Gin Review: Balfour Street London Dry Gin

Some time ago I was perusing my local liquor box store in order to replenish my Gin stock.  As always I look for anything new and interesting.  I was rewarded with a display announcing a new Gin and proclaiming it a 2018 World Gin Award winner.  Now that caught my eye!  And the price was right, so I’m now the proud owner of a mostly full bottle of Balfour Street London Dry Gin.

I was a bit skeptical of the Award advertising so I checked it out when I got home and indeed this Gin is a 2018 World Gin Award winner.  For Taste (as opposed to Style), in the London Dry Gin style (there are nine style taste winners).  I also note that this Gin is part of the Melchers Group, Netherlands, is you’re interested in the parent company.

So much for the basics…. what does it taste like?   The raw Gin is citrus with a woody hint (juniper), touch of spice, slight  pepper

In a well chilled Martini there is still citrus on the nose, but on the tongue the pepper comes forward with juniper undertones that linger past the pepper.  There’s still a bit of spice but mostly subdued through out.  It’s also has a soft mouth feel which, considering I shake my Martinis, is quite welcome.  All in all a very good Gin for a Martini.

I haven’t tried it in a G&T yet but I’m not sure how the pepper would play with the quinine of the tonic.  Definitely worth a test drive though, when I find another bottle.  I finished this one on martinis.  Which, perhaps, is the best endorsement of all?

Currently about $28 for 750ml at your friendly neighborhood big box liquor store.

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5th Anniversary

Today, December 24th, marks the 5th anniversary of this Blog. I have to admit that when I started this adventure I never imagined it would live this long. Looking back, despite some ups and downs, I am very happy with how this blog has grown. It will continue and I look forward to the 10th Anniversary.

I want to thank everyone who has read my blog and/or made suggestions, comments, or even critiques.   Your comments and support have been much appreciated.  As always, I solicit your restaurant and Martini review suggestions, they are ALWAYS welcome here. Especially Martini Reviews!

Also, If any of you would like to see a specific Gin reviewed, please forward any such suggestions and I will do my very best to review it.

😉

As I did last year, and the year before, I would also like to take a moment to pat myself on the back …. The “Martini Quotes” page continues to be, I believe, the best collection Martini and general drinking quotes anywhere.  The quotes page definitely gets the most ‘views’ and seems to get the most Google referrals. If you find a better quotes page, please let me know and I’ll go steal everything I don’t have.  

I was watching my son act like James Bond in the garden earlier today.
He wasn’t going round pretending to shoot people,
he was sipping martini’s and chatting up all the ladies that walked by.
I’m so proud of him.

If you’re looking for more of a joke than a quote,
some very good Martini Jokes can be found at:  Martini Jokes

Random Martini Quote of the Day

I haven’t done one of these in while, I’ve been remiss. To, hopefully, make up for that here’s one of my favorites. Hopefully yours also.

“Happiness is a dry martini and a good woman … or a bad woman.”
George Burns

Looking for more outstanding “Martini Quotes”?  I believe we have the best collection of Martini quotes anywhere!   If you haven’t checked it out recently you should!   Click the link: Martini Quotes.

If you’re looking for something a bit more humorous, check out a fine selections of Martin Jokes.

If you like these posts and want to be notified by email when they come in,
please subscribe to the blog…. over on the left column.    

Happy National Martini Day!

Today, June 19th, is National Martini Day! It is also Hump Day! How do those go together? I haven’t a clue, but it doesn’t really matter, either is a great excuse to have a Martini. Actually it’s almost mandatory! Enjoy! Preferably Shaken, Not Stirred. 😉

Keep Calm

H.L. Mencken described the Martini as “perfect as a sonnet” and Herman Wouk said a great Martini “sort of tastes like it isn’t there at all, just a cold cloud.”  Outstanding endorsements!!

Always Celebrate Safely.
Remember the advice of Dean Martin:
“If you drink, don’t drive. Don’t even putt.”

