Hautecake by Sonnda Catto – The Negroni infused “Briottone” or “Panettoche” hybrid

So I know this is significantly late and there is only one excuse and that is that me (Graeme), got married to that stunning woman whom I proposed too in March called Rachel Brand (Macdonald now) and Stuart was my best man so we have been out of action all weekend.  We had every intention of blogging etc but weddings keep you really busy, then ill in my case.

So below our friend Sonnda Catto (http://sonndacatto.co.uk/) created an amazing recipe for us.  Sonnda is an incredible Food consultant, nutritionalist, cake designer and patissiere (missing the proper French punctuation I know).

So we at Gin Club gave her all the stuff needed to craft a Negroni, some fine cocktail Gin (No.3 London), Punt-e-Mes and Campari.  Sonnda exchanged this booze for Panettone so a fair swap.

Below is the amazing recipe:

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Recipe development went something like this:

Orange and white chocolate are fab together. The bitter orange flavour from the negroni and peels is going to offset the richness coming from the chocolate, dough and nuts. And on those nuts, what nuts do I want to eat with a negroni? In Italy, I’d be served a little bowl of salted almonds alongside, but I want something richer here. Macadamias. So far so good. And it’s got a classy gin cocktail in there. What’s not to like??!!

Taking inspiration from both brioche and panettone, the dough bears a resemblance to each while not quite being either. Unlike any bread I’ve encountered before, the mixture is so liquid you literally pour it into the cake tin! But that contributes a wonderful moistness.

I want to call it “briottone” or “panettoche”. Since it has the same shape and orangey additions as the Italian classic, I’ve settled on panettoche.

This is great eaten on its own. But with a bit less chocolate, 50g say, I reckon it would go very well with a top-quality pâté as a posh starter, toasted brioche being a classic French accompaniment to pâté. Duck liver would be my first option; duck and orange being another classic combo, and also because the bitterness from the negroni and peels is going to work so well against the richness.

Let me know how you enjoyed eating it!

Makes 1x6inch round cake tin

Ingredients

100g whole glacé orange peel, excess sugar rinsed off and diced fairly finely*

100ml Negroni (33ml each of gin, Punt e Mes** and Campari)***

10g fresh yeast (or 1¼ teaspoons dried)

125ml lukewarm water (not more than 30C)

250g strong white flour

15g caster sugar

1/2 level teaspoon salt

50g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 whole medium egg, beaten

zest of 1 whole orange

50g macadamia nuts, quartered

100g best quality white choc you can get your hands on, chopped roughly (I use Valrhona Opalys – leave the pistoules whole so they don’t completely melt)

egg glaze made with 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Notes on specialist ingredients

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*This has a far better flavour than the diced mixed peel you get in tubs, fairly yukky stuff saturated in sugar syrup, which means it will absorb hardly any of the steeping alcohol. However, it’s not that easy to get hold of whole glacé peels these days. Try your best local health food shops and delis. Or order from Wholefoods online: Peel – Whole Orange 125g.

**Punt e Mes is an Italian red vermouth with a strong, distinctive flavor, half-way between regular rosso vermouth and Campari. It works better here because it’s drier and less sweet. If you can’t get hold of it, substitute with a regular red vermouth.

***Unless you’re a regular negroni drinker you’re unlikely to have Punt e Mes, any other red vermouth or Campari in your drinks cupboard. In which case, drop into a local pub or cocktail bar with a small tupperware tub. They’ll have no problem giving you a few measures to takeaway. Thanks to Paul from Epicures who did just that for me!

Method

Soak the chopped glacé peel in the negroni. The aim here is to get as much of the alcohol into the fruit as possible, so soak for 24 hours at least. Longer if you’re not in any hurry.

This can actually be done days, even weeks, in advance; the peel is preserved and alcohol is a preservative. Just pop everything in a tupperware tub with a tightly fitting lid, or place in a small bowl and cover with cling film. Let the fruit soak up the alcohol at your leisure, and use whenever you’re in the mood to bake the loaf.

When you’re ready to make the bread, crumble the yeast into 100ml of the lukewarm water in a small jug/bowl. Leave for 5 minutes, then stir to dissolve.

Mix the sieved flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and add in the yeasted water.

Use a wooden spoon to draw enough of the flour into the yeasted water to form a soft paste. Cover the bowl with a tea towel, and leave to “sponge” until frothy and slightly risen, 20-30 minutes.

(NB: The sponge method adds a period of fermentation to mixing, resulting in a bread with a lighter crumb and a less yeasty flavour.)

Strain the excess negroni liquid from the glacé orange peel.

Combine 50ml of the strained negroni with the remaining 25ml water.

Mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, gradually stirring in the 75ml negroni and water mixture. As the liquid is added, the texture of the combined ingredients will move from a crumbly mixture to a slightly sticky mass that will begin to come away from the sides of the bowl and form into a ball. The end result will be a soft, sticky dough.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead until soft, smooth, silky and elastic, about 10mins.

Return the dough to the large bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

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Grease a 6inch round cake tin (at least 3 inches tall) and line with silicon baking paper (aka baking parchment). If you only have greaseproof paper, brush the insides with melted butter (15g will do) or it will stick so fast you won’t be able to peel it away from the bread.

