Septembers Gin Club

Right I know this is late as always.  It’s fair to say we have been mental (Moich – if you’re from Perthshire), but here goes.

So who decided that Graeme should get married head to Sri Lanka for three weeks and on the week he came back should do a Gin Club.  He did (should I say I did), twat!  That’s a sure fire way to ruin yourself.  Where was Caldow you ask, “Busy” ahaha.  Nonsense, he doesn’t know the meaning of it.  Ticketmaster sounds easy J

So Septembers Gin club was an interesting one (they all are).  We had one left field choice (which we will describe later), a choice to allow the Gin Clubbers to reach for something a bit more special when buying a standard London Dry other than Gordon’s or Bombay and a new one which tasted like the seaside.

So the first Gin we featured is one which currently has a bit of a PR problem, and this is a crying shame.

Plymouth Gin

The name Plymouth Gin is a protected brand, much like Scotch Whiskey (in that it has to come from certain casks and be made here) or Jersey potatoes which have to be made in Jersey.  It’s actually one of few Gins which have a protected name.

Plymouth Gin is essentially a London Dry in taste with a slight degree of difference that most wouldn’t taste once they fire in garnish and tonic, but as it’s made traditionally in Plymouth it gets its own Gin type, Plymouth Gin and not London Dry.

Back in the day when Plymouth was a famous naval town seeing the likes of Nelson et al there were over eight distilleries catering and facilitating the term “drinks like a sailor”, now though there is only one.

Plymouth is produced by the Black Friars Distillery. The Black Friars Distillery is the only remaining gin distillery in Plymouth, in what was once a Dominican Order monastery built in 1431, the distillery being one of the UK’s eldest in UK, dating back to 1793.

The Brand has so much history and is such a great tasting Gin for the house that I’m constantly annoyed it gets bypassed by most in pubs or the supermarket and people opt for Gordon’s or Bombay thinking its better.  The brand really has an image problem.  But Barman love it, it’s a great cocktail dry Gin, it tastes great in the home and for some reason Morrison’s always has it on special so you can get an amazing dry Gin for the same price as Bombay or a big bottle of Gordon’s.

It has seven botanicals – juniper, coriander, sweet orange, cardamom, angelica and orris root that are redistilled with pure grain spirit. For a Gin you don’t get the dominance of Juniper instead its almost sweet, with orange and cardamom giving it a soft fruity yet spicy finish.

Please reach for this instead of your traditional choices.  Plymouth should be in your drinks cabinet or globe J

We served it as G&T served with Fever Tree, garnished with Strawberry

 IMG_9528  IMG_9552 IMG_9599  IMG_9589

Edinburgh Seaside

So we have featured Edinburgh before and we can safely say the first time when they brought the Cannonball and we made Dry Martini’s along with bottles of all their other products, it was a pretty ruckus night.  Caldow had to carry women out in cuddieback form.

Edinburgh Gin has been constant innovators in the world of Scottish Gin.  For some time the Gin was bottled down south but in summer 2014 Edinburgh Gin move the distillation process to the capital.  The Edinburgh Gin range is rather impressive with Raspberry Gin (which we have been told are Rasps from Perthshire) and Elderflower Gin (and other flavoured gins); we featured the Cannonball Gin in February, this time though we are using the Edinburgh Seaside Gin.

Head Distiller David Wilkinson and the team scowered the coastline in search of the perfect ingredients to give a Scottish seaside flavour. After experimentation, they settled on a combination of seaweed, scurvy grass and ground ivy combined to the other Edinburgh Gin Botanicals making a slightly sweet yet refreshingly minerally taste, you can taste the salt.

We at Gin Club think this is the best thing they have made.  It is a truly unique product.  I know they have a huge product list, but the liqueurs are more like Gin Crack…  As in “here come and try this” to get you into it.  They are great and in fairness Mrs Macdonald drinks them all the time, but the Seaside is their best innovated Gin to date.  Well done Mr Wilkinson.

Thanks to Finlay and Ruairidh for popping down and the patter, and drinking hehe, no ruined Gin Clubbers from the mini still this time.

We served it as a G&T with Fever Tree, but to get the most out of it you should use the Mediterranean Tonic and a lemon peel twist.

IMG_9500

Whitley Neill

So we have Mr Niell before but this goes along the same lines and the Plymouth choice.  It’s in all the supermarkets and the usual retail price is £22-£25 which is around the same as Bombay, please pick this more (unless of course Bombay email Gin Club tomorrow saying “please promote us here’s eight bottles”).

