‘Negroni’ by David T Smith and Keli Rivers – cool, classic and contemporary cocktail recipes: tipples to tingle the tastebuds.
The most perfect, and rather addictive, Aperitivo – a classic Negroni is the very definition of balance, simplicity and Italian sophistication.
Essentially, in Italy between 6 – 8pm or so is Aperitivo time, the act of sipping a cocktail and perhaps a light snack, ‘to open’ and stimulate one’s stomach before a meal. Campari is virtually the patron saint of Aperitivo, originally crafted in 1860 by Gaspare Campari in the town of Novara near Milan.
The secret recipe is an alcoholic infusion of herbs, aromatic plants and fruit, with a complex bittersweet orange, cherry, clove, and cinnamon flavour. As a liqueur it can be served with soda water and renowned as the signature ingredient in many cocktails.
The origin of the iconic Negroni takes us back just over a century to 1919 and Caffe Casoni in Florence, Italy. Count Camillo Negroni asked the bartender, Fosco Scarselli, to strengthen his favourite cocktail, Milan-Torino – (aka the Americano: Campari, Sweet Vermouth, Soda Water, served with a slice of lemon) – by replacing the soda water with Gin. Scarselli also added an orange garnish rather than lemon.
This elegant, richly bittersweet Aperitivo just hit the spot as an immediate success and soon everyone was visiting the bar for a ‘Negroni.’ Or should it have been named the Scarselli?
“ The bartender must change depending on the customer who is standing in front of him. He has to know and guess the flavour of the mood he should offer him…a sort of panacea against dark moods or reversals of fortunes.” Fosco Scarselli
The entrepreneurial Count Negroni quickly set up a drinks company to market a ready-made version of his creation, Antico Negroni, which is still produced today at the same distillery in Treviso, Italy.
After Ian Fleming toured Italy in 1958, he wrote a short story, Risico featuring 007. In the Cocktail Bar at the Excelsior Hotel, Rome, James Bond, as for his Martini in Casino Royale, is most specific about his favourite Gin.
‘A Negroni. With Gordon’s, please. The waiter walked back to the bar. ‘Negroni. Uno. Gordon’s.’
Quickly and easily prepared with just three ingredients in equal measures, you don’t need professional ice shakers, tools and skills to stir up a Negroni at home,
The traditional Negroni has been creatively re-invented by bar tenders around the world and this slim 64 page, well illustrated book covers the one hundred year evolution through more than thirty recipes of diverse and distinctive cocktails.
The authors are certainly experts on the artistic styles of Gin. David T. Smith has contributed features to Imbibe Magazine, Channel 4 television and chaired gin judging panels at the American Distilling Institute and Gin Masters competitions. Keli Rivers has been a ‘ginnoisseur’ at San Francisco’s Whitechapel and the Sipsmith Brand Ambassador, USA.
With a short introduction, the chapters cover Classic, White, Experimental and Seasonal, offering an intriguing array of fruity concoctions, Whisky, Rum and Tequila versions as well as sparkling summertime tipples.
First, of course, The Classic – 25 ml measures of Beefeater Gin, Campari and Red Vermouth with an orange twist. (James Bond would not approve!).
The fact that the Negroni has an orange garnish, other citrus fruits such as grapefruit and lemon can jazz it up with a tart, tangy flavour. The Porch-Drinking Negroni has the addition of fresh strawberries and the fizz of Bitter Lemon for a long, refreshing, ice-cold drink.
As a colourful twist to a Tequila Sunrise, the Sunshine Negroni blends the popular Gordon’s Sicilian Lemon Gin with Orange juice, Grapefruit soda, Aperol, Dry Vermouth – this sounds like a lip-smacking, thirst quencher.
The modern equivalent of a Purl, popular by workers in the 16th century, (Gin, Ale, sugar and spices), the Stout & Steadfast, adds 60 ml of Guinness to a Negroni recipe for rich punchy taste.
Having recently enjoyed tasting a range of Beaverton ales, their ‘Bloody ‘Ell’ IPA is dry, bitter with Blood Orange notes which could ring the changes of the Stout Negroni.
Topping up a Negroni with dry sparkling Cider is most inventive in a Run, Free & Naked cocktail, where the crisp, sweet apple freshness softens the bitter aftertaste of Campari.
Sloe Gin made from Blackthorn berries, is an ancient country tradition, sipped either neat like a liqueur or with soda. Tried and tested is the Sloe-Groni, a combination of Sloe Gin with Sipsmith London Dry Gin, Campari and Vermouth Rosso, which works beautifully, adding a rich damson jam and earthy hedgerow depth of flavour.
With many gin distillers crafting other wild berry gins, such as Bombay Bramble, Ben Lomond, Raspberry & Elderflower / Blackberry & Rhubarb, these would also be fine alternatives to Sloe Gin.
The Boulevardier, in which Bourbon replaces the Gin, is believed to have been created in Paris around the late 1920s, by an American writer, Erskine Gwynne.
Scotch whisky lovers, can try instead a Negroni Torbato, in which Bourbon is switched with Lagavulin, a Single Malt from Islay, giving a smooth, smoky flavour – a potential new classic. This was invented by Allessandro Palazzi at the legendary Dukes Bar, London, a favourite haunt of Ian Fleming and where his literary-inspired Vesper was born.
It has been fascinating to browse through these classic and modern recipes and sample a few new cool, creative cocktails.
I am however a little surprised that some well known Negroni spin offs are not included such as the Cardinale a 1950’s-era variation by Giovanni Raimondo, bartender at the Hotel Excelsior, Rome at the personal request of a guest – a German Cardinal.
Instead of Rosso, the Cardinale is made with Dry Vermouth, such that it’s a lighter pink in colour rather than the usual dark crimson with a real hint of a dry Gin Martini. Simply delectable
Also missing in this collection is Negroni Sbagliato which has a most amusing backstory. It was first served at the Bar Basso, Milan in the late 1960s when the owner, Mirko Stocchetto, poured a measure of sparkling wine instead of gin. (Sbagliato means “incorrect” or “messed up” in Italian).
