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There are basically two ways to use gin in your dishes when cooking. One is the straight forward one: Allegedly when Julia Child was asked what her favourite dish was, she replied: a red steak and a glass of gin. The other is the more complicated for the rest of us that do not posses Mrs Childs qualities: use gin as an ingredient.
Once in a while you come across a product that clearly has more potential than what it looks like. This is how I feel about Hendricks Gin. It is a gin – and a damn good one – but it is more than “just” a gin. Having listened to a presentation of the history of gin and the ways of distilling gin – and there are more than one way – and having sat through a tasting of Hendricks Gin in different cask strengths and combinations, I could not help feeling that something more than adding tonic and lime was needed.
Be not confused: Hendricks Gin is excellent for your drinks and cocktails, as other gins. Just be prepared for the extra taste, that Hendricks has. It is not a simple gin. It has a complex taste which makes it different from other gins. If you prefer a pure gin of excellent quality, I would still refer you to the tasty clarity of the Arctic Gin we tasted some months ago. But if you (also) like your Gin complex in taste, then Hendricks is a good alternative.
But why – I asked myself – just drink it? French cooking is full of cognac, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Armagnac, Poire Williams etc added to dishes at different points in the preparation. While all these alcohols have strong tastes, and thus suitable for adding to dishes during cooking, this is not in general applicable for gin. But that’s where I thought Hendricks Gin might offer new opportunities.
An obvious choice with Hendricks is of course to make a pickled cucumber salad with some gin added to the dressing. Obvious because Hendricks contains this tasty hint of cucumber (and warm summer days). I can recommend to try this, but add the gin after boiling the vinegar marinade. In my experience that enhances the taste.
But I was more intrigued by another recipe I found on the net when looking for “cooking with gin”. The recipe is about curing fish with a mixture containing gin. While I have no doubt that this is probably originally a Nordic recipe, using aquavit rather than gin, I immediately thought it would be interesting to test with Hendricks gin.
The process for curing fish is simple if requiring patience. You take a fresh filet of salmon or sea trout – skin on. And you cover it with salt and spice based mixture, leave it in the fridge for days – depending on size of the filet – clean of the mixture and it is ready to be sliced and eaten on white bread, or crispy bread or blinis. You can also experiment with mackerel, but the fish needs to be fat to survive the curing process.
The interesting thing here was to add Hendricks gin to the mixtures of salts, pebber, lemon or lime zest and juice, juniper berries (crushed), different spices according to your taste (cumin, coriander, cardamom, chilli etc). You cover the fish in this mixture on both sides, wrapped up in film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours.
The taste is stunning. Cured salmon is always delightful, but Hendricks adds that extra touch. And you have the opportunity to enjoy the dish with a Dry Martini with Hendricks. We all have our own
preferences for a Dry Martini. In view of the nice taste of Hendricks I would tend to go for the recipe where you place your glass in the shade of the Vermouth bottle and then you feel the glass with the shaked Hendricks gin, add the olive and enjoy. Alternatively you can of course – if you prefer your Dry Martini less dry – add a few drops of Vermouth.
Vanavond cocktails testen in Espace Chambon, hartje Brussel. Een mooi initiatief van Cointreau: pop-up cocktail bar in een verlaten bankgebouw … not bad!
Vanaf 21 maart, kan iedereen er terecht voor een drankje. Ik laat jullie weten hoe het smaakte uiteraard!
Rust en Vrede Estate in Stellenbosch has joined the class of international vinous icons by reaching the Wine Spectator Magazine’s annual list of the World’s Top 100 wines for the fifth time.
The Rust en Vrede Estate 2008, the winery’s flagship red wine, received a score of 93 points and was placed 78thin this revered list of the World’s Top 100 Wines for 2012 which was announced this week.
This accolade was previously awarded to Rust en Vrede in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 – also for the Estate Wine from the respective vintages of 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.
Only two South African wines made this year’s Spectator Top 100 list, the other being Hamilton Russell Estate with its 2011 Chardonnay.
According to Jean Engelbrecht, Rust en Vrede proprietor, the award vindicates a belief in specialization and focus. “Rust en Vrede’s ethos is that of a red wine estate committed to excellence and the best expression of our vineyard sites in Stellenbosch’s Helderberg region,” says Engelbrecht.
