World Gin Day Sampling Results & Opinions

As you all know, last Saturday was World Gin Day.  Some friends and I sampled a small collection of gins.  It was a last minute, fun, and very informal event.  I thought I would share the comments and ratings of our gins.   The ratings were from 1 to 5 with 5 being best.  There were no rules, guidelines, limitations, or expectations.  It was just fun.   I’ve also added whatever comments came first to mind.

Miller’s – 3.0          Spicy, Peppery
Broker’s – 3.25          Salty, Cedar, Woodsy
Beefeater – 3.5          Clean, Easy, Refreshing
Tanqueray – 2.0          Woody, ‘Bite’, Acidic, Harsh
New Amsterdam – 4.25          Sweet, Tangerine, Orange Peel, Citrus, Spicy
Seagram’s – 2.25          “Piny”, Bland, Blah
Hendrick’s – 3.75          “Not for a Martini”, Lavender, Smooth, Subtle, Peaty

Miller’s was controversial with its pepper taste, though everyone enjoyed it.  Though not necessarily for a Martini – G&T seemed a better option.  New Amsterdam was a nice surprise and universally liked.  Seagram’s was universally panned as was Tanqueray, though for different reasons.   The former was just “boring” while the latter was a bit harsh for this audience.   Tanqueray might get better reviews if were mellowed in a Martini.

Next year I plan on expanding my sampling selections and invitees.  I’m sure to add Bombay Sapphire, Bombay Sapphire East, Tanqueray Ten, and Tanqueray Rangpur.   Any suggestions or requests will be gladly accepted.   Keep watching for future notifications on time and place.

World Gin Day, Its Finally Here

Martini with Twist

Happy World Gin Day to everyone.

I hope everyone has a great celebration but remember to have a Designated Driver if you’re out.

Preparing for World Gin Day Tomorrow

Putting together a few Gins for a fun taste comparison, on a budget.

A few 50ml gin samples for World Gin Day fun
A few 50ml gin samples for World Gin Day fun

World Gin Day on Saturday

Coming soon to a bar near you or anyplace you feel like celebrating – World Gin Day, June 13.

For celebration ideas, special events, or just for fun log into Twitter.com and check out @Shkn_Nt_Strrd or use #worldginday or #gin.

Bar Review: Bonefish Grill, Langhorne, PA

I normally wouldn’t review a chain restaurant but Bonefish Grill doesn’t ‘feel’ like a chain.   Indeed, when I first walked in I thought it was a local establishment and didn’t realize it wasn’t until I looked online for the correct spelling of “Langhorne”.   Turns out there are quite a few scattered across the US, including a couple very close to my home.  Totally unbeknownst to me.  But I’ll be visiting them in the future.

This particular restaurant is very near a hotel I stay at regularly when visiting eastern Pennsylvania and I’ve eaten there several times in the past.   Bonefish Grill is, as its name would suggest, a seafood restaurant with daily fresh fish specials and a nice selection of regular items.  Everything I’ve had has been very good; fresh, nicely prepared, good sides, ample portions, and served with a smile.  The staff is friendly without being over bearing.

But this last visit I decided to focus on the Martini.  Overall they serve a very good Martini.   The stems are stored in the freezer, which is always a big plus in my book.  The barkeep, Trish this evening, mixed the martini quickly with no fuss and no vermouth.

I do prefer a whisper of Vermouth so I wouldn’t elevate this to ‘Perfect’ status, but as Bond (Fleming) said, “Mais n’enculons pas des mouches”.   My only real complaint about the martini, which keeps Bonefish Grill from a second martini glass, is the relatively small size of the martini.   Martini Glass Upright

“C” for selection, which is what I would expect from a restaurant chain.    A sampling of their gins:  Hendricks, Bombay, Sapphire, Beefeater, Bluecoat American Gin

*****   Rating Definitions   ****

 

Bar Review: Cafe Fiore, Ventura, CA

Cafe Fiore is a small but busy trattoria located just off the ‘main drag’ in downtown Ventura, CA.   The decor is rustic modern; very clean and comfortable with a lot of exposed woodwork.   The bar is front and central in the restaurant, the very first thing you notice upon entering.  The restaurant tables are spread around the bar itself.  There is also an outside patio that looked very inviting.  But I chose to sit at the bar.

The martini was ‘ok’; properly shaken with the right mix of Gin and Vermouth.  However the glass was not chilled in any way; neither pre-chilled in the refrigerator or freezer nor even filled with ice water during preparation.  Furthermore the Martini was not served in the preferred classic stem but in one of those horrid bulbous squat glasses.

On the plus side, we sampled several appetizers and they were really good.  The other patrons appeared to also be very pleased by the food.