Created by happy accident, this light, sparkling Negroni Spritz is still a popular Aperitivo at the Bar Basso, across Italy and worldwide.
Last April, Stanley Tucci, the stylishly fashionable American actor posted an Instagram video of himself making (indeed, curiously shaking up!) a Negroni, which went viral, shared on Twitter with millions viewing his Cocktail masterclass through social media.
Diary Date: Negroni Week 2021, 13 – 19 September, 2021.
Negroni Week was first launched in 2013 when over a hundred bars took part to raise funds for charitable causes. and in 2019, the global event welcomed nearly 10,000 venues in 87 countries to celebrate the centenary.
This fascinating journey through the history of The Negroni, illustrates only too well how Cocktails can be jazzed up, re-invented, revamped, whether unintentionally, a drinker’s wise suggestion or the magical alchemy of experimental mixologists.
Negroni is an essential, enticing guide for all cocktail lovers and this reasonably priced, pocket-sized book would be an attractive gift for thirsty friends.
Negroni by David T. Smith and Keli Rivers
Published by Ryland Peters & Small. Hardback: £7.99
Book Photography by Alex Luck, copuright Ryland Peters & Small
For more information see this link to the website page:
Reviewer’s Note: Perhaps the publication of this book was rushed through the editorial and proof- reading process, but for such a short book, it’s a shame that there are several errors in spelling, punctuation and typography with a repetition of the word “ice-filled” in many recipes.
Ben Lomond Scottish Gin infused with wild berries creates refreshing, floral- scented, juicy-fruity, pink cocktails.
Ben Lomond, the majestic Munro which dominates the dramatic beauty of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, was the inspiration behind the award-winning Ben Lomond Scottish Gin, launched in 2019.
Following this success, the distillers were keen to explore the Loch Lomond region further and challenge their creativity to produce two deliciously distinctive, premium gins, infused with Blackberry & Gooseberry and Raspberry & Elderflower.
For the purist G&T lover who might assume that tinkering with the cool, classic taste of Dry London gin, is a modern fad, in fact, flavoured, fruit-based gins are nothing new at all.
Berries from the Blackthorn bush to make home-made Sloe Gin was a country custom from the 17th century, and this ruby-red, sweet liqueur was served in London taverns as a poor man’s Port. A century later, Pink gin was created with a few drops of Angostura bitters, (invented in the 1820s as a cure for stomach ailments and seasickness), which soon becoming a popular cocktail.
Spain is home to the biggest gin market in the world and in 2014 the Puerto de Indias distillery, Andalucia, launched their Sevillian Strawberry gin, an immediate best seller which created a new category and sparked the thirst for pink drinks.
As the gin craze continues to blossom today worldwide, the trend is for innovative flavours such as Sicilian lemon, red wine grapes, rhubarb, ginger, chocolate et. al. and less alcoholic, sweet gin liqueurs.
The Ben Lomond distillery team therefore very wisely decided to work with a local forager, Mark Williams from Galloway Wild Foods, to discover a harvest of botanicals, sweet berries and aromatic flowers growing around the hills and woodland of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.
After careful blending and crafting, in June 2020, they launched the Raspberry & Elderflower and Blackberry & Gooseberry Gins, both infused with berry essences and a touch of sugar, richly imbued with the base spirit of the Ben Lomond Dry London Gin.
The recipe for this fine Scottish Gin includes the essential Juniper and ten other herbal, spicy and floral botanicals such as rose petals and orris root, as well as hand-picked blackcurrants and local rowan berries. This combines perfectly with the blackberries, gooseberries and raspberries for a luscious ripe, fruity taste of summer and autumn.
Raspberry & Elderflower-infused Scottish Gin
The Gin Masters, The Spirits Business 2020: Gold Medal
Regarded as a gift from the Earth Mother, the Elder tree is a symbol of regeneration, believed to ward off witches – hence, Harry Potter’s coveted Elder Wand.
White Elderflower blossom has been used widely in recent years to make wine, cordials, St. Germain Liqueur and as an ideal addition to gin. With a subtle flavour of honey/vanilla/jasmine/pear, it perfectly complements the tart sweetness of raspberry.
Around the neck of the bottle is a lovely, colourful gift tag: – “A vibrant yet balanced gin that can be enjoyed on its own or as part of your favourite tipple.”
First, the aroma – a soft floral rose perfume with a lingering hint of vanilla and raspberry.
I then poured a generous 50 ml measure into a chunky rocks glass containing a large 2 inch iceberg. (large ice cubes look attractive, as used by professional bar tenders and they melt slowly).
The taste test: As this is a 38% ABV gin, perhaps it is not surprising that the warming, woody Juniper comes to the fore with a sharp kick. Then taste the fruity sweetness of the summer berry and citrus flavour. Sipped over ice it’s simply delicious – this is not a gin to drown in Tonic water.
A signature Cocktail created by Ben Lomond Distillers is the Lomond Negroni, as a Scottish take on the Italian classic.
35 ml Raspberry & Elderflower Gin
10 ml Sweet Vermouth
If you prefer, switch the Aperol for the richer, stronger Campari, stirring all the ingredients over ice and add a garnish of orange and raspberry. The smooth, sweet Vermouth and bitter orange-rhubarb flavour of the Campari blends so well with this Raspberry Gin.
For a lighter drink, mix this gin to lemonade and/or Sparkling wine as a Spritz for a refreshing thirst-quencher on a summer’s day.
Crème de Cassis, the blackcurrant liqueur from Dijon is famously used in the pre-prandial tipple, Kir, – just a little is added to a flute of white wine, or with champagne for a Kir Royale. Likewise, a few dashes of the Raspberry and Elderflower Gin to ice cold Prosecco or Cava creates a stylish pink aperitif with a garnish of fresh raspberries.
Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue
Blackberry Picking Seamus Heaney
Ben Lomond Blackberry & Gooseberry-infused Scottish Gin
The Gin Masters, The Spirits Business, 2020: Silver Medal
As the Ben Lomond London Dry gin features blackcurrants, rowan berries and orange peel as key ingredients, the addition of blackberry and gooseberry further enhances the rich, ripe bittersweet and citrus tang of blended fruits.
First the aroma: a woodland piney tone is evident, which opens up to be more vegetal, with juicy black / red fruits, a hint of jam, nothing that is obviously tart.
Now the first taste: “cleaner” than on the nose from the spicy coriander with more forest in the wild fruit flavour than sweet blackberry jam.
Again, as well as a long drink with tonic, it is personally recommended to serve this gin neat over a large ice cube, to fully appreciate this well balanced, elegantly smooth, Juniper-rich gin.
As many chefs will concur, gooseberries are the perfect partner for mackerel as the sweet acidity of the tangy berries cuts through the smoky saltiness of this oily fish.
The French for gooseberry is groseille à maquereau, (literally currant with mackerel), which gives a Gallic seal of approval to serve smoked mackerel with gooseberries.
The Inverawe Smokehouse also suggests a gooseberry and ginger sauce to accompany their fine smoked salmon.
Why not rustle up these fabulous canapés – Blinis with a slither of Smoked Salmon, topped with crème fraiche and caviar, and nibble with an ice cold shot of Blackberry & Gooseberry-infused Gin. Simply divine.!
Ben Lomond Distillers have been experimentin with these fruity gins and crafted this enticing twist on a Bramble Cocktail.
The Bramble was created by the legendary Dick Bradsell in the 1980s at Fred’s Club, Soho, a concoction of dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and Crème de Mûre, (blackberry liqueur), which gives a deep, fruity and sweet taste. One of the most iconic gin drinks of the modern age.
The Blackberry & Gooseberry Gin would be the perfect alternative to combine the gin and Crème de Mûre in a Bramble.
And this Loch Lomond version of the French 75, is renamed the Alba 75.
30ml Blackberry & Gooseberry Gin
10ml Lime Juice
10ml Sugar Syrup
1 dash of Ginger Spice
Top with Sparkling Wine
Add the gin, lime juice, sugar syrup and ginger to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour into a flute glass and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a twist of lime.
These Ben Lomond floral-scented, jammy, juicy Berry-infused Gins are so versatile, whether just with ice, splash in a sparkling mixer or shake up in your favourite cocktail.
More information on the full range of Ben Lomond gins, with further Cocktail recipes and online shop:
Tom Savano hand-crafted Cocktails – a story of innovation, creativity and passion: just taste one and see!
For a new business idea, product and brand to succeed, you need to be an entrepreneur with both a financial mind and imaginative vision. The original germ of the idea for a Cocktail company, began ten years ago when James Kerslake was on holiday in Ibiza, sipping a Mojito at the Café Mambo and watching the sunset.
Back in London, while working in Investment banking by day, he would shake up cocktails at home, as well as social drinking ideas such as BarPanda, an app to order drinks in a bar and split the bill with friends. The world of hospitality, food and drink had always been an interest, but only as a side line to his full time career. In 2007, aged 27, James launched a specialist food bar in London aimed at hungry, health-conscious office workers – artisan wraps, made-to-order salads, sushi, burritos and freshly made smoothies, a pioneering, new venture at the time.
From making batches of Mojitos for parties and picnics with friends, this led to being asked to supply his speciality cocktails for a friend’s wedding and the idea for a professional Drinks business was sparked. A lightbulb moment indeed.
James Kerslake admits he has always been a bit of a dreamer, a romantic idealist; the brand name, Tom Savano is his alter ego, fictional character who is in search of exciting, new experiences and “spiritual,” journeys of discovery.
“Escape to your favourite travel destinations with Tom’s signature cocktail collection, perfected using artisan spirits from small craft distilleries.“
Tom Savano Cocktails are ready mixed and bottled at bar strength and quality, using only artisan spirits from the best, local, small batch distilleries. “When it comes to independent spirit makers, it is character, story and heritage, that are important in defining flavour.” James Kerslake
The artistic labels represent a cultural sense of place as reflected through Tom’s sunglasses to illustrate the cocktail’s origin from Italy to New York and Mexico.
Having finely crafted the first four Tom Savano signature cocktails, Margarita, Negroni, Lychee Martini and Old Fashioned, they were entered for the global Speciality Spirits Masters Awards in August 2019.
Three months later, James was informed that his brand new products had won no fewer than three gold medals and one silver medal. An incredible, auspicious start to his fledgling business which was officially launched in December 2019. After nine years in the creation, the Award-winning Tom Savano handcrafted Cocktail company was ready to splash.
Single Estate Reposado Margarita – Gold Award, Speciality Spirits Masters, 2019
The attractive, squat bottle is for 2 servings; through the lens of the sunglasses, an idyllic image of a swimming pool, palm trees and loungers, just the place to relax with this cocktail.
The Jalisco Estate Reposado Tequila is blended with fresh Agave, Mexican herbs and lime. This Ocho Tequila is made in the traditional way from hand harvested Blue Agave plants, and the piña, the succulent core, is roasted in brick ovens and crushed between stone wheels. The recipe is based on a Tommy’s Margarita, created in 1990 in San Francisco by Julio Bermejo at Tommy’s, his parents’ restaurant. Instead of Triple Sec or Cointreau, Julio added a spoonful of Agave nectar for a natural, honeyed flavour.
I kept the bottle in the fridge for a day or two so that it was well chilled. This is an authentic, ready made cocktail so it should not be diluted by adding ice.!
My first sip of the Tom Savano handcrafted Margarita was lip smackingly good. Wow is the word.! The sharp, tart citrus tang just sings aloud, and then savour the earthy, smoky aftertaste which is smoothly mellow with an exquisite, complex depth of flavour. As suggested on the bottle, do dip the rim of your glass with salt – ideally Pink Himalayan – to create the perfect serve. This is Mexican sunshine in a glass with a whiff of salt sea air.
