50 Shades of Gin

As you all know juniper defines Gin.  If there’s no juniper in the liquor, its not Gin.  Its really that simple.  Without juniper you have flavored (ugh) Vodka.

But what other botanicals are ‘allowed’ in gin?  As it turns out, pretty much anything you want!  I’ve collected a few different components that I’ve found in various gins and listed them below for fun.  I’m sure there are many more in various unpublished ‘secret’ recipes.

I’ve tried to categorized these flavor elements by general “type”.  These are my categories and I’m sure some botanicals are probably in the wrong spot.

As one would expect the Herbal ingredients dominate.  This has historically been the prime source of flavors for Gin.  That is followed by Citrus elements, which also have a long history in Gin production.  The rest are a mix of old (peppers) and new (lavender?).

With all these botanicals available, mixed in a myriad of ways, there are sure to be Gins for every taste.  So many Gins, so little time.

Herbal:  Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Liquorice, Orris root, Angelica root, Angelica seeds, Ginger, Bay leaves, Nutmeg, , Fennel, Cloves, Tea, Coriander, Cassia, Caraway, Cardamom, Sarsaparilla, Anise, Lemon Grass, Pepper (Black, White, Asian)

Citrus:  Lemon, Lemon peel, Orange, Orange peel, Lime, Lime peel, Grapefruit, Zest (all types)

Floral:  Rose, Lavender, Hibiscus, Elderflower, Chamomile, Mint, Myrtle, Hawthorne, Saffron, Verbena

Fruit:  Pear, Apple, Cranberry, Blackberry, Raspberry, Elderberry, Almond, Cucumber, Barberry, Rowan Berry, Blackthorn

Earthy:  Moss, Peat, Tree sap (!?)

Best Gins for a Martini? Here’s one Opinion

Are you wondering what Gin(s) make the best Martinis?  I came across this article while perusing my twitter feed (@Shkn_Nt_Strrd) and found it interesting.  I hope you do too.


I particularly like Gin #1 as a suggestion for a novice Gin drinker or possibly to convert a ‘vodkaphile’?

I’ve often mentioned that my favorite Gin is Bombay Sapphire and I’m glad to find it in this collection.  Some of these sound very interesting; I will keep my eyes open for them and, hopefully, give them a try.

Random Martini Quote for the Day

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

For more fun Martini quotes check out the appropriately titled “Martini Quotes” page, or click the link:  Martini Quotes.

Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Taste

We’ve finally come to the final, and probably most important, contentious, and difficult edition of Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Taste.  Does Shaking change the taste of the Martini?

I’ve been scratching my head trying to develop an effective and simple taste test for Shaken vs. Stirred: Taste while eliminating the differences due to temperature, dilution, and ‘bruising’.  Recall that for this article we consider bruising to be the emulsification of the Martini from shaking.  See Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Bruising for details.

Here’s what I’ve done.  I’ve prepared two dry Martinis (i.e., Gin) using 1 1/4 oz. of my favorite Gin.  Each was mixed with 20 ice cubes, one shaken for 10 seconds and one stirred for 45 seconds.   Then put in identical glasses and placed in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  By doing this I’ve removed the variable of temperature.  I mixed the gin for different times in the hope of removing the variable of dilution.  (I didn’t quite succeed, the shaken Martini contained a bit more drink, so it was a bit more diluted.)  Finally by allowing the two glasses to sit I’ve allowed the emulsification to dissipate thereby removing the variable of ‘bruising’.

So which ‘won’??    Hold that thought for now…. Lets start with a couple of facts.  First, taste is a combination of sensor receptors on the tongue (taste receptors, or buds) and in the nasal cavity (olfactory epithelium).   There are also secondary conditions that affect taste; e.g., temperature, texture, and ‘heat’ / spiciness.

Second, taste is a function of “chemistry”.  By that I mean that the body (tongue, palate, mouth, and nose) detects various molecules, ions, chemicals, and compounds and sends signals to the brain which interprets the information as ‘taste’.

Therefore to declare that Shaking a martini changes the taste we must infer that Shaking changes the martini’s chemistry.  Is that possible?  Well, it appears that may be the case.  I did an extensive bit of research (thank you Google) and found the following.

The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario conducted a study to determine if the preparation of a martini has an influence on its antioxidant capacity. They found that the shaken gin martinis were able to break down hydrogen peroxide and leave only 0.072% of the peroxide behind, versus the stirred gin martini, which left behind 0.157% of the peroxide.*

I should also note that the above is the only “citeable” bit of evidence I found anywhere.  Everything else was subjective.  Which brings up the question; is a difference of 0.085% (0.157 – 0.072) peroxide detectable?

Of all the posts, blogs, editorials, and opinions I have read, none provided any solid evidence of the taste changes – in Gin.  A  few reported subtle changes in cheap Vodka martinis – something about cheap vodka being made from potatoes which leave extra oils in the liquor.

The few ‘side by side’ reports I found noted how one method made the Martini colder or weaker or cloudier.  But not a difference in taste.

Which leads us back my experiment: so which tastes better?  To be absolutely honest, I couldn’t taste any difference.  I went back and forth repeatedly, even rinsing my mouth between tastes.  The stirred martini was just a tad stronger, but it didn’t taste different.  That is surely due to the slightly greater dilution of the shaken Martini.  I will certainly try this again adjusting the mixing times and possibly adding straight gin as a third option.  I’ll keep you informed.

Draw.  I could not taste a difference.  Nor can I find documented evidence of a taste difference in Gin anywhere in the googlesphere.  Please send me any links to such articles if you can find them.
*  Hirst, M.; Trevithick, J. R. (18 December 1999). “Shaken, not stirred: bio-analytical study of the antioxidant activities of martinis”. British Medical Journal 319 (7225): 1600–2. doi:10.1136/bmj.319.7225.1600. PMC 28303. PMID 10600955. Retrieved 2006-04-12.

Random Martini Quote for the Day

The proper union of gin and vermouth is a great and sudden glory; it is one of the happiest marriages on earth, and one of the shortest lived.
Bernard DeVoto

For more fun Martini quotes check out the appropriately titled “Martini Quotes” page, or click the link:  Martini Quotes.

Bar Review: 21 Oceanfront, Newport Beach, CA

Newport Beach Sunset
Newport Beach Sunset

21 Oceanfront is exactly what you would desire in a fine dining beach front establishment – awesome view of the beach and sunset, great food, and fine service all in a sort of Victorian Nautical decor.  A near perfect place for a romantic dinner followed by an after-dinner stroll along the beach.  Absolutely wonderful.

Except for the martini. The Martini was acceptable but not noteworthy.  And certainly not up to the standard that the location, food, and view would lead one to expect.  The drink was chilled but a bit on the wet side and served in very small stems.

(That combination of small serving and a bit on wet side always raises a ‘red flag’ in my mind.   It leads me to wonder if the bar management is more concerned with profit that Perfect Martinis – Vermouth is significantly cheaper than gin!)

21 Oceanfront is definitely worth a visit.  Order a Martini if that’s your fancy, but they do have a nice wine list.    Martini Glass Sideways

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Random Martini Quote for the Day

I don’t drink anymore, on the other hand I don’t drink any less either.
W. C. Fields


For more fun quotes check out the “Martini Quotes” page, or click the link:  Martini Quotes.

New Page to Investigate

I’ve added a new page to this blog:  Links to Interesting, Fun, or Informative Sites.   Take a moment to check it out.  Suggestions for additions gladly accepted.