So, one of the perks of being a teacher is the holidays. Slightly annoying because it means I’ll never be able to have a holiday on my birthday and when I do want to go away it costs us an arm and a leg! However, it does open up the opportunity for Gin Days! Myself and a couple of teacher friends, who to are fellow ginthusiasts, try to get together for a bit of a Gin Day. This half term was no different…except for the fact that the sun was shining!!
I would like it noted at this point that these days do only happen once a holiday and I don’t regularly start my days drinking gin at 10:30am…
The day got off to a slightly rocky start, as Monkey the Cat brought me a lizard in from the garden at the same time as I was trying to get dressed and teacher buddy #1 arrived. Definitely time to crack open the gin!
We always start Gin Day with poached egg and avocado on toast, it’s a great little tummy liner. This time we decided to kick our drinks off with a Red Snapper, gin’s answer to the Bloody Mary. As it was our first gin of the day we went for a single 25ml gin (we used Tanqueray No. Ten, a great cocktail gin) 120ml tomato juice, 15ml lemon juice, a few drops of Tabasco hot sauce, 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce (we used the Granovita stuff because I’m one of those Veggie types) and a healthy grind of black pepper. Pop the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into your glass. Enjoy.
Controversial I know, but I much prefer a Red Snapper to a Bloody Mary, I find that the botanicals in gin work well with the lemon and tomato juice, complimenting it in a way which neutral tasting vodka can’t.
Bellies filled, Red Snappers consumed, what next? As it was still only about 11:30 we didn’t really want to go in too strong. Maybe a gin, mimosa type drink, but it was warming up and we both fancied something thirst quenching. We settled on our usual starter for 10…Gin and Bitter Lemon. As it was early, we felt another single was the way forward. We felt the best gin choice from my collection was Tarquin’s Dry, which uses botanicals such as juniper, lemon-sherberty coriander seeds, angelica root, orris root, green cardamom seeds, bitter almond, cinnamon, liquorice root zests of sweet orange, lemon and grapefruit and Devon violets. It’s such a great twist on the traditional Gin and Tonic, with the bitter lemon really bringing out the citrus notes in the Tarquin’s. It really was a great choice of gin for this cocktail, the only problem was it was so delicious to drink that it disappeared far too quickly!
At this point teacher friend #2 arrived. (It would seem that all teachers apparently love gin…or maybe it’s just the ones I hang around with!) She not only brought her gorgeous little munchkin with her, but also this amazing floral headdress which she’s made! We decided we fancied something as summery as the weather and the headdress so went for Sipsmith Summer Cup. It is based on Sipsmith Gin, but with added summery ingredients such as Lemon Verbena, cucumber and Earl Grey tea. The bottle states “Crying out for lemonade and fruit” so we answered it’s calls and made a jug, bottled at 29% abv I would highly recommend it as an amazing alternative to Pimm’s.
Right, quick photo opportunity with the little munchkin who will definitely be a gin drinker in 18 years time, and on to the next cocktail.
Our cocktails seemed to be following a natural summer theme and what says summer more than strawberries! I remembered seeing a strawberry cocktail recipe on the Craft Gin Club website so had a quick look, Strawberry Gin Smash, yes please. In February I was lucky enough to get my hands on a bottle of Dunnet Bay Distillers Rock Rose Artists’ Edition Gin. This is a limited edition gin, which was created as part of a “Design a Rock Rose Gin Label” competition. It combines juniper with Scottish wildflowers and citrus, but is sadly no longer available to buy. I’m not going to lie, I threw caution to the wind a little with this gin choice, (the bottle has a red top and lots of summer flowers on it which made me think of strawberries) but my gamble paid off. You will need, 1/2 tsp caster sugar, 1 lime, cut into wedges, 2 fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced, 50ml gin and soda water. In a glass, combine sugar and the juice of 1 lime wedge. Muddle until sugar dissolves. Add sliced strawberries and muddle again. Pour gin into the mixture, add a splash of soda water and serve garnished with a strawberry. This soda water version would make a great cocktail jug, however when I make this again, I think I’ll top it up with prosecco rather than soda water, the Artist’s Edition Gin would certainly be able to hold it’s own.
