Premium gins have been in fashion for some time now.. While traditionally most of us were quite content with a gin and tonic made with standard brands like MG or Larios, occaisonally pushing the boat out with Gin Rives or the legendary Fockink, today times have moved on. In response to the demands of more sophisticated tastes, there is a lot of experimentation and development of new formulas for this concoction.
While this blog section is about drinks from Spanish-speaking countries you’ll will forgive me for recommending two Premium brands beyond Iberian borders: the German Monkey 47 from the Black Forest and Oxley from the United Kingdom. I not only recommend you taste these two gins but also to experiment with new ways of drinking them. Monkey47 has 47 ingredients, perfect enough to do without ingredient 48, which would usually be the tonic. Order it straight up in a glass of brandy. If you like your gin cold, stick the bottle in the fridge for a while but don’t add ice! Do add lots of ice, though, to your Oxley gin paired with Hibiscus Tonic .
As far as Galician gins are concerned, Nordés with its beautiful blue and white bottle inspired by the local Sargadelos china, has always completely monopolized the market.
But my recommendation is Vangandr, which also has a spectacular label, using illustrator David Pintor’s masterpiece of the wolf that gives this gin its name. It is very floral and has citrus touches. Mix out tonic for fizzy lemon for a luxury citrusy twist and serve with peppercorns and lots of ice. Don’t add lemon peel as this would be overkill. (And, similarly, don’t garnish Hendricks with cucumber as it overpowers the gin’s own subtle cucumber overtones ).
Price: 32-34 euros
Blowjob (Yes, really!)
The blowjob is a favorite shot at our local much loved bar, Centenera, made with Baileys, Kahlua, Amaretto and whipped cream.
Kahlua is a Mexican coffee liqueur. Amaretto is an Italian liqueur made with apricots and almonds. And Baileys is an Irish cream made from Irish whiskey and cream. Pour the drinks in equal parts into a shot glass and then top with whipped cream. This “blowjob” should not be picked up so place it on the bar, bend over, pick up the glass with your mouth and stand and tip your head back, thus downing it in one.
A piece of advice: be wary of cheerily ordering something that looks like a blowjob by this name unless you are absolutely sure it is called so… it it isn’t you might get, at best ,a funny look!
Price: about 2 euros.
Humboldt/Sweet red wine
I enjoy sweet wine with dessert. A few examples include German Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA- wine made from dehydrated grapes or raisined by the botrytis fungus), a Hungarian tokaji, a Canadian ice wine or a Vi de Gel del Somontano, a Pedro Ximénez or a muscatel. All of them made from white grapes.
Humboldt, though, is a sweet red wine, and is a marvel. It is monovarietal (Listan Negro) and spends 15 years in American oak barrels. It is very elegant and has nuances of fruit compote, figs, dried apricots.
Recommendation: it is a red wine but I would never drink it at more than 12 degrees. A blue cheese or a very strong cured cheese is the ideal pairing for this type of wine. And if you don’t like cheese, drink with a dark chocolate bonbon.
20-25 euros / bottle of 0.375
Kirsch – cherry brandy
In many places in Spain you will offered a “digestif” at the end of a meal, which is often home-made. Liquorice, coffee beans, cherries and lemon peel ,among others, will be added to the grape pomace which is the left to macerate. A real delight. The base of all these drinks is grape pomace, made by distilling the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems left over from winemaking after pressing the grapes. The Italians call it Grappa, the French Marc and the Germans Trester.
Kirsch (cherry brandy) is made with the same system substituting grapes for picota cherries. This type of fruit abounds in the Jerte Valley which is therefore the ideal place for the production of this drink.
Recommendation: do not store the Kirsch bottle in the refrigerator much less the freezer. Excessive cold kills the flavor of the fruit. Drink it at about 14-16 degrees.
Price: 8-10 euros / 0.5 l
First / Bodegas Fariña Toro
I have made some unusual suggestions before and this red today is no exception.
El Primero is the first wine of the harvest, and it hits the market just 45 days later. It is a very fresh and fruity red wine from Toro, made using the traditional method of carbonic maceration, not dissimilar to that used in the production of Beaujolais.
A different work of art each year graces its label and this year the winning painting was the work of the Leonese artist Vicente Soto. The wine will be on sale from November 19. Since it is a very young wine, it is characterized by an enormous punch of flavor and aromas – a true explosion of fruits in the mouth.
Price: 6-8 euros
Now you are probably wondering what this German beer has to do with the typical drinks of Spain and Latin America. The answer is very simple: absolutely nothing! Imagine how good this beer has to be for me to break the rules:)
You can get it at Fass Online, a German company based in Madrid: https://www.fassonline.es/p/cerveza-schlenkerla-rauchbier-maerzen-500ml
The name Schlenkerla refers to wonky walking (it’s not too hard to guess why).
Its smoky flavor is achieved by exposing the malt to the intense, aromatic smoke from the burning embers of beech wood. Therein lies the difference between this smoked beer and others. The entire process involved in getting this highly appreciated smoke aroma is completely natural.
A tip: In Spain beer is drunk ice cold but to be fully appreciated Schlenkerla should be between 7 and 9 degrees Celsius.
Looking foward to your comments. Un abrazo.