Monday
Sep122016

Rosemary Gin Lemonade

I love real lemonade.  The bitter tang of lemons mixed with the warmth of sugar to create a sweet sour drink that is refreshing.  We have a huge rosemary plant growing in a tub outside.  Its bright green spikes releasing its heady woody citrus scent as we enjoy somewhat of an Indian summer.  As I walked by I brushed my hands on it and plucked a stem, taking it into the kitchen.  Lemon and rosemary go well together I pondered.  

Lightly brushing the stem, I put it into a jug and covered it in a cup of Extra Dry Gin from Marks and Spencer while I added five washed and roughly chopped unwaxed lemons to my blender, with a cup of ice and three quarters of a cup of caster sugar to make the lemonade.  Blitzing everything together until it was a smooth pulp mixture - about 3 minutes - then I strained it and poured it over the rosemary marinading in gin.

Dry Gin from Marks and Spencer is made in Scotland and has a rich citrus flavour, it is great to using in long cocktails because of its dry flavour.  Its botanicals are juniper, angelica, orris root, cassia bark, lemon peel, coriander, liquorice and grapefruit.  To compliment the grapefruit this recipe can also be made using ruby grapefruits instead of lemons.

 Placing another lightly bruised stem of rosemary in each of my serving glasses, I topped each one with ice, then poured the rosemary gin lemonade serving as a late afternoon drink before dinner.  Should you want to add a bit of fizz then pour a splash of tonic into each glass and top up with lemonade.  We are loving this lemon diet tonic from Marks and Spencer.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Saturday
Sep102016

Perfect Moving Home Gift

Moving house is stressful.  The perfect antidote is a gin and tonic, but where are the glasses, did we pack the gin, have we got a lemon.  The questions are endless and add to the stress, when really all you want to do at times like this is sit down and sip a drink be it on the floor with a packing crate as a table.

One of my favourite gifts to give people who are moving house is a Gin and Tonic basket - I pack in some Marks and Spencer Spirit of London Gin, my favourite M&S Lemon tonic water, a lemon, a little rosemary plant, a couple of tumblers and some ice.  I leave it over to the folks either on the day they are moving or give it to them minus the ice the night before in a box marked IMPORTANT GIN AND TONIC FIX.

This Spirit of London Dry Gin small batch from Marks and Spencer is light and refreshing with a good juniper and botanical flavour.  It is distilled at the Thames Distillery near Clapham in Central London.  Master Distiller Charles Maxwell who created the gin especially for M&S is the 8th generation in an unbroken line of London gin distillers that began with his forbearer George Bishop in 1700, giving him a unique 300 years worth of knowledge. 

Don't forget to bring a couple of glasses and a bag of ice it saves a lot of rooting around in boxes or trying to find essentials - because this is no ordinary move in box, it is perhaps for some a little sanity in a glass.  Moving is hard and a gin and tonic is perfect remedy for that.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle

Thursday
Sep082016

Lime, Ice, Spirit G&T

Well - you've made it to Thursday.  And you know that that means, right?

Thursday we like you because you sit right next to Friday and the weekend.

How's your week been?  Maybe it is time to sip something long and cool, pop your feet up and relax.  In fact no matter what your week has been like, there's always time to sip a g&t - you don't need an occasion other than it is Thursday night.

This Spirit of London Dry Gin small batch from Marks and Spencer is light and refreshing with a good juniper and botanical flavour.  It is distilled at the Thames Distillery near Clapham in Central London.  Master Distiller Charles Maxwell who created the gin especially for M&S is the 8th generation in an unbroken line of London gin distillers that began with his forbearer George Bishop in 1700, giving him a unique 300 years worth of knowledge. 

To make a great Gin and Tonic, start with fabulous gin, and good tonic, add a squeeze of lime or lemon or both - depending on what you prefer.

Fill the glass with plenty of ice, pour in the gin over the ice and lime, then top with tonic and serve.  No straws or gimmicks, or lime wiped around the top of the glass.  

Keep it really simple. Lime, ice, spirit then top with a splash or two of tonic.