Dean Martin

The quotes above, and many more,
can be found on my “Martini Quotes” page.

Bar Review: One Flew South, Atlanta Airport

As you may know from my other bar reviews, I fly through the Atlanta airport regularly.  I’ve even written about one particular restaurant, my favorite, at Atlanta; P.F. Chang’s.  As it works out most of my transits through Atlanta either arrive or depart from concourse A, where P.F. Chang’s is, which works out perfectly.

But occasionally my flights will take me into and out of Concourses D, E, or even F.  On one such transit I decided to stop by One Flew South located in the center of Concourse E.  I’m quite glad I did and have been back a couple of times when my flights go in or out of that end of the World’s biggest airport, by passengers flown.

The ambiance is clean and open, lots of wood influence including the floors, open beams, bar top, and the slatted open wall along the concourse.  Also lots of marble on the walls. One wall is decorated in a forest scene.  All in all a very comfy and casual environment.

One Flew South serves an eclectic mix of Sushi and southern food.  And very nicely so!  Their menu includes appetizers of Poke Tacos and Pork Belly Sliders and Duck Confit Croquettes.  Entrees include Thyme Roasted Pork Belly, Soy Glazed Salmon, Seoul Burger, and their Meatloaf Sandwich – the “OFS” Dirty South:

And, of course, a selection of sushi. The portions are ‘modern’, even avant-garde.  Okay, they’re a bit smallish, but everything I’ve had has all been delicious.  The menu does change regularly, so be forewarned I’m making no guarantees that anything noted here will ever be available again.

The staff was excellent, very attentive when you need something but they leave you eat and drink when you don’t.  The bartenders do seem to have a lot of fun themselves behind the bar and that makes for a pleasant, almost festive, atmosphere.

About the Martinis?  Well, not quite up to the level of the food.  First of all the glasses are not pre-chilled.  Second, the bartender’s prepared the Martini stirred, not shaken which usually means warmer than the ‘correct’ method.  However he did stir for quite some time so the Martini appeared well chilled.

The Martinis are not what you’d call ample.  And for $15 you would expect ample.  But it is an airport.

Finally, they’re not served in the appropriated stem, it was served in Champagne goblet.  Those that are regular readers of this blog know that I’m a bit of a stem snob and prefer my Martinis in a Martini stem.

Overall One Flew South gets one stem.  
As I mentioned above, their Martinis are good!   Certainly not exceptional enough for my two stem award.  However, the food certainly makes it worth a visit or two.  Or three?

For selection One Flew South gets a B.
Their list of Gins on my latest visit included: Bombay Sapphire, Fords, Hendrick’s, Botanist, and Monkey 47.  On prior visits they have had Bluecoat, Hat Trick and Empress.  Like their menu selection, this list may change in time.

If you’re not familiar with that Fantastic Monkey 47, I would refer you to the following: Gin Review: Monkey 47

For those inclined to visit their website: “http://www.oneflewsouthatl.com

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If you’re curious about what one vs. two stems means,
I refer you to the following:
*****   Rating Definitions   ****

4th Anniversary!

Image result for 4th

This month, tomorrow December 24th to be exact, marks the 4th anniversary of this Blog and I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has read my blog and/or made suggestions, comments, or even critiques.   Your comments and support have been much appreciated and have helped keep me going on rare occasions when I have been a bit less motivated to write.  I couldn’t have done nearly as much without you. As always, I solicit your restaurant and Martini reviews, they are ALWAYS welcome here. Especially Martini Reviews!

 

This year I have made progress on my adventures in homemade Gin, added Gin reviews, and more bar reviews.  I had hopes of doing more but real life intervened.  None-the-less I have 10 additional posts in some stage of draft, including more Gin and restaurant reviews.  You can look forward to these appearing in the future along with new adventures in Gin making.

 

If any of you would like to see a specific Gin or Restaurant reviewed, please forward any such suggestions and I will do my very best to review them.

