Newsletter – Wednesday 1st July
Happy Wednesday Team!
How are we all doing this week? What a week for weather, last week! Absolutely glorious, then crashing down with that drop in temperature and big winds on Saturday. I hope that you all managed to keep cool and then get warm when it was needed!
So, what’s on this week? Well, today is Ginger Snap Day! So, let’s start off with talking about gin and ginger. Naturally it’s good to share some recipes, so I’d like to share a recipe for ginger snap biscuits, as well as the ginger snap cocktail.
Gin and ginger have a long history together. In fact, research suggests that gin and gingerbread was one of the very first food pairings, served at the Frost Fairs held on the frozen River Thames. Frost Fairs have been held since as far back as the 7th Century, the earliest one being recorded in 695, although under a different name. Vendors would set up they’re stalls on the frozen river to sell goods, alcohol and various activities would be held. In 1608 these events became known as Frost Fairs. These events continued whenever the winter frost permitted it and in the 1800s it was common for stalls to sell gingerbread and hot gin, a staple indulgence for visitors. Hot alcohol was commonplace and an important necessity. In this time, Britain was experiencing what is known as the Little Ice Age and temperatures were low, with inadequate heating in most places. The link between gin and ginger was forged. Some of the earliest cocktails were a mixture of gin and ginger syrup and in the navy, gin was sometimes drunk with ginger beer, known as a Hatfield.
So, before we look at cocktails. How abouts we bake some of those delicious little things? I’ve found a great little recipe, care of All Recipes, Grandma’s Gingersnap Cookies
And now we’ve made some of those, let’s look at the cocktail! The Ginger Snap. Here’s a great recipe of a Ginger Snap made with gin, care of Difford’s Guide. There are variations with vodka and with rum. Considering how wonderful rum works with ginger it would be well worth trying a rum variation.
And what gins would we recommend to go with the ginger snap? Well, as history states, Old Tom is a firm favourite. Old Toms are a style that is slightly sweeter than London Drys. Back in the day, these gins were known as sweeter as there was oftens something added to cover the lack of quality in homemade gin. Sugar was sometimes added, Liquorice more so as it was cheaper. It wasn’t always sweetened, in some instances gins were cask aged, giving the gin a slight colouration and flavours obtained from the wood. There is this historial link, but I would also add that the sweetness of Old Tom gins work very well with the spice of ginger.
At the Gin and Rum Festival shop, we would suggest the following gin:
Sacred Old Tom: This high-strength interpretation of the 18th-century staple. With bold notes of Juniper and Liquorice Root, alongside a modern flourish of vacuum-distilled Spanish Sweet Orange Peels.
Bruni Collins: A Premium London Dry Gin from Granada (South of Spain), distilled three times for an amazing purity. Using 8 different botanicals; juniper berries, cardamom, coriander, angelica, lime, ginger, mandarin as well as one secret ingredient. Buy it here
And, as mentioned, you can easily ‘rum up’ your Ginger Snap cocktail. Rum goes beautifully with ginger. A Dark and Stormy is a favourite cocktail of mine, comprising lime, brown sugar, ginger beer and rum. So, if you’re more a rum person than a gin person, I‘d suggest the following, again, available from our shop.
Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof British Navy Rum: Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof is a classic British style rum, inspired by the recipe used to produce the tot given to sailors as their daily ration until Black Tot Day, 31July 1970. Buy it here
So, once again, here we are. I hope you’ve found this interesting and have some great fun with the recipes. Take care of yourselves and have a great week!
Newsletter – Wednesday 24th June
Happy Wednesday Team
How are we doing this week? Hope you’re all keeping well out there! This week we’re doing something slightly different. We will still have some drinks for you to try, but today it is Upcycle Day, so we thought it would be a great opportunity to share some brilliant ideas of what to do with those used bottles of yours. And, this is also a great opportunity to talk about sustainability in the distilling industry.
Sustainability is a buzz word in the distilling industry right now. As we become more environmentally conscious, being sustainable has not only become something desirable to a distillery for its efficiency, it’s also become a great selling point as more and more customers become more aware and look for sustainable processes in their products.
