In celebration of World Gin Day, the Fever-Tree World Gin Day Pop-Up Bar will be taking up residency on the Southbank from 9th – 11th June for a weekend of fun, festivities and G&Ts. The debut appearance of its all new double-decker container bar, there will be rooftop masterclasses, live music and a sneak peek at Fever-Tree’s new Aromatic Tonic.
Fever-Tree’s portfolio of all-natural tonics will be paired with a wide selection of premium gins, including some of the capital’s favourites such as Tanqueray, Sipsmith and Portobello, as well as special guests from further afield including Dorothy Parker gin from the US and Four Pillars gin from Australia.
In addition to this guests will be able to enjoy a first tasting of Fever-Tree’s Aromatic Tonic before it officially launches in July. Based on a historic 19th Century Naval recipe, it uses angostura bark from South America and has a rosé pink hue, making the Pink G&T the drink of the summer season.
On World Gin Day itself, Saturday 11th June, Fever-Tree is offering a programme of G&T rooftop masterclasses to guests between 12.00 – 16.30. Running for an hour, guests will learn about the history of the G&T serve as well as gaining some exclusive insider knowledge on making the perfect G&T. A tasting of five gins and a complimentary Pink G&T are included in the ticket price, which can be enjoyed against the backdrop of London’s skyline.
Fever-Tree World Gin Day Pop-Up Thursday 9th – Saturday 11th June, 12pm – 9pm Location: Riverside Grass (close to the National Theatre), Southbank, London, SE1 9PP
High volume venues can struggle to produce consistent cocktails, especially in the high-demand areas where one below-par drink can effect several others. It’s with this that developers have sought out opportunities to produce brands that can take the stress away from cocktail creations, especially in venues that are not traditionally cocktail led. By coming up with a base ingredient, or a multitude of them that forms the basis of a classic cocktail, and ‘all you need to do is add your spirit’ and it’s as easy as one, two, three.
Or is it?
Some brands work well for a time-being, and then start to lose their own flavour, their own consistency and ultimately you are back to square one. But one brand that prides itself with knowing how a venue works, no matter what the scale of service you are on, is Finest Call.
In 1995, the American Beverage Marketers (the same company behind the Real range) came out with a new line of premium cocktail mixers, designed with the bartender world in mind. Using fruit sourced from around the world and redefining the packaging by utilising a store-and-pour design, Finest Call made waves within the industry.
To go away from my usual style of feature, It’s best with the Finest Call expressions to explain as we go along, so below, you will find my tasting notes on each variation I’ve had the chance to experience so far –
Finest Call Pina Colada Mix – 0%
Produced with Bakers cream of coconut from the Philippines and Dole pineapple juice from Thailand, they utilise the coconut meat and milk for a thick and creamy texture.
Fresh coconut on the nose, with the bold pineapple aromas coming through slowly. A thick, natural sweetness follows. Thick texture with a thin flavour of the coconut flesh, followed by a slight zest from the pineapple. A lingering well-balanced flavour to finish.
Finest Call Mojito Mix– 0%
Using Key limes from Mexico and blended with spearmint and superfine sugar. Plenty of lime notes come through on the nose, with soft hints of the spearmint following nicely. Natural aromas of the sugar gives a good base. Light with a dry lime flavour standing out. More refreshing on the second sip, with the spearmint releasing fresh aromas on the lingering, slightly sweet finish.
Finest Call Sweet and Sour – 0%
Created using pure lemon juice from California (Eureka and Lisbon varieties) and simple syrup. Sharp on the nose with the citrus naturally dominating. Soft sugar notes come through to underline. Clean and light on the palate, with natural elements of the citrus drawing out a long finish with kicks of sweetness following.
Finest Call Cosmopolitan Martini Mix– 0%
A blend of New England Ocean Spray cranberries, Key lime juice from Mexico and sweet orange oils. Fresh, dry aromas of the cranberries come through on the nose, followed by the natural note of the Key lime juice and the subtle orange. Thick texture on the palate, with a stringent stewed cranberry and lime mix as the dominating flavour. Subtle orange oils follow but the cranberry offers the long finish.