“This entails focussing on a limited number of red grape varieties from sites with proven track records. The Estate wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot, has allowed us to combine three of the finest vineyards bearing grape varieties witha history of superbly expressing themselves on our Rust en Vredeterroir. Engelbrecht says accolades such as these are not only important for Rust en Vrede, but for the entire South African wine industry.
“If South Africa wants to be perceived as a wine-producing nation of distinction, it is not going to do it in the cheap-and-cheerful high volume market,” says Engelbrecht. “What we need to elevate our status is more top-end South African wines grabbing the imagination of the consumer through international recognition and accolades. This includes offering wines of quality at all price points.
“More iconic South African wines sitting alongside the world’s best will not only benefit these producers, but the image and perception of our industry in its entirety. This is what the industry has to strive towards and this is what those representing the industry have to show a greater support of.”
Plus the Queen of Denmark goes there for lunch, so hey try it!
Verwarmend. Dat mag je best letterlijk nemen, want Hendrick’s Gin leent zich uitstekend tot het bereiden van een echte hot punch? Hartverwarmend! En gebaseerd op een oud recept uit ‘Drinking with Dickens’ (1850), een receptenboekje van de hand van Cedric Dickens, de achterkleinzoon van de vermaarde Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carroll, …).
Het was Charles Dickens zelf die deze concoction voor het eerste bereidde en tijdens het schenken aan zijn vriend David Copperfield de historische woorden sprak: “Punch, my dear Copperfield, like time and tide, waits for no man.”
Hoe maak je de Hot Gin Punch?
• Een kookpot
• Een gasvuur
• Een snijplank
• Een scherp mes
Ingrediënten, goed voor zes kopjes:
(lichtjes gewijzigd tegenover de 1850-versie)
• 70 cl Hendrick’s Gin
• 70 cl Madeira wijn
• 3 kruidnagels
• snuifje nootmuskaat (vers geraspt)
• 25 g kaneelpoeder
• 1 kaneelstokje
• 50 g bruine suiker
• 6 grote citroenschillen
• 1 grote sinaasappelschil
• ½ verse ananas, in stukjes gesneden
• vier eetlepels honing
• sap van twee limoenen
• 9 jeneverbessen
Meng alle ingrediënten in een grote pot.
• Warm op tot 50°C à 60°C en laat een half uur tot een uur lichtjes sudderen.
• Tijdens het koken zal de smaak veranderen. Proef daarom regelmatig, en voeg smaak toe zoals je het zelf wenst. Pas de zuur/zoetbalans aan door er extra honing of limoen aan toe te voegen.
• Serveer warm in theekopjes.
Je kan deze punch ook koud drinken en opnieuw opwarmen. Dat laatste zal de smaak nog intenser maken. Hoe meer je de punch kookt, hoe intenser de smaak. Cheers !
Whenever we see a great food infographic, we obviously share it with you, but in this case when the infographic is actually on the label of a wine bottle … that’s heaven!
Thumbs up to Australian wines!
100ml Hendrick’s Gin
25g squeezable glucose
juice of 1 1/2 Limes
handful of mint leaves
Bring the sugar, water, glucose, and mint to the boil. Add the lime juice, stir until mixed and take off the heat. While the syrup is cooling, blend the cucumber with a hand blender (or pass it through a juicer.) Allow the syrup to cool by either letting it rest for a few hours or placing it straight in the fridge. When cooled, add the syrup and Hendrick’s Gin to the cucumber and blend again with a hand blender. Pass through a sieve into a resealable container, adding a bit of the pulp for colour.
Place in the freezer and stir every hour to break apart the ice crystals. (If you have an ice cream maker, feel free to drop the mixture straight in, and let it do the hard work for you!) Serve with a sprig of mint and a tart summer fruit, or put your feet up and spoon it straight out of the tub.
If you are like me and when you think about champagne, you think about tall thin glasses, bubbles and festivities or special moments.
At a tasting organised by Piper-Heidsieck in Brussels I learned not to think about bubbles. And I can see the point. In fact the champagnes from the Piper-Heidsieck house are noticeable for having been praised as one of the best wines in France, not just one of the best champagnes. And true to the nature of this champagne, most of the tasting took place in normal wineglasses – large and round. Only the basic brut of Piper-Heidsieck was served in what we would call a standard wine glass.