I recently investigated sustainability for an article in Gin Magazine and it was quite amazing to see the creative solutions that were being implemented into distilling processes. Once improvements are recognised and made to reduce the carbon footprint as much as possible, the remaining can be offset by contributions to factories that remove carbon dioxide from the air by a process called direct air capture, making certain distilleries carbon neutral and even carbon negative, meaning that with their continuing production, their impact on the environment is that carbon is removed from the air. Not everyone can afford to do this and for those smaller craft distilleries getting onto their feet, there are lots of little things that can be done, from eco friendly packaging, to sending gin in recyclable pouches as opposed to bottles.
But we do like a bottle. It’s the collectors trophy, something to keep once the spirit has gone. There are some wonderful ‘shelfies’ about, showcasing a collector’s pride and joy. There are some enormous collections out there. Not all of us want a collection of empty bottles, and there are some that are just too beautiful for a bottle bank. I find they work well as bookends to fill gaps in bookcases and I don’t even need to do anything crafty for that. However, people go mad for a bit of upcycling. So, if you’ve got a creative streak, or know someone who has, here are some great little ideas for upcycling your bottles into something fantastic.
Let’s start with the simple, keep it easy. Here are 10 great ideas for upcycling gin bottles.
And for something a little more involved. Here’s an article that doesn’t just include gin, but wine and beer bottles as well.
Cor, that all looks like thirsty work. And I’ve not even shared a cocktail yet, how rude of me! Well, rest easy, I don’t like to let people dry out. And, it’s also Praline Day today, so let’s get fixed up with a few delicious praline based cocktail, centred around the delicious confectionery. Yes, praline is a confectionary. Confession, I didn’t know this until I did some research. So, thought perhaps we could start with a recipe for making praline. It could be an excellent side to your cocktail.
Delicious! And now we’ve got a good handle on what praline is, how about we get onto some praline cocktails. Now, I’m normally very careful to share gin and rum cocktails as that’s what we like, right? However, gin and rum seem to sit back and let other liqueurs do the work with praline. I’ve shared some recipes I find interesting, I would also be really curious as to what would happen if we replaced some of these spirits with rum.
Tequila and praline? Are you mad? Absolutely not, this drink is a real game changer.
What an extraordinary cocktail. And I’m sure it will taste incredible.
And what rum would you try with these? There’s one in particular that really stands out to me.
Queen Cleo Spiced Rum: Queen Cleo Spiced Rum begins it’s journey as a smooth dark rum, run in from the Caribbean. It is then fearlessly spiced in the UK using a bold mix of botanicals; a luscious blend of caramel, pecan, vanilla, hidden spices and refreshing lime. Buy it here
And there we have it! Lots for you to do this week. Hope you enjoy it and see you next Wednesday!
Newsletter – Wednesday 3rd June 2020
Happy Wednesday Team!
And how are we doing this week? Still looking out for each other and hasn’t the weather been so beautiful?
What with all this sun, I wanted to continue on from last week with the idea of sunshine drinks. Now, I don’t know about you, but one of the ultimate sunshine drinks for me is a Tiki Cocktail. Tiki Cocktails are amazing! I’ve been lucky enough to visit a specialist Tiki Bar in San Francisco called Voodoo Village and their cocktails are next level. So, without further delay, pour yourself a drink and get yourselves comfortable for a little bit of Tiki history, followed by recipes for some of the stars of the show and some suitable rums for the job.
The History dates back to Polynesia, in the South Pacific. The word Tiki, is the name of the first man created in Maori mythology. Carved wooden statues representing Gods inspire the ‘typical serve’ ceramic cups found in Tiki Bars, apparently stemming from one of the first, a bar called Donn the Beachcomber, in Hollywood, California, opened by a chap called Donn Beach in the 1930s. Inspired by his travels, he began recreating the flavours he experienced with rum and fruit like pineapple and guava.