Whitley Neill is distilled near Birmingham, in an antique copper pot still called ‘Constance’ who is over 100 years old. Using exceptionally pure water along with nine botanicals, which are carefully selected to ensure that they are of the highest quality. Whitley Neill’s tagline is “Made in London and Inspired by Africa” which is not only an insight to its creator Johnny Neill who is married to an African woman but also describes some of the botanical choices. In this line up are cape gooseberries and baobab fruit along with more traditional ones such as juniper, coriander, lemon & orange peel, angelica root, cassia bark and orris root.

To taste you get juniper and citrus notes first followed by a subtle spice and complex finish. It really does not disappoint on the “different” quote as you do get more than you normally get from a London Dry.

We served it as a G&T served with Fever Tree, garnished with Plum.

IMG_9608

Firkin Gin

So I mentioned earlier about our left field choice.  By this I’m not saying “this is our crap option” quite the opposite it’s the different choice, by different I mean greatly different (not sure if I’m showing different in a good light here or not).

FIRKIN Gin was launched in April 2015 by Gleann Mor Spirit Company.  Gleann Mor are mainly a Whiskey company, this is their successful Gin experiment.  Firkin Gin has a distinct whiskey look from the American oak whisky casks, it is rested in.  I really need to learn more about the brand and the history of Gleann Mor Spirits, they seem to have a great foot hold in the rare bottled Whiskey world.  Yum yum yum.  Gleann Mor, feel free to bring some along J

It really confused my senses at first.  As when you crack open the bottle you think “ohh Whiskey” but it’s not, it just looks and at first smells like one.  We served it with Tonic and orange peel which was wrong, completely wrong.  Yeah it worked for some, but as soon as you swapped the tonic for ginger beer or ale and the orange peel.  Different drink altogether.  Like Jerry Maguire “you complete me” says the Firkin to Ginger.  So much more was gained from the ginger combination.

The ingredients are a traditional line up with juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, and orris root all added into the still.  The Gin is 4 times distilled and bottled at 46%.  There is a good hit of juniper on the nose, followed by mint and lemon peel, then lemon barley sweetness develops followed by flint and elderflower;  a lovely balance between sweetness and crisp aromas.  On the palate, fudge-like sweetness with clean eucalyptus, then more mint.

IMG_9607IMG_9475

Right so that was the round up from last week.

Some thanks to Firkin (FIRKIN), to Whitley Neill, Plymouth and Edinburgh Gin.

Thanks to the Tea Room for the cakes, which we will get the recipe and post btw.

Thanks to Blonde Bridget for the vegan, and all other allergen cake.

Thanks for coming.

Plymouth and Whiteley Neill

So again we are doing this backwards but tonights Gins are:

WHITLEY NEILL

Whitley Neill is distilled near Birmingham, in an antique copper pot still called ‘Constance’ who is over 100 years old. Using exceptionally pure water along with nine botanicals are which are carefully selected to ensure that they are of the highest quality. Whitley Neill’s tagline is “Made in London and Inspired by Africa” which is not only an insight to its creator Johnny Neill who is married to an African woman but also describes some of the botanical choices. In this line up are cape gooseberries and baobab fruit along with more traditional ones such as juniper, coriander, lemon & orange peel, angelica root, cassia bark and orris root.

To taste you get juniper and citrus notes first followed by a subtle spice and complex finish. It really does not disappoint on the “different” quote as you do get more than you normally get from a London Dry.

Serving Suggestion: G&T served with Fever Tree, garnished with Plum

PLYMOUTH

So at Gin Club we often get fancy unheard of Gins but one thing we are keen to let you try are Gins that you can get in many places instead of reaching for the Gordon’s or the Bombay.  The name Plymouth Gin is a Protected branding which is any Gin made in Plymouth in tradition way.  Once there were many now there is only one. Plymouth, which is produced by the Black Friars Distillery. The Black Friars Distillery is the only remaining gin distillery in Plymouth, in what was once a Dominican Order monastery built in 1431, the distillery being one of the UK’s eldest, dating back to 1793.

The Brand has had a hard time in the past as it was abused by their parent company and as such the brand has suffered an image problem, lets fix that!