English Garden Lychee Martini – Gold award, Speciality Spirts Masters, 2019
The image on this bottle reflected through Tom’s sunglasses, is an avenue of pink blossoming trees with oriental, painterly style with a backdrop of skyscrapers.
The Lychee Martini was invented in the 1990s in Clay, a late night Korean restaurant in New York. The story goes Han-jae Park used to make it for local bartenders after they finished work. Also known as “Lycheetini,” based on a lychee liqueur or syrup, is a beautiful, delicate, and unusual cocktail. Lychees have the sweet taste of grape, strawberry and melon, but with a slightly sour finish.
The Tom Savano Lychee Martini includes British elderflower vodka with a layering of lychee and a blend of vermouths. The floral aroma is all about encapsulating an English Garden in Springtime. The artisan brand of spirit is Jelly’s English Elderflower vodka made in Desborough, Northamptonshire featuring coriander, liquorice, cardamom, orris root, lemon and handpicked local elderflower.
The cocktail has a fruity, floral perfumed aroma and softly textured flavour with the Vermouth cutting through the sweetness to give the kick of a dry Martini.
Devon Coastal Negroni – Silver award, Speciality Spirits Masters, 2019
Count Negroni famously invented his eponymous cocktail in Florence in 1919 and having celebrated its centenary last year, this remains a glamorously, fashionable, ruby red aperitivo.
‘Devon Coastal’ Negroni’ features Salcombe gin, a small batch craft gin from Devon, inspired by seafaring voyages from centuries past, with classic Italian vermouth, Amaro and a hint of orange.
It is poetically described as “More mellow than a traditional Negroni with just the right amount of bitterness and a subtle hint of sweet orange. One sip and you’ll be transported to an overgrown villa in Florence, nibbling Cicchetti as the late afternoon lingers on.”
Kentucky Winter Old Fashioned – Gold award, Speciality Sprits Masters, 2019
Colonel James E. Pepper, a Kentucky distiller of bourbon and the bar tender of the Pendennis Club, Louisville, jointly created this cocktail around 1900. It is immortalised in song, “Make it Another Old Fashioned, Please” by Cole Porter.
This Tom Savano recipe combines a smooth Kentucky bourbon and a spicy Rye, with dark sugar, a house blend of Bitters and a hint of orange peel.
“Carrying the heritage of more than a century of American whisky making, this timeless drink will take you to a porch in Kentucky at golden hour, watching the birds nest for the evening.”
The idea behind Tom Savano Cocktails is genius, based on an inspired recipe for success. James Kerslake had all the ingredients to hand: financial knowledge, creative imagination, mixology skills and artistic branding with a colourful garnish of passion and pizzazz.
Tom Savano Cocktails celebrated its first anniversary in December 2020 and what a year it has been. In March when the Covid-19 pandemic Lockdown began in the UK, James focussed on home delivery – two months of stock sold out in just eight days. Production was increased to meet exceptional demand with continuing high sales through the Autumn and Winter, as well as an increase in gifts for the Festive Season.
Two new signature cocktails joined the collection this year, the Caribbean Dawn Mai Tai in the summer and the Smoky Maple Ragtime Manhattan has just been launched in time to toast Tom’s first birthday.
Join the fan base!
These cocktails are incredible! It’s like being in the best cocktail bar in London but in your home!
Absolutely delicious cocktails, gorgeous packaging and speedy delivery. We have already placed another order…
To find out more about Tom Savano Handcrafted Cocktails, where to buy, how to order and ideas for gifts. There’s a choice of six cocktails in two sizes of bottles for two or five servings.
Tom’s Club is a place for cocktail lovers with a passion for travel. Sign up as a member for discounts on your cocktail delivery orders and receive invites to Tom’s Club events.
Christmas Hampers 2020
Tom Savano has teamed up with a few independent food and drink producers to create hampers in aid of The Trussell Trust charity. There are five different hampers: a vegan/gluten-free variety, a healthy option, a chocolate hamper, an alcoholic version and a classic family hamper, with a fine selection of artisan food and drink, with all profits going to charity, to feed families in financial difficulty, who are in need this Christmas.
Ben Lomond Scottish Gin – the distilled essence of wild berries, woodland pine and fresh mountain air
“By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond.”
Loch Lomond at the heart of the Trossachs National Park, linking the Lowlands and highlands, is the perfect destination for a relaxing escape and sporting adventure. With its thirty, tiny islands and surrounded by lush forests, the largest expanse of fresh water in Britain is dominated by the high peak of Ben Lomond.
The former Loch Lomond Distillery dates back to 1814 located near Tarbet, with a new Distillery founded in 1964 at the southern end of the loch. Today, the Loch Lomond Group produces Single Malt whisky, Single Grain Whisky and Deluxe Blends, receiving seven gold medals at the International Spirits Challenge 2020.
The distillery launched its Ben Lomond Scottish Gin in 2019, inspired by the scenic beauty of the eponymous mountain, fruit, flora and trees of the National Park. The unspoilt natural world of land and loch has inspired both the recipe and attractive, artistic design.
“On the steep, steep side o’ Ben Lomond,
Where in soft purple hue, the highland hills we view,
And the moon coming out in the gloaming.”
The chunky, tall bottle illustrates the mighty Ben, the lilac-purple glass reflecting both the glistening dark water of the loch and flowering heather on the hills, while the wooden stopper is a symbol of the surrounding woodland. Most imaginative indeed.
The bottles of this small batch, premium gin are filled, labelled and sealed by hand. With a 43% ABV, Ben Lomond is a contemporary London Dry Gin. This refers not to the city, but a specific style and process dating back to the 18th century; all the flavours must be natural, plant based botanicals, no synthetic ingredients, with nothing added after distillation except water to produce a clear, unsweetened spirit, not less than 37.5% ABV.
The finely crafted recipe is a blend of berries, flowers, herbs, spices and essential botanicals. The Rowan tree is found higher in the mountains than any of Scotland’s other native trees, blossoming with white flowers in summer, and in Autumn a burst of bright red berries.