Knock back the dough, knead for 5 minutes, then leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Meantime, place the soft butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add the strained peel and orange zest and beat with the paddle attachment until thoroughly combined. Gradually add the beaten egg and continue to mix until combined. At this point you’ll have a softish paste.

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Next, add the remaining strained negroni and beat until combined. The mixture will now look like a thick cake batter. Finally, add in the chopped macadamia nuts and chunks of chocolate/whole pistoules. Mix briefly until just combined.

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, and using a spatula fold the mixture to ensure the fruit, nuts and chocolate are evenly dispersed throughout.

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Pour the batter into the prepared tin and level the surface, pushing any visible chocolate chunks just below the surface to ensure they won’t burn.

Holding the tin a few inches above your work surface, drop it down. Repeat several times until the surface is completely level.

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Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove until the dough has doubled in size, about 2 and a half hours (check after 2 hours).

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Preheat the oven to 180C.

Using a soft pastry brush, brush the dough with the egg glaze. Be very gentle so as not to rip or deflate the dough. Also, be careful not to “glue” the loaf to the edge of the baking tin.

Bake for 45mins until the surface is glossy and a deep golden colour (think of the colour of brioche here). Check at 35 minutes, turning the tin 180 degrees to ensure even browning.

Turn out of the tin, place upside down on a baking sheet, peel away the lining papers and return to the oven for a further 10-20 minutes until hollow-sounding when tapped underneath – check after 10 minutes, giving another 10 minutes if need be.

Turn out of the tin onto a wire rack to cool.

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Best eaten within 1 day.

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Gin Themed Baking – Scones (Aye Bake of is on)

So it is officially that time of year when the Great British Bake off is back on our screens (I know it is a bit late as it started last week), to celebrate this Graeme (that’s the person writing btw, who most of you know as Squirrel) and hopefully Kate (when she reads this) will be doing lots of Gin themed bakes.

Why would we do this?  Well we do host our main Gin events in the Hidden Lane Tea Room and they always have Gin themed cakes for you all to eat when you come along.  But mainly because Kate and myself have always been keen bakers, despite the fact that every Victoria Sponge I have ever made has failed to live up to my mothers.

So last week (btw there are no pictures as I hadn’t thought about doing this blog until late Tuesday night, while scanning through an old Delia Smith cook book) after the Bake off I thought “oh yeah, I make a mean Madeira Cake” so I did.  However I added more lemon juice than normal then using some spare No.3 London gin I made a Gin and sugar syrup glaze then topped it off with candied lemon slices.  Yes it was pretty great (or Doss, if readying the Perthshire area).

So this week to keep in with the Gin theme (however completely ignoring the theme of this week’s bake off which  was biscuits) I decided to make some Gin themed scones.

Starting off with a tradition scone mixture, but with a bit more butter than most recipes say I cracked on with a basic scone mixture.

Using:

500g (sometimes more sometimes less) Self Raising flour or Plain Flower (just over a pound in real money) – I find that using plain flower and 5 teaspoons of baking powder gives better results.

100g (4oz) none salted butter (at room temperature)

80g (3oz) caster sugar

Walnuts (as many as you like)

Dried fruit (Raisins or dates)

A whole zested lemon

2 eggs (make then as ethically sourced as your head allows or not)

2 tsps baking powder

Then milk (usually 250ml) but you won’t use all of it.

Method:

Firstly fire on the oven to 200 degrees

Sift most of the flour into a decent bowl, not all though you want for tweeking your mix come the end.  Then in lovely wee cubes add the butter.

Sticking your hands in the bowl, rub the flour and butter together until all the butter has mixed in.  They say in cookbooks until it looks like breadcrumbs. It never looks like breadcrumbs, it just gets slightly darker and can be clumped together.  The main thing is though that there shouldn’t be any lumps of just butter.

Then sift in your sugar and mix gently, flowed by the baking power.

Gather your dried fruit and nuts and chop finely, try to get things a bit even and a few millimetres in size.  The larger the fruit the more it sinks in mixture and the les even the dispersion of fruit and nuts will be in the scone.  Mix the fruit and nuts to the dry mixture.

Make a little well in the bottom of the bowl and crack in two eggs.  Then using a butter knife (no idea the logic of the knife, my mother always told me this was the way it had to be done) mix the eggs into the dry mixture until the moisture of the eggs vanishes.

Grab your milk and pour half of your 250ml in and mix with knife.  Soon it will be absorbed by the dry ingredients.  Now get your hands in there and mix it all together.  If it’s too dry and the flower isn’t forming together then add more milk.  Keep doing this until you have dough.  Sometimes you might add too much milk and the dough becomes sticky, that’s fine just throw in flour until stops being sticky.  Your dough will have the right mix once it stops sticking to your hands and the bowl.  Just knead it for it about until everything is mixed.

Dust the worktop and plant the dough on it.  Don’t drop it or you will knock the air from it.  Then gently roll it out (in any shape) so it is an inch thick.

