Ryan Chetiyawardana is renowned for his stylish bars (Dandelyan, White Lyan (now closed), Super Lyan and his new restaurant/bar Cub) and incredible cocktails, but he’s also got a lovely way of putting food and drink together.
His new book, Good Together is dedicated to creating the perfect gathering at home, surrounded by friends, delicious food and tasty drinks. Many of the drinks (including this one) can be pre-batched in advance giving you more time with your guests.
With the summer here and Christmas around the corner, the Pearly Negroni is the perfect cooler and would make an excellent welcome drink for party guests.
Best of all as the base is pre-batched, you’ll also have white negroni ready to go at a minutes notice!
Ingredients (makes 1 bottle) for Pearly Negroni
300ml London Dry Gin (I used Jensen’s London Dry)
1 unwaxed, organic lemon
150ml Lillet Blanc
200ml Suze (or other gentian liqueur)
Chilled grapefruit soda
mandarin or other aromatic citrus to garnish
How to make Pearly Negroni
Infuse the gin with the zest of lemon for 2 hours, then strain
Add Lillet Blanc and Suze, then bottle
To serve, use small glasses, add ice and mandarin slice. Add 40ml of the negroni base to each glass and top with grapefruit soda. Garnish with more citrus.
Although Colombo No. 7 gin was only launched in 2015, this gin has a story going back 70 years.
Rockland Distillery was founded in 1924, and was the first commercial distillery in Sri Lanka . Originally they made Arrack, but were asked by the British Government to switch production to other spirits to support the war effort. A special regulation was passed to allow non-native spirits to be produced (CMFL, Ceylon Foreign Made Foreign Liquor).
Founder Carl de Silva Wijeyeratne’s favourite gin was Tanqueray, so his recipe was based on this. However, the war prevented Carl accessing traditional gin botanicals, so he had to look closer to home. Cinnamon (from the cinnamon gardens of Sri Lanka), ginger and curry leaf were added to his base of juniper, coriander, angelica and licorice.
When Carl’s grandson, Amal, joined the company in 2005 to rebuild the distillery following the tsunami in 2004, he delved into the archives and discovered his grandfather’s original recipe and decided to relaunch it as Colombo No. 7.
Today, Amal has moved production of Colombo No. 7 to the UK to protect the business from government intervention, however, the gin remains true to his grandfather’s recipe.
Tasting Colombo No. 7 gin
Colombo Gin No. 7 at Junipalooza Melbourne (image by Bar/d Up)
Having read the list of botanicals, I was expecting something a bit weird tasting, and possibly over spiced. I am not a fan of cinnamon either. So It was a relief to discover that Colombo No. 7 is a properly balanced gin. Juniper and citrus aromas and flavours abound, followed by subtle cinnamon. The finish has great white pepper notes. In case you were wondering it doesn’t taste of curry!
Drinking Colombo No. 7 gin
Pretty much a perfect G&T, crisp with juniper and citrus with the curry leaves coming through on the finish. I used their suggested garnish of curry leaves which was delicious, but there are plenty of other garnishes that could work well like ginger, lime or mango (that one courtesy of my friends at Gin Foundry!).
In a martini, I’d definitely go dry with a twist of lemon or lime. I loved Colombo No. 7 in a Negroni, the cinnamon, angelica and licorice providing a solid balance against the Campari. I used cinnamon stick for a garnish/stirrer.
This was an unexpected delight of a gin and already a firm favourite at GQHQ!
Country of Origin: UK
Garden Tiger gin from Carpreoulus Distillery (named after the Roe Deer) won the hugely prestigious ‘Whisky Exchange Spirit of the Year 2017’.
Distiller, Barney Wilczek, started out as a photographer covering conservation stories and this fascination with the natural world lead to a journey into distilling. Garden Tiger gin was not the spirit he made. Instead, Barney’s initially focussed on making Eaux de Vie (fruit brandies that are created through fermentation and distillation).
Unlike many of the gins that come to market at the moment with the botanical recipe is kept a secret, although Barney admits to using organic blood oranges and mullein, a flowering plant that has been used as a herbal remedy for years.
Barney uses several processes in creating Garden Tiger gin. The hard spices, berries and herbs are macerated in neutral grain spirit for 40 hours, while fresh blood orange zest, flowers and leaves are vapour infused. In total 34 ingredients are combined during a slow 7 hour distillation. Barney insists on avoiding chill filtering which can remove some of the flavours produced.
