Of ELISABETTA LUGLI
A few weeks ago we started to explore the history of gin, accompanied by the wise stories of Alex Frezza, and we were fascinated by it. Now the time has come to face the second stage of the journey into the world of this distillate, which is certainly one of the most loved in the world. As a companion on this adventure, this time we asked another great expert on the subject: the famous bartender Samuele Ambrosi, winner of numerous competitions and owner of the Cloackroom Cocktail Lab and La Pace in Treviso.
The moment to talk about gin with Samuele couldn't have been more appropriate: his book is about to go to press in these days, a text on which he worked for a good six years which bears the title of "Anthologin", and which will be published by Guido Tommasi Editore. And it is from here that we decided to start our journey with him into the world of gin.
Samuele, “Anthologin” is about to be released: an apt and evocative title! What can you tell us about this book of yours?
Anthologin is the result of six years of work! When I started writing it I immediately understood that teaching is one thing and writing is another, the times and methods are completely different. Writing this book led me to do a lot of in-depth research, because I decided to check the sources myself without relying on things I had already heard, already said. The result is a technical text, not only dedicated to professionals, but also perfect for fans of the product. It's not a recipe book: there are some, but that's not the focus. Rather, there are many experiences linked to the recipes, and there is gin also explained based on the history of mixing. The book also has the particularity of being fully illustrated, with both artistic and technical tables. It also contains the top 100 gins in my opinion.
Let's talk about gin, and let's start from the basics. What is the first thing you can say?
Let's start from the fact that there are three macro-subdivisions in the world of gin: London Dry, Distilled and Cold Compound. Within the three categories it is a bit like in politics: worlds open up and there is a lot of confusion.
Let's try to clarify: let's start from London Dry.
For starters: today London Dry represents a category, but when it emerged, its name was nothing more than a synonym for quality and cleanliness. We are talking about the dawn of column distillation, around 1850, and London Dry simply referred to a more refined and expensive product than others. Today, however, it is synonymous with a style, which requires that the predominant botany is juniper. Its production requires that all the ingredients are distilled together.
So after distillation you can no longer intervene?
Something can be done: two London Drys can be assembled creating a Premium Blended London Dry. It can be concentrated and diluted. End. London Dry forces you to distill everything together, but in doing so it also forces you to take an artist's approach to the spirit. Furthermore, there is one important thing to say: gin is not drunk straight, the vision of those who produce it should always be broader, projected on the mixing. A finished gin can have defects unlike other spirits that are drunk neat, you have to be far-sighted and imagine it mixed. Then, another important thing to say is that it is difficult to maintain a standard. Gin works on spices, which are not always the same, they change based on the origin and countless other factors. It's a tricky business, overall!
What about distilled gins?
Which allow you to work on individual spices. With distilled drinks, the quality depends on the detail of the processing. Think of a product that distils fresh aromas at 100%, working them one by one: you can play, you can make great products. Take Gin Mare, for example, which distinguishes every single botanical and then blends.
Let's now talk about the Cold compound.
The Compound is the old fashioned, gin made like it used to be. It does not have the obligation of redistillation. They are gins that are a little more difficult to use, due to their strong identity. But some of the best gins around are certainly compounds.
Can you give us some cocktail recipes you love? It would be nice to have one for each type of gin mentioned.
Of course: regarding London Dry, I'll leave you a preview that will be present in my book Anthologin, one of my signatures. Here is the recipe:
3 cl. Elephant Gin London Dry
2.5 cl. Ancho Reyes Liqueur
2 cl. Fresh lime juice
1 cl. Flavored Honey Mix
drop vanilla liqueur
pressed chili pepper
top with Rude Ginger beer
Flavored Honey Mix
300 ml of honey and 200 ml of warm water. Mix until the mixture is completely homogeneous (generally the proportions are equal to 40% of water and 60% of honey). Finally add some lemon, orange and grapefruit peels, taking care to remove the white part. Vacuum everything and leave to rest for 14/18 hours.
Chill a champagne glass thoroughly or store it in the fridge/freezer. Cool your shaker perfectly (then throw away all the ice contained in it) and crush a small dried chilli pepper inside it (check the spiciness carefully, not only using the Scoville scale based on its origin, but tasting it previously so as not to ruin the balance of the drink). Pour all the ingredients except the ginger beer, add a few drops of fresh or dehydrated egg white and then shake vigorously. Take care to do a double strain to remove any suspended parts of both the ice and the chilli and finish with Scortese Ginger Beer.
As for distilled and compounds, I bring you two recipes that are always present in my book but twisted for the occasion, here they are:
Ambrosia Wine Cobbler
10 cl. oxidized Ambrosia Wine
3 cl. GIN MARE
2 cl. Honey Mix
top with Rude Ginger Beer
Mint sprig, citrus fruit slices, red fruits, icing sugar
In an uncovered jar, let the aromatic white wine style Prosecco, IM6013, Riesling, etc... macerate in the fridge for a few days with honey mix and spices, including rosemary, mint, thyme, lemon and orange peels, pepper and star anise.
Pour the oxidized wine and gin into a Twist'n Sparkle gasifier. It is very important that all products are very cold. Then close tightly and gasify. Let it rest for a few minutes in the fridge so that the gas mixes well with the liquid. In the meantime, take a goblet glass or a nice wine glass and fill it
of crushed ice and pour in the wine fortified with gin. Finally finish with the ginger beer, decorating as desired.
RECIPE (9 cl.)
2 cl. CAORUNN Scottish Dry Gin
1 cl. China Clementi liqueur
3 cl. Red Vermouth Riserva Carlo Alberto
2 cl. Bitter Campari flavored with chamomile, lemon balm and grapefruit peel
1 cl. soda
Flavored Bitter Campari
Immerse the flavoring substances in infusion in a certain quantity of alcoholic liquid for a period of time varying from 6 to 18 hours based on what you want to achieve. Then filter first through a fine mesh strainer and then, with the cocktail very cold, into an aeropress directly onto the customer's glass.
Recipe by Samuele Ambrosi, present in the book's Hall Of Fame NEGRONI COCKTAILS. An Italian legend by Luca Picchi.
Pink grapefruit peel
Unlike a classic Negroni prepared directly in the glass, here I suggest chilling the old fashioned very well with ice,
but to work directly in the well-chilled mixing glass, pouring all the ingredients inside and stirring slightly longer in order to leave a little space for a slight dilution.
A perfect serve that we use with this drink sometimes is to stir it with coarsely filtered Flavored Bitter Campari so that it still retains residues of the maceration. We then pour the drink into a perfectly labeled bottle and store it at 4°C. The customer will be served a short tumbler with a single chunk of ice,
the very cold bottle and an aeropress, so that he places the instrument on the glass, pours the contents of the bottle into it and proceeds with the final filtering, thus becoming himself the final executor of his drink.[:]