In fact I think it was the first time I really tasted a champagne, rather than just using it as an accompaniment to a celebration or enjoying the bubbles – not least thanks to Regis Camus, the excellent wine-maker from Piper-Heidsieck, who guided us through the bottles and the glasses. And what treasures champagne do hide, when you get to taste different years, different kinds of champagne and in glasses that allow the wine to open and reveal itself.
It also says a bit about Piper-Heidsieck that M Regis Camus has been awarded sparkling Winemaker of the Year in London on several occasions the recent years.
For me the Piper-Heidsieck is mostly a taste of citrus fruits – at different levels and textures depending on the combination and the year. But a citrus fruit, orangy, zesty taste was for me the line through the different bottles. A taste which becomes even more obvious, when you try a demi-sec Piper-Heidsieck. In that bottle you reach tastes comparable to the advanced sweet dessert wines such as Passito de Pantelleria or the Wine of Constantia from South Africa….but with bubbles of course.
Another pleasant surprise was the champagne Rosé. Again tasted in a normal wine glass, you had none of the sticky sweetness some rosé wines can have. In fact you would probably find it difficult to differ between the Rosé and the other champagnes in a blind tasting.
The Piper-Heidsieck is made predominantly on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir occasionally. The grapes are collected from the best parts of Champagne and the combination of the grapes is left to the fine noses of the Piper-Heidsieck people to ensure a consistent and high quality Piper-Heidsieck taste. Great pride is taken into ensuring that the Brut is of high quality also, since it is not only the main trade mark of the house, but it is also the basic for the more refined other champagnes, such as the millesimes. Piper-Heidsieck does not believe in making a millesimes every year – only when the year really merits it.
Your favourite champagne is a personal matter. I will admit that I have recently tended to avoid the big houses, such as Piper-Heidsieck, in favour of more artisanal champagne producers. However, having tasted Piper-Heidsieck in a thorough way I can only say that it is a remarkable champagne, that I would be very happy to try and build an entire meal around and to enjoy as not only a champagne with its festive bubbles, but as a wine with a value in itself.
It’s spring and quite warm here in Brussels, so it’s the time to pretend it’s summer! So get those cocktail shakers out and a good bottle of gin. Our favourite is of course Hendricks, so here’s an ‘unusual’ G&T for you. ENJOY (But with moderation)
The classic gin and tonic cocktail was introduced to the world in the 18th century by the army of the British East India Company in India, almost by accident, as they added gin to their daily intake of quinine-based tonic water to make the elixir more palatable. Tonic water was taken at this time as preventative for the dreaded malaria. And so, the humble gin and tonic was created, and to celebrate the beginnings of the most quintessentially British cocktail, Hendrick’s Gin has created a gin and tonic with an unusual twist, which pays homage to its modest beginnings!
Inspired by a “lassi,” a traditional yoghurt-based drink of the Indian subcontinent, the use of sweet Falernum liqueur and coconut water in this cocktail highlights one of the eleven botanicals found in Hendrick’s Gin -– the zesty fresh taste of lemon peel. The sweetness of these two ingredients act as a contrast to the sharpness of the lemon, bringing its flavour to the fore.
A Most Unusual Gin and Tonic
Ingredients: 50ml Hendrick’s Gin 12.5ml freshly squeezed lime juice 12.5ml freshly squeezed lemon 50ml coconut water 15ml Falernum liqueur Tonic water to taste (up to 30ml)
Preparation: Build all ingredients in a highball glass over cracked ice. Stir to chill and mix the tipple. Garnish with both a cucumber and lemon wheel and a sprig of fresh mint.
At Tasting and Living, we love our gins, so we saw this great cocktail at The Aviary, Chicago.
At Grant Achatz’s buzzy state-of-the-art cocktail lounge, expert mixologists use a double-chamber vacuum pot to create the Rooibos cocktail tableside. In the bottom pot, gin is heated over a flame until it’s sucked into the upper pot where it is infused with Rooibos tea, grapefruit, lemon zest, crushed almonds, herbs and spices. When the heat source is removed, the drink gets muddled back into the lower pot and served warm.