 

As I did last year, and the year before, I would also like to take a moment to pat myself on the back …. the “Martini Quotes” page is, I believe, currently the best collection Martini and general drinking quotes anywhere.  Looking over stats for this blog, the quotes page definitely gets the most ‘views’ and seems to get the most Google referrals. If you find a better quotes page, please let me know and I’ll go steal everything I don’t have.   😉

 

 

I was watching my son act like James Bond in the garden earlier today.
He wasn’t going round pretending to shoot people,
he was sipping martini’s and chatting up all the ladies that walked by.
I’m so proud of him.

 

More Martini Jokes can be found at:  Martini Jokes

 

 

twitter

If you use twitter,  you can find more Martini mayhem, along with a myriad of other “finer things in life”, at

Homemade Gin; Round 4.5, a check on the Juniper

 

Looking back at my past Gin making efforts I can honestly say I’ve learned a lot.  But I can also say that I’ve got a long way to go before I’ll be competing against Bombay, Tanqueray, and Hendrick’s.  Of course the big boys are (mostly) making their gin using a distillation process and I’m using the compound method.  So there’s no reason to expect one process to be the equal of the other.

 

But one can try.  And since it’s illegal for me to distill anything in my state I’ll stick to the, allegedly, inferior compounding.

 

When I first started out (I Made Gin!!) I simply used a recipe I found on line.  It was fun and educational but produced a rather harsh Gin.  I wanted to understand why.  My second round of Gin (Homemade Gin, Round #2) was slightly better, though hardly good.  By the third round I’d make progress by doing less (Homemade Gin, Round #3).  And round four (Homemade Gin; Round 4) was even better, to the point that it made an acceptable Martini.  Though probably better in a G&T.

 

In celebration I took a break to ponder my next move.  I’m still pondering, but also decided to do a little experiment.  Probably one of the biggest problems I’ve had is that there are just so many variables to manage!  So many botanicals to choose from.  Citrus or Herbal?  Floral?  Cardamon, Cloves, Cilantro, Celery?  How much of each?  Ground up or whole or chopped?  When to add to the Vodka?  At the start?  after 24 hours?  How long to let it all steep?  48 hours?

 

One of the many variables to manage is the starting Vodka.  I’ve been using New Amsterdam 100 proof Vodka or Absolut’s 100 proof.  There are a few others but those two seem to be the most available at the local liquor box store.  Which of course means I’m starting with different flavors, even if they are very subtly different.  Ideally of course I’d start with 190 proof food grade ethanol.  But I’m not there …. yet.  (5 gallons costs about $250, so it’s not out of the question by any means.)

 

Comparing the taste of these two it’s pretty clear that Absolut is the winner.  It’s cleaner with a very neutral taste and very smooth.  New Amsterdam is just not quite as clean with a mostly neutral taste but a very slight cocoa flavor!!??  So the choice has been made, I’m going with New Amsterdam from now on.  Why?  Because its roughly $25 for 1.75l and Absolut is approx $30 for 1l.  And it’s more readily available.

 

My next experiment is another case of back tracking and doing less with even less.  This time the goal is to establish a fundamental taste profile: Juniper.   So back to the kitchen laboratory for a small batch of Gin.

 

Here’s the ingredients and weights and times for this batch:
Day 0:
Juniper, 10gm (about 5 teaspoons) in 350 ml of New Amsterdam 100pf Vodka.

And nothing else.  Yup, simple pure Juniper with nothing to hide or hinder or enhance it’s taste.

 

Then 24 hours of infusing, straining, and finally tasting.   The results?  Well the first thing, thankfully, is that there is plenty of juniper flavor in the Gin.  On the nose, forward, and the finish.  The second thing, also thankfully, is that the juniper isn’t overpowering.  Yes, it’s a little like chewing on pine needles, but not at all like chewing on the whole branch.  Third, there wasn’t any other new flavors.

 

Most importantly from my point of view was comparing the Juniper only Gin with the source Vodka.  Yes I could still taste the underlying New Amsterdam subtle faint cocoa, but just barely and only because I knew it was there and could ‘look’ for  it.  I will have to account for that in the future.  At least I know where it’s coming from.