Finest Call Wild Berry Puree Mix – 0%
A combination of strawberries from California, raspberries from Pacific NW and mangoes from India, combined and then an addition of pomegranates and lemon juice from California. Bold, fresh raspberries come through on the nose, with the mangoes offering a soft underlining aroma. Thick texture with a good balance of the strawberries and raspberries. The mango once again offers the smoothness and kicks off the subtle aroma on the finish. Fresh and naturally sweet.
As you can imagine, all of these are designed to be a part of recipes such as –
Wild Berry Colada
Highball or Hurricane
30 ml Finest Call Wildberry Puree
30 ml Jim Beam Red Stag
90 ml Finest Call Pina Colada Mix
3-4 leaves mint leaves
2 cups ice
Pour Finest Call Wild Berry Puree in the bottom of the glass. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender and pour over Wild Berry Puree. Swirl with spoon and garnish with fresh berries.
Finest Call Mojito
50 ml White rum
90 ml Finest Call Mojito Mix
Top with soda water
Combine the first two ingredients in a Boston glass filled with ice. Shake and strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a mint sprig and lime wedges.
There are many other expressions available, including Margarita mixes, a range of purée such as banana, mango, strawberry, passion fruit and watermelon, a Bloody Mary mix and syrups like sugar syrup, almond and triple sec. These are perfect for at home too, with simple to use bottles and a long shelf life (on average around 18 months unopened, 12 months when opened and refrigerated and 3 months if not) and great for summer or winter punch bowls. Pick up some bottles for your bar at home and take a test to see how quickly it can be to whip up a cocktail, and keeping the freshness.
Mixers, and premium ones at that, are becoming a force within the drinks industry as more and more spirits tie themselves to unique brands to show off a signature serve. The mixers alone are seen as more fashionable to order too, with Fentimans complimenting their mixer range with their soft drink expressions, and Fever Tree showing that tonic is not the only flavour to enjoy. Enter then Thomas Henry, a new range to hit the wider UK, with a German influence.
2010 saw Thomas Henry, the brand inspired by a company from Berlin, Germany, hit the market shelves with its classic bar sodas. Using their expertise in bitter lemonade, they came up with their own tonic water, bitter lemon, ginger ale and soda water expressions, before then branching out into elderflower tonic, cherry blossom tonic and ginger beer as the brand started to gain recognition.
Thomas Henry himself? The name may ring a bell if you are a chemistry lover as the chemist became the first person to ever enrich water with carbon dioxide back in Manchester, England in 1773, inventing what was the worlds first soda water. It’s with this that the Thomas Henry brand inspires the best ingredients no matter how it is to be used. Utilising natural mineral water from the Bad Meinberg springs in North Rhine-Westphalia that is then demineralized, it is said to give a natural yet high-end feel to each expression.
So how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Thomas Henry Tonic Water– 0%
Light aromas of the quinine come through, with subtle floral nips of the citrus following to give a fresh nose. Fine and refined with the bitterness from the quinine, with a very soft texture on the palate that offers a refreshing yet subtle aroma of citrus on the lingering finish.
Thomas Henry Elderflower Tonic – 0%
Arriving in 2011, this combines the flavour of elderflower and herbs with the base of the tonic water. Soft, sweet elderflower on the nose, with a slight bitterness catching the end. A little sharp to start, with the elderflower naturally dominating. Plenty of sweet flavours come through, with the bitterness underlining the long finish.
Thomas Henry Bitter Lemon– 0%
Soft notes of lime come through on the nose, with a balance of natural sweetness and fresh acidity following. Subtle lime notes on the palate, growing its aroma over time. An edge of the acidity draws a drier finish and hints of spice.
Thomas Henry Ginger Beer – 0%
Said to be the first ginger lemonade made and bottled in Germany based on the model of English “Ginger Beer”. Soft ginger on the nose, with lively sweetness following. Clean, fresh with a subtle kick of spice on the palate. Short, naturally sweet and a heavy texture.