In de ochtendspits barst het van de thermossen koffie, waarmee de dagelijkse pendelaars – soms tevergeefs – wakker proberen te worden. Vanaf nu is de tijd van de koffie voorgoed voorbij! Tijdens de lange rit naar en van het werk kan je een espressomachine meenemen in je wagen. Handpresso, een producent van draagbare koffiezetapparaten, stelt zijn nieuwste uitvinding voor. Deze espressomachine wordt aangesloten op de aansteker van de wagen en houdt je favoriete drankje op die manier lekker warm. Een kleine demo verklaart al veel. Kopen maar!
James Watkins swears he may never buy flavored vodka ever again. That’s because Watkins, until recently beverage director of the Houston-based Azuma Group, is embracing a new cocktail “killer app”: sous-vide technology.
Yes, that same sous-vide technique used by so many chefs—cooking vacuum-sealed foods in a temperature-controlled water bath—is now being used by a growing number of mixologists to flash-brew infused spirits, bitters, tinctures, and even unusual garnishes. Hey chef, the bartender’s in the kitchen again!
The ability to quickly create unique flavored spirits is the biggest draw for bartenders. “We started to do infusion-style cocktail lists at Soma Sushi in Houston about a year and a half ago,” Watkins recalls. (Although Watkins has left Azuma to pursue other opportunities, his cocktail creations will remain on the Soma Sushi menu.) “We found that if we were steeping, it would just take too long—five to six days in order to achieve flavor.” As with many of the bartenders experimenting with sous-vide, the technology already was in use in the kitchen. “We just started playing with it. We found in three to four hours you can get an infusion completed, and it will be more intense.”
His first forays centered around infusing in-season fruit, such as strawberries or blood oranges, into Tito’s Vodka, a Texas brand that doesn’t make flavored spirits. Butternut squash, black Mission figs, and pumpkins all have since found their way into Soma’s sous-vide infusions, as well as herbs and other flavorings. Indeed, the runaway hit has been the Somajito, a Mojito riff made with Bacardi rum infused with a garden’s worth of herbs—mint, sweet basil, kaffir lime leaf, and lemongrass—via sous-vide. It’s also a relief to bartenders, who consider the popular Mojito something of an albatross, because of the labor- and time-intensive muddling required for each individual drink. “Sous-vide has also become a vehicle for more outrageous flavors, such as Soma’s lardo- and oyster-infused Bloody Marys,” Watkins says. “It gave the vodka that essence of pork and bacon, and still had acidity from the oysters. It made for amazing Bloody Marys.”
Meanwhile, Julian Cox, bartender/beverage director with five Los Angeles restaurants, notably Rivera and Picca, uses sous-vide for fat washing, creating ingredients such as brown butter rum. “We let that cook sous-vide for four hours at 165 to 170 degrees. Then we take it out of the bag, freeze it, and the fat congeals, making it easy to strain off.” Although it doesn’t shave much time off the process, mixologists report greater absorption of the fat into the spirit, and bigger flavor, compared to standard cooking techniques.
Spices, too, are given new life. Josh Berner, bartender at Ripple in Washington, D.C., first gave sous-vide a go when he wanted to make a spicy cocktail using powdered piment d’Éspelette. “Ground spices don’t infuse well,” he laments. “They fall to the bottom of the bottle in a traditional infusion, plus they sit for a long time. Our chef suggested using the vacuum sealer.”
Berner was thrilled with the results. “It worked well, it worked quickly, and I used less of the infused ingredient—one tablespoon of powdered pepper, compared to two or three in a traditional infusion.” It also retained the vibrant brick red color better than a week-long steep, which generally turns muddy brown. The final drink was called Castles Made of Sand: piment d’Éspelette–infused Milagro Silver Tequila, lime juice, and cucumber soda.
He’s also experimented with infusing Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur with saffron, which he later mixed with cherries and rye whiskey to create Fire Whiskey, inspired by the latest Harry Potter movie. The cocktail showed a dramatic flame-like range in color from dark red at the bottom to the infused, intensely golden liqueur on top.
But why stop at the liquid? Berner, for example, is developing the ultimate cocktail onion to accessorize a Gibson-style drink. He cooks pearl onions sous-vide with white wine, vinegar, and sage, which he anticipates will flavor the drink as well.
Cox uses a chamber vacuum sealer to create drink garnishes. “The essential oils push through the molecules in the fruit,” he explains. “You bite into an orange with an amazing jasmine note.” He also compresses spearmint oils into watermelon: “It makes the watermelon very fibrous and meaty, like a piece of tuna.”
