Celebration Competition

Celebration Competition!

I passed a little social media milestone this week and I have 10,000 reasons to be happy 🙂

To celebrate I’ve created a little competition where you could win one of 3 Gin and Tonic Packs. The packs are:

  • Star of Bombay Gin with Strangelove Light and Dirty Tonic

or

  • Hendricks Gin HotHouse gift set with Strangelove Light and Dirty Tonic

or

  • Poltergeist Unfiltered Gin with Strangelove Light and Dirty Tonic

THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED

Thank you for reading, liking, commenting and sharing the Gin Queen love!

Terms & Conditions

Entrants must be over 18
Open to UK, Australian and NZ residents only
One entry per applicant
Closing date is midnight (AEST) on 1st May 2017
Winner will be drawn at random and notified via email within 24 hours

 

Thank you for reading, liking, commenting and sharing the Gin Queen love!

5 of the Best Gin Cocktails in Melbourne

I like to think that one of the reasons Melbourne continues to be the most liveable city in the world is largely due to the thriving bar culture, with many bars (Eau de Vie and Black Pearl) winning global recognition for their drink innovation, service and style.

To save you time the next time you head out I’ve picked 5 of the best gin cocktails for you to try.

Gin & Tonic Old Fashioned

Gin Palace Old Fashioned

Where: Gin Palace, 10 Russell Place, Melbourne.

What: Settlers Oak Aged gin stirred down with Sinkonah tonic syrup and a Honey Joy on the side, what’s not to love?

Aviator Cocktail

Eau de Vie Aviation

Where: Eau de Vie, 1 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne.

What: So pretty! Eau de Vie’s riff on an Aviation cocktail is made with Beefeater gin, freshly squeezed lemon juice, rhubarb and juniper puree and maraschino liqueur and garnished with a fluffy cloud and a paper plane! This has to be one of the most photogenic cocktails ever!

Lola Colada

unionelectricgincocktail2 (1)

Where: Union Electric, 13 Heffernan Lane, Melbourne.

What: Star of Bombay, Curacao, ginger syrup, lemon juice and Coco Lopez cream of coconut are shaken and served over cracked ice and garnished wiht fresh flowers, orange peel and cracked black pepper. Sweet, creamy and punchy, you won’t be able to stop at one!

Copa de Vida

Blackpearlginpic (1)

Where: Black Pearl, 304 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne.

What: Gin, yuzu, agave, kiwi, lime and truffle tincture are all shaken together and garnished with Vietnamese mint leaves. Utterly refreshing.

Rosemary Gimlet

Where: Bad Frankie, 141 Greeves Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne.

What: Kangaroo Island Spirits O Gin is shaken with fresh lime juice and sugar syrup and garnished withe a fresh sprig of rosemary. Heavenly!

Where are your favourite cocktail in Melbourne?

gin-queen-degustation

Meet the Makers Australian Gin Degustation ~ Sydney

Following on from the sell-out event in Melbourne and lots of readers requests, I’m thrilled to announce Meet the Makers Australian Gin Degustation ~ Sydney, with  CAPI  once again sponsoring the event.

The Distillers

ian-glen-stone-pine
Ian Glen, Stone Pine Gin

Ian Glen has devoted his entire career to malting, brewing and distilling in Australia and abroad. His Stone Pine Gin has won Silver in the IWSC Dry Gin category.

Jesse and Griffin, Poor Tom's Gin
Jesse and Griffin, Poor Toms Gin

Jesse and Griffin were making their gin at their kitchen table, before joining forces with industry stalwart Marcel Thompson who began as a distillers apprentice before going on to work with some of the biggest gin brands around, including Gordon’s and Tanqueray. Poor Toms Gin is the fruit of their labour and the newest Sydney gin.

Craig Johnson, Loch Gin
Craig Johnson, Loch Gin

After falling in love with single malt whisky on a tour of the UK, Craig Johnson decided to leave the rat-race, buy an old bank building and build a brewery and distillery. As well as making a cracking gin, Craig also makes beer and a whisky is in the pipe-line.

William-McHenry-McHenry-Gin
William McHenry, McHenry Gin

 

William set out to make whisky (his first release with be available soon) but he is becoming very well-known for his range of gins, with his McHenry & Sons Classic Dry Gin recently winning Gold in the US 2014 Sip Awards.

