Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lunch & Learn - H&F Style

Part of the fun of being Holeman & Finch is that sometimes we get to host interesting and delicious private events. Recently, we hosted a lunch for Hendrick’s Gin and the US Bartenders Guild. A lunch and learn of sorts --- a gin tasting complete with 10 o'clock burgers and Mary Randolph's fried chicken. It was great fun for everyone involved, guests and staff alike, and as a result we’re now even more smitten with this most amazing gin.

Hendrick’s Gin is the result of a good idea and a simple experiment conducted in twentieth century Scotland. The “gin craze” of the nineteenth century had just swept through England, prompting William Grant & Sons to try to create their ideal gin: lighter with subtle essences of cucumber and rose petal.

At an auction in Girvan, Scotland, the company bought two different types of stills which they then restored. The two stills operate by different methods, producing very different tasting spirits. The idea was to blend these two spirits for a uniquely subtle final product. The first, a small pot still, creates a spirit with a heavy and oily character and a strong juniper flavor. Sometimes called the Bennett still, this small vessel allows for most of the aromas of the botanicals to pass into the spirit during the distilling process. The three ingredients, a neutral spirit, the botanical recipe and water, are steeped together and then boiled. Initially, this still can produce gin with up to 92% alcohol, but as the distillation continues, the spirit’s alcohol content will gradually decrease, and the final spirit will be about 75% alcohol. The second still that Grant & Sons bought was a Carter-Head still, a very rare kind of still invented by the Carter Brothers and first constructed in 1948. The Carter-Head produces a gin with light floral and sweet fragrances. Only a neutral spirit, a clear, colorless liquid with a very high ethanol content, and water are added to the still’s pot. The botanicals are added up at the top of the still. Rather than being steeped and boiled in, the Carter-Head bathes the botanicals in the alcohol vapors before they are condensed, making a much lighter gin.

The idea proved to be a good one, and the resulting spirit, the Hendrick’s Gin of today,is indeed a blend of these two different distillations, with the addition of cucumber and rose petal essences. The gin is created in batches of only 450 liters, which allows the distiller to carefully control the entire process, ensuring an artfully perfect concoction, which is then bottled in a dark blue, almost black-looking, apothecary-style bottle, giving it a unique look to match the signature taste.

In 2003, Hendrick’s Gin was awarded the Wall Street Journal’s “Best Gin in the World” award, and since then has merited numerous awards and high ratings.

The creators of Hendrick’s say that it is best served with tonic water over ice with a slice of cucumber as a garnish rather than the traditional citrus or olive. Our staff finds many creative applications for the product. At the upcoming Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival, we will be using Hendrick’s Gin in a Gazpacho Martini --- a perfect choice due to the gin’s cucumber essence.

Come in to H&F Public House anytime we're open to discover Hendrick’s Gin for yourself, or bring some friends in for a private lunch or dinner party. You can write to to arrange such a thing. Cheers!

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