Tasting Garden Tiger Gin
The aroma of fresh oranges is apparent almost immediately with subtle hints of cardamom and juniper. Bright, fresh orange flavours filled my mouth, lengthening into a delicious peppery warmth. At the end there is a touch of bitterness you’d find in orange peel and a little sherbet-like fizz. Garden Tiger gin is a full-bodied gin, delicious neat over ice or in a cocktail.
Drinking Garden Tiger GIn
I only had lime to hand when it came to garnishing my Garden Tiger G&T, but think a slice of orange would work better.
As you’d expect with a gin using blood oranges as a botanical, Garden Tiger gin makes an excellent Negroni. The full flavours in Garden Tiger gin would add a delicious richness in a Martinez.
The attention to detail, from the hand fed letter-press labels, the embellished cork to the distinctive bottle are signs of the quality you can expect from the liquid within.
Country of Origin: UK
Available from Nicks Wine Merchants
Gin Palace turns 20!
When I first started Then Gin Queen, Gin Palace was the first place to go and learn all I could from then-manager Shaun Byrne (Now Maidenii) and current manager Trish Brew.
In an ever-fickle world, bars come and go and it’s considered a success to pass the 2-3 year mark. So for Gin Palace, Melbourne to be celebrating her 20th Birthday next week, is a truly amazing achievement!
Back in 1997, Vernon Chalker’s vision (along with Daniel Besen, Robert Lehrer, and Michael Kantor) was for a friendly cocktail lounge with no attitude and table service, unheard of in the ’90s!
The bar was designed to imitate an 1870’s lounge bar in Budapest, renovated in the 1950’s. Martinis and cigars were the order of the day, whilst Burt Bacharach and the James Bond theme played until 3am.
Having seen off the The GFC and the change to smoking laws, Gin Palace is now embracing the wave of new local and global craft gins. To celebrate her 20 years of service Gin Palace is closing Russell Place for one day only, not only as a celebration for Gin Palace but also for the laneway and Melbourne itself.
**WIN 2 VIP tickets to the Gin Palace turns 20 party**
Join me on the red carpet for what promises to the party of the year! There will be martinis on arrival, oysters, chicken sandwiches, a band from 5.30 and a roulette table in the Casino Royal! (Swamp room) If you’ve ever been to Gin Palace on World Gin Day, you’ll know the team know how to party!
For a chance to win simply answer the following question:
Terms & Conditions
- Competition open to over 18s only
- One entry per person (duplicates will be deleted)
- Competition closes on Wednesday 1st November at midnight
- Winners will be notified within 24 hours.
I am very fortunate doing what I do, I tend to hear about the latest gins before they reach the stores and often get to try samples and early developmental iterations and asked to give feedback. I get to see and taste the latest experimentations from a wide variety of distillers and am in awe of their talent and innovation.
However, I sometimes wonder whether the quest to have a “point of difference” to all the others gins out there (approximately 6,000) means distillers are straying too far from what makes gin (i.e. JUNIPER), gin resulting in little more than flavored vodka with the word gin on the label. I’m not saying there is anything wrong flavoured vodka, but there the cynic in me does question whether “GIN” is being slapped on a label because people know that gin sells.
So it was an immense relief (I may have actually gasped in delight) when I heard about Never Never gin and read the words “Triple Juniper gin on the label. As an unashamed juniper junkie I confess the pine and camphor notes of juniper fizzing around in a gin and tonic are what makes me happy. The last time a gin made this happy was when I tasted Sipsmith’s VJOP, another juniper-rich gin.
Triple Juniper gin is made in Adelaide by Tim, Sean and George from The Never Never Distilling Co. The name comes from the terms ‘Never Never’ which was first recorded in the late 19th century and was used to describe the uninhabited regions of Australia – then called just ‘The Never-Never’. The more remote regions of Australia’s outback are still known by that name. “Heading into the Never Never” was a test of strength and courage, with many an early explorer perishing in the vast expanses of Australia’s harsh outback.
For the team this term best describes the the excitement, dreams and the challenges that stretch out for a thousand miles in the journey of every small Australian distillery.
I caught up with the team when I was in Adelaide recently and had a gander at their teeny tiny distillery (expansion looms) and to find out more about Never Never Distilling Co.
The trio met in typical Adelaide fashion (i.e. everyone knows everyone) with Tim and Sean’s wives being best friends. Tim and George were at Uni together and when the three of them met at Whisky Live one year, the idea of making gin (and eventually whisky) in Adelaide was born.