The Rowanberries are foraged around the Loch Lomond area, including from wild trees beside the distillery.
Engrained in Celtic mythology, the Rowan tree, associated with magic and enchantment, was widely planted outside houses and churches as a protection against witches – cutting down a rowan was considered taboo in Scotland. It was known as the Traveller’s Tree as boats made from Rowan wood provided a safeguard from storms. The red berries, rich in Vitamin C, was also used to treat scurvy, and traditionally made into jams, jellies, vinegar, wines and spirits.
Oh, Rowan Tree
“How fair wert thou in simmer time, wi’ all thy clusters white.
Now rich and gay thy autumn dress, wi’ berries red and bright..”
Another key ingredient are juicy blackcurrants which are also hand-picked just north of the distillery. The rowan berries and blackcurrants are added straight into the Still during the distillation process, both integral to the natural fruit flavours.
The selection of eleven botanicals also includes Juniper to provide essential earthy notes, Coriander seed, a hint of lemony spice, Orange peel for citrus freshness, Rose petals and Orris root give a floral fragrance, Angelica Root, a dry hop-like character, Cassia and Liquorice add a touch of sweetness, and Szechuan pepper for warming spice.
So first a sip of the neat Ben Lomond Scottish Gin to appreciate the aroma and pure flavour. It’s crystal clear with a pungent, woodland scent on the nose which is followed through with floral and fresh pine notes on the tastebuds.
Next, the G&T Test. I added a few cubes of ice to 25 ml measure of gin, a good splash of Fever Tree Tonic Water (Refreshingly Light) and a slice of lime. The blend of bittersweet berries comes to the fore, with a citrus zing and a subtle lingering flavour of fruit and earthy spice. The texture is intensely smooth, clean and so fresh tasting.
The Perfect Serve, (by the master distillers of Ben Lomond Gin)
Fill a high ball glass with cubed ice; 25 ml or 50 ml Ben Lomond Gin, top up with Fever Tree Tonic; add a garnish of blackberries and slice of lime. Squeeze in a wedge of lime juice, softly stir three times to mix together and serve.
Blackcurrants have long been associated with quality alcoholic drinks, most famously the liqueur, Crème de Cassis de Dijon. (Cassis is French for Blackcurrant). The Kir aperirif was created and named by the deputy mayor of Dijon, Canon Félix Kir – Crème de Cassis with white wine and Kir Royale is the Cassis liqueur with Champagne.
The distillery has therefore wisely invented a Scottish Kir-style cocktail.
The High Road
Fill a highball glass with cubed ice, add 40ml Ben Lomond Gin, 20ml lemon juice 15ml Cassis, top up with Fever Tree Tonic, and garnish with a wedge of fresh lemon.
“O ye`ll tak` the high road,
And I’ll tak` the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye.
But me and my true love will never meet again,
By the bonnie, bonnie banks o` Loch Lomond.”
As well as the berries as a key ingredient, the addition of orange brings a refreshing tang to the Gin so what could be more appropriate than mixing up a classic Negroni. It is also most apt as the Ben Lomond Scottish Gin was launched a century after Count Negroni invented this Italian aperitivo in Florence.
25 ml Ben Lomond Scottish Gin, 25 ml Sweet Rosso Vermouth, 25 ml Campari
Pour all ingredients into a Rocks glass with a large ice cube or sphere (this melts more slowly). Stir gently for a minute or two – this is not a cocktail to be shaken. Express the zest of a wedge of orange and garnish with a twist of orange peel for a beautiful crimson-red winter warmer.
The dry, bitter flavour of the Campari is softened by the Sweet vermouth, perfectly complementing the berry- rich Gin and the sharp citrus taste of the orange sings through.
A classic Gin Martini (50 ml Gin and 15 ml Dry Vermouth, with twist of lemon or an olive) is also a fine partnership with this Scottish Gin. Experiment with your own favourite gin cocktails.
Following the success of the London Dry Gin, in July 2020, Loch Lomond Distillery launched two flavoured gins, infused with wild fruit essences, Ben Lomond Raspberry & Elderflower and Blackberry & Gooseberry.
At the Scottish Gin Awards 2020, Ben Lomond Scottish Gin was given the status of Highly Commended for London Dry Gin. And just announced (December 2020), Ben Lomond Gin has been awarded three medals from the Spirit Business Gin Masters – Gold for Raspberry & Elderflower infused gin and Silver for both the London Dry style gin and Blackberry & Gooseberry infused gin.
To protect the Scottish rural countryside which inspired Ben Lomond Gin is in a partnership with the John Muir Trust. Born in Dunbar in 1838, John Muir became a renowned explorer, botanist, geologist and mountaineer, pioneering the Conservation movement worldwide. In the USA, he was the father of National Parks to protect forests, woodlands and wilderness and as early as 1892, his motto was, ‘Explore, enjoy and protect the planet’.
Nature lovers, walkers, hikers, bikers, writers, poets and artists have flocked to Loch Lomond for centuries to experience the tranquil peace of this timeless, natural wilderness.
Beautifully packaged, with its silky smooth, aromatic flavour, Ben Lomond Scottish Gin has been artistically “painted” – a distillation of the colours, flora and fresh mountain air, like a watercolour landscape in a bottle.
To find out more about Ben Lomond Gins and buy on line, see the website:
One of the most iconic brands in the world, MARTINI® is Italy’s leading alcoholic beverage producer and offers a range of Aperitivo, Vermouth and sparkling wines of the highest quality. The creation of Vermouth, today the essential ingredient in many classic cocktails, is a deliciously, decadent and inspirational story.
While fortified wines date back to Ancient Greece, the concept is thought to have been first finely crafted by the distiller, Antonio Benedetto Carpano in Turin in 1786, with his aromatised herbal wine, called Vermouth. Wormwood, also known as absinthe, is the quintessential botanical ingredient of this wine, originally considered a medicinal drink. Wormwood, Wermut in German, translates into vermouth.