Using a cutter, wine glass or cup, cut out some shapes and place on a buttered then dusted with flour baking try.  Make sure these are clean cut, it allows them to rise better.  Let them sit for a few minutes to let the baking powder do some work to the dough.

Once all cut, get a brush and coat the top with milk.  Then sprinkle a little sugar on them and finally place the lemon zest on them.

Fire in the oven for 15-20 minutes, they should have risen and gone golden brown.

Fire on a cooling try and then serve them look warm.

Scones should be eaten the same day or the day just after.

I served mine with home make Sloe Gin, Raspberry and Black current Jam.  Yum.

Scones Sloe Gin Jam

French Gin (Diplome) and German Stills (Sipsmiths)

Our last two Gins, which we have the pleasure of announcing for tomorrow night, are Diplôme and Sipsmiths London Dry (I know we have had it before but it was a dedicated Sipsmiths night so technically it doesn’t count).

So Diplôme is created in Dijon (famous for mustard) France and have been created roughly the same way since 1945, however the recipe was perfected during WW2.  Along with other cuisine and mustard Diplôme is very famous in France for its unique recipe and long standing stature.

After the end of the war, Diplôme Dry Gin became the official gin for the American Army stationed throughout Europe.

Using botanicals sourced from Europe and Morocco, Diplôme Dry Gin is made up of;  Juniper (it is a Gin), coriander, whole lemons, orange peel, angelica, saffron, orris root and fennel seed.

On the nose of Diplôme gives a slight smell of cherry trees and cloves, you also get the Juniper and Coriander.

To taste you get the natural hit of Juniper (it is a Gin) but it also has zesty citrus fruit, slightly nutty and possibly lavender.  I have heard people say it almost feels oily.  I haven’t got that however I stress that we at Gin Club tend not to be wearing Tweed waist coats, while doing tastings and try to thing how the Gin will work and how it will be enjoyed.

I would say that Diplôme tastes old.  Old class, it is very French but I can’t describe why.  Its French in the way you know Daft Punk are French just by listening but in no shape or form did the French invet Funk music they just seem to excel at creating their own unique identifiable funk based genre.  It is a very smooth Dry Gin which works well in many drinks.

So Sipsmiths, well lets begin by saying we love Sipsmiths, their whole range we also have in the Gin Shed.

Anyway…

In 2009, Sipsmith was launched by Sam Galsworthy, Fairfax Hall and Jared Brown to pursue their passion for handmade spirits.

Sipsmith became the first copper-pot based distillery to start up in London in over 150 years, a fact that made the process of being granted a license a long and tiresome affair.

Sipsmith is made using ten botanicals: Macedonian juniper berries, Bulgarian coriander seed, French angelica root, Spanish liquorice root, Italian orris root, Spanish ground almond, Chinese cassia bark, Madagascan cinnamon, Seville orange peel and Spanish lemon peel.

Each botanical plays its part however a few liquorice, coriander and angelica play distinctive roles.

To taste Sipsmith has strong notes of juniper but there are also definite citrus notes and a depth to the liquid that lingers.

The gin is distilled in a beautiful still affectionately named Prudence where she lives alongside Patience her sister at the Hammersmith HQ.

Tickets can be purchased here:

http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/event/glasgow-gin-club-tickets/178989

Minus 33 – Not the average summer temperature this year!

For our second July Gin, we look to the East…  Of Scotland.  Sadly we haven’t found a Gin from Japan or China, there probably is and we at Gin Club have not found them yet.

Anyway Minus 33 our second “Gin” (Why this is in quotation marks will be explained in due course) is crafted by scientist at the Locabev Laboratory in Rosyth.  Yes this Gin is really made in a lab.

So why did we use “Gin”?  Well if any of you read this regularly then you should know the rules.  And I don’t mean the NO Gordon’s rule.  But the Government rules of what defines a Gin.  In the EU, the minimum bottled alcoholic strength for gin, distilled gin, and London gin is 37.5% ABV.  However Minus 33 comes in at 33% so technically does not qualify even though it ticks all of the boxers of what is a Gin.  It is a Juniper distilled spirit (which is also one of their taglines).

After 3 years and 539 test tubes of experimentation Locabev decided that the optimum strength for a really smooth spirit was 33%.  This also makes it the perfect drink for those on a diet as that makes it just 46 calories per serve..

To taste Minus 33 it is fresh and floral with hints of juniper, citrus, lavender, elderflower and angelica.  We had the pleasure of sampling it at the Juniper Fest a few months ago and went back several times (rude not too).

We haven’t decided on how we are serving this on Friday though.

If you haven’t got your tickets yet them please follow the link below.

http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/artist/glasgow-gin-club-tickets/944334

Spirit Christian Jensen

Number three in our featured Gins for March is the wonderful Jensen’s (another pluralisation, but not one like when people add the S to the end of Miller –that’s Miller lager not Martin Miller’s or when they ask for “sailor Jerry’s”.  Grrrrr).

I have to say my first impression of Jensen’s was skewed.  This was because Stuart decided to experiment with Gin one night and had the Chipotle infused version and thought it would make a mean Red Snapper.  Most people who know me know I am a complete wimp when it comes to spice, I can barely handle a Korma, so Chipotle infused Gin is a bit of a trek for me.  Well I can safely say that after that experience the taste of their Bermondsey Gin changed my initial impression of “holy hell that will burn a hole right through me”.