The next important development is the invention of the Mai Tai, renowned king of the Tiki cocktails. There is more than one story as to its invention (often the way with drinks), but a common story is that the Maitai was invented in the 1940 by a man called Victor Jules Bergeron, or ‘Trader Vic’ as he’s now known, and rival of Don Beach. Vic tested his recipe (pineapple juice, orange curacao liqueur, light rum and dark rum) on a couple of friends from Tahiti, to which one exclaimed “Mai tai-roa ae” or “Out of this world – The best”. This is supposedly where the drink gets its name.
Tiki Bars found another surge in popularity during the 1950’s when air travel from the US to Hawaii became more common. Tiki Bars are still popular on the West Coast of the US, although I’d say we do need a few more of them here in the UK, although the Mai Tai has found its way onto the menu of many bars.
I’m thirsty now. Let’s whip up some cocktails, starting with the Mai Tai. For this I refer you to Difford’s Guide which has the original Trader Vic recipe, along with the story.
Next up, one of my favourites, the Zombie. The Zombie actually a creation of Donn Beaches. The Zombie is pretty simple in concept. All the rums and all the fruits! Most people make them in different ways, but often you’ll see light, anejo and dark rums in the mix. They pack a powerful punch and are definitely a drink to drink responsibly. Here you have a handy link that gives you three different recipes of this cocktail.
Final, another classic, the Hurricane. The Hurricane is top draw delicious and often served in a rather generous glass based on the design of the hurricane lamp. Created in New Orleans at Pat O’Briens Bar during WW2, when there was a lack of whisk. The drink is super fruit with orange, passionfruit and lime. Here is a great little recipe from Liqour.com
And as always, some recommendations of suitable rums from our shop to help you create some real Tiki masterpieces. Considering the recipes, I thought it best to suggest a light, a dark and something inbetween.
El Dorado 12-Year-Old: Awards the gold medal at the Caribbean Rum Taste Test (hld annually in London) no fewer than seven times in the first ten years that the competition was held. A good base for any cocktail. Buy it here
Old J Tiki Fire Spiced Rum: The clue is in the name, right? A blast of vanilla and lime. Perfect served on it’s own over ice with a couple of fresh lime wedges or served with your favourite mixer, this will knock your socks up. Exactly what you need to give you cocktail some extra oomph. Buy it here
Unconventional Distillery Original White: They use a 12 plate reflux still rather than a traditional pot to create a smooth, clean and flavourful spirit. Using white oak barrels, they get flavours of caramel vanilla, cream and almond. Just what you need for smoothing that cocktail into something delicious. Buy it here
Ta-da! I’m super excited for you guys! The world of Tiki cocktails is a bright and beautiful place. Enjoy!
Newsletter – 27th May 2020
Happy Wednesday Team!
How are we all doing? Did we have a good bank holiday Monday? I hope you managed to get a little bit of sunshine wherever you are, even if through an open window. Sitting in a chair in a sunny nook is a lovely thing. Now, today it’s sunscreen day today, so we’re celebrating everything sunshine. Plus, last week I took a ‘faux holiday’ at home (should have been Lisbon but hey, we’re all in the same boat there, huh?) And, on that first day away, I forgot my sun cream and burnt like a piece of bacon which definitely made the rest of the holiday a little trickier. So, with this in mind, I thought not only could I use this as a great opportunity to remind you all to cream up if you’re going outside. I could give you some hints on ‘faux holidaying’ at home, and deliver some bright flavoured gins and a suitable sunshine cocktail or two.
So, let’s start with the important thing. As you cool kids (the class of 95) will know, Baz Luhrmann once said “If I could offer you one piece of advice for the future, sunscreen would be it.” It’s important stuff and can save your life down the line so if you’re getting out in the sun give yourselves a good slathering of the white stuff first. I’ve taken to using factor 50 as once it’s on I know I’m alright for a bit.
Now we’ve got that important public announcement out of the way, let’s move onto the fun part huh? Firstly, if you have been affected by a holiday cancellation but are still taking that holiday, here are some top tips for recreating that holiday vibe at home. Yes, this is what we did last week, and I loved every second of it.
I know some of those sound silly. But I found a bit of imagination really did help. No, we weren’t actually there, but all these little things helped create an experience that we really enjoyed and we definitely spent more time having fun than wishing we were there.