Mark Watkins, Botanic Australis
Mark Watkins, Botanic Australis

Founder of Mt Uncle Distillery in Walkamin Far North Queensland, Mark has won multiple awards including Double Gold in the San Francisco ISC & Gold in the Hong Kong IW&SC for his Botanic Australis gin.

The event

Each distiller will be sharing his journey from the initial idea, choosing to use native botanicals and the creation of the final spirit, providing you with a unique insight into the world of craft distilling. You will taste each gin neat, then in a cocktail served with a matching dish by The Corner House, Bondi. There will be plenty of opportunities to chat to the distillers and ask questions.

The venue

Our venue for the event is The Corner House. Once a stop for the Bondi Tram, this iconic building is now ‘home’ of the quintessential Bondi dining experience.

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The Details

When: Thursday 5th November 7.00pm

Where: The Corner House, 281 Bondi Road, Bondi.

Tickets: $155 each (non-refundable) and includes drink and canapé on arrival, gin flight and 4 gin cocktails with matching dishes)

THIS EVENT HAS PASSED

 

Proudly sponsored by capi

australian-gin-degustation

Meet the Makers Australian Gin Degustation

There is nothing I like more than sharing my passion for gin and its makers with like-minded people!

This “Meet the Makers Australian Gin Degustation” has been an idea for a while and I’ll so excited that it’s come together. I am also thrilled to announce that CAPI are sponsoring the event. CAPI produces clean, natural refreshments including one of my favourite tonic waters!

The Distillers

Ian-Glen-Stone-Pine-Gin
Ian Glen Stone Pine Gin

Ian Glen has devoted his entire career to malting, brewing and distilling in Australia and abroad. His Stone Pine Gin has won Silver in the IWSC Dry Gin category.

Cameron-MacKenzie-Four- Pillars-Gin
Cameron MacKenzie Four Pillars Gin

Before throwing his lot into the production of craft spirits, Cam was a fifteen year veteran of the wine trade having made, sold, marketed and judged many of Victoria’s best known wine brands. His award-winning Four Pillars Gin has gained an incredible reputation at home and overseas.

Andrew-Marks-Melbourne-Gin-Company
Andrew Marks Melbourne Gin Company

Andrew followed his parents in a career in the wine industry and produces well-regarded wines under The Wanderer label. His love for martinis lead him to create Melbourne Dry Gin and he dreams of one day owning a gin botanical garden.

William-McHenry-McHenry-Gin
William McHenry McHenry Gin

William set out to make whisky (his first release with be available soon) but he is becoming very well-known for his range of gins, with his McHenry & Sons Classic Dry Gin recently winning Gold in the US 2014 Sip Awards.

Mark-Watkins-Botanic-Australis
Mark Watkins Botanic Australis

Founder of Mt Uncle Distillery in Walkamin Far North Queensland, Mark has won multiple awards including Double Gold in the San Francisco ISC & Gold in the Hong Kong IW&SC for his Botanic Australis gin.

The event

Each distiller will be sharing his journey from the initial idea, choosing to use native botanicals and the creation of the final spirit, providing you with a unique insight into the world of craft distilling. You will taste each gin neat, then in a cocktail served with a matching dish by celebrated restaurant Cumulus Inc. There will be plenty of opportunities to chat to the distillers and ask questions.

The venue

Our venue for the event is Arc One gallery. This contemporary and functioning gallery is absolutely gorgeous!

Arc One - One Long Table 7

The Details

When: Wednesday 7th October 7-9.30pm

Where: The Arc One Gallery, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Tickets: $145 each (non-refundable) and includes drink and canapé on arrival, gin flight and 4 gin cocktails with matching dishes)

Proudly sponsored by capi

Tim-Stones-Beefeater-Gin

Meet Tim Stones, Global Brand Ambassador, Beefeater Gin

During my visit to Beefeater Gin Distillery I got to meet Tim Stones, Global Brand Ambassador. Aside from scaring me to death by jumping out on me during my tour, he was a great guide to all things Beefeater and I’m thrilled he agreed to be interviewed, even though I am massively jealous of his “office”.

How long have you been a Brand Ambassador?

6 awesome years.

How did you become a BA?

After doing some freelance work for Beefeater I was asked to look after BA duties in Europe while the original BA Dan Warner went to launch Beefeater 24 in the US for 6 months. When he came back they decided to keep me on.

What is the best thing about your job?

