Does The Alchemist make the world’s best Martini? Well, no, probably not. The drink I had wasn’t even called a Martini, for a start, but it was – and I don’t say this lightly – abso-bloody-lutely delicious.
Famed for it’s clever cocktail making and fancy techniques (it’s amazing how thrilled one can be by the novelty factor of dry ice in a drink, don’tcha know?), The Alchemist is a gimmicky cocktail bar. Fun and different, sure, but it’s built a reputation on magic and glamour. I decided to shun the fancy stuff and go for something simple when we visiting the London branch of The Alchemist recently.
Something fancy with dry ice and Chambord
The White Martinez is a heady blend of Hayman’s Old Tom (40%), stirred with lemon bitters, Gancia Bianco Vermouth, and garnished with lemon peel. Delicate citrus flavours lifted the sweetness of the gin and created something pretty special. Given half the chance, I’d have guzzled 12. Highly recommended for something a little lighter on the palette than a regular dry gin Martini with a twist.
I’ve been cheating.
I’ve been cheating on my good, old reliable chum, gin, with a dark, classy, mysterious mistress. In short, dear reader, I am addicted to Espresso Martinis.
That would be two parts vodka and two parts espresso to one part Kahlua, in case you’re wondering. Shaken vigorously over ice. Espresso beans optional.
The last time I ordered one, my friend looked in in mock-horror that I hadn’t ordered something gin-based, which made me wonder, would gin in an Espresso Martini work? My heart says ‘HELL no, you mad woman’, but my head says ‘errrm, remember Hotel Chocolat’s Cocoa Gin?’
Watch this space.
A little while ago I took part in Gin Foundry‘s gin-based survey (which, by the way, is the biggest gin-based survey EVER), and the results have just been released!
From the best tonic brand to the nation’s favourite garnish, there’s a lot to digest. My favourite stat is this one – what is the perfect gin to tonic ratio? The eternal question, the long-standing argument, the issue that everyone has an opinion on. While I’m in the minority, I still firmly believe you should be able to taste the gin in your G&T, it seems not everyone agrees…
You can download the full infographic here.
I’ve got Tanqueray on the brain.
Following a (brilliant) London Cocktail Week, where I had Tanqueray Rangpur on Fever-Tree’s G&T Safari, popped into Tanqueray’s 1950s themed pop-up hub, and drank the best gin martini I’ve ever had at The Alchemist (more on that soon), it’s all I can think about.
So I was thrilled to hear that #TanquerayThursdays are back! Visit any of the participating bars on any Thursday evening between now and Christmas, show the barman your #TanquerayThursday tweet, and get two Tanqueray cocktails for the price of one! Superb.
I’m often asked “what’s your favourite gin?” and my answer changes all the time. It changes with the days of the week, the mood I’m in, and how much I’ve had to drink the night before.
But then I tried Hotel Chocolat’s Cocoa Gin (42% ABV). A rich, smooth spirit with zesty lemon and sweet chocolate top notes, it has a rich cocoa aftertaste and clean finish. Made with cocoa from Hotel Chocolat’s St Lucian estate, it’s not too heavy on the juniper and has fresh flavours that work really well with a light tonic (I had Fever-Tree) and wedge of lemon to cut through the rich cocoa.
That was more than a week ago and I’m still thinking about it. Definitely my new favourite gin… for now.
Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Gin is priced at £15 per 250ml or £4 per 50ml
Last Monday I popped along to Juniper Club at the super cool Graphic Bar in Soho. For those who don’t know, Juniper Club (formerly the Juniper Society) is held fortnightly at the specialist gin-meets-art bar, with a different brand showcasing its wares each time.
Last week was the turn of Spanish brand Gin Mare (42.7% ABV). Starting with its signature serve (1724 Tonic (named after the height at which the quinine is picked on the Inca trail – but that’s another story all together), orange peel and rosemary), brand expert Sarah Moorhead took us through the history of Gin Mare, which took over three years to develop. Made with eight botanicals from across the Mediterranean – Spanish juniper, Arbequina olive, three different types of citrus, basil, rosemary, thyme, coriander and cardomom – each of which is individually macerated (rather than being stilled together), it’s a truly unique spirit.
The citrus is heavier on the nose than the palette, which is why the orange peel in the signature serve works so well and helps to lift the almost oily texture. Rosemary is the stand-out flavour for me, although in a Martini, the olive comes into its own.
In a nutshell, this is a quality, smooth and versatile spirit which tastes fab with savoury flavours and really packs a punch. Make mine a double.