The still was designed and made in Melbourne by Spark Brewing ( it was one of the first stills to come off their assembly line) and is a 300L copper pot with a 5 plate rectification column and gin vapour basket, both of which can be disconnected from the copper pot if required, allowing plenty of flexibility in terms of what the team can create. They decided to decided to call her ‘Wendy’ because there could not have been a lovelier sight!
As the name Triple Juniper gin suggests, the Never Never team use three different techniques to extract the most flavour from the juniper. They macerate (steep the juniper in the alcohol before distillation), distill in the pot and vapour infuse the berries to achieve the bold juniper flavour profile.
Triple Juniper Gin Botanicals
In addition to juniper the team use Australian coriander (they felt provided a brighter citrus and less earthiness than other coriander) plus angelica, orris root, native pepper berry and a small amount of cinnamon.
Tasting Never Never Triple Juniper Gin
The divine juniper gin sings out immediately upon opening the bottle, with zesty citrus aromas that made my mouth water. On tasting it has a bright piney juniper flavour with fresh citrus following through and a hint of rosemary. Earthy orris and angelica balance out the juniper and pleasant heat from the pepper berry provides a warm finish. Delicious and full-bodied with plenty of texture, Triple Juniper Gin makes a stunning G&T but is outstanding in a martini as I discovered at Maybe Mae in Adelaide.
Dark Series Southern Strength
Never Never’s Dark Series will consist of experimental and limited edition spirits. The first of these is their Southern Strength. Described by the team as a “beast of a gin” and coming in at 52% ABV you can see why. They used the same technique as with the Triple Juniper gin, but have tweaked the recipe slightly.
It’s certainly bolder than the original, without being overpowering. The smoothness hides the higher ABV. It has a slightly oily, resinous texture. Juniper is still the driving force, but the tweak to the recipe has given it a lengthier finish. I used this to make a glorious Army and Navy cocktail.
I am often over enthusiastic about gin. I do LOVE it so. However, with Never Never Triple Juniper Gin, I would go out on a limb and say that this is probably the best gin I have tasted all year (so far!).
They will also be joining us at Junipalooza Melbourne in October. To get your tickets click here.
To mark my forthcoming event “An evening with Lesley Gracie, Master Distiller, Hendrick’s gin”, I’m launching a new series called ‘Women in Gin’, where I’ll be featuring female distillers and other high profile females within the gin industry.
First up is Kristy Booth-Lark, who I had the privilege to meet when I spoke at the Asia Pacific Whisky & Spirits Conference in Adelaide last month. Kristy has distilling in her blood (her parents are Bill and Lyn Lark who founded the Australian spirits industry.)
Kristy is a talented distiller in her own right and is keen to promote women in the Australian Spirits Industry, so much so that she has recently formed the Australian Women in Distilling Association, Lyn Lark and Genise Hollingsworth (Blackgate Distillery are also on the committee)
Kristy opened Killara Distillery in July 2016 where she makes Apothecary Gin, Single Malt Whisky, brandy and other spirits
How long have you been a distiller?
I started distilling in 2005 at my parent’s distillery (although started working there in 1997).
How did you become a distiller?
Initially I wanted to be an Air Traffic Controller, I even applied to go to air traffic control school! and was lucky enough to be offered one of the 10 spots they had available. But, my eyes began to open to the (distilling) industry and I decided that air traffic control school was not for me and that I would rather be involved in the family business. So I began to take on more of a production/distillation role. My parents were very supportive and threw me straight into it! I learned heaps about whisky how to make it from my Dad, Bill, and heaps about gin and liqueurs and how to make those, from my mum, Lyn. Learning from them was a great experience, and one could say it was destined as I grew up with a 500 litre still outside my bedroom door!
What is the best thing about your job?
I love being able to create things and have control over the whole process.
When my parents distillery was sold and I was made redundant. I knew I wanted to open my own distillery. I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty again! Being able to experiment and create new things is so rewarding.
What is the most challenging thing about distilling gin?
Probably the hardest thing is creating the recipe. There are so many botanicals to choose from and people have such different preferences for how they like their gin to taste. At the end of the day you have to go with a recipe that you love which is what I’ve done. Although, I must admit the end recipe is different from how it was t the beginning. When I first started to develop the recipe, I had it in my head that I would definitely use rose, but it just didn’t work, it interacted in an unpleasant way with the other botanicals I decided to use. So it’s not in there!
How do you choose which botanicals to use?
