A gin, specially blended to be dry with an image driven to literally tip the hat to the gin craze of England. Broker’s does just that, the brain child of Martin and Andy Dawson. Broker’s has also won more top awards in international competitions over the last ten years than any other gin. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, lets scale back and see how it comes to such a high regard.
Launched in 1998, Martin and Andy Dawson utilised the services of Langley Distillery, Birmingham and their copper pot still ‘Constance’, itself manufactured by John Dore & Co, long recognised as the finest still-maker in the world. They set the task of re-creating a recipe (chosen after taste testing against several new recipes) that is said to be over 200 years old. Pure grain spirit made from English wheat is distilled four times before the addition of ten botanicals.
Juniper berries from Macedonia, coriander seed from Bulgaria, orris root and liquorice from Italy, nutmeg from India, cassia bark from Indonesia, cinnamon from the Seychelles, orange peel and lemon peel from Spain and angelica root from Poland make up the 24 hour steeping, before being distilled for a fifth and final time.
So, how does this traditional London Dry fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Broker’s – 40%
Clean on the nose with a light, fragrant citrus aroma followed by hints of spice. Smooth juniper flavours blended with strong orange are evident on the palate. Very dry finish as the spice lingers.
Hits the spot for its traditionalism, but what if it were mixed into a classic cocktail?
60 ml Broker’s Gin
15 ml lemon juice
15 ml Maraschino Liqueur
1 tsp Crème de Violette
Shake with ice and strain into chilled Martini glass. No garnish.
A great addition, as well as a brand to add to your own drinks cabinet. Even the little bowler hat that adorns every Broker’s bottle can win you over (a theme for the brand that would be recognised for its Englishness – such a gentleman that adorns the label would typically have been a stockbroker in the City of London, hence the name). Both Andy and Martin are active in their promotion, attending many events in their signature bowler hats and as mentioned, winning many awards with their efforts. In 2013, Broker’s was Kosher approved by the Kashrut Division-London Beth Din (KLDB), making it accessible to an even wider audience. What more could you ask for from a gin?!
This week I had the chance to experience Hard Rock Cafe in Manchester. Not a new venture for me as you can see here, but a welcoming return as this is one of my ‘Manchester Gems’. Invited to try Hard Rock’s Legendary Burgers and sample the cocktails on offer, myself and my girlfriend (who we shall name Miss C) settled for a busy Wednesday evening, and browsed the drinks menu whilst waiting for our table.
Their ‘Classics and Favourites’ covers all the basics, Alabama Slammer, Piña Colada , Cosmopolitan and Daiquiri as well as some quirky little numbers like Rum Runner (Bacardi, banana and blackberry liqueurs, grenadine, orange juice and sweet and sour topped with Myers rum), Tropical Rock (Stolichnaya Raspberry, crème de banana, piña colada mix, pineapple juice and Midori) and Mosh Pit (Bombay Sapphire, Absolut Citron, fresh basil, lime and strawberries). All reasonably priced too, with over twenty to choose from between £5-7. I myself started my night with a Southern Rock (£6.75) – a mix of Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort, Chambord and Smirnoff mixed with sweet and sour mix and topped with lemon and lime soda. Refreshing is all I can say. Not badly balanced either despite some heavy spirits in there. Miss C went for a fresh fruit Mojito (£6.25) with a Bacardi Superior base. Mixed Berry was her choice out of the original and raspberry, muddled with of course mint, sugar and lime. It looked stunning, a dark, rich red colour made it a very inviting drink, although a little awkward to drink with the fresh fruit not the best to suck through a straw.
With our table ready, we headed up to the main restaurant level and glanced over the Legendary Burgers menu (most priced £13.95). With classic 6 oz. burgers, to a mega 10 oz. and the cheese layered The Big Cheese Burger, there are plenty to choose from. We opted for a bit of a range, so heading our way were the Local Legendary (Lamb burger combines minced lamb patty topped with caramelized onions, and a crispy Potato Rosti with a side pot of gravy), Hickory BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger (Basted with special Hickory BBQ sauce and smothered with caramelized onions. Topped with crisp seasoned bacon and melted Cheddar cheese), Red, White & Blue Burger (Laced and grilled with spicy Buffalo sauce and Cajun Seasoning, then topped with crumbled blue cheese and a crisp fried onion ring) and California Burger (A toasted bun brushed with Ranch dressing, fresh cucumber slices, lettuce, tomato, and fresh made Hard Rock guacamole and topped with Monterey Jack cheese.). What a feast!
All four burgers came medium-well and still hot, fresh from the grill. All came with fries and dip, with courteous check-back from the attentive waitress. Now to sum up the four, I can say with satisfying greed that they all nearly went. The Hickory BBQ Bacon Burger went down a storm with the caramelized onions blending well with the bacon and melted cheese, as did the Local Legendary which is basically a Lancashire Hotpot burger. Dripping with gravy, its a bold yet brave move, and worked like a charm. These two put the other two in the shadows a bit, although each had there own merit. The California Burger came with a good helping of guacamole and Monterey Jack cheese whilst the Red, White and Blue Burger offered more a layer of flavour, with the hot Buffalo sauce dominating once it comes along.