Bidding teacher friend #2 farewell, we moved on to cocktail number five, and it was definitely feeling like prosecco o’clock. A quick and easy lunchtime cocktail to have with a little pasta salad. Combining 25ml Tanquery No. 10, with 50ml Bottle Green sparkling pomegranate an elderflower fizz, topped up with prosecco, we created a fruity and refreshing lunchtime tipple. This cocktail would also make a great cocktail jug, perhaps adding some fresh pomegranate seeds, slices of pear and pear juice.
After our ginsecco fizzy refreshment it was time for a straight up G&T. Teacher buddy #1 and I have tried many gins together, sadly at last gin club we didn’t have quite enough time for Edinburgh Seaside Gin…good job there’s always plenty of time on Gin Day!
Edinburgh Seaside Gin was originally created as a limited edition, but due to popular demand it landed a firm spot along side the traditional Edinburgh Gin and the Cannonball Navy Strength. Seaside Gin boasts “the unique flavour of summer at the beach” and is distilled with unusual beach foraged botanicals such as, seaweed, scurvy grass and ground ivy and comes in at 43% abv. I teamed it up with a small can of Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic and was immediately transported to the beach. A recommended garnish for this drink is samphire, another seaside addition which I will most definitely be using next time.
We were now firmly on a roll and with the arrival of teacher pal #3, it was time for another cocktail. Last month’s Craft Gin Club offering was Occitan, an Italian gin from the Bordiga distillery in Elva. Occitan Gin has taken it’s name from the language which is still spoken widely in the town. Elva is tucked in a valley between the Italian alps, and the surrounding mountains provide three of the six botanicals used in Occitan Gin, these being juniper, angelica and coriander. Cardamom, lemon and orange peel are also used along side these, creating a “classic and balanced, refined and unusual” gin. We decided to have a go using the Occitan to create a Florodora, using 30ml Occitan Gin, 20ml lime juice, a handful of fresh raspberries, 15ml sugar syrup and enough ginger ale to top up the glass. Pop the raspberries and sugar syrup in a shaker and muddle. Next add the lime juice and gin, along with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a glass with ice and top up with ginger ale. I’m not the biggest fan of ginger ale, and although I tried the cocktail with it, I much preferred my version which swapped out the ginger ale for prosecco! The citrus tones of the gin work beautifully with sharpness of the lime, which is, in turn, balanced perfectly by the sweetness of the raspberries. Definitely a cocktail to have again!
I was given a bottle of Opihr as a thank you gift at the end of term, I last drank this warming spiced gin around Christmas time but was keen to find a summer slant to put on it. Crafted with a selection of exotic botanicals such as juniper, cubeb berries, black pepper, coriander, cardamom, orange, grapefruit zest and ginger, I needed a mixer which would suit this robust gin. Fever Tree’s new Aromatic Tonic boasts a blend of angostura bark, cardamom, pimento berry and ginger, which seemed like the perfect match and my goodness it was! I’m not sure any description of the flavours would do it justice, so I suggest you just try it yourselves.
Finally our evening was drawing to a close, we bid farewell to teacher pal #3 and I went straight to the freezer for our final treat. At the start of the day teacher friend #1 and I filled a tupperware tub full of bitter lemon, our intention? To create a form of bitter lemon sorbet to be teamed with possibly my favourite gin ever, Daffy’s.
Daffy’s was launched in Edinburgh, on 1st December 2014…my birthday is on the 2nd so we truly are kindred spirits! The bottle features a beautiful blonde, reminiscent of Debbie Harry, whose story of origin is wonderful. After working on the recipe, Daffy’s distiller Chris Molyneaux reached out to Robert McGinnis, an artist whose work he had studied at university, in the hope that he would become involved. After making sketches and paintings of Chris’ wife, Robert McGinnis immortalised her as the iconic Goddess of Gin.
Designed to be enjoyed straight over ice, Daffy’s combines Lebanese mint, juniper, coriander, angelica root, lemon peel, cassia bark, orris root and orange peel to create a fresh and perfectly balanced gin. I am lucky enough to have a bottle of their Limited Edition Manor Racing Gin, which is similar to the regular Daffy’s, but with the addition of fresh lime from Southern Spain. Still featuring the iconic Goddess of Gin, the 1,000 batch Manor Racing edition was launched at the Monaco Grand Prix 2016. I kept this one simple, a 50ml measure of Manor Racing gin, topped up with bitter lemon slushie…
Thank you Daffy’s for the perfect end to a perfect Gin Day!
Oh, and if you were wondering about the lizard, it was released back into the garden, completely unharmed!