It has seven botanicals – juniper, coriander, sweet orange, cardamom, angelica and orris root that are redistilled with pure grain spirit. For a Gin you don’t get the dominance of Juniper instead its almost sweet, with orange and cardamom giving it a soft fruity yet spicy finish.

 

Serving Suggestion: G&T served with Fever Tree, garnished with Strawberry

Septembers Gin’s – FIRKIN & Edinburgh Seaside

So this month we are doing something a bit different.

The main reason being Stuart and myself have been busy as hell the whole of September and we haven’t had a chance to do the blogs the same, hence all the “ghost blog” posts for the Great British Bake Off.  But that will happen when you gallivant off on something called Honeymoon.

Right so this time we are doing the blogs in reverse order, we usually do a blog for each featured Gin, then post a small blog about how we served it after it.  But we are doing the latter first.

So our first two Gins for This month are:

FIRKIN

FIRKIN Gin was launched in April 2015 by Gleann Mor Spirit Company.  Before progressing any further Gleann Mor are mainly a Whiskey company, they specialise in bottling rare whiskeys.  This is the Gleann Mor distilleries foray into Gin and can I just start by saying brilliant start folks.  So Frikin Gin has a distinct whiskey look, it is golden brown and this is caused by the American oak whisky casks, it is rested in.

The ingredients are a traditional line up with juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, and orris root all added into the still.  The Gin is 4 times distilled and bottled at 46%.  There is a good hit of juniper on the nose, followed by mint and lemon peel, then lemon barley sweetness develops followed by flint and elderflower;  a lovely balance between sweetness and crisp aromas.  On the palate, fudge-like sweetness with clean eucalyptus, then more mint.

I find the Gin straight better than in a G&T as it gives a good mix of Juniper and Toffee type flavors.  To me tonic takes the Juniper away however, for Gin Club we are keeping the tonic or possibly attempting another mixer.  Trust me the flavor wont be lost, I think I have drank too much Gin now so Juniper gets lost unless its above 40% 🙂

Serving Suggestion: G&T served with Fever Tree, garnished Orange peel (maybe Ginger beer)

firkin

EDINBURGH SEASIDE

Edinburgh Gin have been constant innovators in the world of Scottish Gin.  For some time the Gin was bottled down south but in summer 2014 Edinburgh Gin move the distillation process to the capital.

The Edinburgh Gin range is rather impressive with Raspberry Gin (which we have been told are Rasps from Perthshire) and Elderflower Gin (and other flavoured gins), we featured the Cannonball Gin in February, this time though we are using the Edinburgh Seaside Gin.

Head Distiller David Wilkinson and the team scowered the coastline in search of the perfect ingredients to give a Scottish seaside flavour. After experimentation, they settled on a combination of seaweed, scurvy grass and ground ivy combined to the other Edinburgh Gin Botanicals making a slightly sweet yet refreshingly minerally taste, you can taste the salt.

Its a really strange taste at first.  Its like when someone lets your try potatoes cooked in sea water.  Its strange but brilliant.  This is a truly unique approach to adding flavor to a spirit which inst just making it another fruit infused Gin.

Serving Suggestion: Served with Fever Tree Tonic (possibly Mediterranean Tonic) & lemon twist.

edinburgh-seaside-gin

Bridget’s Vegan Gin Cake

So our mate Bridget (whom we love as we used to use her Tinder and swipe on the most horrific humans just for a laugh), has designed a wee Vegan Gin Cake (loaf) for us.  Bridget used to working in the Hidden Lane Tea Room where we hold most of our events.  Anyway here goes Bridget the Midgets cake:

Bridget cake3 Bridget cake2

So, vegan and gluten free grapefruit and gin loaf with a lime drizzle. (I scale in cups just from research for vegan cakes tend to come from America!)

Ingredients for cake:

3/4 cup gluten free plain flour

1 cup gluten free self raising flour

3/4 cup raw cane sugar

2tsp gluten free baking soda

1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)

1 1/4 cup almond milk Juice

zest of a grapefruit

Gin syrup:

Juice and zest of a grapefruit 3tbsp gin (Caorunn in this case) of your choice 1/2 cup caster sugar

Lime frosting:

Juice and zest of a lime Tsp gin of your choice 1/2 cup icing sugar (I bought all my ingredients apart from the gin from Roots and Fruits who are a great local source for natural foods)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180c and grease a 10inch cake tin loaf with a smidge of coconut oil. In a large bowl, mix together the flours, sugar and baking soda.