 

Now on to Homemade Gin, Round 5!   I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

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The Perfect Dinner Pairing to a Martini

So I’ve been asked many times, “What it the right dinner to go with a Martini?”.

 

Okay, so I’ve only been asked that a few times.  Well, maybe only once.

 

But it’s a good question.  After all, scores of erudite articles are written by self proclaimed wine connoisseurs in the most esteemed wine magazines about the finer subtleties of which wine goes best with Atlantic salmon as opposed to Pacific salmon.   Or Kobe beef vs. CAB.  Or uni vs ahi.  So it seems reasonable to ask what best pairs with a Martini?

 


My answer is always the same, Cheerios and Milk!!

 

Really!

 

Okay, maybe not, but there is a lot of Martini Tao in that answer and multiple layers to that onion.  And, truth be told, there have been occasions when I’ve had a Martini with cereal and milk.  Or left over pizza. Or a simple quesadilla.  And the Martini is always excellent and compliments whatever I’m eating.

 

In all fairness, I haven’t had a Martini with Mac ‘n Cheese.  But that’s a consequence of many nights as a college student when all I could afford was Kraft Man ‘n Cheese and a subsequent swearing off of that dish for all eternity.  But I’m sure it would be excellent.

 

Let me digress for a moment.  Starting with one of the most esteemed liquors in the known universe, and a personal favorite …. Cognac.  When was the last time you heard anyone ask “What pairs well with Cognac”.  The answer of course is “You moron, you savor Cognac by itself in all it’s delicate brilliance and decadence”.  The point being no one expects Cognac to be subjugated to any mere plate of food, no matter how stunningly prepared.

 

Similarly Scotch is not tied to a particular culinary preparation.  You savor Scotch for it’s own sake.  No discussion about venison vs Barramundi vs Pheasant.  Scotch is Scotch and an end to itself.

 

So why must one presume a Martini should be paired with a specific dish?  Well, because unlike Scotch and Cognac which are ‘after dinner drinks’ one usually has a Martini with dinner.  So the question is valid, though perhaps misguided; What meal pairs best with a Martini??

 

Unlike wine with it’s historic, if slightly outdated, adage of Red wine with steak and White wine with fish, a Martini transcends dinner variations.  I truly love my chilled Martini with a sizzling Rib Eye Steak, medium rare please.  But the same Martini compliments Chilean Sea-bass or Cioppino or the afore mentioned Venison as well.  In fact I can not think of anything a Martini doesn’t compliment.

 

Octupus?  Absolutely!

Sea Cucumber?  Why not!

Escargot?  I know personally that it does!

Durian?  Hmmm, I’d give it a try.

Sweet breads?  Required!

 

 

 

Of course when I’m at a Mexican restaurant I do order a Margarita.  A mojito at a Cuban place and a Caiparinha at a Churrascaria.  But not because a Martini wouldn’t pair well, only in deference to the ambiance.  Sort of a ‘When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do’ philosophy.

 

The bottom line?  A Martini is appropriate anywhere and compliments any meal.  Yes!, even Cheerios and milk.

 

I’m not talking a cup of cheap gin splashed over an ice cube. I’m talking satin, fire and ice; Fred Astaire in a glass; surgical cleanliness, insight, comfort; redemption and absolution. I’m talking MARTINI
Anonymous

 

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** BTW, For those wondering, CAB stands for Certified Angus Beef.

 

Gin Review: Tanqueray Rangpur

My Second Gin Review!

 

Yes, it’s been a long time since I wrote my first Gin review, back in June of 2017 (Monkey 47), a year as it turns out.  I have vowed to step up my Gin reviews, partly because it’s fun to try new Gins, but mostly because there are just soooooooo many new, and often confusing, Gins out there today.

As before I am reviewing this, and future, Gins in a very dry and very cold Martini, so fair warning, my Gin reviews will be in the context of Martini usage.  After all, this blog is about the perfect Martini more than the perfect Gin.

