I was visited some distilleries in Oregon making American Style Gin, I saw the distillation processes for gins taking about 5-6 hours. This one takes 17 hours!! The pot is affectionately referred to as “Ugly Betty”! Apparently, it looks like “an oversized, upside down dustbin made of copper”. It was originally designed in 1955 and primarily for the purpose of making whiskey!

The gin has 31 individual ingredients. 22 of them – including the staple juniper is local from the island. The “22” marked in the bottle refers to those local ingredients.

The nose this gin is very floral and you should be able to sense the juniper. The palate is rather mellow but picks up on warmth and citrusy notes if you let it settle for a few seconds. The length (finish) is distinctly spicy.

I also tried this gin with some Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water later in the evening. My personal opinion is the tonic water overwhelms this particular gin. If you care about the complexities and feel everything that is going on, stay with the gin and a king ice. If you just are looking for a good G&T, go ahead with the Fever Tree.

4 August 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Akori London Fog

Last Sunday, I wanted to try out one last cocktail with the Akori gin. Back in March, I had liked a London Fog that I had made with the Ophir gin. To keep up the Oriental angle, tried a London Fog (with the Akori gin). The results were very different. I did not like the cocktail much at all. Also, I had used the “pour on crushed ice” style that certain mixologists had suggested. Realized that I am not a big fan of that style at all.

In any case, if you wish to try this at home, this is a rather simple concoction of gin and Pastis (or alternately Absinthe). The aniseed overwhelmed the nose and length. The palette was very flat (and I think that is what turned me off).

1 August 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Akori Pegu Club

Pegu Club derives its name from the Pegu river in Burma. This goes back about a hundred years back. Burma was a big hub of activity for the British. In Rangoon (the capital has been renamed to modern day Yangon), one of the most exclusive clubs was called Pegu Club where the rich and the aristocrats hob nobbed. This gin based drink was the cocktail de jure there…

This has gin (I used Akori), Orange Curacao, lime juice, Angostura bitters and some orange bitters.

29 July 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Ampersand

This is one of those equal parts cocktails like Negroni. I had not heard about this before – so I tried to read up the literature behind it. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a lot written about this. There is a mention of this drink back in 1935 in a cocktail book. So, we know it predates that date. And the best of sources suggest this probably started with some bar in New York City.

The traditional drink uses Tom Gin. I went with the London Dry style (Akori) that I am still experimenting with. The traditional recipe also calls for Brandy which is what I have used. But I note that many of the modern recipes seem to go with Cognac instead of Brandy. Sweet Vermouth and ORange Bitters rounds up the rest of the ingredients.

Not so strong in the palette, it surely hits a little later. Also, the nose is decidedly orange. In the length you can certainly detect the brandy.

27 July 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Gin #16: Akori Gin

The gin, from its name, would sound like it is made in Japan. That it is not. In fact, it is distilled – London Dry style – near Barcelona, Spain.

However, it does have a lot of Japanese influence in it. For starters the base alcohol is made from rice. While I have had gins made from corn base, wheat base and once even sugarcane base (remember the one from Colombia?), this is the first time I had something that was rice based.

The botanicals, other than the usual suspects, have some Japanese influence too in that it has dragon fruit, ginger, citrus and kumquat.

The nose is predictably fruity – as is the palate. Middle of the rung gin, in my opinion. I enjoyed it more with Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water.

9 July 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Not Your Dad’s Gin and Tonic

This is perfect for my Bengali friends who typically like their drinks a little on the sweeter side. And the lychee-like aroma of elderflower is bound to win the noses of them.

If you do not use Uncle Val’s gin, use Hendricks. You will need the cucumber to interplay with elder flower. If none of them are handy, just gently muddle a couple of cucumbers and stir after you have poured the ingredients. (Do not shake though, it will become too frothy).

The ingredients are the gin and elderflower liqueur and tonic water. The original recipe calls for tonic syrup and sparkling water but tonic water is good enough and less hassle.