The travel, getting to experience cocktail cultures around the world, and all the wonderful people I get to meet. The drinks industry is a wonderfully close-knit community.

Describe a typical week?

There’s no such thing! The nature of the job means there’s always something different going on. I divide my time between the distillery in Kennington, the office in Hammersmith and the rest of the world and it can change quite quickly. It’s rare to have a month planned out far in advance. The main consistencies though are travel, hosting and expenses.

Who/what inspires you?

I’m lucky enough to work with (in my opinion) the best gin distiller in the world, Desmond Payne. His knowledge and dedication to making a great gin is quite amazing. He’s also hilarious.

Your favourite gin cocktail and why?

The martini. It’s such a simple, elegant drink that really shows off the gin.

Which are your favourite bars (anywhere in the world)?

In no particular order: The Gin Joint, Athens, Happiness Forgets, London, Casita, London,  Delicatessen, Moscow, Mother’s Ruin, New York and Collage, Barcelona

What’s next? Any future plans?

I’m currently training to be a distiller, so when I finally decide to hang up the suitcase I’ve got something gin-related to keep me busy.

Tim's "office"
Tim’s “office”

Blackthorn Cocktail

Reading about cocktails is a wonderful by-product of my gin passion. These days many high-profile bars produce their own cocktail books, often by turning their menus into something unique and collectable. Dead Rabbit in New York is one example, as is Death and Co. . Closer to home Eau De Vie has a beautiful book.

Buying cocktail books from bars that I might never get a chance to visit, might seem a little sad, but it’s  a great way to learn about cocktails. Please Don’t Tell in New York is on my bucket list of bars to visit, but with no trip to New York in sight, I’ve been content to browse their beautiful cocktail book.

So, imagine my excitement when it was announced this week that Jim Meehan and Jeff Bell are coming to Melbourne in August to take over Black Pearl!

In celebration of this event,  I decided to make a Blackthorn cocktail from their book. This drink is taken from the Sideboard Manual (1900) and is essentially a Sloe Negroni without Campari, and provides a delicate alternative to serve to those Campari-haters.

blackthorn-cocktail

Ingredients for a Blackthorn Cocktail

45ml Plymouth Gin

20ml Sloe Gin (I swapped out the Plymouth Sloe Gin for McHenry’s)

20ml Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth

2 dashes orange bitters

Method

Stir with ice and then strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with an orange twist.

Enjoy!

gary-mehigan-bombay-sapphire-project-botanicals

Gary Mehigan and Bombay Sapphire Project Botanicals

You’ll know how much I enjoyed Bombay Sapphire’s Project Botanicals last year, so I was excited to learn that it would be returning to Melbourne from 24th June for three weeks. The menu has been tweaked and there are some exciting new cocktails created for the event from some of Melbourne’s best bars, 1806, Union Electric, Eau de Vie, Black Pearl and Gin Palace.

Gary Mehigan, Masterchef judge and the man behind the delicious dishes paired with the Bombay Sapphire cocktails, spent some time with me last week to chat about the event.

How did you become involved with Project Botanicals?

Bombay Sapphire approached me I think because they knew I was an English chef, and because we have a great venue. I think it was as simple as that.Our venue is urban and cool in quite an unknown part of the city and people from Melbourne love a secret.

And also I’m from Hampshire, which is where Laverstoke Mill, Bombay Sapphire’s distillery is located, so I think that helped!

We’re used to beer and wine being paired with food, but how different is it working with a spirit and in this case a finished cocktail?

First time around we were given flavour profiles and when you tackle a menu from a flavour profile perspective you look at the botanicals. I can look at lemon or cubeb berries and think “oh I can lock into that and fuse them into a dish”. The problem is, if the cocktail is designed around that flavour as well its overkill.

This time we asked for the finished cocktails. Andy (Wren) had used some “out there mixers”, so I had to research them and work out whether they were heavy or sweet and then I came up with around 3 dishes for each cocktail. Then we got together with the Bombay Sapphire team to do a tasting. To be honest once I tasted the finished cocktail it was obvious which dish worked.

I actually find working with cocktails easier than wine and beer. Something like an IPA can take over a dish, while a delicate wine can be very hard to work with.

What was the most challenging cocktail to match with food?