Thomas Henry Ginger Ale– 0%
Light ginger notes on the nose with a lively spice kick following. Very light on the palate with subtle flavours of the ginger coming through. A thin texture shows off a fresh yet dry finish.
A great range of mixers here to be drunk chilled, or indeed as part of these –
20 ml Gin
20 ml Campari
20 ml Pink grapefruit juice
1 Bar Spoon sugar syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Thomas Henry Tonic Water
Pour all ingredients, except for the tonic water, over ice cubes into the glass and stir well. Add Thomas Henry Tonic Water and stir again. Garnish with an orange slice.
50 ml Lillet Rosé
Thomas Henry Bitter Lemon
Pour Lillet Rosé over ice cubes into glass and add Thomas Henry Bitter Lemon. Garnish with a pink grapefruit zest.
There are a couple of expressions I am yet to try, including the soda water and two from their ‘all day range’ named Mystic Mango and Ultimate Grapefruit, but if you are looking to throw together a couple of easy drinks, think about using a different kind of mixer to your usual brand, it may be the right call when you produce a more refreshing style of drink with your favourite spirit!
‘At last, a beverage without alcohol, stronger than alcohol’. Sounds like the perfect tag line to grab your attention doesn’t it? Back in 2009, it caught the attention of it home nation France, an in particular Paris, where it was launched in March of that year. But what exactly is it?
Well Pimento is a carbonated blend of ginger, tonic and natural flavourings of hot pepper, bitter orange, lime, gentian and oregano. Question is though, does all that come through? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Pimento – 0%
Fresh ginger on the nose, slight pepper and orange coming through slowly. A developing kick of ginger and fiery pepper on the palate, with a subtle hit of the citrus lime and dry oregano flavours. A slight lingering but unfortunately soon goes.
It’s ok on its own, and this comes from a guy who is not a huge fan of spice, but I’ve seen it work better within the likes of these recipes –
60 ml dark Jamaican rum
15 ml fresh lime juice
Shake all ingredients except Pimento, strain and top with Pimento, serve with cracked ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a wedge of lime.
Hot Mojito Pimento
7 mint leaves
1 line of cane syrup
2 small spoons of brown cane sugar
2 lime segments squeezed lime
60 ml rum from Cuba
A drop of Angostura
Top with Pimento
Crush mint, sugar syrup, brown sugar and lime within a glass. Fill with crushed ice, add rum and top with Pimento. Stir.
Pimento has partnered with the French Association of Barmen (ABF), so there’s no shortage of ideas flowing, showing the versatility of Pimento. It’s not too bad as a mixer either, with rum probably the most preferred for a twist on the rum and ginger beer.
You can find Pimento in most countries around the world, so worth a try if you ever come across.
I touched recently on mixers, pre-made flavours where all you need to do is add your own spirit. Sometimes seen as a cheats way into making a good quality drink, but the wind seems to have changed, Gloworm are breaking in and offering something a little different, a bit more premium.
Gloworm, the brainchild behind the guys from Boost Drinks, is a mix of a variety of flavours and stimulants, designed to encourage consumers to try new combinations and create more interesting serves with their spirits. Created to make the most of high margin spirit sales, these taurine and sugar-free serves are causing a stir within the trade as bartenders are increasing their spirit offerings alongside this four strong portfolio.
Bit of an odd name though, although looking into it, it makes sense. Glow-worms can emit a steady and continuous glow at night, much like Gloworm’s trick in that it brings people to life after dark and enjoyed steadily from the beginning to the end.
But does it work, and more importantly, how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Gloworm Cucumber and Apple – 0%
Light cucumber on the nose, with fresh green apple aromas developing and eventually dominating. Low carbonation resulting in a creamy blend of apple and cucumber. Plenty of aromas flying around, with a lingering finish.
Recommended: Serve alongside Hendrick’s or William Chase.
Gloworm Raspberry and Orris – 0%
Plenty of fresh raspberry aromas on the nose, with kicks of orris every once in a while. Soft on the palate, with the orris more noticeable, but still finishes with a lingering raspberry and smooth end.
Recommended: Serve alongside Finlandia or Absolut.