Even bitters, one of the most painstaking bar products to make, is getting the benefit of sous-vide. “Normally, it takes two weeks,” Cox says. “And what if it doesn’t work? You gotta start over, and wait another two weeks. This accelerates things.”
Of course, not every mixologist has access to sous-vide equipment. All of the outlets mentioned above are restaurants. Only a few stand-alone bars have the space or the budget for a $2,000 immersion circulator and water bath. London’s Tony Conigliaro is famed as the only “mad scientist” bartender who has a bain-marie, vacuum-packing machine, a cold smoker, and a centrifuge in a laboratory above his self-dubbed “bar with no name” at 69 Colebrooke Row, where he can make a 20 minute apple-infused gin.
But what about everyone else? Many enthusiasts are playing with nitrous oxide canisters as a means for quick infusions. Others are experimenting with pressure cookers and simple hot water baths. “If you’ve got a vacuum sealer but not the immersion bath, you can fake it,” notes Scott Baird, founding partner of San Francisco–based cocktail consultancy Bon Vivants and soon-to-be bartender at Trick Dog. Baird tells tales of watching fellow bartenders create bitters in a pressure cooker in 20 minutes, or using nitrous oxide–charged canisters to blast botanicals into vodka, creating a 30 second flavored spirit. “Compared to that, sous-vide is a lower and slower braising of bitters. It’s more languorous. I don’t know if I’d choose it over the ones you steep over time, but it’s a tool. It gets the job done.”
A final note for bartenders thinking of venturing into the kitchen to “borrow” the sous-vide: you’re not just taking; you’ll likely have something valuable to give to the chef, too. Compared to a traditional week-long infusion, after just a few hours, the ingredients are still relatively intact, retaining color and shape. “That pineapple-infused Pisco? That fruit is not garbage, it’s not compost at that point,” Baird points out. “You can throw that into a pineapple upside-down cake, and it gives a different dimension of flavor.” Just be prepared to arm-wrestle the pastry chef to see who gets ownership of that lovely butter-infused Japanese whiskey.
During an Absolut vodka party, I met with Filippo Baldan, Spirits Manager of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. He told me about a Danish cherry liqueur that is used in the original recipe for a Singapore Sling cocktail. And indeed after investigating a bit further, I realised that he was completely right. Denmark has been able export their wares far and beyond apparently, even all the way to the Raffles in Singapore!
Cherry Heering, the main ingredient in the classic gin drink the Singapore Sling, is a Danish liqueur that is dark red and has the flavor of black cherries. It was invented in the 1700s or 1800s by its namesake, Peter Heering. Cherry Heering is made by soaking slightly crushed Danish cherries and a blend of spices in neutral grain alcohol. It is then aged in casks for up to five years, with sugar being added throughout the process to give it the slightly sweet taste.
Cherry Heering can be used as a substitute in many cocktail recipes that contain cherry brandy. Its rich flavor will add depth to many different brandy drinks, such as the Ulysses or the scotch-based Blood and Sand cocktail. Many bar tenders like to use Cherry Heering because it is such a versatile liqueur, and can be used in many drinks. A popular way to use it is in a Brigadier, which includes Cherry Heering, green Chartreuse, and hot chocolate; or in the Cherry Samba, which has Cherry Heering, cachaca, and a smoky single-malt scotch.
The Singapore Sling is the most popular cocktail for the use of Cherry Heering. It was created by a bartender at a hotel in Singapore before 1915 and today there are many different variations to the recipe that can be found. In the original recipe there was gin, Cherry Heering, Benedictine, and fresh pineapple juice. The fresh pineapple juice in this cocktail is the most important ingredient, as that is what gives it the foamy top that it is known for. Some will use a pineapple juice that is not fresh, and therefore soda water needs to be added to make the foam.
To create your own Singapore Sling at home, you will need two ounces of gin, three-quarters of an ounce of Cherry Heering, two teaspoons of Benedictine, two teaspoons of Cointreau, two ounces of fresh pineapple juice, three-quarters of an ounce of fresh lime juice, a splash of real pomegranate grenadine, and a splash oh Angostura bitters. Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, strain into a glass, and garnish with pineapple and cherry. If you do not use fresh pineapple juice, add a splash of soda water to create the signature foam on top.