When I started I distilled a wide range of things, probably about 50 in total, a mixture of herbs, spices and fruit. I then started mixing them together to see how they sat with other botanicals. Some things taste great on their own but when combined with other things will taste terrible (like the Rose I mentioned earlier). In the end I decided on a fairly juniper driven gin with citrus and an Australian twist.
Who or what inspires you?
Both my parents inspire me. My mum with the way she has quietly done things in the background all her career and has made some amazing spirits. Her knowledge and understanding of how flavours go together is fantastic. My dad is so passionate about whisky and the industry in general and is always so generous with his time and knowledge, I hope to be like him.
I am also inspired by people who get out of their comfort zones and to do something to follow their truth, whether it be to start a blog, write a book or walk the Camino (all of which I’d love to do!!)
Name your 3 favourite gins
- Apothecary Gin!! Of course
- The Botanist Gin (Islay, Scotland)
- None Such Sloe Gin (Tasmania, Australia)
What’s your favourite gin cocktail and why?
Negroni, every single time! I love the hints of bitterness and how Campari and vermouth combine with gin to create something so delicious
Which are your favourite bars?
The House of Whisky on Bruny Island (TAS) has it is one of the best gin and whisky collections I have ever seen. Society (Salamanca, TAS) is great as well, with a focus on Tasmanian spirits and a fantastic cocktail list.
Bad Frankie Bar in Melbourne, Seb has done so much to support Australian distillers.
What advice would you give to women wishing to become a distiller?
Start, just start! Approach someone in the industry, see if you can intern somewhere and definitely read as much as you can.
One of the reasons I started the Australian Women in Distilling Association (AWDA), was to promote awareness of the industry and to support women looking to become distillers. I’m hoping the organisation will become a place for women to find support, encouragement, inspiration and to celebrate other like-minded women in the Australian distilling industry.
If you are interested in finding out more about joining the AWDA, please email Kristy.
Sydney Bar Week is a little over 2 weeks away and I’m excited! It’s a great opportunity for me to catch up with bartenders from all over Australia and hear about the latest trends as well as learning from some of the best at the educational seminars (see, it’s not all drinking). With Leslie Gracie (Master Distiller, Hendrick’s Gin) coming over from the UK to join in the fun, it promises to be a week to remember.
While most of the activity is focused around bars and bartenders, one event is open to consumers and trade alike and is not to be missed!
Indie Spirits Tasting will feature over 140 brands including 25 Australian Distilleries! Whisky, gin, pisco, bourbon, absinthe, there is something for every booze geek. You’ll have a chance to taste and talk to the producers and there are even a few masterclasses running for a chance to get some in-depth knowledge.
Gins to look out for!
Gin Gin from Sardinia
Ferdinand’s Saar Gin
I HAVE 5 PAIRS OF TICKETS FOR INDIE SPIRITS TASTING SYDNEY TO BE WON!
All you have to do is complete the form below. Correct answers will be entered into a random draw.
- Over 18s only
- Winner must be available in Sydney on Sunday 17th September
- Winning tickets are non-transferable
- Winners will be notified within 24 hours of the competition closing on Friday 8th September
Father’s Day is coming up in Australia, so I’ve put together some ideas for Gin Gifts for Dad.
GILBERT AND GEORGE GIN BOTTLE CUFFLINKS BY TATTY DEVINE
Inspired by art duo Gilbert & George and their artistic approach to drink, these cufflinks are a button-through style, with a Tatty Devine plectrum fastening. Also available as a necklace.
Via The Gin Queen Shop.
Enright’s Gin Company Grooming Kit
Featuring gin scented hair paste and hand wash.
Available from Enright’s Gin Company
Calibrate Gin and Tonic Pocket Square
Dad will look super fancy wearing this divine pocket square (Available from Nordstrom)
Negroni/Martini pins from Love and Victory
These pins have been flying out of the Gin Queen store since I began stocking them. Dad will love one or both of these on his lapel.
Available from The Gin Queen Shop
NEVER NEVER GIN
The newest Australian gin from Adelaide will not disappoint if your dad is a juniper junkie like me. I’ll be doing a review in the coming weeks, but all you need to know right now is that Triple juniper gin is freaking delicious! (the juniper is treated in three separate ways, partially steeped, partially in the pot and partially in the vapour, hence the name!
Available from Never Never Distilling.
Jo Malone Black Cedarwood & Juniper Cologne 100ml
Described as Midnight rain. Seductive with the carnal touch of cumin and chilli leaves. Dark with cedarwood. Humid with moss. Modern and urban.