Fast forward to 1847, Pessione, near Turin where “Distilleria Nationale di Spirito di Vino” was founded by Carlo Angelli, Alessandro Martini, Teofilo Sola and Luigi Rossi, to produce wines and liqueurs. As a wine maker and herbalist, Rossi developed his own Wormwood recipe and is the actual inventor of the Martini brand of vermouth.
The base formula for any vermouth must be 75% wine – all brands of Martini are dry wines from the regions of Romagna, Apulia and Sicily – with an essence of over 50 herbs and spices and sugar. This Absinthe herb provides the strong, bitter flavour which stimulates the appetite. Vermouths became popular as an Aperitivo, (French – Aperitif), after the Latin verb ‘aperire’, to open, the perfect pre-lunch or dinner drink.
“Aperitivo is not a drink, it’s a state of mind” Roberta Mariani, global ambassador for Martini & Rossi.
Their successful export business established branches in Spain, France, Argentina, Romania, Great Britain and the USA and after Sola’s death in 1879, the company was renamed “Martini & Rossi.” The entrepreneurs were always modern innovators and market leaders. “Martini Extra Dry”, was first presented at the New Year’s Eve celebration in 1900, and the “Martini Bianco” launched in 1910.
The famous modern logo was created in 1925, featuring the black name tag “Martini”, superimposed over a red circle, and registered as a trademark in Italy in 1929.
The Rosso sweet vermouth was first produced in 1863 and it’s said that customers ordering a gin and vermouth would simply ask for a “Gin and Martini.” In America, it evolved into a lady’s tipple, Gin & It, served around 5pm as a pick-me-up.
The classic Gin Martini may have originated at the Occidental Hotel, San Francisco in the 1860s. The bartender, Jerry Thomas was asked to make a memorable cocktail in return for a gold nugget and Jerry named it after the drinker’s home town, Martinez. The Bar-Tenders Guide, 1887 included the Martinez cocktail – gin, sweet vermouth, bitters, lemon and maraschino liqueur.
More widely accepted is that an Italian bartender, Martini di Arma di Taggia created it at the Knickerbocker Hotel, New York City before World War I. His recipe: dry gin and dry vermouth, in equal parts, and orange bitters.
‘I had never tasted anything so cool and clean. They made me feel civilized.” Ernest Hemingway
‘The aspirational cocktail Gin Martini, beloved by the rich and famous, has become a timeless classic and the epitome of an Aperitivo. While the precise recipe is a matter of taste, Martini & Rossi believe this to be the perfect ratio: 50 ml Bombay Sapphire Gin, 15 ml Martini Extra Dry, Lemon peel or olive to garnish.
Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes, pour in the well-chilled vermouth and the gin and stir for about 20 seconds. Strain into a well-chilled Martini cocktail glass. Twist the peel to release the oils and then add as a garnish – or an olive.
Vermouth has long been integral to other key cocktails shaken up by intrepid bartenders between the 1880s and turn of the century, such as the Adonis, Affinity, Manhattan, Bronx and Americano.
The Americano holds the distinction of being the very first drink James Bond orders in Casino Royale – Campari, Sweet Vermouth and soda water – followed by many strong Gin Martinis on his adventures.
Cocktail time – L’Aperitivo hour – continues to embody the essence of Italian culture, la dolce vita, worldwide. Always a fashionably cool and contemporary brand since 1960s, Martini & Rossi has now launched a new Vermouth.
Martini Fiero is said to “modernise vermouth for a new generation.” Fiero means proud, intense and bold in Italian and is a blend of crisp white wines and botanicals including Murcia orange peel, artemisia absinthium and artemisia pontica.
The perfect serve is with plenty of ice, a mix of 50/50 Fiero and tonic
Martini Fiero Tonic
75 ml Martini Fiero, 75 ml Tonic water
Pour into a large balloon (red wine) glass with ice. Garnish with blood orange wheel.
Fiero is a beautifully balanced vermouth, with sharp, tart citrus notes followed by a honey sweetness, the bitterness mellowed by the sparkling tonic. A refreshing, ice cold long drink which just needs the final ingredient – a warm dash of Italian summer sun!
Just over a century ago in a small bar in Florence, Count Camillio Negroni asked the bartender to strengthen his favourite cocktail, the Americano. The soda water was replaced by gin, the lemon garnish with orange, and the Negroni was born.
So now for an important experiment – a blind tasting of two Negroni cocktails, one with the usual Sweet Vermouth Rosso and another with Martini Fiero.
The Rosso-based Negroni is richly bittersweet, more herbal, woody and drier on the palate. The Fiero version has an orange fruitiness, hint of cloves and a complex citrus and spicy aftertaste.
These two Negronis simply vary in subtlety of flavour but with the Campari shining through, both hit the spot.
Negroni with Martini Fiero
30 ml Campari, 30 ml Bombay Sapphire dry gin, 30 ml Martini Fiero
Add all ingredients into a stirring glass. Strain into a chilled Old Fashioned tumbler glass with a large chunk of ice. Garnish with an orange twist after expressing the zest.
This is certainly a cocktail to entice the taste buds – sip slowly before lunch or dinner. Saluti!
In “For your Eyes Only, ” while waiting in the Excelsior Bar in Rome, James Bond orders an aperitif, very wisely, the Negroni.
Martini & Rossi has been masters of the original Vermouth since 1863 and the historical home, Casa Martini, in the village of Pessione, near Turin Northern Italy is open to visitors. Cocktail lovers will be able to see how the famous Italian vermouth and wines are made on an imaginative new tour.
“We are delighted to welcome guests to Casa MARTINI, the heart of the creation of our products for over 150 years. Discover the ingredients and production secrets of a history full of anecdote, entrepreneurial vision and innovation. The new tour consists of a totally immersive experience, an exciting journey to the origins of the Italian Aperitivo. Marco Budano, General Manager of Casa MARTINI.
Visitors will see the “Cabinet of Curiosities,” a display case featuring vintage artefacts, technical equipment and archival documents, a collection which links MARTINI to the world of wine.