Once combined, stir in the melted coconut oil, milk and grapefruit and mix well looking out for lumps.

Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 50 mins (but check and 40 just to be safe, can never trust oven times!)

Once cooked, remove from the oven and while still hot and mix together the gin syrup ingredients in a small bowl. Then pour on-top while it’s still in the tin.

Once cooled and out the tin. Mix together the lime, gin and icing sugar till thick and shiny (you may want to add more lime or sugar to your preference) and dollop on-top allowing it to drop down the edges.

Decorate how ever you fancy (I cut some wafer thin lime slices but grapefruit slices would work well too).

Bridget cake

Strane / King of Soho / Broker’s & Boodles

Like everything this week Stuart and I are behind, all because of that wedding thing at the weekend.  And many of you will be surprised that it was me (Graeme) marrying a woman and not Stuart like most people thought.  Because of this little event the Gin posts for this month’s Gin Club will have to be lumped into one.  But they will by no means be lacking in fabulous writing (just in grammar and spelling and punctuation – see what I done there)…

First up (and this is in no list of anything we have):

Strane (London Dry)

strane

Strane is made by and at Smögen Whisky, a small craft distillery on the Swedish west coast, Hunnebostrand. The distiller has mainly been producing Whiskey since 2010; however they launched Strane in spring 2014.  The Gin is made in a 100 litre pot still, (which by the way is small), hence the small bottles and why we are so happy to get them along.  Strane claim that even though (and you can taste this) the still is small they; “take all the more care of each centilitre of what we do make, using plenty of high quality botanicals for every charge of the still”

Strane use a blending process to the distillation which allows them to create all three of their products, I am keen to learn more of the process involved in this “blending” as I wish to know which set distilutes are blended, and I see it like a basic curry sauce which a chef then uses to create the unique ones.

When I think about Strane I think about it getting made (like many Gins we feature) with a lot of TLC and experimentation.  I imagine that as it’s not an industrial process that not one batch tastes the exact same as another, which we love.  Stuarts buying criteria for a new Gin is often “does the label look like it has been stuck on by hand”?

All the Strane gins use the same botanicals: juniper berries, coriander seeds, lemon rind and flesh, lime rind, almonds, basil, garden mint, sage, cinnamon bark, liquorice root and then two others which they won’t tell us about.  One of local to the area and one is unknown but connects to the armed merchant shipping trade.

At Gin Club we are featuring the Strane Merchant Strength 47.4 %.  This is a very interesting “little Gin”, it’s not little, it’s huge just made in small quantities so the mix is bang on.  I have said this many times but it is a Gin that is made with TLC and it’s rather smooth so you can tell it’s had some love.  The taste is led by juniper (it is a Gin), coriander seeds and herby but you also get a wee lick of mint.

We will be serving it as a G&T with Fever Tree garnished with Lemon Peel.

King of Soho

kingofsoho

So Stuart has been after this Gin for a while so I politely took the brand rep out for lunch and now we have it.  I have known about the Gin for some time and I didn’t connect it at all with Paul Raymond the “King of Soho”.  Thank you Paul, if it wasn’t for you my teenage years would have been different, the 1990s might have been more like the 1950s.  Stuart wouldn’t have been able to pay me for lifts to Perth in top shelf mags for sure J

Anyway that’s where the Gin gets its name.  Paul’s son Howard wanted to capture the spirit of Soho and in tribute to his father developed a drinks brand.

King of Soho is a traditional London Dry made in London and by a mysterious “11th generation master distiller” at Thames Distillers in two small pot stills.    It is crafted using traditional methods and for purity it is quadruple distilled.  The Gin contains 12 botanicals; Juniper (it is a Gin), coriander, citrus (which I read from our friends at Gin Foundry are mainly grapefruit peel), angelica root and cassia bark (yes this doesn’t add up to 12, I am working on the others).  That’s all I will quote from our mates at Gin Foundry on this topic though…

On the nose King of Soho is very well rounded.  By that I mean it smells like a classic Gin there is no massive hits of anything which draws you away from smell of Juniper which is what a traditional London Dry should do.  I have always been better at the nosing side of things than the taste or texture, but like I said its juniper all the way here with coriander coming through.  When you drink it those two small flavours come through straight away (but I need to stress this is a traditional London Dry so it’s meant too).  You also get the citrus coming through.  A lot of people get a punchy bite of pepper which could be the cassia. One thing you don’t get is a hit of alcohol which is surprising as its not weak stuff at 42%.