Jensen’s base is in London and produce some truly fine Gin.  Along with the Bermondsey they have an Old Tom and a fair few infusions like the Chipotle one (everyone except this one appeals to my palate).  I have read that man behind this fine spirit Christian Jensen (Spirit Christen Jensen – sounds like a bluegrass Americana performer), was in Tokyo and feel in love with a certain Gin and was then told that it was defunct.  He then went on a mission and found the recipe for the Gin and worked with a team at Thames Distillers to recreate it.  To test they had it right he bought the lost spirit at auction and compared.  I haven’t worked out what this illusive spirit was thought.

How does it taste:

To smell it comes over with a strong sent juniper (it is a Gin – I might tire of this line), then you almost get sappy pine with coriander and liquorice. You also get fresh ginger, resin and violet. The liquorice carries through to the taste along with the piney juniper.  I read somewhere that one taster was getting Uncooked Runner beans – Thankfully I never got this.  No thanks to runner beans full stop, they remind me of my mother force feeding me them (by force feed I mean stern looks and ultimatums for not eating them).

Thanks

Graeme

Ginuary

The forgetful January

So the first Gin Club of 2015 is over, before I prattle on I would like to thank NB, St George, Martin Millers and Brecon Gin for being part of Gin Club January.  All these amazing brands went down a storm, my only regret is even though the car was ditched, #thecarsgettingditched, which led to #lettheginbegin, was that in no way did I drink enough of these fine brands.  Rothney (the help) and Ritchie (the photo man) did though.  Caldo and I as per were left too dry for our liking.

Caldo and I weren’t sure how the evening would go as we were minus our mother hen Kate, who had decided to bugger off on a ski holiday, even though she can’t ski and is always moaning about being too busy .  So we drafted in the services of our beer / wine making hermit of a friend Craig Rothney, tt was a pleasure to allow this man to escape his Perthshire cave for the evening and come and serve booze instead of standing by around with his usual side kick Colin (i’m average height) Clayes.  Those of you at the first Gin Club may remember that our #Gindout  hashtag comes from Mr Clayes as he cannot handle his booze (nor social interaction tbh).  Anyway Rothney saved us on Friday so thanks to him.

Another surprise blinder for the evening was that the Hidden Lane laid on a special Gin Club treats menu, which might I say was rather special.  Even though I was too busy to purchase anything, the pile of dishes at the end of the night was a clear sign of a successful gin related menu.   I did help myself to some off cuts of sponge.  Yummm.

Massive thank you to DJ Malky B who was sober…  No wine for him, just soul music, making our already couple-esk night feel like a Tinder speed dating evening with Gin to ease the inhibitions (thankfully nothing clatty happened).

There was no order to the gins this evening as me (Squirrel / Graeme) forgot to bring half of what he was meant to (I’m blaming Kate for not reminding me).  The booklets were absent for the first 20 mins and the Gin Me cards were in no colour coded order.  Some lovely guest asked “Are the Gin Me cards colour coded to the gins flavours”!…  Blank expression from me then a laugh/ As we have a tangerine colour and sea blue colour.

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Our first gin to arrive and most people’s first gin of the night was NB (this is down to bottle placement on the bar nothing else).  We served NB with a slice of orange served with Fever Tree.  I love NB, it really is a classy well-made spirit.  You can check out our blog dedicated to NB or google it, but if you haven’t had some go and grab a bottle from the Good Spirit Co and enjoy it.  If you’re not wanting to be really adventurous (I am in no way saying NB is simple btw, its anything but) but wanting something expertly made and tastes incredible get yourself some NB.

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Next to NB was a little bottle of a gin we never thought we would get, but hey if you don’t ask you don’t get.  St. George Terroir all the way from California (and not Yosemite park where I had it in my head it was from, apparently you get bears in lots of American states).  St. George isn’t a normal gin it’s much more specific and leading towards the herbaceous.  In our blog post when which we posted to announce the gins I describe the taste in much more detail but just to remind you, it tastes like an alcoholic alpine woodland, there is that hint of the smell your living room gets on the first day you get a Christmas tree.  We served it with Fever Tree and Rosemary, we originally put rosemary and lemon in there but it tasted too much like a standard G&T.

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Martin Millers was something we have also wanted at Gin Club for a while and thankfully this time round Mr Miller appeared.  I have always been drawn towards this brand, not just because of the art deco bottle or the Icelandic connection but with the self-indulgence which goes into crafting it.  Two distillates and a 3000 round mile trip to add the water, truly a huge carbon footprint but what a magical result.  For January’s Gin Club we served it with Strawberry (sadly not Blairgowrie ground ones, it is January after all and not even a poly tunnel can help us) and black pepper.  Ohhh what a smooth drink, great combination from Stuart Caldow if ever I say so.  Those of you we stuck around to the bitter end will have got to try Caldo’s garnish experiments with Chilli’s and Coriander.  I like the difference in the taste with this but preferred the sweet strawberry.  We even changed the tonic at this point.  Martin Millers is a gin that can change a lot just on the mixer and the garnish so if you have a bottle experiment.

