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.
Hendrick’s Gin is a brand of gin produced by William Grant & Sons at the Girvan distillery, Scotland, and launched in 1999. The brand was created by spirits marketer Steven Grasse, while the gin itself was conceived by Lesley Gracie, a Yorkshire native, who was hired by William Grant & Sons to work in new liquid development for some of their products. A decade later she was tasked with creating a new super-premium gin. In addition to the traditional juniper infusion, Hendrick’s uses Bulgarian rose and cucumber to add flavour.
Hendrick’s uses a blend of spirits produced from a Carter-Head Still (constructed in 1948), of which there are only a few in the world, and a small pot still, built in 1860 by Bennett, Sons & Shears. Both have been restored to working order after being bought at auction in the 1960s by the former William Grant Life President, Charles Gordon. The two stills produce strikingly different styles of gin due to their different construction and methods of distillation. In the recent years, Hendrick’s also released several Gin versions with other botanicals such as an Amazonian gin, one with floral botanicals and even an absinthe.
I tried this when I was on a trip and I didn’t have a Glencairn glass. I love trying new spirits in a Glencairn because of the shape, a shape that allows you to fully experience the nose of the spirit. But I have to use what is available, and that’s a small espresso cup. The nose has juniper, of course, but with citrus and most of all, floral aromas including rose and elderflower. This is a very classic gin, with juniper and angelica notes, but there is a decent flavour of orange and other citrus with a long finish with juniper and rose pedals. This is not a bad gin to drink neat and would go well with a nice, medium bodied maduro cigar. The natural sweetness of a maduro wrapper would pair very well.
Gin & Tonic
I prefer drinking my Gin & Tonic from a Copa glass, if that’s not available, a Collins glass will do. But my service apartment had neither, so I used a large beer glass for my Gin & Tonic. I also could not find the Schweppes Tonic I usually use; this G&T is made with Fever Tree. Since tonic is the biggest part of the cocktail, using a different tonic will change the experience.
The tonic and the ice mute all the aromas from the gin. The tonic gives the cocktail a slightly bitter and dry mouthfeel, with the botanicals from the gin giving a lot of flavour. Even the delicate rose flavour shines through. I would pair this with a creamy cigar, preferably with plenty of sweetness. Sobremesa Brulee comes to mind, or a Casa Magna Connecticut. Even a Cuban Fonseca Delicias would work well.
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.
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 perfect combination of all the ingredients. The juniper and botanicals from the gin, sweetness from the raspberry syrup and a hint of citrus from the lemon juice. The cocktail itself is a dream. A velvet mouthfeel because of the egg white, the sweetness of the raspberries blends very well with the juniper from the gin while the citrus binds everything together. If only I lived in a place where raspberries were easy to get, this would be my go-to cocktail. This will go great with a corojo wrapped cigar, so pick any Viaje, Condega or Warped and you’ll be in heaven.
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.