We will be serving this as…  A surprise as cocktails may be involved on this one J

Broker’s

Brokers_big_1

This name gives me grief; it ruins my dyslexic mind (btw I am mega dyslexic, special reading classes in school with Jon Pennycook and Rowan Marshal).  I don’t know if I am to use the apostrophe or not?  Anyway I’m going with it.

So Broker’s is similar to King of Soho in the sense that it is again a traditional London Dry.  Makers Langely’s near Birmingham claim the recipe is 200 years old.  At the distillery they have an old john Dore & Core mini still which was used for the recipe development some time ago (not sure if it was 200 years ago but I am going with it).  The Gin is created using the adjacent list of Botanicals (and their connecting source locations): Juniper berries – Macedonia, Coriander seed – Bulgaria, Orris root – Italy, Nutmeg – India, Cassia bark – Indonesia, Cinnamon – Seychelles, Liquorice – Italy, Orange peel – Spain, Lemon peel – Spain and Angelica root – Poland.

To taste like all traditional London Dry recipes Brokers gives you the hit of Juniper, then comes the citrus, don’t ask me to differentiate them all but as there are only two it has to be lemon and orange peel.  You also get on the finish (which is after the salvia rushes in when you swallow) the pepperiness of the cassia and cinnamon.  One day Stuart and I will get some decent formal training in Gin tasting so these notes can be much better.  We used to have tasting sessions but we kept ending up in the ABC or the Cathouse and thought we shouldn’t do that anymore.

This is a fantastic Gin, It’s like a Ronseal product, it does exactly what it sets out to do and that’s create a perfect traditional London Dry.

We are serving this – as a surprise.

Boodles

boodles

Boodles takes its name from Boodle’s gentlemen’s club in St. James’s, London, founded in 1762 and originally run by Edward Boodle. Apparently the clubs most famous member Sir Winston Churchill loved the stuff.  But Plymouth Gin also claims the same thing.  Winston smoked too many cigars to be able to tell the difference I reckon.

Boodles was created in 1845, and is reputed to be one of the gins to shape the modern London Dry gin, as in Vodka base with Juniper and other Botanicals. In October 2013, Boodles Gin was released in the UK, with a redesigned bottle and an alcoholic strength of 80 proof. The botanical recipe for the gin remains the same.  Boodles has always been made in the UK, but had previously only been available for purchase in the US and Japan.  I don’t understand this bit of the history; it has only been made in the UK since 1845 but never available to buy here??  How did Winston get his war winning hands on it?

It is bottled at two strengths: 45.2% for the US and 40% alcohol for the UK by Greenall’s Distillery in Warrington, England.  But Americans can’t drink like us; surely there should be a Scottish Strength?

Boodles is known for its distinctive floral nose and lingering juniper flavour, with a clean finish.[ It contains a blend of nine botanicals: juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, angelica seed, cassia bark, caraway seed, nutmeg, rosemary and sage. It is made in a vacuum still, a process that allows the gin to retain more of the flavours of its botanicals. It is the only gin to contain nutmeg, rosemary and sage among its botanicals. Unlike other London Dry gins, Boodles contains no citrus ingredients.  The designers thought “surely they will add the citrus fruit”? Yes we will pal.

These ingredients add a mellow but herbal quality to Boodles, which balances out the essential piney notes from juniper.  It is a unique Gin in that there are no citrus fruits; all the elements come from a blend of herbs and spices. On the nose, this gin is very light with coriander notes. To taste it is herby, with coriander to start which becomes dry and slightly bitter.  I think of it as piney.

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:

HCSC_8617_lo_b.jpg

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

Negroni+bread-3+of+8-lo

*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.

Negroni+bread-1+of+8-loNegroni+bread-2+of+8-lo

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.

Negroni+bread-4+of+8-lo

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.

Negroni+bread-5+of+8-lo

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.

Negroni+bread-6+of+8-lo

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).

Negroni+bread-7+of+8-lo

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.

Negroni+bread-8+of+8-lo

Best eaten within 1 day.

July’s Gin Club

Firstly, can I just start by apologising for typing this later than expected, we at Gin Club like the blog posts going out at 3pm on a Wednesday, which according to the Google Machine is the best time to post anything to Social Media.  I general find that it isn’t the timing that causes a difference but more the content.  Cake and Gin seem to do better than anything else so we are winning this race already.

