GIN of course

Firstly, my apologies for the 2 day delay in blogs, due to some serious imbibing and moving house, i have failed to keep up. I will be posting a few things over the weekend though.

Photo by Tony Cobley. John's Botanical Martini ūüėČ

It was only a matter of time before i was going to write something on Gin. My natural predisposition to one of the greatest Gins on earth from my home town of Plymouth and my cherished time with the company looking after the wonderful Refectory Bar means that the subject of Gin for a post was inevitable.

However, it was prompted along by the internet-tastic Phillip Duff: host, bartender and consultant extraordinaire, jet setter and gin geek who is currently presiding over the G -Vine connoisseur competition. The competition began with a series of online brand education topics and tests regarding gin, it’s history and the G -Vine range. Subsequent to that, bartenders are asked to write an essay on gin marketing (please note the deadline has passed), submit a recipe, post a blog, and sell G -Vine in their bar. ¬†Check ¬†out the site guys and gals…


The competition is fantastically thorough. Rather than a last minute rush of sales teams and ambassadors trying to get bartenders to a ¬†comp, or provide entertainment and keep it interesting cos thcomp ended up being too long, or the rules not being obeyed (see Patsy Christie from Maxxium for that one, god hell fire, keep your drinks in time and your ingredients in check!!). this competition focuses on knowledge of the industry, background work, sales, drinks creation and more! Perhaps the only area the competition doesn’t field is that of personality and showmanship due to it’s online nature. However, what it has rather ingeniously created is an online fervor ¬†around G Vine!

So that’s the comp, but what to say about gin….? For those of you who have an interest, simply google gin history and sites abound with the information on the origins of this wonderful product.

Failing that, look to Mr Regan http://www.ardentspirits.com or Geraldine Coates over at http://www.gintime.com for extensive writing on the subject/brands/cocktails or even head over to Mixellany and buy their respective books. There is a LOT of information out there.

So should i talk about gin cocktails and their history….? The explosion of the cocktail scene over the past decade has seen a strong revival of gin. The nurturing of the art and craft of the cocktail and bartending has naturally led the guys and girls behind the sticks to look backwards in order to look forwards, garnering hundreds of recipes from that golden age where the most commonplace ingredient is gin. This coupled with an explosion of new gins and new styles that blur the boundaries and push the category has meant that more and more menus feature gin as a heavy component in their listing both in classic preperation as well as the absolute frontiers of experimental mixology.

So rather than re-do work already covered in detail by many a blogger and drinks historian, or bring up discussion of the Martini/Martinez or the Tom Collins hoax, i thought i’d write about some exciting things that are underway down in Plymouth and one of my favourite drinks: the Negroni.

With this, i have some tidbits and thoughts which i’ve collected over my time with Plymouth that i thought appropriate to share here, lest they get forgotten.

Firstly, whilst discussing another drink with Adam Elmegirab of Yatai, Aberdeen (creator of the highly successful Bokers Bitters) and Drinkboy himself, Mr Robert Hess, Robert pointed us to an article on Drinkboy which had a perfect little piece regarding the preparing of the Martini…

if you find yourself lost in the wilderness, just start making a Martini and you’ll instantly be surrounded by people telling you you’re making it wrong

The full article can be read here http://www.drinkboy.com/Articles/Article.aspx?itemid=35

The ‘proper’ preperation of a drink is simple for me. Find a way that works for you and your guests, and roll with it. ¬†Simple as that. The Negroni is one such drink. As mentioned, it’s one of my favourite cocktails and I have dabbled and experimented with gins, vermouths, ratios and tweaks. During my time with Plymouth, i’d make every gin classic with Plymouth as it went with the job. But for a Negroni, I shall relate a story of a little party at 69 Colebrook Row, Tony C’s place in Islington.

After Bar Show last year, Tony and Anistatia Miller hosted a dinner and drinks evening for the American guests who spoke and gave talks at the show. My last drink of the evening was enjoyed with Sean Harrison, Master Distiller at Plymouth, the infamous Desmond Payne and Simon Ford, now director of brand education at Pernod Ricard USA and ambassador supremo! We all had Negronis, and great they were too. The combination used there that night is still my favourite recipe of ingredients for this drink. Beefeater, Martini Rosso and Campari 1:1:1. As much as he hated to concede it and much to Mr. Payne’s delight, Sean admits ‘different gins for different drinks – the Negroni is best with Beefeater’.

Audrey Saunders (pictured left), of Pegu Club and Tar Pit fame and queen of cocktails in the US (who’s party trick is apparently drinking Plymouth warm and neat from the bottle) was discussing Gin at some point during the show (or maybe it was at dinner, or after…i can’t quite remember). ¬†She highlighted why gin is so great for cocktails, which is a sentiment i share wholeheartedly. This isn’t verbatim but words to this effect…

It is the complexity and aromatics of gin that make it so versatile an ingredient. It can work on so many levels. It will play with so many ingredients and flavours in so many ways.

It is this versatility that proves itself in the early 20th century and is truly shining again now at the start of the 21st.

Different gins, different profiles, different drinks. My Martinis with Plymouth, My Aviations with Tanqueray, My Negronis with Beefeater and this variety with cocktails on its most basic level!

Which leads me back to science and talk of Plymouth.  It is a gin that is a favourite of many bartenders and although it may not be their absolute favourite, it is normally up there in their top 3.

People backlashed against the bottling of Plymouth by former owners, V & S Absolut with places like LAB actually still decanting the gin into the former bell shape bottle. Well, people, expect to see a repackage later this year by new owners Pernod Ricard. And something which will be perhaps more respectful of heritage of the brand! Unfortunately, the Plymouth Fruit Cup bitters project, never widely available anyway, is going to be at an end. Sloe gin is set to continue though, with Navy still the crowning glory in the set.

But the most exciting news regards a new feature at the Distillery, currently under construction. Visitors to the distillery later this year will be able to play with the botanicals of gin themselves in the new ‘make your own’ part of -the distillery. The 7 Plymouth botanicals will be available plus a few more classic herbs/spices to create your own gin recipe.

Bartenders, contact your rep and make sure you try and get a visit down there later this year! I for one am going to be working on a gin recipe with one of the guides for this new feature, and fellow Negroni aficionado to try to create an even better Negroni-only gin! Any ideas for botanicals……?


2 Responses to “GIN of course”

  1. 1 John
    February 27, 2010 at 1:44 am

    Hi JOhn I agree the idea of “Make your own gin” appeals to me as well as I have been thinking for sometime about creating a new gin to perhaps join the Plymouth Gin three something lighter and fresher maybe!

  2. February 27, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Hmm, lighte -and fresher…? Plymouth is one of the smoothest out there in the mainstream. We were going to aim for something certainly citrus led a la Beefeater but with perhaps Grains of Paradise, Pimento, Allspice thrown into the mix. Something that has a real aroma of exotic pepperyness to it. i think that would compliment the Negroni beautifully.

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