The Red Circle is an exciting new installation – an illuminated pathway to give an immersive experience of the whole process from grapes and herbs for the finely selected ingredients.
Take a trip back in time to the historic Still Area where the original copper stills to make vermouth and sparkling wines in the 19th century are preserved. The Mondo MARTINI Gallery and the Museum of the History of Wine is a comprehensive 360 degree tour to illustrate the company’s inspiring history.
‘The Heart of Martini’ today is the modern Still Room with its rows of towering tanks where visitors discover more about the finely crafted production process to perfect the delicious vermouths and wines.
And finally, of course, it’s Cocktail time in the Tasting Room where you can try three Martini drinks, in the company of an expert guide. Then end the journey around Casa Martini in the Bar to sip a refreshing Martini Fiero & Tonic.
Find out more about visiting the home of MARTINI here:
The Martini & Rossi company maintained full control of the brand until 1993 when it merged with Bacardí. According to International Wines and Spirits Record, it accounts for more than 45 percent of the global vermouth market – Casa Martini sells more vermouth than any other brand in the world.
The best selling, Double gold award winning Bombay Sapphire Gin has recently launched Bombay Bramble, infused with raspberries and blackberries. For the purist who might assume that tinkering with the clear fresh taste of classic Dry London gin, is a modern fad, in fact, flavoured, fruit-based gins are nothing new.
Foraging Berries from the Blackthorn bush to make home-made Sloe Gin was a country custom from the 17th century, and this ruby-red, sweet liqueur was soon served in London taverns as a poor man’s Port.
The “Charlie Chaplin” cocktail featuring sloe gin and apricot brandy was invented at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York a century ago. In recent years, Sloe Gin has enjoyed a revival through many quality brands.
Angostura Bitters was developed in 1824 by Dr. Johann Siegert, of Angostura, Venezuela, as a remedy for tropical stomach ailments. Its unpleasant bitter taste was palatable when mixed with gin by Royal Navy seamen who, by happy accident, first created Pink Gin which then became a popular cocktail from the mid 1880s. A very simple recipe – 60ml Dry Gin with a few dashes of Angostura Bitters.
During the Prohibition era in the USA, creative concoctions – Asparagus and Carrot gins!?- were distilled undercover, and by the 1930s, a plethora of lemon, orange and pineapple gins were produced as pre-bottled cocktails.
More recently, a range of fruit gins have been produced with sparkling success, especially the original Andalucian strawberry gin from Puerto de Indias, Seville, inspiring a new category. Other refreshing summer drinks include Sicilian Lemon, Rhubarb & ginger and Elderflower.
Now, launched for summer 2020 is the colourful, fruit flavoured, Bombay Bramble Gin.
Bombay Sapphire, with its famous, classic blue label featuring a portrait of Queen Victoria, Empress of India, is credited with single-handedly leading the modern Gin Craze over the past decade. The recipe of this top class premium gin dates as far back as 1761 with an innovative distillation process. The botanicals – angelica root harvested in Saxony, cubeb berries from Java, liquorice from China – are vapourised individually then mixed and finally re-condensed, giving the gin a unique, balanced and harmonious character.
So what is distinctive about Bombay Sapphire? On the nose, bright, piney juniper, earthy notes, a gentle, well rounded flavour of juicy citrus with touch of sweet violet, leading to a lingering taste of lime, lemon and grassy herbs. Perfect with a Mediterranean tonic and a sprig of rosemary, or in a classic dry Martini. A cool, classy, sophisticated gin.
Bombay Sapphire was awarded Double Gold at the 17th San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It’s part of the portfolio of Bacardi Ltd, one of the founding companies of the Gin Guild to promote excellence in the production and promotion of gin worldwide.
Bombay Bramble is therefore an exciting new venture, combining the classic dry London gin infused with fresh blackberries and raspberries, and most importantly, there is no added sugar.
How to serve: 50 ml Bombay Bramble over ice, 100 ml Premium tonic water, a squeeze and garnish of Lemon. With a vibrant, vivacious shade of ripe plum-soft cerise, this is a modern Pink Gin.
“The colour and flavour of Bombay Bramble comes only from botanicals and 100% natural fruit ingredients, infusing the gin with an exclusive maceration of berries that have been harvested at their ripest moment, resulting in a unique, bold flavour.”
Ivano Tonutti, Bombay Sapphire Master of Botanicals & Dr. Anne Brock, Master Distiller.
The inspiration for this new style of fruit gin is the Bramble cocktail. It was created by the legendary Dick Bradsell in the 1980s at Fred’s Club, Soho, a concoction of dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur), which gives it a deep, fruity and sweet taste. One of the most iconic gin drinks of the modern age.
“Flavoured gin is a category that can’t be ignored, accounting for over a third of total gin value. Our refusal to add refined sugar ensures a less sweet and cloying taste, allowing the true nature of our gin to shine through by using a rich fruit infusion (in) Bombay Bramble”.
Natasha Curtin, global vice president of Bombay Sapphire
The aroma is like home made jam with underlying earthy juniper notes. Sampled neat over ice there’s a bitterness on first sip, but diluted with a splash of tonic, the blend of juicy sweet, tangy, tart ripe berry flavour shines through, with the underlying rich spicy, herbal depth of Bombay Sapphire gin.
There is a real hint of Campari too, the bittersweet Italian liqueur, so let’s see how they compare.
The Campari story begins in the early 1860s, when a bartender named Gaspare Campari started inventing bottled cocktails, with neutral alcohol, raspberry juice, citrus fruits, herbs, vanilla. Today, Campari is a blend of equal parts of alcohol, sugar syrup, distilled water and an infusion of oranges, berries, rhubarb, ginseng and herbs.
So perhaps Bombay Bramble Gin could be used in a classic Negroni?
Crème de cassis, the blackcurrent liqueur from Dijon is famously used in the aperitif Kir, added to a flute of white wine, or with champagne, for a Kir Royale.