Gin and Tonic perfection courtsery of Marks and Spencer.  Happy Sipping, happy Thursday.

 

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Wednesday
Sep072016

Brooklyn Gin

Brooklyn Gin available from Marks and Spencer new range of gins is made in Hudson Valley, New York

It is a small batch gin  - it takes three days to make 300 bottles, and an award winning one - World's Best Gin Design at the World Gin Awards - Gold Medal - 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition - and it comes in an eye catching distinctive blue glass square bottle.  Which already looks great on my cocktail shelf.

Brooklyn Gin is made from fresh locally-produced citrus fruit (Eureka Lemon, Persian Lime, Navel Orange, and Kumquat), whilst the herbs and botanicals hail from around the globe from the Albanian Juniper to Brazilian Cocoa Nibs. Once all the ingredients are peeled, cut, and cracked, they are distilled in a one-of-a-kind Christian Carl copper pot still at a fruit orchard in the Hudson Valley, New York, the use of handcutting and peeling the botanicals creates a depth of flavour not there in the gins made using frozen ingredients.  The base is 100% American corn which the producers source from local Hudson Valley farms.

Brooklyn Gin has a clean finish and I enjoyed it over ice on its own, or mixed with some Feverfew Tonic (the tonic that everyone is raving about, I am not sure I would join them).  

Brooklyn Gin has a distinctive crisp, clean, well rounded citrus taste which work well with a g&t with citrus at its core, such as these twists of ruby grapefruit and lime on a stick to twirl through the ice and tonic in a slight variation on the g&t.

Marks and Spencer Ruby Grapefruit is another good mixer for Brooklyn Gin to create the Ultimate Bloodred Gin and Juice.  

Don't you think after the day you've had it's time to sip a g&t made with Brooklyn Gin, put your feet up and enjoy some episodes from a box set?

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Tuesday
Sep062016

Spirit of Autumn Gin Cup

Gin is the Spirit of Autumn, its popularity has soared this year and so we thought we'd make a cocktail in its honour.  Welcome to the Spirit of Autumn Gin Cup.

Usually all the bounty of Autumn, its time to get on down there with apples, pears and cloves for this Spirit of Autumn Gin Cup, made using Marks and Spencer London Dry Gin.  

Marks and Spencer London Dry Gin is blended and distilled in Scotland.  It has a big juniper and citrus peel taste and is flavoured with botanicals of angelica, orris root, cassia bark, lemon peel, coriander, liquorice and grapefruit.  

Incidentially have you tried Gin and Grapefruit? Now that is one Gin and Juice that gets right on down there.  I digress ...

Spirit of Autumn Gin Cup is warm and zingy, I was inspired by the changing seasons and the coming of Autumn harvest.  This drink mixes crisp apples and pears with warm cloves, a pinch of cinnamon, ginger and apple cider.  It can be served hot or cold.  

Spirit of Autmn Gin Cup Cocktail

Ingredients

to make a jug that serves 4 generously

  • 2 x cups of London Dry Gin
  • 1 x litre bottle of Pink Lady Apple Juice
  • 2 granny smith apples washed and finely sliced
  • 2 ripe but firm pears cored and finely sliced
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 x 500ml bottle of Magners Cider
  • 4 x thin slices of ginger one for each serving glass
  • Pinch of cinnamon - optional
  • lots of ice or this drink can be served warm, simmer for 1 minute and serve in heat proof glasses

Method

Mix everything together and serve in short glasses.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Monday
Sep052016

Portable Gin and Tonics for picnics

A gin and tonic at a picnic or sitting by the beach watching the sun slip into the sea is a great way to enjoy this drink. Or on an early Autumn picnic with friends. Or the races.  Aromatic, cool, refreshing, zingy and fizzy all at once, gin and tonic is a match made in heaven.  But how to do it when you don't want to cart huge bottles around with you?

The answer lies in Bonne Mama jam jars - you know the one's with the distinctive red and white tops and gin from Marks and Spencer.

