Friday 12 November 2010

Update from the Lab #2

Update from the Lab #2 – Old Tom and Forbidden Fruit

As promised in the last lab update, I shall be looking at making Old Tom Gin. This is by no means the last word on the subject and I know my fellow drinksmiths at the Institute are keen to look at this in greater depth.

My idea stems from a conversation we had with Tony at 69 Colebrook Row who mentioned that drinks expert David Wondrich suggested creating Old Tom gin by rinsing a glass with Scotch whisky, adding gin and sugar syrup and then using that to make your drink; a cocktail within a cocktail, you might say.

I scaled this up to make half a bottle's worth; I have another experiment coming up where I will need large quantities of Old Tom so being able to produce a substitute will be useful.

I added a small amount of whisky to gin and cane sugar I then gently warmed this until the sugar had dissolved and then cooled, strained and bottled the result.

The Taste: the sugar gives the gin a silky smooth quality (as you may expect) making it much more sippable. The whisky seems to tweak the flavour a little bit and certainly colours the gin a light gold. The juniper still comes through in the middle and at the extreme finish is a flavour akin to violet. This is a sweet gin and does resemble some of the other sweetened Old Tom gins in a basic way. Another work in progress but the work will be fun.

Forbidden Fruit
Not content with telling our lab observers merely about Old Tom gin, I decided to recreate a drink known as the Forbidden Fruit which appears in Louis' mixed Drinks (1906) under "Miscellaneous Drinks" see recipe below:

My first issue was that I had misremembered that the recipe calls for a grapefruit and went out and bought a melon, still we had a nice breakfast and starter for our dinner. Having obtained the right fruit I followed the recipe.

The result was a drink with an interesting temperature range, hot at the top and warm at the bottom. Mrs. B described it as a "serious drink which was also sweet and fruity". It was surprisingly smooth and rather drinkable, even to a non-brandy drinker like Mrs B. The grapefruit oil from the skin of the fruit mixed well with the burnt sugar and brandy and reminded me of a similar effect made from flaming orange, particularly nice (I'm told) over a Negroni.

This drink does involve fire so please make sure you take full safety precautions before making this drink, I used glove and apron and as you can see did it over the sink.

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