Via David Jones
Gumball Poodle Gin Crew Socks Blue/Yellow
OK, so socks for Dad are a bit passé, but how great are these?
Punk Long Drink x4
I adore these The Nachtmann NextGen line PUNK highball glasses which have has been developed in cooperation with the world-famous arts and design college Central Saint Martins in London. An edgy way to serve up your G&Ts!Available from David Jones.
(NOTE: I HAVEN’T BEEN PAID TO ENDORSE THESE PRODUCTS, THEY ARE JUST THINGS I THOUGHT YOU’D LIKE!)
Gin is a fantastic spirit for making infusions (try my Earl Grey Tea, Raspberry or rhubarb gin recipes) and this Grapefruit and Rosemary Gin with Ginger Ale from Ryan Chetiyawardana’s book Good Things to Drink is another to add to your repertoire.
Grapefruit and rosemary often pop up as gin botanicals (Melbourne Gin company and Gin Mare are examples) as well as making fantastic garnishes in a G&T. Together they make a fantastic infusion and on a cold winter day in Melbourne I felt positively mediterranean sipping on this!
The best thing about this particular infusion is that it doesn’t take too long for the flavours to be extracted, in fact, Ryan suggests no more than a day. As someone lacking in patience, I was very happy with the result after a couple of hours!
Ingredients for the Grapefruit and Rosemary gin
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 bottle of London Dry gin
Peel the grapefruits. Add peel to a clean, airtight glass container with the rosemary, sugar, and gin. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Leave to infuse for a few hours (no more than a day), then strain into a bottle and keep refrigerated.
Serving Grapefruit and Rosemary Gin with Ginger Ale
Add 50ml to a Collins (highball) glass and add ice. Top up with chilled ginger ale (I used Fentimans ginger beer as I had some to hand) and a grapefruit slice.
The IWSC (International Wines and Spirits Competition) is up there with the San Francisco World Spirits Awards in terms of prestige. Now in its 48th year, the IWSC not only has an experienced judging panel, but also puts each entry under chemical analysis to ensure the products are what they say they are. Integrity, accuracy and impartiality are at the heart of the competition’s ethos.
This year, the IWSC received nearly 400 gin entries from 35 different countries – an enormous 571% increase since 2013!
23 Australian gins were awarded medals; One gold medal, 17 silvers and 6 bronze.
Here are the winners:
Moore’s Dry Gin, Distillery Botanica, Erina, NSW
(PSA: Gin Queen on Tour to Sydney on 6th September will be visiting Distillery Botanica. Tickets available here.)
Brookie’s Gin Silver Outstanding, Cape Byron Distillery, NSW ~ Contemporary Styles
Angry Ant Gin, Bass & Flinders, Victoria ~ Contemporary Styles
Gin – Soft & Smooth , Bass & Flinders ~ Contemporary Styles
Archie Rose Distiller’s Strength Gin, Sydney, NSW ~Contemporary Styles
PLUS Bronze 2017 in Gin & Tonic category
Botanical Gin, Great Southern Distilling Company, WA ~ Contemporary Styles
Copper wave Gin, Hunter Distillery, NSW ~ Old Tom
Darley’s Gin, Aldi Stores Aust/Asahi ~ London Dry
Four Pillars Barrel Aged Gin, Healesville, Vic ~ Wood Finished
Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin, Healesville, Vic ~ Contemporary Styles
Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin, Healesville, Vic ~ Contemporary Styles
Four Pillars Spiced Negroni Gin ~Contemporary Styles
Kangaroo Island Spirits Wild Gin ~ Contemporary Styles
PLUS Silver 2017 in Gin & Tonic category
Kangaroo Island Spirits Old Tom ~ Old Tom category
Kangaroo Island Spirits Whisky Barrel Gin Silver Outstanding ~ Cask Finished
23rd Street Distillery Signature Gin, Adelaide, SA ~ Contemporary Styles
The Splendid Gin, TAS ~ Contemporary Styles
Prohibition Bathtub Cut Gin ~ Wood Finished – 69%
PLUS Gold medal in Packaging
Bass & Flinders Gin 10 – Wild & Spicy ~ Contemporary Styles
Bass & Flinders Monsoon Gin ~ Contemporary Styles
Kalki Moon Premium Gin ~ London Dry
PLUS Bronze medal 2017 in Gin & Tonic category
Kangaroo Island Spirits O’ Gin~ Contemporary Styles
Ounce Gin ~ Contemporary Styles
Distillery Botanica Rather Royal Gin ~ London Dry
PLUS Bronze medal in Packaging category