Simply make up your gin and tonic before you head off - ice, lime/lemon or both, gin and tonic then screw on the lid tightly - and there you have it the perfect and portable gin and tonic.  A few things to think about - don't travel to far before you plan to drink this, you don't want the ice to melt, and your carefully thought out drink to become watery.  I think a 10-15 minute journey is perfect.  And you'll be right on tend too, because drinking out a jam jar is really hip these days.  

The Sipsmith Gin from Marks and Spencer is an authenic gin with a big flavour and a celebration of craft distillation.    Formed in 2009 Sipsmith was the first copper-pot based distillery in London for 189 years and each batch of gin is hand crafted.  

Sipsmith Gin combines ten botanicals juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, liquorice root, orris root, ground almonds, cassia bark, cinnamon and seville orange and lemon peel sourced from across the globe and is called sip smith, because 'smith' is the word added when people do something special with their skill - a wordsmith, blacksmith etc.  The Sipsmith team have created something truly special.  

It has a sweet, zesty flavour with each of the botanicals playing their part, there is a strong note of juniper combined with the fresh zing of citrus gives a nod towards the London tradition, although the Sipsmith balance is dryer than a regular London Dry Gin.  The nose is floral, followed by a mellow juniper and citrus, on the palate it begins sweetly then a tang of marmalade washes through the mouth, followed by lemon, more juniper and a light dryness as the flavours come together in harmony.  The finish is tart lemon and spicy juniper.  Sipsmith is indeed a very special gin smooth alive and a joy to sip.  It can be enjoyed over ice or with tonic or other mixers.

Slainte - Happy sipping

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

 

Sunday
Sep042016

Let's talk about Gin

Have you noticed gin is everywhere these days?  Gin menus propped up on bars.  

Gin is hip.  It's the drink of choice and I feel rightly so.  It might even for some be hipster.  What once was Mother's Ruin is enjoying a renaissance.

There are bars that serve only gin.  Staff that turn their noses up when you ask for a regular tonic water.  Or as one female waitress said to me when I mentioned the tonic was flat, 'Oh you mustn't know a lot about drinking gin and just be used to drinking chemical filled tonics.' I looked at her retreating back with outrage.  My gin and tonic that had cost £10 was flat and straight outta ice.  The manager replaced it for me and with my choice of tonic.

A lack of ice and flat tonic remind me of an ill advised date I'd taken, I can still taste that revolting drink ... that had me running out of their on my high heels.

'Can I have more ice?' I asked when he served me and g&t. 'No, I froze the lemon instead' too much ice he went on to say is never a good thing.  He had a bouncy walk and long flopsy blond hair, he was too skinny for his own good.  Why I was on a date with him I'll never know!  Anyway back to the trauma I suffered from a bad gin and tonic.  I looked down at my drink, with its precisely measured thimbleful of gin, measly slice of lemon, hadn't this guy heard of a wedge of lemon; topped up with flat tonic and shuddered.  It didn't take long for me to be in a taxi home.  I wasn't available next time he called or the time after that.   

One thing I know is a good man, well he knows how to make a gin and tonic.  Gin and tonic lessons should be given to all young males of drinking age.  Then they are sorted for life.

Marks and Spencer have just launched the most fantastic selection of gins both store brand and a carefully curated selection of the best gins on the market at the moment. 

Gin is having a moment, it is popular.  

The masses are drinking it. Bars are springing up to serve it.  Everyone who's anyone is having a go at making it.  There are large batch, small batch, limited edition, made with this herb or that one, distilled in a variety of pots from copper to bathtubs, as well as compound and column distilled.  Different types of gin in groovy bottles are everywhere as well as the more traditional green bottle of Gordons.  Gordons is in the top ten best selling spirits on the planet and is made using an unchanged 18th century recipe. 

