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…!
This morning I absently mindedly popped three random Nespresso pods in my machine. It is all I have left until my parents arrive tonight with a new stash. Given the rate I frequent my beloved Nespresso machine, I can’t bring myself to keep paying twice as much for pods here when I know my trusty visitors will bring them to my door so inevitably I end up with the odd pods at some point. The result is a slightly strange flavoured coffee which, to be fair, is totally doable versus no coffee at all.
As I was sat drinking my confused coffee it occurred to me with some element of horror (and I suspect avid coffee drinkers and connoisseurs will have already balked at my words), I would never do this with gin! Can you imagine…? Let’s say you only have a drop of Bombay left and not quite enough Hendricks for a decent measure so you mix the two together…agh. This is followed by the subsequent confusion over whether to finish with lime or cucumber…I guess you would have to do both but how wrong would that be! Not only would it look confusing, I have no doubts it would taste just the same.
While I might succumb to the odd random coffee, needs must and all that…it’s fair to say that I won’t be doing that with my G&T anytime soon. If on the other hand you are brave (or desperate!) enough to try it, do leave me a comment and let me know!
For those of you that have ever put anything off (and I’m guessing that’s a few of you), you will remember the all-time, best distraction event in your life…the revision plan! Oh yes, I hear ya! Remember that beauty…all colour co-ordinated in a neat, meticulously drawn chart that told you what to revise and when so that you could just get up and crack on with it? It was a vision and filled many hours so that you didn’t have to get down to the dull, boring and monotonous job of actually revising but could feel totally good about yourself because it was all part of the process.
Seems life hasn’t changed that much. Having decided to finally start writing a blog, I have spent many hours creating a thing of beauty (in my humble opinion) without actually challenging myself to write a blog which will go consequently go out there for scrutiny and judgement by the masses. Enough however. As my dear friend would say and I believe already has…crack on Bridge (a throw back from Bridget Jones’s Diary and the inability to leave the house when I say I will for fear that if I don’t do the 7 million jobs as I head to the front door, they will never happen).
So here it is…the first of what I hope will be many and it seems fitting that this blog should include what I have to say is probably my all time favourite gin-based cocktail…Sweet Little Lies. I discovered this taste sensation in the Blue Moon Lounge, located at the top of the Four Seasons in Bahrain Bay. I was sat with my husband contemplating our impending move to Bahrain and the next chapter in our lives.
It looks stunning and the taste or array of tastes is something quite extraordinary. Gin (obviously!), lime, sweet basil and chilli. You taste each flavour one at a time and it is like no other cocktail I have ever had. I am no food critique or wine guru so can’t explain it in technical terms…it’s just very clever, to me anyway.
I love it so much that I tell everyone about it and have gone as far as taking visiting girlfriends and making them try it (clearly that didn’t much persuasion…they are my friends for more than one reason) to see if they got it like I did. Thankfully they did and I wasn’t the only one to get the chilli hit at the end.
I do wonder, however, whether I love this drink so much because it symbolises the end of a long period of uncertainty and living ‘in limbo’ and the beginning of a plan and new direction. Either way it’s delicious and if you are in the Bay, you should definitely go try one for yourself.