Likewise, a few dashes of Bombay Bramble to ice cold Prosecco would make a refreshing aperitif.
Life’s a Picnic with a feast of juicy berries this summer says The Sunday Times (2nd August).
Bombay Bramble time!
Bombay Bramble is widely available, at all leading supermarkets and off licences, with an RRP, £23 a bottle.
The Bombay Sapphire Distillery, located at an award winning heritage site, Laverstoke Mill, Hampshire, is now open again for visitors. Book the Discovery Experience for a guided tour of the Botancial Glasshouses and Dakin Still Room to learn all about the creative vapour infusion process, or take part in a Gin Cocktail masterclass. Gift shop to purchase Bombay Sapphire gins, gifts and personalised bespoke bottles. A great day out or a weekend away with fine restaurants and accommodation nearby.
Check the website for all information on Bombay Sapphire Gins, Bombay Bramble and Distillery visits.
In a wide bay on Loch Broom, the charming, white washed village of Ullapool in Wester Ross, was established in 1788 by the British Fishing Society with a settlement of just seven houses. It soon developed as a thriving herring port and in the 1970s, became the base for a fleet of Russian “Klondykers”, factory ships to process and transport tons of mackerel back home.
Those original seven crofts and the wild scenic beauty around Ullapool were the inspiration behind the name of a new Scottish Gin created, curated and produced by the Highland Liquor Company. Their logo brilliantly captures, in just a quick caricature, the waves of the loch, the town and rugged hills all around.
This gin has been five years in the planning, development, testing and tasting by the owners Helen Chalmers and Robert Hicks and their spirited team. It was a challenging period of experimentation, trial and error with no less than 96 separate combinations before they selected their final unique recipe for Seven Crofts Dry Gin.
Seven Crofts is composed, not surprisingly,of a seven key botanicals – juniper, pink peppercorns, angelica root, coriander seeds, cubeb berries, cardamom, fresh lemon peel.
A few usual suspects in the ingredients, but two distinctively different spices here. Cubeb berries are from Indonesia and so often called Java Pepper, tasting like allspice with a trace of nutmeg. In gin, cubeb gives an aromatic pepperiness with pine and floral notes.
Cardamom is native to Southeast Asia and Guatemala, one of the most expensive spices, along with vanilla and saffron, and when used as a botanical in gin, it adds a grassy, grapefruit aroma.
This handcrafted small batch Gin is produced in twin copper stills named Little Ella and Little Ruthie, where Ben Thomson in charge of the fine art of Distillation. The Botanicals and grain spirit are heated over open flames and condensed using pure Highland water to release the full fragrance, flavour and character. Then its’s time to wait patiently, as the gin is allowed to mature slowly before bottling.
The bottle and label design by D8 in Glasgow was inspired by old traditional Genever bottles. The glass reflects the watery shimmer and soft pine green of the loch and landscape; its tall, slender shape is attractive to look at, comfortable to hold. This elegant and timeless style has been picked for the Top 10 Spirits Artwork and Bottle Design in the World.
I then added a few cubes of ice, a good splash Fevertree Tonic, a slice of orange and zest of the peel. The rich blend of botanicals is certainly complex presenting a spicy, smoky, almost salty, taste, cut through with the sweeter citrus tones of lemon peel and orange garnish.
What the experts say:
Nose: Rich, round aromatic notes of juniper, pepper with a noticeable hint of ripe plum
Taste: Opulent notes of perfumed forest fruit and a suggestion of woodland. The juniper is assertive with spicy hints of coriander and pink pepper and a long, warm finish.
Finish: A fresh, clean G&T with balanced and elegant yet distinctive flavours of juniper, pepper, orchard fruit and a poised, spicy finish.
The Perfect Serve: Serve in a straight glass with lots of ice, a good quality tonic (1 part gin to 2 parts tonic) and garnished with a slice of orange.
Seven Crofts Gin, with its aromatic fragrance, is also perfect in a range of classic Cocktails. Who can resist a Martini? Simple but so sophisticated.
8 cl Seven Crofts Gin (ice cold)
A tbsp Extra Dry Vermouth
Stir together in a chilled Cocktail glass – the classic method.
(or alternatively add ingredients with ice in a Shaker, then strain into the glass).
Garnish with a twist of lemon peel or an olive as preferred.
It is believed that Her Majesty the Queen is partial to a Zaza, a variation of a Martini with Dubononet, the French fortified wine with herbs, spices and quinine. Its spicy, fruity taste would blend well with Seven Crofts.
Named after a 1915 silent movie based on a French play about a cabaret singer, this is one of my favourite apertifs, which hits the spot with the kick of gin given a smooth, mellow fruity flavour.
6cl Seven Crofts Gin
6cl Dubonnet Red
Dash of Aromatic bitters (optional)
Shake the ingredients together with ice and strain into a Martini glass and add a twist of orange.
The Negroni is the ultimate Italian cocktail invented by Count Camillo Negroni at the Caffè Casoni bar in Florence in 1919. Seductively crimson red, bittersweet and perfectly refreshing. Fashionable for 100 years.
2.5 or 3 cl Seven Crofts Gin
2.5 or 3 cl Campari
2.5 or 3 cl Sweet Vermouth
Stir or shake up three ingredients with very cold ice until blended. Strain into a tumbler over a large ice block and garnish with a twist or slice of lemon or orange.
Although only launched in 2019, Seven Crofts has already been selected by Buyers and Bars across the world including Nauticus, Edinburgh, The Savoy, London, Michael Caine’s Lympstone Manor and sipped from New York City to Singapore
Ullapool is located on the ever popular North Coast 500 – Scotland’s equivalent to Route 66 – and offers the great escape to explore the area with its majestic scenery, cosy pubs, freshest seafood, from crate to plate, Music Festivals, fishing heritage, outdoor adventures, hill climbing, wildlife, boat and ferry trips.
What could be a better destination to experience the distinctive taste of Seven Crofts Gin, its birthplace: the essence of Highland loch and landscape encapsulated -artistically distilled – in a green bottle. Cheers!