Cigars and alcohol. Two luxury products that go hand in hand, and sometimes even meet on business level. Aging tobacco in whisky, rum, or cognac barrels is a practice several brands do to achieve extra flavour to the wrapper for certain lines. The famous bourbon brand Maker’s Mark has their own cigar, sold in tubes with the signature wax coating. Drew Estate works with Pappy van Winkle and used to make Kahlua cigars. Mombacho used to have the Diplomatico series but Mombacho no longer exists. General Cigars works with Sazerac, which resulted in Fireball cigars, Weller by Cohiba and collaborations with Buffalo Trace. And there is the Diesel Whisky Row, a collaboration with Rabbit Hole Distilleries. Fratello Cigars also sells craft beer. Most famous are probably the Cuban collaboration between Martell Cognac and Cohiba. Dominique London, the European retailer with more than 20 shops in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland and the Canary Islands takes it one step further. They bought a distillery in Wales and produce whisky, gin, rum, vodka and liquors.
It was a bit of a task to find out the history of Gibson’s Gin. But even though the gin is made in the United Kingdom with local juniper, coriander, angelica and citrus zest, the brand is actually owned by the French drinks group La Martiniquaise-Bardinet. The company claims that Gibson’s is the #1 gin in France.
Gibson’s London Dry Gin is made in England from carefully selected grains, which are distilled in stills following the traditional method. The alcohol vapours then absorb aromas of juniper berries, coriander, angelica and orange peel following a unique recipe, before being captured and rested for a few hours in tanks. The alcohol levels are reduced by dilution, then Gibson’s Gin is cold filtered before bottling. It is bottled at 37.5 ABV.
The nose has an unusual baking spice with Angelica, pine and juniper. There is no citrus on the nose. It is well rounded. The gin itself has plenty of juniper, coriander seed and some cinnamon. It is a full bodied gin, with a creamy, buttery mouthfeel and a baking spice finish. The finish is medium in length. This will pair well with a medium bodied cigar with a creamy character. Something with a Honduran Connecticut Shade wrapper, so I am thinking something from Aladino, CLE or Eiroa. Or maybe Oscar Valladares.
Gin & Tonic
The tonic and the ice mute the aromas of the gin, only some of the baking soda and pine are still around, but faint. The juniper is a bit stronger and the tonic brings out a lemony citrus flavour as well. And that will change the cigar I would pair with this Gin & Tonic. No more creamy cigar, but a woody cigar, medium to full bodied. Something with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper most likely like an Oliva Serie V Melanio. Strong enough to stand up to the citrus, but not too strong to overpower the gin completely.
And now for the gin tonic recipe:
2 ounces of 60ml of gin
4 ounces or 120ml of Tonic water
Fill a Collins or a Copa glass with ice. Add the gin, then the tonic and stir gently.
You might think, hey, this is odd, Inspector X is always using a different cocktail to end his pairing articles, but he used the Clover Club before. You are correct. I was on a business trip and stayed in this nice service apartment. There was a nice farmers market nearby and I got some fresh raspberries and used that to make raspberry syrup and made myself a nice Clover Club with Hendrick’s Gin. A few days later I got myself a bottle of Gibson’s Gin, and since I didn’t have all my syrups or other ingredients at hand, I decided to just double down on the Clover Club.
I borrowed this text from Liquor.com, a website that is great for amateur mixologists like myself. The Clover Club cocktail can be traced back to the late 1800s and Philadelphia’s Bellevue-Stratford hotel. This popular hangout drew crowds of writers, lawyers and titans of industry, who convened to talk about issues of the day. Naturally, their meetings included drinks, and the Clover Club with gin, fresh lemon juice, raspberry syrup and egg white was a favourite among this genteel set.
The pre-Prohibition classic is one of Philadelphia’s greatest contributions to cocktail history, but like many drinks of its day, the Clover Club all but disappeared for most of the 20th century. Eventually, it found its way back into rotation, helped in part by its appearance in modern cocktail books, including Gary Regan’s “Joy of Mixology.” Its resurgence was solidified in 2008, when Julie Reiner opened a cocktail bar in Brooklyn named for the classic drink. Naturally, the bar put a Clover Club on the menu, and the cocktail has remained there since.
The nose is a beautiful mix of the lemon and sweetness from the raspberry syrup. There is a hint of juniper as well. The egg white makes the cocktail thick and creamy. The sweetness is balanced by the citrus from the lemon juice and the juniper from the gin. The cocktail is balanced and complex, very nice and neither too sweet nor too sour. This will go well with a lot of cigars, but if I would pair this with a Cuban, I would probably go for the Romeo y Julieta Linea de Oro or the Ramon Allones #3. For non-Cubans, pick something medium bodied and you’ll do fine. Maybe a Lampert 1675 or a nice Skull 77.
And now for the Clover Club recipe:
2 ounces or 60ml of Gin
½ ounce or 15ml of Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
½ ounce or 15ml of Raspberry Syrup *
1 egg white
Garnish: 3 raspberries
Add all the ingredients into a shaker without ice and shake vigorously to emulsify the egg. Then add ice and shake until well chilled. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with three speared raspberries.
*Raspberry syrup: Add 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a pot. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat to low, add 1/2 cup fresh raspberries, and macerate into a pulp. Fine-strain to remove the berry’s tiny seeds. Optionally, add 1/2 oz vodka as a preservative. Refrigerate in a jar until ready for use.