Gloworm Pear, Spice and Lime – 0%
Subtle flavours of the pear, lime and spice, with pear coming through more as it progresses. Subtle spice develops, resulting in a little dryness on the palate. The pear and lime flavours dominate, but blend well to balance.
Recommended: Serve alongside El Dorado 3yr or Matusalem Platino.
Gloworm Ginger and Lemongrass – 0%
Well-balanced on the nose, with the ginger edging out on the end. The fresh lemongrass dominates on the palate, with the ginger catching the end to dry out a little. Short but flavoursome.
Recommended: Serve alongside Jim Beam White Label or Benchmark.
Four great combinations on their own, and all lifted with the addition of spirits. Simple recipes accompany, with a shot of spirit added to your favourite expression to create either a Vodkaglo, Rumglo, Ginglo or Bourbonglo. Garnish with the appropriate addition and you’ve got yourself a rather effective range of premium drinks.
These 150 ml cans are only available from bars currently, but are being pushed with city-wide bar events and exhibitions in place for the coming year, so there’s plenty of chances to try and of course experience something a little bit different.
“We’ve all been there. On a cruise, dying to let our hair down and let loose. You get a bottle of rum, vodka, whatever you prefer, and you get your party started.
But something doesn’t quite taste right. You need something to mix with your shot and you don’t want to pay the insane prices that usually accompany small travel drinks, right?”
The above comes straight from the literature that Shot Dropz provide, and to be fair, I’ve been in the same kind of pickle myself at that young adult point in my life. There’s nothing worse than you just wanting to spice up a spirit, but having to buy way more than you would ever need.
Enter Glenn Hettinger of Columbus, America. Whilst being in the same situation, he had an idea, and in 2012 the first batch of Shot Dropz were released.
Housed in a 15 ml pouch, Shot Dropz come in four different alcohol-free varieties, all ready to be added to a 30 ml shot of either rum, vodka or tequila. So, lets see how they fare, and of course if they really do make a spirit more palatable –
Shot Dropz Lemon Drop – 0%
A very subtle nose of lemons, with an incredibly sharp, sweet and sour flavour on the palate. Think sherbet dip. Short. Try with Jose Cuervo Silver or Bacardi Superior.
Shot Dropz Appletini– 0%
Plenty of apple aromas on the nose, with sweetness coming through. Again incredibly sharp, sweet and sour flavours on the palate. Also short. Try with Smirnoff Red.
Shot Dropz Orange– 0%
Strong dried orange aromas on the nose, with yet again an incredible sharp, sweet and sour flavour on the palate. Short as well. Try with Smirnoff Red.
Shot Dropz Margarita – 0%
Potent citrus on the nose, with, surprisingly, a palate that is a little softer than its counterparts. Still short, but more agreeable. Try with Jose Cuervo Silver.
Personally, I think Shot Dropz is very student-orientated. Quick and easy, and creates four ‘cocktails’ that are readily available in most Student Unions. Although I’m not taken with the idea of having the shot on its own, the mixers to the spirits suggested above will add a different slant to them, but to be honest we’re not talking anything ground-breaking. To be fair though, it does what it says it will do, and the students could love it.
I’ve featured two brands from New Zealand on my site in the form of Lighthouse gin and Broken Shed vodka, but now there’s a great accompaniment in the mixer category in the form of Quina-Fina.
Quina Fina can take its inspiration from the history of tonic water. You may or may not know, but tonic water began life in the forests of Loja Province in Ecuador around the 1600’s. Jesuit Monks used the bark of the cinchona tree which was rich in quinine to fight and treat both fever and malaria. The cinchona seedlings were exported to British Colonial India where the ‘gin and tonic’ was to be born (Indian tonic water ring a bell?), with the original recipe calling for gin, quinine extract, lemon juice, sugar cane and soda water. In 2009 however, Quina-Fina had the opportunity to visit Loja in Ecuador and support the growing of cinchona for their tonic water, whilst also contributing towards natural research and a re-population programme.
