Ginuary 29th: Monkey Gland.

I have so many things to say about today’s choice that I don’t quite know where to begin, so let’s wait until I’m drunk to write it all out. Here’s the drink!

Monkey Gland

  • 50ml gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
  • 30ml fresh orange juice
  • 2 drops absinthe
  • 5ml grenadine

Shake well over ice, double strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe.

Nice placemat, tell me more!

That was easy. Now let’s talk about how I got here.

Back late last year I was recapping the first four Ginuarys on instagram, in both an effort to flesh out the new account and a way to hype myself up for the new month and try to maybe sorta kinda be a little bit planned, as opposed to previous years. Both ideas worked, much to my delight. But in recapping and reliving the past months, I discovered a few glaring holes in my history of Ginuary. I’ve done a few drinks inspired by or expanded on classic drinks, without blogging those classic drinks themselves. The Southside was one, and I hit that up earlier this month.

Monkey Gland was another. Way back during the first Ginuary, I had a Monkey Taxonomy at the now-defunct Salon bar in Brisbane. It was an “improved” version, a riff of the classic, with blood orange juice, a grenadine glaze, a big fat frozen plum, a very large and impressive block of ice. The drink came served inside a latex glove, and you snipped a finger off to pour it into its glass. If you know the origin of the Monkey Gland cocktail, this all makes more sense: the drink is named after a surgical technique of grafting monkey testicle tissue into humans. Yes, you read correctly. The procedure was vogue in the 1920s, and the drink came from that same decade.

But to this day I’d never given its predecessor a day of Ginuary. It almost fell by the wayside this year, too… until the fabulous Gin Monkey sent me a copy of her beautiful new book, the Periodic Table of Cocktails. I’ve been slowly amassing a collection of cocktail books, and those written by fellow bloggers are personal favourites before I’ve even read them, to be honest. Monkey’s combines cocktails and science in a wonderful way of reflecting two facets of her life. Straight from the Monkey’s mouth: The idea behind the book is to take the concept and principles behind the periodic table (that orders all of the known elements that make up the world by atomic number and therefore chemical properties and behaviour), and apply them to the topic of cocktails. The book is therefore structured around the table that sits at the front of the book (and at the back in a fold out colour poster), and the cocktail recipes within are ordered as such.

Speaking as someone fairly geeky, I’m tickled by the way each of the drinks was meticulously chosen for this book and sits so well in its element. Naturally I thumbed through in search of gin drinks, but with over a hundred recipes, this book covers all bases—no matter what your preferred spirit (and individual spirit preferences are very easy to navigate to using the index at the back). Each included drink has a short spiel, and most are classics. It’s a beautiful introduction to cocktails for a new home bartender, and a classy addition for the rest of us.

For Ginuary, though, it was straight to the index for gin. I worked my way down the list, ticking off each one I’d done. I started to worry. But wait. Of course. Monkey Gland from the Gin Monkey. It was almost too perfect.

Ginuary 25th: Perfect Martini.

No, I’m not going to tell you how to make the perfect combination. Everyone has their own perfect combination, and that’s absolutely fine. Experiment to find what YOUR perfect martini is, ok? Having said that, this is how to make a Perfect Martini, where “perfect” means equal parts of sweet and dry vermouth.

Perfect Martini

  • 45ml gin (I used the Retiring)
  • 45ml dry vermouth (I used Maidenii)
  • 45ml sweet vermouth (I used Dolin)

Stir over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish as you like.

Ok, look. I don’t really know what what I’m doing. Today’s drink was inspired by Alamagoozlum’s tweet a couple of days ago, recommending equal thirds of all three drinks. That’s what was stuck in my head. I tried to search the web to confirm the recipe but YOU try searching “perfect cocktail”, ok!? You’ll primarily get a bunch of websites recommending their opinion of the perfect balance.

Of course, it was only after I made (and photographed) my drink that I drilled my search down a little further and found that “perfect” really only means an equal split of vermouths, not necessarily an equal amount of gin too! So I drank my original (and photographed) drink, enjoyed it very much, then made another with 10ml of each vermouth and around maybe 60ml of gin, I don’t know. Not an actual comparison post because I didn’t have them side by side but I… yes. The gin-forward version is also very delicious. They’re both delicious. I think I like the gin-forward one better but I can’t lock that in because I didn’t try them side by side and the first one was also very delicious.

Yes, I am a bit tiddly.

Ginuary 21st: the Southside.

Southside? South Side? Lemon? Lime? Here’s the problem with classic cocktails… who knows? Or maybe we know, but the improved version is actually better, which is why it’s better known? All I know is when there’s such a clear divide of opinions in recipes, I’ve got no choice.

I have to do a comparison post, and probably get a bit drunk in doing so.

The things I do for Ginuary.

The Southside

  • 60ml gin (I used Sipsmith)
  • 15ml lime juice
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 15ml simple syrup
  • 6-8 mint leaves

Shake ingredients over ice and double strain into a cocktail or coupe glass. Garnish with another mint leaf or two.

