Gin and Jonnie GastroGin

Gin and Jonnie GastroGin is one of the more intriguingly named gins I’ve come across recently! The choice of name becomes obvious when you discover that the recipe was created by Dutch chef Jonnie Boer. Jonnie became the youngest two Michelin-starred chef in the Netherlands and in 2004, his restaurant De Librije, receive 3 stars, only the second in the Netherlands to do so.

Restaurant De Librije

A die-hard gin and tonic fan, Jonnie sought the expertise of Onder de Boompjes, to collaborate on his passion project, a gin that would “captivate my favourite flavours, ones that are fresh, real and genuine“. Onder de Boompjes have been making genever since 1658 and is the second oldest distillery in the Netherlands. Together with his chef Maik Kuipers, master distiller Justus Walop and Johan Kersten from Onder de Boompjes, Jonnie took over a year to create the recipe for the world’s first  “GastroGin”.

The botanicals

Gin and Jonnie GastroGin contains an abundance of citrus and pepper botanicals. There are four citrus ingredients: Lemon verbena, grapefruit, lemon and orange peel, and five types of pepper: Jamaican (flavours reminiscent of cinnamon and nutmeg), Szechuan, Voatsiperifery (aromatic with a subtle sweetness), Long, and Sarawak (black) pepper.  They have also used fennel seed and fennel flowers, against a background of more traditional gin ingredients – juniper, cardamom, licorice, angelica and caraway seeds.

The taste

Citrus, citrus, citrus on the nose and palate. If you love a citrus forward gin you’ll love this. As the flavour builds the citrus gives way to some interesting aniseed flavours before those peppery botanicals come through and deliver and good blast of spicy warmth.

Drinking Gin and Jonnie GastroGin

Jonnie nailed the brief when it comes to making a gin that is made for tonic. It’s a great drink and the pepper and anise prevent it becoming overly sweet.

I used Lillet Blanc in place of vermouth to soften my martini and garnished with grapefruit peel to bring out those citrus elements. It was slightly sweet with a good peppery punch at the finish.

With my Negroni I used Antica Formula instead of sweet vermouth. With an ABV of 45% Gin and Jonnie GastroGin was a good choice,  the spice and pepper notes work well with the bitterness of the Campari.

Gin and Jonnie GastroGin negroni

Gin and Jonnie GastroGin recently came 33rd in The Spirit Business Top 50 Innovative Spirits Launches of 2016, and if you like a bold gin with lots of flavour, then this is right up your gin lane!

Country of Origin: Holland

ABV: 45%

House of Correction #2

House of Correction #2

House of Correction opened last week and what a welcome addition to bar life in Melbourne. Industry legend Alex Ross has turned a former porn cinema into a sleek yet welcoming space, with seats aplenty at the bar, or cosy booths where you and your mates can catch up and work your way through the bar menu.

House of Correction #2
House of Correction. Image by Georgia Verells

I was fortunate enough to score an invite to the opening night where we sampled a range of the cocktails available. Dave Smillie has put together an delicious list of drinks with a mix of boozy and light (in ABV) and intelligent twists on classics. Dave is a long time admirer of Iain Griffiths and Ryan Chetiyawardana, so expect to see lots of house-made ingredients and a drive towards creating a sustainable bar.

house of correction #2

The cocktail that caught my eye (and my tastebuds) was the House of Correction #2 (all the drinks are numbered rather like the menu in a Chinese restaurant). Maidenii vermouth, Four Pillars Navy Strength gin, hopped grapefruit bitters are all stirred down and then topped off with Capi pink grapefruit. Garnished with a piece of grapefruit, this is a light, refreshing tipple that stops short of being too bitter at precisely the right moment.

House of Correction #2

I recreated it at home during the warmer weather and it was spot on in delivering a perfect summer cooler with masses of flavour.

Ingredients for the House of Correction #2

45ml Maidenii Dry vermouth
15ml Four Pillars Navy Strength gin
2 drops Bittermans Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
60ml Capi Pink Grapefruit

Method

Place a couple of ice cubes in a wine glass. Add vermouth, gin and bitters. Stir gently. Add a little more ice and top up with Capi pink grapefruit. Stir again and garnish with a wedge of pink grapefruit.

Enjoy!

Artemis Gin

Australian distilling is growing at quite a pace and it’s thrilling to see so many people having a go at making gin, but when a renowned bartender and all-round industry legend like Seb Reaburn throws his hat into the ring, you know it’s going to be good.

Seb and his partner (and scientist) Derv, have set up shop at Craft & Co., a unique venture on Smith Street Collingwood. With a beautiful Carl still on the shop front, a brewery at the back, a deli, a bottle shop and the facilities to make cheese and cure meat on site, it’s a one stop shop for foodies!