Cafe Fiore gets a “B” for number of gins; on the order of 12 from which to select.  But for the martini itself they get a tipped stem:   Martini Glass Sideways

Bar Review: 86 West, Doylestown, PA

I walked into this place and I just didn’t want to like it.   The first thing you notice was the stark, almost spartan, decor done up in moody earth tones.  Even the bar itself was plain.  My immediate impression was that they were trying very hard to be hip and trendy.  My overall response was just “meh”, to quote my teenage son.  More on that in a bit.

I ordered my martini and a menu – mostly bar food and Sushi???!!!   When was that ever an appetizing combination?   “I’ll have the Bar Burger and a spicy tuna roll please.”

So I ordered the “86 West Burger” with my Martini…. yes a burger and Martini!  To my surprise the burger was really very good.  Their homemade chips were also great.

Finally, the Martini was good, really good   Not great, but really good.  The stem was taken from the freezer and was very nicely cooled.   The mix was perfectly dry and abundant, almost overflowing the stem.

My only complaint, and which keeps this bar from a second martin glass is that the barkeep poured the Sapphire into the shaker with bar ice and just let it sit there.  Off she went to pour a few beers for other patrons.  I guess she thought that “not shaken, not stirred, just left to get cold” was the optimum solution to chilling the dink.  Of course the martini was nicely chilled but also a bit more diluted than I like.   The only other beef, and its minor, was that the stem was on the small side.

A final note about my ‘meh’ comment above; by the time I left the place had become amazingly busy!  On a Wednesday evening, so they must be doing something right.

Overall, a good martini and really good bar/comfort food.  The decor isn’t my ‘cup of tea’, but it clearly is for a lot of people.  My rating:  Martini Glass Upright

For selection 86 West gets a “C”.  A non exhaustive sampling:
Sapphire, Hendricks, Tanguaray, Bluecoat,
New Amsterdam, Beefeater, Bombay.

June 4: Happy National Cognac Day

No, its not really related to a Martini, but who in his right mind doesn’t appreciate a good Cognac??

Enjoy your National CognavDay with a Martini if you prefer.  Or take a brief break from Martinis and savor a good Cognac.

Dilution, Myth or Reality

Have you heard anyone say that a Martini needs to be properly diluted when mixed?? To what are they referring?  What does that mean?

Depending on distiller, gin varies from about 80 proof to 100 proof, or 40% ABV to 50% ABV (Alcohol By Volume).   It also varies from country to country, depending on local laws and customs.   For example, my favorite, Bombay Sapphire (US) is 94 proof or 47% ABV .   Now quiz time: what is the rest of the volume?  Answer: water.  More precisely filtered purified, possibly distilled, water.

When you dilute the Martini you’re adding water to the mix and in doing so lowering the ABV level!  If that’s what you want then why not just use a less strong gin to begin with??

Furthermore, when you dilute the drink by extended mixing you’re adding water which has melted from the mixing ice.  Ice which has come, most likely from the bar or restaurant’s ice maker.  Does your bar use filtered purified water in their ice maker?  I doubt it.  And when was the last time your bar actually cleaned their ice maker?  Who knows what is growing in there.

You might want to look back at my post on “Cold Ice” to see additional comments about bar ice.

Personally I like my Martini full strength with absolutely minimal dilution and absolutely no extra melted ice from a questionable ice source.

Just for fun, here is a brief sampling of ABV levels of various popular gins:
Gordon’s 37.5% ABV (UK)
Gordon’s 40% ABV (US)
Beefeater 40% ABV (UK)
Beefeater 47% ABV (US)
Tanqueray No. Ten 47.3% ABV
Hendrick’s 44% ABV
Bombay Sapphire 47% ABV  (US)
Bombay Sapphire 40% ABV (UK)
Boodles 45.2% ABV (US)
Boodles 40% ABV (UK)

If you enjoy these posts, please tell your friends.  Comments are always welcome.

Ratings Enhancements

In my never ending effort to bring to you, my dear reader, the most detailed information possible in my Bar Reviews, and having a recent epiphany on how best to convey such information, I have decided to add a letter grade to future reviews.

Why and what for you may ask?  I’ll tell you – as an indication of the available selection of gins.

While my Martini review will always be based on my “baseline” Bombay Sapphire Martini, I recognize that my readers may prefer another gin.   This will, I hope, provide some guideline on gin choices available at a reviewed restaurant.

So an “A” would be a very outstanding selection of gins, probably 12 or more different gins with a least one ‘rare’ or unusual gin.   A “B” would be a good selection, probably 8+ choices with a nice selection of styles.  And, obviously, a “C” would be an average selection.  You get the idea.

If a particular establishment has a unique gin I will try and note that along with grade.

Let me know what you think, comments are always welcome.