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Last on our gin list was Caldo’s find, a left field option but still very much in the London Dry (Welsh Dry) world.  Brecon Gin is a very elegant lady of a product.  Classic gin flavours and made expertly.  It comes from the famous Brecon Whiskey Distillery and if you go on their website you can find loads about the Brecon national park, their incredible water and mainly their whiskey.  Not so much about the Gin though.  Brecon gin is a big traditional juniper laced gin with coriander and revealing hints of spicy cinnamon.  We served as a classic G&T with lime which soften the heavy juniper and complimented the cinnamon and herbs.

Once again Kate, Caldo, Rothney (I suppose) and myself would like to thank everyone there who made it another sell out gin club.  Next one is 27th Feb which is also a sell out then after that March which has just been announced

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Also thanks to Ritchie, his sheer manliness and camera skills, the ladies of the Hidden Lane for their  food, the heat from the oven, the cake smell and the cakes.  Finally to Carly Morrison who keeps it all legal and always helping us out, you are a massive legend misses we wouldn’t have a GC without you.

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Thanks
Graeme

Squirrels Year End (Not Rear) Review

So me (being Graeme or Squirrel to everyone except my family) used to write a blog every year, a new year’s summing up what had happened in past 12 months and my thoughts going forward. I feel I should continue you this through, taking it from whatever band blog I was in at the time and bring it into the Gin Club world.

2014 might be the quickest year of my life, I feel it was only a few weeks ago that it was my 30th birthday in February and that I was feeling all sad about being a different tick box on a survey or worse that certain surveys no longer apply to me. Like the feeling you get when you are older when walking down the town on a Saturday night and club reps ignore you as you’re not cool enough.

They do say though that from now on the years blur into one, they go quickly and that the all significant birthdays have a zero in them. Maybe the zero should signify the lack of hope. Jokes.

So apart from my ever increasing descent into middle age and having nothing to show for it lets review the year.

This was the year that we finally created Gin Club into something bigger than me and Caldo drinking gin in our pants and watching Mylie Cyrus on YouTube while constantly commentating on how “why yes I would” then comparing the difference between her and Taylor Swift. One you want to go home with and one you want to marry and have babies with the latter being Tay Tay.

We did our first official event at the Brew at the Bog festival which seen us pedal lots of gin through a new gin bar devised by the exceptional brain of Yvonne Murray. In doing this we put out the word of Gin Club to lots of gins. We were asked to comment on gin on Radio Scotland. At this point our “Club” had growing a torso, legs and we needed a head. Welcome Kate Gill. A woman who I have known for years only as Caldo’s cousin and seen either in Oxfam books or in her joggies on university avenue (and not in a clatty dirty old man at night meeting on university avenue way btw), she brought note pads and “don’t be stupid” looks / comments then made us have meetings. It’s fair to say she sorted out our ideas into a format. This then formed into our first sell out event in the Hidden Lane Tea Room.

From there we have essentially done a sell-out gin party each month in various locations (mainly the tearoom) until the end of the year.   I think a highlight for me with these events would be the London No.3 event in a hair salon (Kroma), as it was so random and really educational from a brand prospective. I also got to see Chris Grant not in a tracksuit and not talking about jumping stuff instead watching him craft gin cocktails.

Outside Gin Club life has gotten rather grown up. Caldo has buggered off to the Bermuda triangle of Glasgow’s south side, where people piss off too and they stay there hidden away, never heading west. You can’t just walk down the road with them for a pint; you have to bus it or drive. Me I decided to buy a house, not a flat, but a proper house, with a shed, lawnmower and a conservatory (the shed is full of gin btw; I need Wifi out there and a couch hehe). Kate did the biggest move, she traded Glasgow for Wolfhill. Yes no one who isn’t from Perthshire has a bloody clue where Wolfhill is. Essentially if you don’t need to you won’t ever go there, it’s a wee hamlet where I was once told the last wolf in Scotland was killed there. Glasgow or Wolfhill??? Hmmm tough one J . Then changed her job from Science to making money. Big move but she’s happier. Now she needs to open Perth’s first gin bar.

I usually get a big reflective in thinking about the year past. I have to say I am one of these people who evaluates his yearly performance. This year I don’t know what to make of it. I have made huge steps forward in my life, but think other aspects have frozen still. I have always felt that since finishing university all those eight years ago I have been minus achievement. Each year you sit exams and pass or fail them. Sadly the only exam I have sat this year was for P30 programme management training which I failed. I also hung up my musical hat and put my last band to bed. Which is a huge deal for me but one that only me and the five men involved seemed to be bothered about, like mist it just was there then wasn’t, you know it’s time to call it a day when an album you make gets less hits than a beetroot and chocolate cake. Haha. This isn’t a problem it’s just one of life’s things, the cake was bloody good though.

In our older life’s we don’t have this constant learning and evaluation. One of the few measures we have is our events or activities that cannot be quantified as pass or fail but busy, fun or educational. For Gin Club it’s been a huge success, we have created a grown-ups party where people drink small batch Gin and learn about the brands and the love each distiller puts into their products (except Gordons)

I don’t know what more to say about 2014. I would say it was fun, quick and I’m not sure if I did my best as a human this year. I know I could do so much better.