Seb was clear in the intentions for Artemis gin. “It had to work with the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book“, he told me. Classic cocktails are dear to his heart and the inspiration for his gin.

The Botanicals

Artemis gin gets its name from Artemisia absinthium (wormwood), one of the key botanicals. Booze geeks might recognise this as an ingredient in absinthe and vermouth. It gives a herbal, sometimes bitter flavour to spirits.

Artemis Gin
Artemisia absinthium (image Giuseppe Mazza)

Artmesia dracunculus (French tarragon) is there to give some licorice and vanilla notes. Seb has used two Australian natives, Eucalyptus radiata (river peppermint) and Eucalyptus citriodora (lemon-scented gum).

There are two types of Juniper – Macedonian and Hungarian, together with a combination of Egyptian and Indian coriander, the latter to provide more “lemony” flavours according to Seb.  Angelica and orris root are included as fixatives, alongside Vietnamese cassia which give hints of lavender and rose. Also included are grains of paradise, finger limes, clove, nutmeg and ginger. The last three create a softer finish to the gin.

It’s an interesting, complex group of ingredients that require careful management to create a balanced spirit. Some of the botanicals, like clove, nutmeg and ginger are used in almost minuscule quantities, but according to Seb, the gin wouldn’t work without them.

Tasting Artemis Gin

On opening the bottle there is the welcome smell of juniper with plenty of citrus and a little anise in the background. I could also detect the faint aroma of indian spice. On the palate I could taste fresh, minty herbaceous notes with lime, licorice and anise coming through. The flavour builds with grains of the paradise and ginger providing a warm, spicy and lengthy finish.

Sweet Martini
Sweet Martini made with Artemis gin

Artemis does exactly what Seb and Derv set out to achieve, it offers a great base for the old style cocktails they adore, and with the clever use of Australian natives, they’ve created a truly classic Australian gin.

It’s been on high rotation in drinks at GQHQ since my bottle arrived after they successfully achieved their Pozible campaign target. Whatever I’m drinking it stands up well in and that is the mark of a great gin.

ABV: 44%

Price: Medium

You can follow Artemis gin on Facebook, and Instagram.

Don’t forget to book your Gin Queen on Tour ~ Urban Melbourne tickets to meet Seb and Derv and taste their wonderful gin. Tickets available here.

KT Collins

The other week I popped into Romeo Lane to say congratulations to Joe and the team for their wins at the Time Out Melbourne Bar Awards. Joe took out Bartender of the Year and the bar won Best Cocktail Bar.

Joe Jones
Joe Jones, owner of Romeo Lane

Joe and the team at always have an excellent drinks menu, which changes regularly and offers lots of variety. This visit, the KT Collins caught my eye when I was looking for something to refresh and revive me.

KT Collins
Romeo Lane’s KT Collins

Collins’ are a great alternative for a long gin drink when you aren’t in the mood for a G&T. A classic combination of gin, lemon juice, and sugar syrup are shaken together before being topped up with soda water. There is lots of room for experimentation ~ Rhubarb Collins for one, but this version is made with celery and a hint of salt, offering a savoury twist that appealed to my taste buds!

The KT Collins is the creation of Sasha Petraske and features in his book Regarding Cocktails.

KT Collins

Ingredients for a KT Collins

2 thin strips of celery

60ml gin (I used Rutte Celery Gin)

22ml freshly squeezed lemon juice

22ml simple syrup

pinch of salt

soda water

Method

Muddle the celery sticks in a cocktail shaker. Add all the other ingredients (excluding the soda water) and ice and shake until chilled. Pour into an ice-filled Collins glass and top up with soda water. Garnish with a celery leaf or a thin slice of celery.

Enjoy!

Ransom Gin Old Fashioned

Ransom Old Tom Gin

Old Tom is a sweet gin that was fashionable before distilling became more sophisticated, and added ingredients were relied upon to mask the poor quality of the spirit. As gin got better, tastes changed and London Dry became the all the rage.

Bartenders’ quests for authentic products is fueling innovation at craft distilleries all over the world and Old Tom is one gin style (for more gin styles read this post.) that is growing rapidly.  Appreciation of it is not limited to our savvy bartenders either, at Junipalooza Melbourne 2016, Jensen’s Old Tom gin was one of the strongest sellers amongst attendees.

As you know, my tastes favour the drier end of the spectrum, but I do like Old Tom, particularly when I’m drinking a martinez, a gin sling or any other classic from the Savoy Cocktail book. Although, when I first clapped eyes on the Ransom Old Tom, my was first reaction was “oh no, surely that’s a whisky pretending to be a gin?”.

Ransom Old Tom Gin
Gin Sling

However, its possibly the most historically accurate Old Tom Gin, which is unsurprising given that it was produced in collaboration with historian and author David Wondrich.