The Cassia Indian Milk Punch was a bit of a googly! Creamy cocktails aren’t to my taste so from that perspective it was hard. I thought a curry dish might work, but the cocktail is so creamy and so intense it needed something opposite. We settled on the poached chicken in lime and it cuts through the creaminess of the cocktail perfectly.

cassia-indian-milk-punch
Cassia Indian Milk Punch paired with Cassia Indian Milk Punch with Coconut Poached Chicken Laab.

The other was the Almond Blossom Martini, a beautiful bold drink with lots of elements. This was originally matched with a jamòn croquette, coated with panko crumbs and served with a fresh slaw but when we tasted it with the cocktail, it just didn’t work, but the jamòn flavour was perfect. So we pulled it right back and made a simpler dish, making the jamòn the hero and serving it with bruschetta slow-roasted onion and charred vegetables.

Almond Blossom Martini paired with Jamòn Serrano
Almond Blossom Martini paired with Jamòn Serrano

What was the easiest combination?

The G&T. The spanner crab works so well. We’ve gone for a crunchy long toast and chunky avocado. The cumin and the coriander in the dukkha ties it all in together.

Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic Paired with Blue Swimmer Crab Toasts
Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic Paired with Blue Swimmer Crab Toasts

What’s your favourite dish and cocktail?

I love all of them but perhaps the Warm Hazelnut & Brown Butter Friande with the warm punch, it’s so wintery. When Project Botanicals said they wanted to run the event in July I was mindful of the chilly weather in Melbourne at this time and knew we needed to adjust the menu accordingly. This dessert is perfect for a cold night.

Why do you think Project Botanicals has been so successful?

Pop-ups are really popular in general but the Bombay Sapphire team was very clever coming up with this style of event. It’s very on-trend, and people love something new and unexpected. Last year we did 5,500 covers over 10 days, averaging 450-500 per night in 3 sittings. It was an amazing achievement of both the kitchen and bar teams to pull that off.

I think rolling it out to other capitals is a brilliant idea. In fact who needs capitals they should roll it out regionally!

If someone wanted to try pairing cocktails with food at home, what are the key things remember?

The key thing is to pick one flavour to latch on to. It’s not rocket science. If you’re making a G&T and your garnishing it with lemon, you start by thinking about foods that go well with lemon – it really as simple as that.

You could put lime or thyme in your G&T and then you connect it to something you are cooking. For example, you could roast your chicken with lemon wedges, thyme and pepper.

If you have a drink with an orange you need something to bind it with the dish. It could be adding orange zest to a salad, or cooking baby carrots in orange juice and reducing it down until it gets syrupy and then throwing in a few coriander seeds as a little surprise.

You also need to think about the weight of the meal. A G&T is not going to work with a massive red wine braise because it’s so heavy.

The only rule is if you drink the drink, then eat the food and then drink the drink again, the drink should taste the same as it tasted before you ate the food.

Being from the England, I’m assuming you like gin?

Yes, I love gin! Luckily Bombay Sapphire is my brand of choice, however I do like Hendrick’s and when Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin came out I tried that.

What is your preferred way to drink it?

I love a G&T. A long iced G&T is a perfect anytime drink.

However, I also really enjoy a Negroni as an after-dark by the fireplace sort of drink. I like the ceremony of coming home and preparing one. Instead of popping a cork or flipping the cap off a bottle of beer, there is a slow, relaxing process to making a Negroni, the mixing, the stirring down, the peeling of the orange. I really love that.

Bombay Sapphire Project Botanicals runs from 24th June-11th July 2015. Tickets are available here.

I am delighted to announce that thanks to Bombay Sapphire and Gary, I have an AMAZING gift set to give to one lucky reader.

The prize includes:

Two Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic Balloon Glasses, two Bombay Sapphire Miniatures, 2 Fever tree Tonic waters, A DOUBLE pass to Bombay Sapphire Project Botanicals on 25th or 26th June AND a Bombay Sapphire Project Botanicals 2015 Menu signed by Gary Mehigan.

bombay-sapphire-project-botanicals-gift-set

All you have to do is answer the question below. All correct answers will go into a random draw. Terms and Conditions apply.

Question: What is Gary’s preferred way to drink Bombay Sapphire?

Simply leave your answer in the comments section below.

Good Luck!

(Terms and conditions: This is a random prize draw open to Australian readers only. Closing date: 7th June. Winner will be notified by email by 10th June. Event pass is non transferable and only available for 25th or 26th June)
gin-rickey-cocktail

The Gin Rickey

At times, summer feels just around the corner (Melbourne can con you like that) and I’m looking forward to having my thirst quenched by those long, refreshing cocktails that hit the spot just-so. The Gin Rickey is one of my favourites.