Well hey, so far in and still no spirits This needs rectifying immediately! With a rather special little cocktail recently that I discovered via Cookin Canuk. I was draw to this receipt immediately by its use of one of one of my favourite citrus fruits, clementine along with the use of tarragon. An unusual but fabulous herb.
Then, we have this rather gorgeous little thing, care of the Spruce Eats. The colour of this drink, the straight up martini serve and the mingling flavours of gin and apricot brandy are something a little special. No wonder it’s call a Paradise Cocktail.
And lastly. A simple twist on a stone cold classic. The Tequila Sunrise must be one of the most classic sunshine cocktails there is. And surprise, it’s super easy to make a gin version. Check out this recipe from Nutmeg Nanny and get cracking.
And as always, here’s my recommendations of bright gins from our range. To be honest, with this sort of cocktail you could use a dry as you get so much lush sweetness from the clementine. But hey, if you like those bright notes then these will be for you!
Rascal: Although not citrus, I think Rascal makes the cut when it comes to what I’d call a sunshine gin. Light bright flavours reminiscent of a summer’s day. Passion fruit and raspberry take classic citrus to another level. Premium strength, no added sugar and a must try for pornstar martini fans. Buy it here
Fines Master London Dry: A gin created by professional rugby players Pat Cillers and Mike Rhodes. A classic gin with a hearty helping of citrus deliciousness namely orange, lime and grapefruit. The bottle even comes in a wrap reminiscent of a rugby jersey. It’s the big blast of citrus here that gives that lovely bright idea of sunshine. Love it. Buy it here
Mumbai: It doesn’t get much sunnier than the lush sweet flavours of mango. India’s greatest gift to the world is its native mango. Also known as the king of fruits, Mumbai gin is brimming with this tropical flavour and a burst of pomegranate. Buy it here
And there we go! A little bit of sunshine for you all. I hope you enjoy having a go at the drinks and do check out our shop for some of the recommendations. Hope you have an amazing few days in the sun. Have fun and get that sun cream on!
Newsletter – Friday 20th December
Happy Friday Team!!!
We’re nearly there! I was hoping to include some more details of our Christmas special offers but we’re out of time! It’s all come around so quickly, I do hope that you’ve managed to find some good bargains for your loved ones, and not forgetting something for you too!
And, it’s important to think of others at this time of year. There’s sadly been a spike in food bank usage and donating to a food bank via your local supermarket is one simple and easy way to help those in need. So, when you’re doing your shop for the big day, please do try and spare a couple of things. You can normally find 3 cheapy items totaling under £1 in most supermarkets and they have donation points set up. If this doesn’t work for you, just hop online to find your nearest donation point.
So, with the present buying almost all but done, I’m turning my eye to the day itself. So, lets give you guys some ideas for festive tipples:
Classic Snowball – Come on, who hasn’t had a snowball?! Simply go half and half with advocatt and lemonade for a rich and delicious taste sensation. And, you can jazz it up with a maraschino cherry if you fancy.
Mulled cider – Everyone goes mad for mulled wine at Christmas, but how about mulled cider? I love the smell of mulled cider. I mix in apple juice to cider the heat with spices like clove, cinnamon and star anise. I also like to put in a few slices of fresh orange to freshen it up. You can put some vanilla in there as well. I like to simmer mine low and slow and before you know it, the whole house smells divine. If you want to be really dandy, put in a little calvados too.
Spice 75 – This Is a fabulous little cocktail that I discovered online. I’m a sucker for a bucks fizz and this is a lovely winter take on it. It is a little more tricky as you have to make the syrup first, but hey, Christmas is all about getting creative in the kitchen. You make the syrup by heating caster sugar with water and allspice. Once your syrup is cool, shake it up with rum and lime juice in a cocktail shaker and you’ve got your base. Pop that in a flute and top up with champagne. Gorgeous!
And there we have it! I hope that’s given you a little inspiration to mix things up at your festive socials. So, let us raise a glass. We hope you have a fantastic Christmas!
All our love, the Gin and Rum Festival team xx