Last week we had a double bill of Gin Club, in that we ran two events.  The first was our July dedicated Brand event and was all about No.3 London Dry Gin.  Anyone reading this regularly (this is where I question you all for reading these ramblings) will know that we have worked with No.3 London and several occasions.  It was featured at our first Gin Club then again at our 1st Birthday Party and it was also the first time we did a dedicated Gin free event.

This time round though we teamed up with a new Eyewear store (store is very American I apologise) called IOLLA Eyewear, which is in deepest darkest Finnieston.  At first I had no Idea what an Eyewear store was, I kept calling it an opticians and saying “look at these glasses” where I was corrected and then eventually started saying eyewear.  I am now a convert to this shop though; they even found glasses for my football shaped head and Macdonald cheeks.

Amanda Baxter from Berry Brothers & Rudd came up from London to give the 30 odd guests a brand masterclass on No.3 London.  Going through the history of Gin, Gin in London, the Berry Bros & Rudd Brand then specialising in on what makes up what we regard as one of the best Cocktail Gins on the market No.3 London Dry Gin.

In between all these talks, Stuart and I were handing out classic G&T’s, then neat tastes (cracking jokes back glasses for drinks and putting glasses next to reading glasses – classic dad humour), an alternative G&T which was Lemon Grass and Coriander, then to break up the Gin madness we served old fashioned Gin Fizz cocktails.

I really want to say thanks to Amanda, Claire, the folks at IOLLA Eyewear, the guests, Stella the dog and Betty and Bee for making it a great night with us. #IOLLAxNo.3

Then on Friday the 31st July (yes summer has officially ended – not that it began) we hosted our regular end of the month Gin Club event in the Hidden Lane Tea Room.

So July has been a wet month and something we have notice has really affected Gin Club goers, it seems not many people want to do much when it’s miserable outside and you never know if it’s going to rain.  But we did get a fair few of you out to drink the best spirit on the planet.

We decided to shake things up a bit this month and move the bar to front room in the Tea Room which I can safely say is the smartest thing we have done.  It even meant people sneaky neat tastes for those waiting for the loo.

Our first Gin for the evening (remember these come in no form of order you can bring the GinMe to the bar and chose anyone) was Shetland Reel.  I can safely say I was thrilled to be featuring this Gin and have Stuart the master distiller there to chat about it.  I have been trying to get Shetland Reel at Gin Club all year and finally it arrived.

Shetland Reel comes from Unst, which is part of the Shetland Islands. The Shetland Distillery Company was created by four people sharing a passion for producing top quality products in local communities. Frank / Debbie Strang and Stuart / Wilma Nickerson.  The gin uses 8 botanicals including locally grown apple mint.  On the nose there is a strong hit of Juniper and coriander, with fresh floral notes. To try it neat it is dry with a juniper spine and a clean dry bite.  This then becomes smoother and sweeter.

The more you drink the fruitiness builds making it a wonderful Gin, a truly loved product with of course a decent solid Juniper taste (it is a Gin)

Along with neat serves (on the sly) we intended on doing G&T’s with Fever Tree and Raspberry, but Stuart convinced us to try Kiwi fruit.  No surprises he was right.

Our second Gin for the night (which technically isn’t a Gin) was Minus 33.  Minus 33 is crafted by scientist at the Locabev Laboratory in Rosyth and started out in the labs at Edinburgh Uni.  Yes this Gin is really made in a lab.  Minus 33 comes in at 33% so technically does not qualify as a London Dry Gin but 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. For the serve we were going to be using lemon and coriander but again the distiller Sam convinced us otherwise and we used dried Hibiscus.  Sam even used our old bar space to create a small lab which he served Minus 33 cocktails in beakers.

Then we had Diplôme.  Diplôme is created in Dijon and has been created roughly the same way since 1945; however the recipe was perfected during WW2.  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. Which we served as a classic G&T with Fever Tree, garnished with Grapefruit

Our last Gin for the month was Sipsmith.  Sipsmiths is an old fav of ours which we would rave about all day if we could.  Sipsmith’s was launched by Sam Galsworthy, Fairfax Hall and Jared Brown to pursue their passion for handmade spirits.

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.

Thanks to all of you for braving the weather and coming along.

The next one is the 28th August.  Get your tickets from Ticketweb.

Thanks

Graeme

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

Proud Parents

First Birthdays.

