Christmas Spirit: 12 Festive Gins
Last year, I blogged about Why Recruitment Was Like Gin. A tenuous subject, perhaps, but it became the most viewed blog on my site in 2015…aided I am sure by the tasting notes for over 50 of my favourite Gins.
The parallels are still there. Both the Recruitment market and the Gin market have seen unprecedented growth, with the niche players, offering a more tailored and unusual approach, seeing even greater growth than the market in general.
Both specialist markets have seen the benefit of offering Unique Selling Points, breaking with the mode of the generic market dominators to offer a unique proposition with heightened customer engagement and satisfaction. Both have seen their market share increase by 50% against their generic markets.
It therefore seemed apt to once again bring the two subjects together and bring you 12 Festive Gin recipes. I won’t even try to bring a business parallel of doing so….just enjoy the festive gin(s). Merry Christmas.
You struggle to beat a good Sloe Gin this time of year. A quick search will find you dozens. They are all subtly different. Elephant, Monkey 47 and the quirkily titled Gentlemen Badgers to name just a few.
But longer drinks are a worthy labour of love, taking the nuances and flavours of the botanicals found and matching it with festive garnishes to bring about a flavoursome result. (NB for these drinks, use Fever-Tree or 1724 tonic. I use c150ml of tonic per measure of gin.
FEW with Cranberry & Orange
FEW is an Evanston Gin (near Chicago) that I discovered on a trip to Chicago last Christmas. FEW (or F.E.W) cheekily takes its name from the Francis Elizabeth Willard, the long-time home of the 19th Century Temperance Reformer, Female Suffragist and Prohibitionist. It’s citrus, especially orange, botanicals make it an ideal base for festive drinks. This history-fuelled gin deserves a complex drink.
Take 6 cranberries with a short piece of orange zest and muddle in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, a double measure of FEW and a half shot of fresh orange juice. Shake vigorously! Strain into your glass and add 300ml of good quality Tonic Water.
Hunters with Apple, Clove & Cinnamon
Hunters is a perennial favourite. It’s become my HeadHunters Gin (watch this space on that brand appearing for select clients). The 300 year old recipe is beautiful and its Citrus and Apple botanicals make it another great Christmas base.
Simply add a shot of pure apple juice to a double measure of Hunters in a round stemmed glass with 5 chunks of ice, then add a cinnamon stick and 3 or 4 cloves. Turn over for a minute with ice and let infuse for a few minutes more. Add tonic and leave for 5 mins to infuse further.
Four Pillars Gin with Cranberry & Rosemary
Four Pillars is a great and unusual gin from Australia’s Yarra Valley. Its key botanicals are Lemon Myrtle and Tasmanian Pepperberry Leaf giving one of the most unusual flavours in the Gin market.
To complement this I add a similarly unusual mix. Make the Gin & Tonic, then squeeze a dozen or so fresh cranberries into the drink – you’ll only get a drop or two from each cranberry. Then throw in and stir with a spring of Rosemary.
Mombasa Club with Orange Zest, Cinnamon & Star Anise
Mombasa Club is an unusual taste, created by its blend of botanicals, dominated by sweet citrus and anise notes. To this I add Orange Zest, a Cinnamon Stick and Star Anise. Again turn it over then add tonic.
Bathtub Gin with Clementine Zest, Cinnamon and Marmalade
Professor Ampleforth’s Bathtub Gin is housed in a distinctive brown paper covered bottle and gives a nod to Prohibition-era of 1920s America when such gins were made at home…in the bathtub (although us Brits were using the same method in the 18th Centrury). It’s citrus-forward botanicals make for an unusual paring.
Mix a small teaspoon of rindless marmalade into the bottom of a large round glass and add a double measure of Gin. Mix until the marmalade has dissolved, then add ice, clementine zest and a cinnamon stick. Turn over for a minute, then add tonic.
Four Pillars ‘Bloody Shiraz’ Mulled Gin
Only the Australians could come up with a gin made with Shiraz Grapes…and then call it ‘Bloody Shiraz Gin’; but it makes for a great drink.
Make as a normal Gin & Tonic but add Mulled Wine spices (Nutmeg/Cinnamon/Orange/Clove) to mimic mulled wine.
Hunters Gin with Clove-Speared Apple & Cinnamon
Another (Head)Hunters based, apple pour. Take a wedge of sweet apple, and spear it with cloves. Add to your glass, with a Cinnamon Stick and pour over a double measure of Hunters. Turn over, then add tonic. Let infuse for 10 minutes.
Sacred Christmas Pudding Gin with Clementine Zest
The Sacred Distillery make an unusual range of (almost) flavoured Gins. The best, in my opinion, is their Christmas Pudding Gin. A London Dry Gin that is distilled with 48kg of actual Christmas Pudding (the founders Aunt Nellie’s traditional recipe), before being filtered and bottled. So authentic is the process that you actually get Christmas Pudding sediment in the bottle.
The Gin can be drunk neat from the freezer, but I do like it better in a GnT. It is perfect by itself; real tones of Christmas Pudding are very evident. It is even nicer with an inch or two of Clementine Zest though, but no more or the orange flavour can overpower the subtle pudding flavour.
FEW Insurgint with Clove Speared Clementine Wheel
A revisit for FEW gin, I’ve cheated and used the Limited edition BloodShot Records ‘Insurgint’ that isn’t available here in the UK, but regular FEW (or the Whiskey Barrel stored Few Barrel Gin works well), this time the citrus forward botanicals are enhanced with a wheel of clementine speared with cloves.
Spear the clementine with cloves then slice into a wheel, add the gin, turn over for a minute then add the tonic. Allow to infuse for 5 minutes.
Daffy’s Gin with Orange Zest, Cinnamon Stick & Star Anise
Daffy’s is a young entrance to the Specialist Gin market having celebrated the 1st Birthday just last week. Citrus botanicals are complimented by Angelica, Cassia Bark and Orris Root giving a complex and unique taste.
To compliment and intensify to those Botanicals, I added Orange Zest, a Cinnamon Stick & Star Anise.
Portobello Road Gin with Orange Zest & Nutmeg
Portobello Road Gin is a great flavoursome gin with botanicals including bitter orange peel, orris root, angelica root, cassia bark and nutmeg. It’s festive on it’s own, but for an even more festive twist, add Orange Zest and grate some nutmeg into the gin and ice, turn over then add the tonic.
Sloe Gin with Dry Gin
Easy one. As I said above, Sloe Gin is a great festive drink on it’s own – for me, it’s Christmas in a glass.
But for a nice, longer twist, add one measure of Sloe Gin to one measure of London Dry Gin, then add tonic. Sipsmith is an easilyaccessible choice but try Monkey 47 Sloe and Dry Gins or if you can find it, ElephantSloe/Dry Gin as a great and different/more indepth alternative. Try with a twist of orange zest to add to the flavour further
Enjoy! Let me know your thoughts…your favourites…..your suggestions.