Next year we have some great ideas for events, some big things to come for Gin Club and I hope the gins and the guests will be up for drinking the Mothers Ruin with us. Actually I hope that Kate, Caldo and I get to drink more gin. The more events we have the less gin we get to drink, we only get to sample it and write the tasting notes L

 

Thanks

 

Graeme

 

Friday 8th of the 8th

Our third Gin Club (well fourth if you include Brew at the Bog and possibly 128th if you include Caldo and I’s nights in the flat discussing Gin, Miley Cyrus and how much I think Pandas are pointless creatures). So let’s say our fourth official Glasgow Gin Club event, and this time round our tickets went on sale and out of sale in the space of a mere two weeks. Chuffed we were and far too relaxed. It came to the standard Monday night tasting where we decide the mixers, garnish and do our Gin “research”, so that we can create our lovely little booklet for all the Gin tasters on the Friday. There is this huge effort in the week running up to a Gin Club night, especially collating all the necessary items for the Friday, including the city wide search for Cape Gooseberries (for the Darnley’s View). This results in Kate (the scientist) stressing. Which we found is easily fixed by adding Mint and Fig to Blackwood’s and Tonic.

“Wow I can’t believe that, that taste, it’s a totally different drink,” she says in excitement.

And yes she is single!

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Friday came and our cars were loaded, along with the skies above Glasgow. Then they opened. Rain, Rain, Rain.

So the venue was set, the bar set, the music set and Bridget from the Hidden Lane had her wine in a tea-cup. The Mad Chef finished the Hendricks Sorbet, Malky had his red wine in a pint glass while he played northern soul and the Gin Clubbers arrived.

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This time round we were trying out a new token system instead of handing out one Gin at a time. It was a hit. The tasting guides assigned each Gin a colour, we then had four GIN ME cards also colour coded so that people could select their Gin of choice and at their own pace. There were only two issues; 1. People asked for “the green one please”, to which you had to say (remember) “ah yes Opihr”. 2. I left my bar blades at home and had to make an emergency purchase of a small bear in a kilt (also functioning as a bottle opener) for some of the mixers. Other than that the idea was a success, it meant we could discuss the Gin being selected as people came to our designated bar area. It also had the added effect, that people at different tables were actively discussing their Gin choices and really engaging with the Gins. At first people were picking Blackwood’s and the Opihr, I think this is probably due to the booklet layout. Then the flood of Darnley’s View and Strathearn Homecoming came. High praise all-round.

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Kate then decided to bring out the big guns and deliver her Gin Lemon Drizzle Cakes. Sweet lord in heaven. Imagine baking cakes to serve at a tea room that already makes cake.  They were incredible, they vanished rapidly too. I think we should get Kate to stick up recipes on the blog as standard after each event.

Bridget from the Hidden Lane has promised to create Gin Muffins for the future “hmmmmmmmm”.

On a side note to this Kate being the scientist that she is, weighs her eggs….I’ve never seen that, which is probably why my cakes are rubbish in comparison. Hopefully Bake Off will feature some accurate baker doing that this season.

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By now people were well into their third and fourth Gins. Hungry for more they were. So time to fire out the Sorbet. Yup Mad Chef Danny knows his measures; I think they go along these lines:

“Enough to knock out a bus of grannies going for high tea?? Aye!”

Mix it together with lime and sugar syrup and into the ice cream machine, serve with cucumber and there you have Gin Club Sorbet.

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After the GIN ME tokens have all been traded we open up the bar to sell all our extra stock we purchase for the evening. As always we keep going until it goes i.e. until the cups run out or until the Jurassic Park theme tune plays, signalling its 11:45pm – time to drink up or there will be a Gincident (GC copyright that phrase btw) on our hands.

We like to deck the place with props, many of which have our GC Phrases.

Gin Me = “Good evening Sir/Madame may I have one of your fine Gins”

Ginned Out = “I appear to have drunk too much Gin and am in danger of embarrassing myself”.

Gincident = “There has been an accident which is Gin related”. E.g. Spilt Gin, someone has snuck in a bottle of Gordons.

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Even although I (Squirrel, Hi) didn’t get to taste a single drop of the lovely stuff, I loved Fridays Gin Club. I don’t understand why it was so hot upstairs. Maybe the quinine in the tonic causes the bodies’ metabolic rate to increase and thus the air warms or maybe it was Malky’s dancing.

But I can safely say it was a great night and enjoyed by all.

A massive thank you to Blackwood’s, Opihr, Darnley’s View and Strathearn for being involved.

Anyone reading this that was at the event may remember our booklets stating you can buy these Gins from The Good Spirits Company, Bath Street, Glasgow or through their online portal.

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Full photos of the event can be seen at our Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/glasgowginclub)

A big thank you to everyone who came along and drank with us.

A huge thank you to Bridget, Malky B, Ritchie “the pigeon” Patton, Carly Morrison (who isn’t mine or Caldo’s girlfriend, she’s the licensee) and the Mad Chef. Finally to Bloc for “lending” us things like cups and ice.