So how does this New Zealand tonic water fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Quina-Fina – 0%
Light and soft on the nose, with aromas of lemon and hints of bark coming through. A low carbonation on the palate creates a light flavour of lemon with a thin texture. Enjoys a hit of quinine near the end.
Of course, it makes a perfect one of these –
45 ml Lighthouse Gin
Quina Fina Tonic Water
Wedge Lemon & Orange
Add Gin and all citrus, fill with ice and top with Quina Fina Tonic Water. Stir and serve. Garnish with rinds of lemon & orange.
or maybe one of these –
20 ml Lighthouse Gin
20 ml Dry Red Vermouth
20 ml Campari
Quina Fina Tonic Water
Add equal parts Lighthouse gin, dry red vermouth and Campari. Top the glass with large ice cubes and Quina Fina Tonic Water. Stir, then garnish with an orange wedge, and orange rind.
Some tasty cocktail ideas to try. Hopefully Quina-Fina will be making its presence known around the UK in the coming weeks and months.
Many of you will drink a spirit with a mixer. A Gin & Tonic, Vodka & Lemonade or a Whisky & Coke would not be frowned upon if ordered at a bar, pub or restaurant. But do you ever take notice of what that mixer is? You are more than likely going to ask for your preferred brand of gin in your gin and tonic than wonder what mixer will be added. But what if I tell you that from a bartenders point-of-view, or indeed anyone who has ever tried anything other than Schweppes or Britvic, that your choice of brand for a mixer too can change not only the drink you have ordered, but possibly even made it better than you thought? Surely if you order a drink, you would expect said drink to be of the highest quality? Even if it is something as simple as a vodka and coke?
I would like to offer a challenge to anyone who reads this. The next time you order a spirit with a mixer, ask the bartender what mixers they have. If they offer you Britvic or Schweppes don’t panic, it’s not the end of the world and there’s certainly nothing wrong with them. Just politely mention that you would like to try something named Fentimans. Fentimans are an English brand with over 100 years of history steeped into each of their portfolio offerings, and one of them is a tonic water. If you enter one bar and order a gin and tonic and receive a gin mixed with Schweppes, then in your next bar order the same gin but instead mixed with Fentimans Tonic, i would like you to tell me the difference (and there will be one), and post your thoughts below / tweet your comments.
I set this challenge for one reason and one reason only. It’s only recent that I started to come accustomed to drinking a gin and tonic. Before that I thought tonic water was too dry, lacking flavour and overall rather pointless to ruining a good gin – until I tried Fentimans. As a man who will give all brands a go, hand on heart Fentimans gave me a so-called new lease of life to my gin and tonic fear. As you can see from my tasting notes below, I was genuinely surprised at how light it was on both the nose and palate. There was to be no hint of dryness at all. No wincing like you’ve sucked a lemon and no search for water to help the tonic slip down the throat. Fentimans offered something fresh – and also offered alternatives when was the last time you could say that to Britvic?
So a little history on Fentimans –
Back in 1905, an iron puddler named Thomas Fentiman, hailed from Cleckheaton, England and was to be approached by a fellow tradesman for a loan. A deal was struck and a recipe for botanically brewed ginger beer was provided as security. The loan however was never repaid so Thomas became the sole owner of the unique recipe. Thomas began using the recipe and produced botanically brewed ginger beer which he then delivered door-to-door using a horse and cart for transport. His ginger beer was stored in hand-made stone jars known as ‘grey hens’ which were stamped with an image of Thomas’ pet dog ‘Fearless’, itself an award-winning dog triumphing in the obedience category at the famous ‘Crufts’ dog competition. Fentiman’s ginger beer quickly became very popular and the family business grew, with several production factories being opened in the North East of England. The business is still in the Fentimans family to this day and is owned by the Great Grandson of Thomas Fentiman. The recipes haven’t changed either and still go by the time-honoured method of botanically brewing the finest natural ingredients. Their production processes have also been updated through the addition of mild carbonation to replace the carbon dioxide lost in during pasteurisation, which gives the product a longer life.
As mentioned, Fentimans prides itself on its method of botanical brewing. But what exactly is it?
