Double Dutch has created a ‘speakeasy’ bar, tucked away behind a craft-gin shop, in Westfield Stratford City. Heroing the brand’s extensive range of premium mixers, showcased in a selection of delicious mocktails and cocktails, the secret bar offers shoppers a chance to escape the busy shopping crowds and try something different this January.
As leaders in the premium mixers scene and millennials themselves, Double Dutch is at the forefront of current Gen-Z trends, which see a third of under 25’s now embracing non-alcoholic drinks. With this in mind, Double Dutch has collaborated with top bartenders Chris Dennis and Jo St Clair-Ford – formerly of Disrepute, Callooh Callay & Zettertownhouse – to create a bespoke menu of mocktails & cocktails. The drinks are infused with superfoods such as turmeric & ginger, as well as the botanical flavours of lavender, coriander and earl grey, guests can sip away completely guilt-free.
Known for their unique flavoured mixers such as Cucumber and Watermelon, Pomegranate and Basil, and Cranberry Tonic Water, Double Dutch has used flavour profiling within the premium mixers scene since 2015, regularly launching limited edition soft drinks. Making a return at the pop-up bar is Double Dutch Spices & Oakwood, a delicious blend of cinnamon, cloves, star anise and nutmeg, balanced by sweet vanilla notes, for perfect for those who prefer something a little more warming during the colder months.
On entering the craft gin shop, guests must find the secret black door and reveal the password to experience it all, ‘Show me the Hi-vag-ide A-vag-wa-vag-ay’ – ‘hideaway’ in Double Dutch.
During the day, the main shop area at the front will be open to the public, with Chris Dennis and Jo St Clair-Ford, on hand to help guests explore the different flavour profiles of each of the gins available and partner them with their chosen Double Dutch mixer.
“We are very excited to welcome the Double Dutch pop-up shop to Westfield Stratford City,” says Paul Buttigieg, Commercial Director Europe, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. “The next few months are a very busy time for us; it’s great to have a secret bar for everyone to relax in and unwind.”
Open from the 8th December to February 2019, Double Dutch will also be holding a host of events in the speakeasy bar, including ‘Drinks at Home Masterclasses’. From Tom Collins to Martinis, attendees will be taught everything they need to know about making cocktails at home, by an award winning bartender. More details will be found on the Double Dutch website. http://www.doubledutchdrinks.com
Gin and tonic. One of the most easily recognisable drinks in the world, and very easy to replicate. Made at home, at your favourite bar, by your mum, gran, bartender or waiter, there’s nothing you could do wrong with the creation of a gin and tonic.
Or is there?
Fever Tree, a brand that has made head-way in the tonic category, have organised an enlightening tour of three cities here in the UK. Bristol, Glasgow and my own home town of Manchester are the settings for what they have dubbed as ‘The Ultimate Gin and Tonic Tour’, and aim to divulge into the depths of the tonic category, and how we came to know what will be in your hand for most of the evening; the G&T.
The tours are consumer focused, bringing the gin lovers, novices and haters together for an informal chat in some fantastic locations, and yours truly had the opportunity to sneak peek at what would be involved, with a session hosted by Craig Harper, the face of Fever Tree and gin legend within the category, with help from David Barber, the northern representative for Fever Tree and ex Caorunn gin brand ambassador, and Jamie Jones, who in 2013 was crowned Global Gin Connoisseur by G’Vine.
If you’re looking to hit the Manchester trail, The Rosylee Tearooms in Stevenson Square brings together your first tonic and gin combination; Tanqueray with the classic Fever Tree Indian Tonic. Whilst being given the chance to pour your own bottle of tonic over your gin to your liking, Craig walks through what tonic actually is, and how the likes of malaria, World Wars and fluorescent lights have impacted our views on tonic water and what we perceive it as. Don’t let those three words fool you though as Craig explains how we come to the more well-known brands seen today, and ultimately Fever Tree itself, with interesting demos on an original gin and tonic recipe, and the bottles used before the capped varieties we are used to these days.
Cane and Grain in Manchester’s Northern Quarter offers a speakeasy styled bar that is perfect for another gin and tonic, this time being Portobello Road. Jamie gives some fantastic insight into the brand itself, the category of gin and the timeline that has given us some highs and lows, including the famed ‘Gin Lane’ and the rise of the latest ‘gin craze’. Comparisons between tonic waters, especially the Indian styles and lighter versions, are also explored, an experiment rarely done at home I can imagine, and gives a different view on the styles available, with Craig explaining why the market for tonic waters is growing as the palates of consumers is changing.
Lastly, Mr Cooper’s House and Garden takes the gin category to the ‘New Western’, and gives Jamie a chance to explain the new craze that has given us the likes of Bloom, Monkey 47, Tanqueray 10 and Gin Mare. It also though, highlights the need for the perfect garnish and how gaining the right ingredient can make all the difference to your gin and tonic experience. Blending the likes of Bloom with Fever Tree Elderflower tonic offers a lighter experience than the Indian tonic would do, giving the botanicals within Bloom (chamomile, honeysuckle and pomelo are within amongst others) a fighting chance to tantalize, instead of being cut down to size and perhaps not giving the full impression you would expect. Or how about Gin Mare, that comes garnished with a sprig of thyme? Perfectly compliments the basil and rosemary for example, and accentuates the thyme botanical within the gin itself.
Essentially, Fever Tree are looking to break down the gin and tonic, explaining the origins, the flavours and aromas, whilst giving insight into the many gins available, and the perfect Fever Tree and garnish to accompany. Why would you want to miss out?!
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.
There’s a growing demand for tonic water these days. I touched on the stigma of the category a while back, and since then a new boy on the block has taken the reigns and positioned itself as a top runner for bars to use. I give to you 1724.
1724 I hear you say? 1724 is the number of metres above sea level in the Andes, Argentina. It’s here that quinnine was discovered along the Inca trail and became the starting point of the tonic water craze. It’s exclusively made from natural ingredients including Chinchona bark, which is harvested by hand in Peru, and the world’s purest water from Patagonia.
But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Gentle with a slight floral quinine aroma on the nose. Very smooth on the palate with subtle flavours of sweetner and citrus blended with a very low carbonation. Refreshing with a lingering finish.
The most common partner with tonic is gin, but vodka works just as well –
1724 Vodka and Tonic
1 twist of lemon peel
4 Green cardamon pods
200 ml 1724 Tonic Water
50 ml Premium Vodka (U’luvka, Ciroc, Grey Goose or Chase are recommended)
Combine vodka, 1724 tonic water, a long twist of lemon peel and 5 green caradamon pods in an ice filled glass.
Not a bad tonic at all, and rather versatile too. It’s always good to come across a tonic water that can complement some great brands of vodka, gin, aperitif and even cachaça. Make sure you ask for the brand if you come across it in your local bar, and it’s perfect to have in your fridge at home too.
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.