Category Archives: Reviews

Beefeater Gin Review

As part of a series of Beefeater product features over at the Mixoloseum, last Thursday’s Drink Night (TDN) theme was Beefeater gin. As usual at the Mixoloseum Bar, many original drinks were created, submitted and enjoyed. The next online event will feature Beefeater 24, a new luxury gin and its introduction to the American market. This new product is differentiated from their original one by the additions of Japanese sencha and Chinese green teas, as well as grapefruit peels.

Dan Warner, brand ambassador for Beefeater gin, joined in the fun. He shared with us some fascinating facts about Beefeater, like the fact that there are only 6 employees at their sole plant in London producing 2.4 million cases a year. Beefeater is the only major distiller left producing London Dry gin in the city of London. He also dropped tidbits like the Negroni being a favorite of Desmond Payne, Beefeater’s celebrated Master Distiller. Dan even hinted that he might return on the TDN discussing Beefeater 24 on 4/30.

beefeater

The Gin

I’ve always been pleased with Beefeater as a mixing gin, but in order to taste the individual components, I tasted it neat and then slightly diluted with water. The first smell on opening a bottle yielded the sharp aroma of juniper and citrus. Upon sipping the undiluted spirit, I tasted the rounded soft spiciness of the coriander. The mouth feel was rich and even a bit oily. The mid palate had a bit of a pleasant woody flavor, probably from the licorice and angelica root. The finish was bitter but not lingering. Overall the impression was very crisp and clean.

They don’t call this London Dry Gin for nothing. Beefeater is proud of their 24 hour maceration claiming that the “long steeping time gives a gentler extraction, but builds complexity, and fixes the aroma in the spirit more solidly.” The resulting bold and clean flavor makes it a great mixing gin. I love the sharp citrus tang of Beefeater relative to other gins. When you mix a drink with Beefeater, you know that you’ve put gin in there! Sometimes you want the gin to be the star, like in a gin and tonic, a Martinez, or a Clover Club. Orange drinks like a Bronx or Monkey Gland really benefit from a bold gin like this; otherwise the drink can get a little soft on you. But other times you want your gin to play more of a  supportive role. For a drink like a Suffering Bastard, I recommend a mellower, more rounded gin.

Just recently at the market, I happened to come across fresh bergamot fruit, and having been waiting over a year and a half  since reading about the following recipe at Married with Dinner, I snapped up the last one and made the following:
fridayafterfive

Friday After FiveMarried with Dinner

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1/2 ounce green Chartreuse
  • 3/4 ounce bergamot juice
  • 1 dash Herbsaint, absinthe or Pernod

Shake over ice, and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a bergamot twist, if desired.

I have to say that this was my first experience with a real bergamot and I was totally impressed. As soon as my peeler bit into the peel, the pleasantly sharp odor of fine Earl Grey tea sprang into the air and surrounded me. I peeled the whole thing and set the peels out to dry for later use. This bergamot was quite tart, so I ended up adding a dash more Chartreuse to sweeten it a bit. The Friday After Five was still pretty tart, but the aromas of the bergamot peel worked well with the aromatics of the gin and the herbal sweetness of the Chartreuse. I was reminded of Audrey Sander’s MarTEAni, made with Earl Grey tea infused gin. So much so that I was inspired to invent the:

Trans-Europa

  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/4 oz Earl Grey infused gin (Tanqueray – 4 tbsp loose tea to a bottle for 2 hours)
  • 3/4 oz bitter Seville orange juice
  • 1/4 oz green Chartreuse
  • 1/4 simple syrup (or more as needed)

Shake, strain and serve up with a bitter orange twist.

I’m a big fan of Beefeater gin because of its bold, high quality taste coupled with its affordable price point. I have been stocking Beefeater as my house gin for some time now because sometimes you just need a gin with some oomph when mixing. Personally, I’m really excited about the American release of Beefeater 24. I hope you can come on down to the Beefeater 24 TDN we are having on 4/30.

Hawaii Drinkin’

This week, I got the chance to take a vacation in Hawaii and lucky for you (or maybe not), a laptop joined our trip at the last minute. So here is my quick and extremely subjective impression of drinking here on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Drinking in Hawaii

Bars in Hawaii are pretty similar to mainland bars, except maybe for the gorgeous sea views and general lack of walls. I get the impression that locals primarily drink beer. While a lot of rum is on sale in the local stores, I think most of that gets poured into Coke. Visitors appear to want one or more of the following: whatever they have at home, something luxurious to celebrate being in Hawaii, and/or something tropical. And by tropical, I mean rum and fruit. Of the ‘burgeoning cocktail culture’, there were no traces to be found. But then again, the Big Island is not where I would look if I was serious about finding it. The big city- Honolulu, on Oahu- would be much more likely to reflect mainland trends.

Don the Beachcomber

Mai Tai from a luau, not Don the BeachcomberBefore leaving home, I checked with my tiki sources (OK, TraderTiki and critiki) and turned up nothing of tiki interest to visit on the Big Island. So imagine my heart-warming surprise (and dread) when finding a listing in a guide book for Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Kona Resort! Having honeymooned at the Royal Kona some years ago, I knew where this was, and also knew that any bar would be better than what had been there. Rum and sour mix Mai Tai, anyone? Donn Beach himself was clearly not involved in this new endeavor, having died in 1989. We had to see and drink for ourselves.

We got there before sunset and snagged two house Mai Tais, which turned out to be pretty decent. The “Don’s Original Mai Tai” was made with Bacardi 8 rum, orgeat, curacao, mystery fruit juice and a float of Whaler’s dark rum. The menu claimed the fruit included lime, but it tasted primarily of pineapple. They repeatedly claim on their logo and advertising that Donn Beach invented the original Mai Tai. I thought that the controversy over who invented the Mai Tai had been settled in Trader Vic’s favor, but it lives on, at least on the internet and here.

We flagged down a manager and asked for the story. Turns outs that a bunch of resort manager types had been walking around their Lahaina property and passed one of the old, boarded-up Don the Beachcomber restaurants. They decided to revive the legend and bought the rights to use the name. They redecorated the existing bar and restaurant at the Royal Kona Resort, which both have gorgeous wide open surfside views of the sunset over Kailua Bay. For you tiki-philes, yes, they have gone ahead with full tiki décor. There are Hawaiian style tiki heads placed around the bar, a trio of floor-to-ceiling concrete tiki idols in the center of the main grill room there, and a plethora of tiki torches lighting up the surf around the lanai. I apologize for the lack of photos; my digital camera is one casualty of this trip.

Moving through the menu, we tried the Don’s Plantation Mai Tai and the Tiki Tai. The Plantation had orgeat, apricot brandy, a potent blend of dark and light rums (Bacardi white, Whaler’s Dark, and two other unidentified rums) and fresh squeezed lime juice. (Hand squeezed from the garnish wedges for some reason). The Tiki Tai was very similar to the Original, but used a big dollop of very fine shaved ice. The rest of the menu features about 6 Mai Tais, as well as Navy Grog and a Scorpion. After that it veers into such crowd-pleasers as a Chocolate Martini and a Ginger Mango Martini. The fact that happy hour prices coincide with a glorious Hawaiian sunset makes these forgivable. And Don the Beachcomber has a much better Mai Tai than I expected to find on this Big Island vacation.