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Review: Hendrick’s Gin

It Is Not For Everyone.

Preferred By 1 Out Of 100 Gin Drinkers.

Loved By a Tiny Handful of People all Over The World.

Are the makers of Hendrick’s Gin attempting to market themselves the Anglophile-snob market, or simply to find some way to emphasize how their gin (and their campaign) is different from the usual crowd?  Frankly, it’s anyone’s guess.  But let the record show that the Bartender is a sucker for the elitist appeal, and would therefore likely have been interested in the stuff even if her favorite barkeep hadn’t recommended it to her.

And in all fairness, the product is something new and different.  Still gin, yes, but significantly less juniper-y than usual, with some surprising notes in the nose.  The makers claim to infuse it with cucumber and rose petal essences, and while the Bartender’s faith in her own nose isn’t quite strong enough to override her knowledge of the powers of suggestion, she won’t argue with the assertion.  There’s also very little harshness, other than what you might expect from the alcohol vapors.

It’s on the tongue where the stuff really differentiates itself, though.  The initial impression is very strongly sweet and floral, but a secondary fruitiness – yes, possibly English cucumber – slowly spreads over the tongue.  The traditional “gin” flavor comes out more towards the end, with juniper and perhaps a touch of coriander on the finish.

Much as with Cîroc, if you’re a gin purist, this likely won’t be your cup of tea.  But if you’re tired of Tanqueray and its ilk, or even if you just want something that “tastes a lot less like licking a pine tree” (to use the Rebel Spouse’s words), this is well worth trying out.  A++ with cherries on top

Note:  Their website, while it strongly plays up the “whimsy” aspect to their marketing, is also worth exploring – in addition to the amusing design, you get some tasty recipes, clever ad copy, and surprisingly good ideas for cucumber garnish.  Might the Bartender recommend, from personal experience, a bone-dry martini garnished with cucumber balls on a pick and a rose petal or two floated on the surface?  

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Recipe: Bohemian Bicycle, by Doug Levy

Vodka Nearly-Three-Weeks is officially over.  The Bartender has enough of the stuff stocked to last her until Judgment Day.  If she has to look at another vodka martini in the next six months she’s probably going to be ill.  So what better way to celebrate than to have a drink based on her favorite underappreciated spirit?

In all fairness, the Bohemian Bicycle (creation of Doug Levy from the marvelous Feast in Tucson, re-creation mine and fairly close to the original) is not your typical martini-with-a-twist.  And while it violates the Bartender’s usual rule of keeping to ingredients that cost $30-or-less a bottle, it’s well worth it:  St. Germain runs about $40, comes in a beautiful art deco bottle, and is a remarkably versatile ingredient that’s excellent for adding a touch of herby-floral sweetness to any concoction.  Not to mention the sheer class derived from including a French liqueur distilled from elderflower in your ingredients.

Two notes before we begin.  First, this is a recipe that definitely depends on the subtleties of specific liquors for its flavor; ergo, substituting a different type of gin is not recommended.  Also, note the range in the lime juice; the strength of the juice can vary significantly depending on the age of the limes involved (older limes have had much of the moisture evaporated out of them and therefore have a more concentrated flavor).  The goal is for the lime flavor to give it an extra zing without being overpowering.  Remember, the key word, as always, is experimentation – that’s the whole fun of it!

Bohemian Bicycle

1 ounce Bombay Sapphire
1 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 to 3/4 ounce lime juice
Club soda
1 leaf fresh basil

Shake first three ingredients together and strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Fill with club soda.  Float shredded basil leaf on top.  Garnish with a lime wheel, or a folded basil leaf and lime wedge on a pick.

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