Finally thank you to our stockists, The Good Spirist Company and Valhalla’s Goat.

Our next one is the 19th September Tickets out soon.

Thanks
Squirrel

GC

Rocking The Boat With Our Rollers In

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It’s 6.30pm on Wednesday – scheduled weekly meet time at Gin Club HQ. I’m somewhere between locating Sri Lankan tea leaves and boiling the kettle, when Squirrel comes out with “we should do it at Kroma, I go there, they are up for it”.

The thoughts that are going through my head; I need more loose tea, I wish I’d bought chocolate, what on earth is he talking about now?

So here is a brief insight into what happens at a midweek Gin Club meeting. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t drink Gin, we usually eat cake and lots of unrelated statements are delivered as a monologue and require deconvolution.

It materialised that Kroma was being suggested as a venue for an evening with No.3 London, I was then later informed that Kroma was a hairdressers. Ok, so we had done Gin in the Tearoom and it was a hit (so much so we are doing it again) but could we really pull off Gin in a hairdressers? Guess there was only one way to find out….cue Monday the 7th of July in Finnieston.

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No.3 London is an extremely classic and perfectly balanced London Dry Gin and it was raved about highly at the Hidden Lane. Having the opportunity to allow some of our Gin Club members to find out more about the Gin itself, from Amanda, the brand ambassador was such an exciting prospect for us.

Amanda gave us an insight into the fascinating story behind No.3; from the copper pot stills in Schiedam (Holland) that give birth to the spirit, to the origins of its name – 3 St. James’s Street in London is the residing address of the creators – Berry Bros. & Rudd.

Amanda Talks No.3

No.3 is a Gin which has been somewhat crafted to near perfection, and all with the undeniable expertise of Dr. David Clutton. Dr. Clutton is unashamedly my new hero, he is a chemist with a PhD in Gin. You read right, an actual PhD, he is a doctor IN GIN (the only one I should add). Nobody mentioned this option when I was considering Chemistry PhD’s – thank you University of Glasgow careers service and every graduate fair I ever attended.

So what makes No.3….well, No.3? Like all good London Dry Gins should, it has a heady note of juniper, this is combined with 2 other fruits – sweet orange peel and grapefruit peel, which are joined further by 3 spices; coriander seeds, cardamom and angelica root. Steeping these 6 botanicals prior to distillation allows their distinct flavours to really mingle and infuse into the mother liquor. Upon tasting neat, my first hit was distinctively piney from the juniper, followed swiftly by a complete citrus rush.

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As well as a neat tasting, throughout the evening we also served; classic G&T’s garnished with lemon (plus Fever-Tree naturally), Negroni’s with a sliver of orange peel and G&T’s with a twist (lemongrass and coriander garnish), all were created and poured by the expert hands of Chris Grant. I have always claimed that Negroni and I are not exactly best friends, placing him (Negroni is a male FYI) in the exact same friendship group as Aperol – bitter with a deceptive appearance. However, I put my hands up, Chris I think I may have been converted. And although the bitter man may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, the lemongrass and coriander Gin’s went down a storm – seriously buy some No. 3 and try it!

Thanks to everyone for coming along to the hairdressers in Finnieston and drinking some No.3 with us. And of course an even bigger thanks to Amanda for bringing No.3 to a salon of Gin Clubbers in cutting chairs. A credit to Fiona for the amazing photos!

Not being content with stopping at just one night of bringing No.3 to the people of Glasgow, we packed up the silver key stirrers and headed along to the Abandon Ship womenswear launch in the Princes Square shop.

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The prints for the new line are amazing, uniquely ASA and like nothing else you’ll find on the high street….hurrah! The watermelon crop tee and skirt are to die for. We selected 3 serves for No.3 – the classic and twisted G&T’s as per Monday night and a Ginger Gin Fizz. I think it’s safe to say Glasgow LOVE No.3 London (and we love peanut butter and jam doughnuts).

To end this blog post in stereotypical girl style, I would be lying if I said that sometimes I worry people don’t understand what we’ve set out to achieve. However, if I’ve learnt anything from my fellow Gin Club founders in the last 6 months, it’s stay true to what you believe is right. We really love Gin and all we want is to find a fun way to make other people fall for it too….simple really?

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Gin Club

West Side To The East Side

Saturday the 14th of June 2014, possibly the most prolific date in the Gin drinkers diary. Yup, you got it – World Gin Day! And what better way was there for Gin Club to celebrate this momentous occasion, than to attend Scottish Juniper Festival at Summerhall in Edinburgh.

Summerhall is the former Royal (Dick) Vet School and functions now as a venue and art space. Rather coincidently and somewhat luckily for us, it is also the home of Sumerhall Distillery  – the birthplace of Pickering’s Gin. On Friday 13th and Saturday 14th of June, for 2 days only, this unique setting was converted into  complete Gin paradise. 