It’s an oldie, but a goody, first appearing in the 1890’s, but made with Bourbon. The Gin Rickey arrived a decade later and was fantastically popular at the time. (Gin Rickeys even get a mention in the 1925 classic The Great Gatsby.) You’ll see other varieties of “Rickey” on most cocktail menus made with different base spirits.

Like all good cocktails it has only a few (readily available) ingredients too. It’s just lime juice, gin and soda water. It lacks the sugar over-kill you get with the some G&T’s (although the new wave of tonic waters are made with much less sugar) and is simple to make.

Ingredients for The Gin Rickey

50ml Melbourne Gin Company Dry Gin

limes

Soda water

Ice (I used my Collins ice mould from Cocktail Kingdom)

Method

Take a high ball glass and add ice.

Pour lime juice and gin into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously until chilled.

Strain contents into the high ball glass.

Top up with soda water and add a wedge or two of lime. Enjoy!

gin-rickey-cocktail

Tonic Syrups

I do love a good G&T and have become hellbent on finding the right tonic because, in my opinion, one size does not fit all.

The idea that you can match tonics to syrup and change the strength to suit your taste intrigued me. Many premium gins, often with stacks of botanicals, can lose their flavours when put against the artificial flavourings of some pre made tonic waters.

JD from onlybitters.com who I met at Top Shelf Boutique Drinks Festival, kindly offered to do a personal tasting session for me at his extensive home bar! How could I refuse?

tonicsyrups1

As he lined the tonic syrups along the bar, JD explained the “3 : 2: 1 rule” (not set in stone, it’s really up to you how you like your gin and tonic), 3 parts soda, 2 parts syrup and 1 part gin. Some syrups suggest different ratios, but I trust JD on this one.

I tasted (16!) tonic syrups: first neat, then with soda added and lastly with a tiny splash of gin. They ranged from the bland to the off-the-scale bitter (faces were pulled) to some that were as far removed from “tonic water” as you could imagine – think sweet sodas.

We started with Jack Rudy. This was the syrup most like a pre made tonic water. It has a pleasant, strong quinine flavour,  I felt on familiar territory. JD said he started with this one for that precise reason.

But as we moved along the bottles, I kept thinking how different they were to what I was used to: Ear wax-Bitter, spicy, frothy, dark!  I became concerned that I wouldn’t get to the end of the line, but then I began to get a sense of what I was looking for in a tonic syrup. The faces I pulled at some of the bitterest syrups in the beginning became less frequent. I even purchased a bottle of what JD describes a “bitter bastard!”(I’ll tell you which one at the end).

It was a great experience and challenged what my idea of a good gin and tonic should taste and look like.

Stand outs for me were:

Small Hand Foods Tonic Syrup  (created by renowned San Francisco bartender, Jennifer Colliau )

Volstead Act Tonic Syrup A fruity/spicy syrup that gets its name from the prohibition act.

C&B’s Old Fashioned – good traditional quinine taste from California.

Liber & Co, very bitter orangey flavour which could work well against Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin.

Bradley’s Kina Tonic: Bittersweet with a soft finish (from Seattle)

phenomenal Tonic Syrup, made by some German guys from the advertising industry, this tonic syrup was SO bitter I flinched but once I tasted it with gin and soda I wanted to take home!

JD also brought out a couple of ‘specials’. First a Hendrick’s limited edition tonic syrup made for  as a promotion for some bartenders – how nice is the bottle? I really liked this one and thought it would be a perfect match for Hendrick’s gin. I am staggered they aren’t producing this for a wider market.

hendrickstonic

The other ‘special’ was a Bittermens Spirits (more well-known for their bitters, obviously) which was 21%ABV. It was very strong in flavour and strength. Too much for me, but I’d love to try it as possible replacement for Campari in a negroni.

Some tonic syrups were frankly, disgusting. Too sickly and sweet or too floral. One of the worst (I’m my opinion) was full of cloves and cinnamon, but JD has customers who love it.

Would I use tonic syrup over pre made? I’m not sure, but I love the option of creating a very personal G&T with a tonic syrup.

(Note: JD and his wife Sophia kindly welcomed me to their home bar for the tasting. I wasn’t paid for this review and paid for my bottle of PH tonic syrup.)