A little more history for you new readers, my preferred Gin for Martinis is Bombay Sapphire.  It is ubiquitous in bars, lounges, and restaurants so I know it is always (almost) available.  It’s a great way to start an evening with a known and dependable Gin.  Thereafter I may experiment a bit and that is where these Gin reviews come in.

Now Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray are two of the World’s top selling Gins.   For those interested the top 5 are: Seagrams, Beefeater, Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, and Gordon’s, in that order, according to “The Spirits Business” June 2017.

Of further amusement is that Tanqueray and Sapphire are owned by Diageo and Barcardi, respectively, two of the world’s largest spirit distributors (1st and 5th respectively) and are therefore, and clearly, heated rivals.  This is clearly borne out when talking to Gin aficionados as they are (almost) always either in the Sapphire camp, like me, or on the “dark side” favoring Tanqueray.  Of course there are a many stragglers out there who are Nolet’s or Hendrick’s, or other Gin, fans, both of which are fine Gins in their own rights …. but I digress.

I am not a fan of Tanqueray in general, it’s a bit too much citrus for me; I prefer the herbals of Sapphire.  Tanqueray 10, having a bit more herbal components that Tanqueray, is more palatable to me for that reason.  So when I was given a bottle of Tanqueray Rangpur, knowing it was the Rangpur Limes that gave this Gin its name, I was a bit dubious.

(Yes, they’re orange.  It’s a hybrid between the mandarin orange and the citron.)

 

But I have a bottle to use and I’m certainly not one to waste Gin.  I started with some Rangpur neat.  The initial impression on the nose is predominately lime with hints of juniper way in the back.  Tasting this gin confirmed the lime forwardness.  But now the juniper decided to show up and shared the limelight with the lime (sorry, I had to do it).  The other herbals come into play on the back end but are mostly muddled together and subdued.   I also would note that when taken neat, it’s almost a bit syrupy.  You almost feel like it coats your tongue.

 

As a martini it is still very lime forward.  The aroma hits you immediately: very sweet citrus.  Even with my martini extremely cold the nose affect is immediate.  The first taste is a beautiful mix of citrus and juniper!  Nothing floral here and almost imperceptible herbal elements.  The juniper fades on the back end, but the citrus carries through to the last moments.  Again the herbals come in at the end but are subdued and remain secondary to the citrus.  I also noted that the syrupy feeling from the neat tasting was completely gone.  I suspect due to the dilution of the Gin while shaking the Martini.

 

In the end I like this Gin!  But I’m not sure how to drink it.  In my opinion it’s a bit sweet and citrusy for a Martini, I prefer a bit more herbal notes.  I think using it in a G&T might be the better choice.  Or even neat, though with some ice to lighten the tongue coating syrupy-ness.  Thinking about it, on ice on a sunny afternoon seems just about perfect.

 

As an aside, I really like lime in my cola and was tempted to add some of this to my Coke.  I did and that was really pretty good!  The acid of the Coke cut the syrupy feeling, though it was still pretty sweet; sort of a more citrus-y Cuba Libre.  One of the reasons I don’t drink sweet cocktails is that they go down so easily and so quickly and this one absolutely would quickly overpower me.

 

Would I recommend Rangpur?  Yes!  Having a bottle in your Gin collection is recommended and I do.  For that sunny afternoon.

 

 

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World Gin Day 2018

Happy World Gin Day 2018!

 

 

“I’ve tried Buddhism, Scientology, Numerology, Transcendental Meditation, Qabbala, t’ai chi, feng shui and Deepak Chopra but I find straight gin works best.”
Phyllis Diller

 

I hope you all celebrate with a Martini. But if not, then a Gin & Tonic will do. Whichever you choose, enjoy safely.

 

“There is something about a martini, Ere the dining and dancing begin, And to tell you the truth, It is not the vermouth- I think that perhaps it’s the gin.”
Ogden Nash