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I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t feeling my best towards the end of last week. One by one the Beatson drug discovery lab has been struck down by either a cold, flu or chest infection and in some cases all three. I knew it was only a matter of time before I was handed the baton. However, in the name of Gin I set the alarm for early Saturday morning and made my way towards Queen Street Station. There was only one thing on my mind, nope not the Gin venture that lay ahead, but rather getting my hands on that white coffee cup with the green face, and my name scribbled in marker pen on the side (needs must). And as I sat, waiting on cousin Stuart to arrive – I’m sorry to me Caldo refers to 5 family members – I gave myself a firm pep talk on the art of manning up.

Anyway, enough prattle….

What exactly is Scottish Juniper Festival? Simple, a celebration of all things Gin – think masterclasses, cocktails, talks and tastings. The festival itself was split into two sessions; afternoon (12-4pm) and evening (5-9pm). You must understand that for two VERY big gin fans this is an extremely limited amount of time, when you have a very long list of things to do.

Over the two floors and the courtyard of the main Summerhall building, 14 Gins were on show – where oh where to begin? In essence, it did not matter as either way we’d be making sure we visited each and every one. Between the two of us, we had probably at some point or another tasted most of the gins before, however, to be able to compare and contrast each Gin back to back is fantastic. It’s funny how easily your recollection of how something tastes changes, when you are comparing it to another Gin of even just slightly different botanical composition. Gin no longer just tastes like Gin. New notes, finishes, sweetness and spices all reveal themselves, both to great surprise and delight. In fact just being able to see so many artisan products all in one space at the same time was enough to leave me in awe (further ammunition for the boys at the next Gin Club Meeting)….

There are too many Gins to mention individually so I will put a list at the end. I did however, love the Opihr display (only mildly disappointed there was no Tuk Tuk – google it) and the Darnley’s Gin Cake! It was great to see a few of the Gins from our event the week before too and have a proper chat and say thanks.

Throughout the day various Gin led talks were also taking place, all within the “Spiritual Sessions Theatre” – accompanied of course, by various juniper based tipples. Picture the scene; curved rows of tiered wooden seats, a blackboard on the wall, a vaulted sky light, 3 antiquarian lady chairs on which the Gin experts sat and desks flanked by Gin, oh and there was a man with a dog. As I sat there 4 Gins in hand, I couldn’t help but think, that if only all my chemistry lectures could have been delivered in the same way (I’m sure I could have argued relevance in some way) then maybe I would have found studying the different lattice structure of metals more interesting….I did say maybe. Geraldine Coates, the prolific author of GinTime certainly blew any lecture I’ve ever sat through out of the water.

The central courtyard was a visual feast with the Pickering’s Snickering Pig Roast and Gin Cart, Hendrick’s Ma’am (Winnebago) and the Cocktail Bar all occupying separate corners.

Just a few small steps into Ma’am and you are instantly transported into the wondrous world of Hendrick’s; jars stuffed full of sensuous botanicals, etchings, maps of London Gin Dens, books in glass cases, a typewriter, a branded lamp, a cuddly toy (loved the generation game) and Hendrick’s, lots of Hendrick’s! Duncan McRae led visitors (or maybe more aptly passengers?) through the history of Gin; from Holland, through the scandalous Gin soaked streets of London to an English Rose Garden where one would enjoy tea from the finest china whilst nibbling on cucumber sandwiches. All to be rounded off with a mighty fine peach cocktail.

23 Gins in (a mere estimate I had lost count somewhere between 1.30 and 2pm) and there was still more to see…..but first food, I needed food. Pit stop at the Snickering Pig before onwards and upwards to Pickering’s. Pickering’s is a relatively new Edinburgh Gin and we were fortunate enough to have a chat with Marcus about his creation. This was followed by a good old look around the distillery – I was pretty much in the copper still with excitement, as Stuart measured up the size of the thing, realising that getting one in his flat was in fact achievable.

It was definitely after 4pm by the time we left the distillery and Summerhall was hotting up for the evening guests. I know we would have stayed for another 4 hours but there was another action on the To Do List that had to be seen too.

In fear of not yet being Gin’d oot we had spied the opening of Heads and Tales – a new bar at the home Edinburgh Gin in Rutland Place, it really would have been rude not to at least go and see the place wouldn’t it? One Gin cocktail (Stuart opted for an Irn-Bru Botanist – when in Rome), a G&T, and a Zizzi’s pizza later, I was definitely ready to get back home. We rolled back into Glasgow at the very respectable time of 11.30pm – definitely the earliest return after a night out I’ve ever had!

To top it all off, on Sunday my head was positively clear – the world was a great place, I’d had the best day learning and talking shop, caught up with all the family in Edinburgh and drank the best Gins…..

It wasn’t until Monday morning when I chirply got in my car to drive to work that I realised that my glasses (which I had to pitch to my Mum as an investment) were still on holiday in an unknown location Edinburgh…..cue a long day of phone calls describing comedy sized tortoiseshell spectacles.

It would be criminal to finish this post without acknowledging Martin Duffy of Solid Liquids for pulling the biggest and best Gin jamboree together. Gin Club are counting on the event being annual!

A list of the Gins we enjoyed and chatted to; Burleigh’s, Opihr, Caorunn, No.3 London, Darnley’s View, Crossbill, Gin Mare, NB Gin, The London No.1, Blackwood’s, Hendrick’s and Pickering’s.

Kate