Obviously we can’t remember our own first birthday’s (if you say you do then you’re either Stewie from Family guy or your drunk), but we certainly remember other 1st birthday parties.  Having been to a few for my lovely Nephew and Nieces and now (god help us) my friends children, we know the format, crying, napping, half the adults drinking the other half drinking endless cups of tea, the one year old who couldn’t care less about the presents as the wrapping paper or the box is significantly more interesting.  A first birthday party is for the parents.  And if I’m honest they are lovely despite the flu or stomach bug you contract from playing with the little disease carriers (btw I’m getting a little broody in my old age) you really wouldn’t have it any other way.

So like proud parents (god does this mean that Caldo, Kate and I had a child together, remove Caldo from the equation and its normal haha), we move into the first birthday of our labour of love which is the Gin Club.

Our first solo event was the 6th of June 2014, however like a proper child it had a long gestation period, about nine months actually.  We recently did a blog for Ticketweb which describes how to create a club, so I best repeat myself on the gestation period to birth of Gin Club;

Conception

“The Art of Social Drinking” is something Caldo has always harped on about, where people go to a pub and drink nice alcohol and not just get wasted on the cheap stuff, dance and try and get off with people (these nights are ok too though).  Gin Club began while engaging in this Art form, two men in their late twenties, drinking artisan gin while trawling through YouTube for rap battles, Taylor Swift and Mylie Cyrus videos, then discussing the merits of both these two rather good female artists.

From these special moments slumped on a couch discussing which one would our mothers would prefer, a throw away thought in the form of Hashtag (#Ginclub) was born, which was instantaneously shared through each of our failing music and social media sites (it had been a long established fact that a photo of an album got less than 20 likes while a picture of a Gin pour or a beetroot and chocolate cake broke easily into triple figures).  In that one hashtag Gin Club was born (impregnated).

Don’t tell anyone it’s not three months yet

For the next few months we maintained the exclusivity of our club, while the member’s waiting list swelled with people retweeting, sharing photos and Gin Brands evening sending us stock!  But the intake was capped at two with the occasional “Gins a mine”, while our friends drank our expensive Gin and Tonic.   Keeping this cap along with the promotion of Gin and all its merits only increased demand.  Our Gin Club rules came into fruition too.  “No Gordon’s” and “Gordon’s is acceptable if there is nothing else”.

“Your showing”

Once our solid foundations had been set, we had demand, popularity and a thirst corporate engagement the next stage was to float our club idea. In the case of Gin Club this came with getting involved with the popular Brew at the Bog festival.  From this first big venture we had to draft in organised support in the third member, welcome the scientist (not the Coldplay song) Kate.

In developing this idea we had now made contact with all the Gin brands we loved and wanted to share with festival goers in Inverness.  This proved popular as all the Gin was drunk in the first day.

Birth

Our Idea was simple; it wasn’t to be formal Gin Club.  No noising glasses, just Gin served right so people could enjoy something a bit different to the norm and open to all Gin lovers.

Our club needed to be formative but informal so our guests left knowing more than what they did when they arrived without it being forced upon them or with them having to taste everything straight in crystal flute glass while writing notes in a language they would never use.

Fun / Nice were the words of choice, where people loved their night so much they took hundreds of photos, got to a good merry stage of drunkardness but happy their night wouldn’t be a late one.

Then after being at Gin Club they would want to go to a shop, buy a special Gin and realise what they have had in the pub for years is nothing compared to what they could be drinking.

We had the idea, we even had the date, the venue however wasn’t set, but a wee five minute conversation in Sainsbury’s solved that and it was set that we would be hosting Gin Club in a vintage tea room (with cake and the venue matched the feel of the night), then combine it with DJ’s, random props, table games, food (which get very competitive) and mountains of Fever Tree tonic.

Thinking back

I can’t believe that was a year ago!  Thinking of all the meetings with Kate and Caldo in Tinderbox or at Kate’s flat drinking loads of tea and eating way too much cake.

1st Birthday Party

So as it’s been a year we are going to celebrate by throwing a birthday party at the Hidden Lane on nearly the same date (one day out) as our first ever event.  To mark this we will be using the same Gins we started with;

Strathearn Heather Rose

Botanist

No.3 London

Caorunn

There will be all the usual trimmings along with lots of other special surprises.  I’ve been looking for the Happy Birthday song which gets playing in Jimmy Chung’s, can’t find it anywhere.

So get your tickets for the 5th June at the Hidden Lane Tea Room.