Here’s what I did. One with lemon. One with lime. One with half/half. I will fight you. Half/half won. I know, I was surprised too! I actually expected lime to be the winner, and it was winning for me until I thought to try the half/half blend. Maybe it was also the glass choice—the first two I did in cocktail glasses and they don’t come anywhere near to filling the glass, but in a coupe it’s kind of perfect.

Look, I’m still really tired and I have now had six shots of alcohol and it’s bedtime and I don’t have to be anywhere tomorrow morning. BYE.

Ginuary 12th: the Gibson @ Society Salamanca.

One of the best things about this Ginuary is the excuse to finally get to a couple of newer venues in my city of Hobart. Society Salamanca opened in the second half of 2015 and as soon as it was on my radar I knew it was a place I needed to visit!

Spot the gin shelf.

Society’s Instagram taunted me with wonderful things but it was this post that pushed me over the line—I had a Gibson tagged for this Ginuary and there it was, waving at me. Sign me up, Society, I’m yours.

Too popular for a non-crowded photo.

Take a look at that pickled onion! No baby cocktail onion for a Society Gibson—you get a Tasmanian classic Blue Banner pickle as big as a bull’s eye sitting in your glass. Not only that but here they like to make their Gibsons with McHenry barrel-aged gin, adding further to the beautiful savoury flavour of the drink. I also timed my first visit well for Tapas Tuesday, where $2 pintxos hit the bar from 6pm. First in, best dressed for some wonderful snacks that I definitely paired with the right drink!

I was able to have a chat with Angela, one of the legends running Society, about their incredible selection of gins. The bar has a strong, proud focus on Tasmanian and craft Australian products, and Angela knows her stuff, too—she has an opinion on every gin on the shelf, and knows what garnish best suits each one. I got a cheeky peek at an upcoming offering from the bar, but I’ll be keeping that up my sleeve until later in the month—suffice it to say it’s possibly the most fun I’ve had yet this month, and I can’t wait to do it again!

For now, I’ll leave you with a challenge.

Can you pick them all?

Ginuary 10th: the Bloodhound.

I’ll be honest here, I had much more exciting plans for today but then I picked up a shift at work and my free time became significantly reduced. Bless a Ginuary to-do list.

The Bloodhound

  • 45ml gin (I used Plymouth)
  • 22.5ml sweet vermouth
  • 22.5ml dry vermouth
  • 2-3 muddled strawberries

Shake ingredients with ice and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with another strawberry or three. 

 

Simple. Easy. A strawberry perfect martini, I suppose. This drink will depend on the quality of your strawberries and mine may have been a bit beyond ripe, but still… still good. 

It’s been a big day, I don’t have any other floral words. Enjoy!

Ginuary 30th: Alexander.

Tonight I needed a comfort drink that would get me through the Parenthood finale. This one filled that quota exceptionally.

Kinda cool, this one. You’ve heard of a Brandy Alexander, I’m sure. Even if you don’t know the drink and its contents, you’ve at least heard the phrase (Feist’s song—and Ron Sexsmith’s song in response—is just great). Here’s the thing… it’s an offshoot of the gin grandpappy beverage. Gin is the original. That’s a sentence I like.

Alexander

  • 45ml gin (I used Hendrick’s)
  • 45ml creme de cacao
  • 45ml pure/single/thin cream

 
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Sprinkle with some nutmeg.
 

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Can you tell I used cinnamon instead? Misplaced nutmeg. Decent sub.

This tastes like a Brandy Alexander but with gin instead of brandy, so… better.

Most recipes I’ve found call for a London dry, but I stubbornly decided that the sweeter notes of Hendrick’s would go well with this drink that is clearly a dessert beverage! I think I was right? Who knows. I had to try two differently measured versions too, but in the end I’m awarding this to the original 1:1:1 split. Plus it’s easier to remember.

Ginuary 28th: Sloe Gin Fizz.

Since acquiring some sloe gin earlier this month, all I’ve done is make a ridiculously delicious dessert with it, so tonight I thought it time I address a classic, while also giving a quick educational spiel on sloe gin.

See, the thing is, sloe gin isn’t technically gin. Well, kind of. Look—it is, but technically it’s a liqueur: it’s gin, but that gin’s been flavoured with sloe berries. Sloe berries are the small fruits that come from blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) shrubs. They’re a relative of plums, but the berries are a lot smaller and in the same way that cumquats are the smaller, tarter cousin of mandarins, so are sloes to plums. That’s my analogy and I’m sticking to it.

When I say the gin is “flavoured” with these berries, what actually happens is that the berries are soaked in the gin for months, with some sugar to help extract the juice from the berries (and let’s face it, it also helps to sweeten the liqueur).