Well its a simple process that involves herbs and plant roots. Thomas Fentiman’s original recipe involved milling ginger roots before tumbling them into copper steam jacketed pans and leaving them to bubble and simmer which would release all their flavour. The finest herbs, natural flavourings, sugar, brewer’s yeast and fresh spring water were then added to the liquid which was transferred into wooden vats where it would be left to ferment. Initially the liquid went on fermenting after it was bottled and corked in the old stone jars where it would fully mature and be ready to drink by the end of the week. However modern techniques of adding mild carbonation helps give the product a longer life.
So a rather simple brewing process that is steeped in traditionalism and can offer so many possibilities too. Take a look below at the Fentimans range, both soft drinks and mixers, as well as my tasting notes on each –
Fentimans Tonic Water
Very fresh on the nose with subtle herbal aromas. Incredibly light on the palate with no hint of dryness but rather a mouth-watering effect. A long offering.
Fentimans 19:05 Herbal Tonic Water
Bold, fresh notes of juniper and orange blossom on the nose, with a soft flavour of lime and lemongrass upon the palate. Slight dry spice with a long finish.
Fentimans Rose Lemonade
A blend of lemons and pure Rose Otto oil from the Rose Valley in Kazanlak, Bulgaria.
Delicate rose on the nose, with lots of floral citrus aromas following behind. Light, with a dry rose texture that also offers some ginger flavours slicing through. Long and refreshing.
Soft Drinks –
Fentimans Wild English Elderflower
Sweet elderflower aromas on the nose that become delicate and bold. Clean, light with subtle pear and elderflower flavours blending nicely on the palate. Short and crisp on the finish
Fentimans Rose Lemonade
Very light on the nose with a small hint of rose compared to a good dose of fresh lemon. Rather sharp on the palate but mellows quickly with a balance of rose and lemon more obvious. A long offering.
Fentimans Cherry Tree Cola
Fresh and lively on the nose with lots of cherry and a dry herb aroma. Soft herbal flavours on the palate balance well with the cherry, with a refreshingly subtle sweetness.
Fentimans Brewed Shandy
Instant dark, bold hit of malt on the nose followed by a lively attack on the palate. Very dark and very sweet but is smooth and with a long after-taste. Not as fizzy as you would expect.
Fentimans Cool Ginger Beer
Strong on the nose, although rather fresh and ripe that mellows slowly. Fresh ginger flavours on the palate that are incredibly soft and smooth, albeit a little dry near the end.
Fentimans Dandelion and Burdock
A strong, rustic aroma that mellows quickly on the nose, however the palate enjoys a very soft offering with small hints of flavour that doesn’t overpower the senses.
Fentimans Curiosity Cola
Soft and light on the nose with a slight sweet aroma. Refreshing burst on the palate that instantly mouth-waters, with a slight tangy ending with a dose of malt.
Fentimans Victorian Lemonade
Lots of citrus flavours on the nose that are both light and fresh. A good hit of lemon is present on the palate too, but softens out over a lengthy period. A little dry at the end.
Fentimans Traditional Ginger Beer
Slight musty aroma lingers around a strong dry ginger offering on the nose. A soft entry on the palate though with a slight kick near the end of spice which creates a mouth-watering feel.
Fentimans Mandarin and Seville Orange Jigger
Fresh with a slight sharpness on the nose with lots of rich orange aromas. Very smooth on the palate that’s soft with a slight ginger flavour creeping in.
Hollows and Fentimans Ginger Beer– 4%
Lively and fresh on the nose with lots of ginger aromas. An instant ginger flavour hits the palate with a smooth, soft feeling. Slight dryness near the end.
A traditional aroma of lemons creates a dry nose, and become slightly bitter on the palate. Although it mellows rather quickly and burst a little with a freshness of a honey flavour that sticks around with the dry texture. Short however.
Personal recommendations? Hendrick’s and Rose Lemonade is a quirky alternative to a normal gin and tonic, whilst the Cool Ginger Beer would be an excellent addition to rum and ginger beer, with the use of Havana 7yr or possibly Bacardi 8yr.