Listening to a good mix of rock from Fleetwood Mac to Van Halen whilst relaxing and eating gave off the perfect atmosphere, one you kind of expect in a Hard Rock Cafe I suppose. It doesn’t disappoint in what your expectations are for this worldwide chain.
Back to the cocktails and I noticed a section named ‘Classic Rocktails’. Genuinely surprised to see names such as Sazerac, Corpse Reviver, Hemingway Daiquiri and Aviation on the four strong list. A sucker for classics, I just had to order a Sazerac (£6.75), and hand on heart, one of the best I’ve had. Using Jim Beam, Benedictine and brandy alongside blackberry liqueur, bitters and sugar it balanced perfectly. Yes, OK there’s no traditional absinthe there and they’ve used a dash of blackberry liqueur, but for a cocktail that could have easily gone ‘the wrong way’, Hard Rock have created a very good variation. With this, Miss C opted for a Hemingway Daiquiri (£6.75) – Bacardi Oakheart, cherry liqueur, sugar, lime and sweet and sour. Again not a bad variation to the original and it showed off a fantastic colour.
The dessert menu just had to be looked at, and rather glad we did. I do love a menu where you think ‘I could have that, that , that and that’, which is exactly what me and Miss C did. After much analysis, we decided to go for the Hot Fudge Brownie (£6.45) and Strawberry Cheesecake (£4.25). A good sized fudge brownie arrived, nicely warmed, with vanilla ice cream layered on top of the brownie itself. Above that, fresh whipped cream covered in chopped walnuts, chocolate sprinkles and a cherry. Delicious. Well and truly. The cheesecake again was rather put in the shadows, however the presentation surprised me in that it came in a large shot glass. Light texture and not over dominating strawberry made it a good alternative to a heavy dessert, but if you put it next to the brownie, there’s only one winner.
To finish the night, Miss C went for a Blue Devil (£6.75) – Captain Morgan Spiced, blue curacao, fresh margarita mix and raspberry syrup. You could see this coming towards you, it wasn’t hard to work out a name for this one. My last tipple was to be the Aviation (£7.25). A tweak from the original using Hendrick’s, Monin Elderflower syrup, cherry liqueur and sweet and sour mix. It went down way too quickly.
If you ever get the chance to experience Hard Rock I’d give it a thumbs up. Even if your not a fan of rock music itself, it’s still a great place to eat, lots to choose from with both food and drink, the waiters look after you and you really are more inclined to have three courses because these guys do not believe in small portions.
Check out the rest of the photos from my visit via my Facebook page.
After noticing Blue Gin being promoted in Harrod’s during my last trip to London, I’ve finally been able to add this Austrian spirit to the Drinks Enthusiast gin category.
So how does Blue Gin differ from other brands?
Using the wheat variety ‘Mulan’, grown from fields in upper Austria, it is distilled twice in a copper pot still in small batches (300 litres) and then supplemented with corn alcohol. 27 botanicals are then added to the blend for maceration which lasts for 2 to 3 days. A third distillation takes place soon after to separate the solid components of the botanicals from the alcohol. The third distillation also concentrates the volatile aromas and the grain alcohol to produce the high-proof preliminary stage of Blue Gin.
The 27 botanicals represent a unique gin flavour of fresh, elegant juniper aroma with fragrant lemon and spice notes. Only the freshest juniper berries from the latest harvest are used, and the spices of lemon rind, angelica root, cilantro seeds, turmeric and liquorice amongst others are sourced from more than ten countries including Egypt, China, Spain, Indonesia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Romania, Turkey, the USA and Vietnam. The spring water used in Blue Gin comes from an alpine pasture in the Mühlviertel district in the northern province of Upper Austria. The water has very low calcium and sodium content which makes in particularly mild and soft, and enhances the complex flavours of the gin. Uniquely, the spring water and spirit are mixed very gradually over a period of two months, making sure that the balance and unique structure of the gin form slowly and carefully to 43% abv.
So this small batch, hand crafted premium London gin has a certain uniqueness to it, but how does it taste?
Blue Gin– 43%
Light with citrus aromas swimming well on the nose although a little dry near the end. A smooth texture on the palate with lots of floral flavours mixing well. Slow hits of liquorice creates a rather long aftertaste. Gives a good surprising kick on the whole.
Blue Gin describes itself as ‘the art of luxury gin cocktails’, so below i give to you some classics, and not so classics, to try at home or to ask your bartender.
50ml Blue Gin
20ml fresh lemon juice
Shake and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with Maraschino cherry
25ml Blue Gin
25ml Carpano Antica Formula
Stir in glass with cubed ice. Garnish with slice of orange and lemon
40ml Blue Gin
1/4 fresh lime
1/2 bar spoon white sugar
3 slices of fresh ginger
Top with Champagne
Build in glass with crushed ice. Garnish with fresh ginger
If you fancy getting your hands on a bottle, you can purchase one here. And check out the rest of the photos from my photo shoot at The Circle 360 via my Facebook page.