Gin most easily defined is a spirit distilled with juniper and it has evolved to be flavoured with other botanicals.  Juniper has been infused with spirits almost since the invention of distillation, bringing with it flavour and medicinal properties such as a medicine to treat arthritis, overactive and a loss of appetite, and gout.   Gin has been around since the Middle Ages, but the stuff we pour today finds its origins with the Dutch in the 17th Century by Franciscus Sylvius, it was called genever.  It hoped over the channel to Britain with William of Orange, or King Billy as he is known in Northern Ireland.  Low taxation meant it was cheap to make and cheap to buy.  The Gin Craze had begun, more than half of London's drinking rooms where gin shops.  Overconsumption, and extreme drunkenness was rampant.  Hogarth’s diptych of Gin Lane and Beer Street, showing the perils of drinking gin as opposed to the joy of drinking beer, lead parliament to clamp down with stricter laws to produce gin.

Gin is produced mainly in two ways - compounding and distilling.

Compounded gin sees flavours - either actual botancials or natural extracts - added to a neutral spirit, this is the method used for cheaper gins as well as for some superior gins which macerate whole botanicals with a high quality neutral spirit.

Distilled gin is made by redistilling distilled spirit with botanicals added to it.

London Dry Gin can be made anywhere in the world and is a method where distilled gin has nothing added but water after distillation.

For a spirit to be called gin the distilled spirit must have a predominant flavour of juniper, after which each producer can add their own mix of ingredients.  Common botanicals added to gin include - orange, grapefruit and lemon peel (both fresh and dried), coriander, liquorice, anise and cardamom, green tea, rose, and cucumber, rosemary, honey, sloe, and a wide range of fruits and plants, as well as orris and angelica root.

Marks and Spencer have in their selection a brown papered bottle gin made in a bathtub, which has an alluring spicy taste, an elderflower infused gin perfect to drink when you need a hit of summer in winter, there's a pink gin and a sloe gin, one with mint and cucumber, one by Gordons and another by Plymouth, there's an own brand London Dry Gin, one from Brooklyn and another from Spain. 

We have tried them all, and they are each very special and can be used to create a wide variety of delicious drinks to sip.

I have loved a good gin and tonic for a very long time.

Not for me the allure of vodka and all its supposed purity.  

Give me a drink swimming with juniper, scented with herby botanicals, and topped up with a good fizzy tonic.  Oh and ice have I mentioned ice - put lots in there.  I am really American when it comes to ice, especially in my alcoholic drinks.  For me the more ice the better, I am always on the side of more.  Not for me the gin and tonic served in those tiny wineglasses from the 1980s with a slimey piece of lemon from a jar and one cube of ice.  

For a classic g&t ice, lemon and lime, a good splash of gin - usually go for three fingers, depending on the side of the glass - and topped up with tonic, always freshly opened, never flat, stir and serve.

The best Gin and Tonic you'll ever drink is the one you make at home.  Those I pour for nor I have ever been disappointed by a g&t from my hand.  Gin and tonic is in my mind the most refreshing alcoholic drink. It's classy, refreshing and alluring.  Its the drink my older female relatives enjoyed as I grew up.  Their mantra was always serve gin in a good glass, a crisp drink needs a thin lipped crystal, it makes it special.  I agree, enjoying a g&t should be special.  

It was on the way to Prague with the Belfast Philharmonic Choir I got my own taste for gin and tonic, boy did I feel grown up.  Other women on the tour had stocked up with bottles of Gordons with its distinctive yellow labels in the duty free.  They arrived in the Czech Republic clinking.  Each night after we had performed, the night was filled with the sounds of Irish voices lifted in song, alongside glasses with a splash of gordons and tonic.  This was a good few years ago now ... 

My taste for gin and tonic has not subscided, it is always my drink of choice and the one I love to serve to others.  From student parties where we handed out pints of g&t, to Autumns filled with pricking sloes to soak in gin, to drinks with the girls in my family, to sipping from tiny silver cups on a cold frosty morning waiting for the horses.

I am happy to share the gin craze with you.  Over the next little while we will be sharing our favourites from Marks and Spencer with you and suggesting a variety of ways to drink gin, from the class g&t, to mulled, to gin lemonade. 

So prepare to dive in and swim around in the gin.

Slainte.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

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