Ransom Old Tom gin has a base of malted (85%) and unsalted (15%) barley which is unusual for a gin. Most begin with neutral grain spirit, using a malt base creates a flavour before any botanicals are added. I was intrigued as to whether the botanicals would be fighting against the malt!

The botanicals

The botanicals, as you’d expect are a very traditional list featuring: juniper, orange peel, lemon peel, coriander seed, cardamom pods, and angelica root. Rather than going into the still, they are mixed with corn spirit and allowed to infuse.  The infusion is blended with the malt base spirit and distilled. The gin is then aged in 100% used French oak wine barrels for six to twelve months.

The flavour

As you’d expect the malted barley comes through on the nose. Pleasingly though citrus and juniper flavours are fully present on the palate, while licorice and oak notes add depth and length to the gin.

Ransom Old Tom Gin was the first US barrel aged and first Old Tom Gin to be released since Prohibition, and has been extremely well-received winning a gold medal in the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The malt base and oak-aging will win over the some whisky lovers, but I love Ransom Old Tom for its unique character and place in the ever-expanding gin category.

Country of Origin: USA

ABV: 44%

Price: High (but worth it!)

Cutlass Cocktail

Cutlass Cocktail

West Winds The Cutlass gin has long been a favourite of mine. The 50% ABV and savoury notes make this  one of the best gins in a dry martini, however, the in a Cutlass Cocktail it’s a sure-fire winner on a hot day.

Created by Jason Chan, the palate behind West Winds gins, it combines Rose’s lime marmalade and basil leaves and is deliciously refreshing. A variation on a gimlet (which uses Rose’s lime cordial – unavailable to us here in Australia) so it is a little boozy tipple, so add some soda for a longer drink!

Cutlass Cocktail

Ingredients for a Cutlass Cocktail

60ml The West Winds Gin The Cutlass
25ml lime juice
1 heaped barspoon Roses Marmalade
3 basil leaves

Method

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until chilled. Double-strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and garnish with a basil leaf.

Cutlass Cocktail

Kew Organic gin

Kew Organic Gin

Kew Organic gin was created by the London Distillery Company, the makers of Dodd’s, in partnership with The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.

Master Distiller Darren Rook, and business partner Nick approached the gardens about the collaboration after they had successfully created a gin for prestigious London store, Fortnum and Mason.

kew organic gin
The artwork on the box is inspired by the rich illustrations in the Kew gardens archives.

I caught up with Darren when he came to Junipalooza Melbourne in October last year, where he was launching Kew Organic gin to the Australian gin-lovers. He told me when it came to collecting plants from around Kew, they were like kids in a candy store. Tony, the head gardener, “let us go loose”.

kew organic gin
Darren at Junipalooza Melbourne

This probably explains how the gin came to have a whopping 44 botanicals. Darren told me he had brought it back from 48, saying “I was trying to get to 4”!

The team decided that creating a gin for Kew without using the incredible range of botanicals on offer would be a wasted opportunity.  Of the 44 botanicals, 27 are from Kew. Six of those are different types of lavender, each with different flavor profiles, including cotton lavender which brings a saline character to the gin.

Darren explained the challenge of using so many botanicals to build flavour without having any one dominant note. They began by splitting the ingredients into different distillations. The final version was created by accident, using four different gins and blending them together to make Kew Organic Gin.

The botanicals

There are two types of organic Juniper (Bulgarian and Tuscan) used to make Kew Organic gin, alongside five different varieties of citrus: lemon, lime, pink grapefruit peel, orange peel and bergamot peel. The specially foraged botanicals from Kew Gardens include santolina, rosemary, lavender flower, galangal and passion-flower.

Flavour

83gms of juniper per litre go into each of the gins produced by Dodd’s. For those of you who don’t like a punchy juniper style gin, don’t worry,  Kew Organic gin is a masterclass in how balanced a gin should be. On the nose the pine and citrus notes are apparent. On the palate, juniper, citrus and coriander are at the fore with white pepper, spice and a hint of lavender coming through towards the end. It has an incredibly smooth and lengthy finish.

Kew Organic gin
Kew Organic gin and tonic

As usual, I tried Kew Organic Gin in a gin and tonic, a martini and a negroni. I could not fault it in any of the three drinks. The louching (cloudiness) of the gin and tonic is due to the high level of botanical oils in the gin. It makes a perfect martini.  It’s ABV (it’s 46%) is able to stand up well to the vermouth and Campari to make a stellar negroni.

Kew Organic Gin

Darren’s team will have access to wider selection of botanicals in the future, and there are plans to establish a dedicated gin garden at Kew. I cannot wait to see what they come up with next. Kew Organic is a very special gin indeed.

Country of Origin: UK

ABV: 46%

Price: Medium

3 Matcha Gin Cocktails for you to try

My English heritage leads to a natural love of tea (black no sugar, thanks), not just the regular variety, but also green tea which I consume by the bucket load!