Most sloe gins are homemade, at least in areas where hedgerows are native. There are a few commercial sloe gins produced across the world… and, as far as I’m aware, the only one produced in Australia is right here in Tasmania, by McHenry Distillery. It’s not that surprising that down south’s where it’s at—Tassie is the corner of the country with a climate most fitting for blackthorns to grow. I have it on good authority that Bill McHenry’s sloe berries are all authentically foraged, too… and I was pleased as punch to get to stir a soaking vat of sloe on my visit to McHenry’s earlier this month.

Sloe Gin Fizz

 

Add all the ingredients except the soda to a shaker and fill with cracked ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled highball glass (no ice). Top with soda, making sure you get a decent fizz out of it—splash it in there!

 
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My mistake was to use ice in my glass, but that’s always the way when you rush around trying to settle on one of many different recipes out there. Ah, the joy of a real classic that nobody can quite agree on. What should be easy enough to agree on is that fizzes should be sans ice in the glass, and historically were a morning drink—a hair of the dog, if you will. Get fizzed and you’ll be right for the day, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

I didn’t have any issue causing a proper fizz with the soda water I used. This was my first time playing with Daylesford & Hepburn’s wares and it was a real treat—beautiful fizzy water that was up to the task. I’ve got some more lovely bottles to play with if I can squeeze them in to the rest of Ginuary, too. Fingers crossed!

Now pick up that fizz and slam it down. No time for mucking about.

Ginuary 13th: Casino.

Ohhhhh, I’m in trouble.

While trying to pin down a gin for tonight after a long day at work I got stuck between two quite different recipes, one from the Bitter Truth and one from CHOW. The same ingredients, yes, but that’s where the similarity ends. Different measures of supporting ingredients. Different prep methods (one’s stirred, one’s shaken). Different garnishes. Rats. This meant only one option.

A comparison post.

I think the last time I got this comparative was back in 2013 with the White Lady. Funnily enough, I mentioned accidental drunkenness in that post. It happened again. But I’m persevering with this post because it’s important.

Casino

  • 60ml old tom gin
  • 20ml maraschino liqueur
  • 20ml fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • orange peel twist

 

Twist the orange peel (to release the oil) and drop it in a shaker. Add the remaining ingredients and shake over ice; strain into a cocktail or coupe. Garnish with a twist each of lemon and orange, or a cocktail cherry, or whatever you feel like.

 

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JUST DO WHAT YOU WANNA DO, MAN.

I’m gonna be real with you right now: I wanted to prefer the stirred drink, because I always feel like a stirred cocktail is a tougher drink, a gutsier drink. And the stirred/tBT version was definitely gutsier, but I couldn’t help myself—I just preferred the balance of the CHOW version, with the higher quantities of maraschino and lemon. It didn’t smack me in the face quite as much and as I drank both drinks (this was part of tonight’s problem, I think…) I found myself leaning toward the easier palate of the CHOW version.

I’d probably be keen to try playing around with other volumes of maraschino and lemon, and I realise I’m preferring the butchered, altered version, and I’m sorry, but I’m also not sorry, because I drank a lot of standard drinks very quickly tonight and I have a day off tomorrow so I’m going to sleep in.

The end. Good night. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m not sorry. Casino. Cheers.

Ginuary 7th: White Cargo.

Ok, so I’m easing back into some home bar stuff this year (after the rampaging success of the new year’s punch, that is) with something ridiculously simple. Look, it’s from the Savoy Cocktail book so hush up, it had to be ticked off the list sooner or later. And yet.

White Cargo

  • 1/2 gin
  • 1/2 vanilla ice-cream

 
No ice is necessary; just shake until thoroughly mixed, and add water or white wine if the concoction is too thick.

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I definitely didn’t need any white wine added to this, as what I quickly discovered (and really should have realised) is that gin shaken with vanilla ice-cream becomes a drink that is basically gin and vanilla flavoured milk. It definitely wasn’t the worst drink I’ve ever had, and I know some people who prefer to drink gin as a simple mixed with milk, but I’m not a huge fan of a big ol’ glass of milk so instead it was just a bit of a letdown, in the end.

But still, gin. And I’m glad I threw a couple of raspberries on top because I took great joy in dunking them in the melted ice-cream glass.

Ginuary 4th: Gin Sour @ Frank.

After a very long day of work today I rolled up to dinner with a group of wonderful people and was momentarily distressed when I found my restaurant selection didn’t have any gin cocktails on their short menu. As soon as I mentioned that, I was quickly informed that the pisco sour could easily morph into a gin sour. Of course. I did a quick scan to make sure I hadn’t had gin that way before (well, not on the blog, at least) and to my great surprise, I was in luck.

How do I keep finding simple classic cocktails I haven’t ticked off yet? Have I missed any others? Please let me know!

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I likely don’t need to say that this was delicious, but I do need to make sure that I say the restaurant and all our food and the service was divine as well, and I want to steal all of Frank’s glassware.

A gin sour is basically just gin, lemon juice, egg white, sugar and soda—but it tastes like summer and good times and being happy. So, magic. So magic.

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