I’m a great believer in; things happen for a reason, what goes around comes around, right place right time and so on and so forth. For those that sit in that camp also, you will know what I mean when I say sometimes things just come about. I didn’t set out that day to find Thai sweet basil and experiment with cocktails but a chance conversation at a breakfast gathering which I very nearly didn’t go to, lead me to the porch of a fast-becoming dear friend (not just because she has offered my basil on tap you understand!) who is growing it by the bucket load. For the record the Thai sweet basil has featured in some suppers too but not before I had done a little research to see which gin I could match it with. Priorities…right?!
Bombay Sapphire came up time and time again as the sweet basil gin of choice so I rolled with it and created two different cocktails, not from scratch I hasten to add, but with a little help from the world wide web mixed with my own interpretation. I have shared the recipes and pictures (no explanation for the random pink straw other than kids…!) on my Recipe page. Please give them a try and post a comment to let me know what you think.
For me, the Sweet Basil Gin Rickey was the winner. The use of club soda instead of tonic water allowed the basil to shine through, and being fresh and homegrown thus magnifying it’s poignant flavour, it was a true taste sensation. With the Cucumber-Thai Basil Gin and Tonic, the basil hit came at the end and while it was worth the wait, in my opinion, it was a little too subtle and got little lost by comparison to the Rickey which was sweet basil all the way.
So here’s a shout out to my friend…thanking you for the basil and letting you know I will be round again tomorrow just before 5…!
Or in my case, little walnuts and gin bars!
Those of you that know me, will gather I am busy in the throws of designing my gin bar. It had got to a point where we had acquired our tenth bottle of gin still with no plan, so I suggested to my husband that we really ought to stop talking about having a gin bar and actually get to the job in hand.
As a side, he recently returned from Cape Town with two bottles in hand, both listed in the 5 Must try South African craft gins. Jenever Montane is crafted with a signature floral/rose-geranium flavour giving it a slightly sweeter taste in comparison to the Salt River Gin (definitely my favourite of the two). The Salt River is based on botanicals of juniper, wild rosemary and buchu (which, by the way has medicinal properties of the anti-inflammatory nature…what better excuse post-spin class or game of doubles!).
I used ingredients from the list of suggestions for serving and enjoyed the Jenever with a generous slice of grapefruit (all be it pink which I am not sure helped with the sweetness scenario) and fresh coriander. I was then totally blown away by the Salt River which I also tried with grapefruit; only a thin, half slice and thyme. I definitely need to do a re-run with regular grapefruit over pink and see which I prefer but the gins themselves were sensational and the addition of the herbs absolutely made it for me. Totally worth the extra effort!
So back to walnuts and the bar…I am delighted to report that after a couple of weekends of deliberation, much masking tape, head scratching and standing at an imaginary bar with drink in hand…we now have a plan or more importantly a design which has gone off to the professionals to be made into 2D and 3D pictures. The anticipation is immense…waiting to see what has been in my head for months actually laid out in front of me to then consider the right materials. Walnut, clearly, for the counter and the rest you will have to wait to see…!