Matcha is whole green tea leaves that have been finely ground into a powder. Grown in the shade, it contains caffeine and theanine which are said to produce calm energy in those that drink matcha. In an attempt to balance my gin intake with some antioxidant ingredients, (and get some of that calm energy),  I played around with it in some cocktails.

3 Matcha Gin Cocktails for you to try

I picked three matcha gin cocktails to taste test. When making you’ll need to blend the powder in liquid well otherwise you’ll have lumps in your drink! Feel free to tweak the quantity of matcha added.

Matcha Gin Sour

3 matcha gin cocktails for you to try
Matcha gin sour

Ingredients

1/2 teaspoon matcha green tea powder.

30ml freshly squeezed lemon juice

60ml gin

20ml simple syrup

Dash of bitters

Method

Add all the ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until cold. Strain into a chilled glass.

This was one my second favourite of the three, I can see this being a regular at GQHQ!

3 matcha gin cocktails for you to try
Matcha Gimlet

Matcha Gimlet

Ingredients

1 tablespoon matcha

90ml  water

Juice of 1 small lime (30ml)

15ml simple syrup

75ml gin

Method

In a glass mix the matcha powder with water until smooth.  Add your freshly squeezed lime juice and simple syrup. Pour this mixture to a cocktail shaker and add the gin and some ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass.

I found this one a challenge, I think due to the amount of matcha which dominated. Next time I would reduce the amount of matcha or possibly look for a sweeter variety.

The First Lady

Created by Grant Wheeler of The Garret, New York.

3 matcha gin cocktails for you to try
The First Lady

Ingredients

45ml London Dry Gin

15ml triple sec

15ml simple syrup

15ml lemon juice

1 teaspoon matcha

1 egg white

basil leaves

Method

Dry shake (no ice) the gin, triple sec, simple syrup, lemon juice, matcha and 1 basil leaf with the egg white. Add ice to the shaker and then shake until chilled. Strain into a collins glass with ice and garnish with basil leaves.

My favourite of the three! Superbly sippable with a lovely balance of flavours and sumptuous mouth-feel.

Are you a fan of tea and gin together?

Windspiel Premium Dry Gin

Windspiel Premium Dry Gin

Late last year I met Susann from Windspiel Premium Dry gin who was visiting Melbourne as part of a German trade initiative. The beautiful details on the bottle caught my eye immediately, and I hoped that this was going to be matched by a quality spirit within. I wasn’t disappointed.

Windspiel Premium Dry gin was launched 2 years ago by four friends Sandra Wimmeler, Denis Lönnendonker, Rebecca Mertes, Tobias Schwoll and their master distiller Holger Borchers. Like Chase distillery in the UK, they are a paddock to bottle distillery, creating their spirit base from potatoes they grow themselves in the rich soil of the Volcanic Eifel region of Germany.

Windspiel Premium Dry Gin
Windspiel’s Holstein gin still.

What’s in a name?

German King Frederick II was responsible for introducing the potato to Germany as an agricultural crop. His passion for greyhounds, ‘windspiel’ in German, was the inspiration for the name of the gin, and it’s why there is a greyhound on the label!

Windspiel Premium Dry Gin
Windspiel Premium Dry Gin and tonic

The botanicals

Juniper berries, lemon zest, coriander, lavender blossoms, ginger, cinnamon, plus a few other secret ingredients are macerated in alcohol to extract the most flavour. Each botanical is then distilled individually and stored for a few weeks, before being blended with the triple-distilled potato distillate.

The taste

Juniper is present on the nose and the palate, with lavender and cinnamon coming through towards the end. Hints of lemon were also detected.  Windspiel has a very smooth mouth-feel and is very sippable neat, considering its higher than standard 47% ABV. It has the balanced, lengthy finish you’d expect from a quality gin.

In order to create their perfect gin and tonic, Windspiel have developed their own tonic water and it complements the gin very well, making a subtle g & t, but a delicious one! The gin shone in a 2:1 ration dry martini (I used Dolin) where the earthier notes of the gin brought out the botanicals of the vermouth fantastically well. In the Windspiel negroni, the juniper was a little subdued, but overall it was a decent enough drink.

Windspiel Premium Dry Gin
Windspiel Premium Dry Gin martini
Windspiel Premium Dry Gin
Windspiel Premium Dry Gin negroni

Getting the base spirit right can be a headache for many distillers attempting to produce their own (which is why the majority choose to buy theirs in), but Windspiel have produced something very special and it’s a perfect canvas for their choice of botanicals. Unsurprisingly, Windspiel Premium Dry gin has won many awards including a Gold Medal at San Francisco World Spirits Competition. A highly recommended addition to any gin cupboard!

Country of origin: Germany

ABV: 47%

Price: Medium