Hello, let’s jump straight in! Yet Another Gin started just around a year ago and has grown to be successful gaining over 36 thousand unique users a year- what made you want to do it in the first place and why do you think it is taking off so quickly now?
For me it was a combination of things, YAG started out as a way for me to keep track of gin based drinks I had in many bars. Overtime I realised it was less about the drinking of the drinks and actually the gin I was more interested in, as well as the drink and the bar.
I think a lot of people out there are curious about drinks, whether they are looking for a new spirit or a cocktail recipe, or in some case are trying to plan an evening out and want to try and find the best bar that fits their atmosphere. The site gets quite a lot of repeat visitors, while the use of social media helps keep it in the forefront of peoples minds – as well as a [wider] publicity tool.
Perhaps more than most you’ve trawled the bars from Birmingham, London and elsewhere – What’s the best bar/menu you know of for gin based cocktails?
It probably has to be at the Jekyll & Hyde, it’s a city centre venue that upstairs has its own Gin Parlor, and a wide selection of around 50 bottles. The menu there is quite traditional with a lot of gin classics, but the staff are well versed enough to go off menu too.
We tend to like seeing the classics done well (even if re-interpreted) and the Jekyll & Hyde is definitely somewhere we’d recommend for any gin fan. In your books are there “must have” cocktails that have to be on the menu no matter what?
I admire any bar that features drinks like Aviations on the menu, I don’t think a great cocktail bar needs to state it can make a Dry Martini. I can see the gin and the dry vermouth. The Negroni is a great drink, and love to see it featured – especially twists on it. In fact this week I saw a ‘Negroni Apres’ which included Fernet Branca (at Rules).
Also, looking back to the great classic of a Corpse Reviver No. 2 – an understated drink, that I’ve only seen on a few menus recently.
Nice, it’s a tough call with the Martini because you want it at the forefront of people’s minds but we completely agree that it should be a given that any self respecting bar will be able to make it. All in all, do you have a favourite classic gin cocktail? [and any advice as to where serves it best?]
I’m a big fan of the Clover Club, it’s not something I make often at home but I’ve had a great one at 69 Colebrooke Row (well, every drink there has been good!)
It’s always a bit difficult to do because taste is so subjective and mood dependent (plus you wouldn’t want everywhere to be the same) but do you have a standard drink that you use to compare bars?
I keep it simple with a G&T and a Dry Martini usually. They’re two simple drinks that you can tell a lot about a bar and the bartender based on what they ask you and how they present the drink. For instance I wouldn’t be impressed if a bar didn’t offer me a choice of the gin for my martini.
You’re doing your own gin tastings too. What’s been the highlight? Any big surprises?
I’ve been surprised that people are interested in doing blind gin tastings, it’s a step further than a normal tasting and helps rid people of any preconceived ideas about the gin. In the first gin tasting it was nice to see Gordon’s hold the middle ground, whilst Tanqueray did well overall. It was interesting to see peoples reactions to the Old Tom style as well, the group was split between Hayman’s and Jensen’s in that regard.
We’re always surprised that each time tastings bring out new reactions from people, often unexpected ones too- Based solely on taste – do you have a particular gin flavour profile you go for – London Dry, sweeter, more citric notes/ floral etc..?
I tend to steer away from some of the more floral gins, whilst I like citrus notes I can find them a bit too overpowering. Drier gins are more of interest to me, and things usually end up teetering towards the higher ABV levels.
Miller’s Westbourne it is then! With all that said- which gin have you got your eyes on to purchase next?
I’m thinking it may be the No.3 Gin from Berry Bros, it’s only a gin I’ve tasted about 4/5 times but I can remember every time. It’s got such a great flavour and I think it would make a great martini. That said the flavour might be too dominating in other cocktails, so it will be a fun challenge to mix some drinks with it.
Nice choice, what’s your favorite G&T gin and why?
Sipsmith, with Waitrose Tonic and a lime wedge. The glass has to be FULL of ice, that’s a thing people forget – never skimp on ice!
For me it’s a really pleasant, easy to drink combination that’s not too dry and Sipsmith stands up well in a long drink. Certain brands get lost, and you just end up with the tonic overpowering the gin.
Agree with you there – it’s amazing to see just how much a G&T can go wrong. We’ve talked a lot about taste, so putting that aside- no reflection on the liquid – what’s your favourite gin brand?
It’s probably going to be Sipsmith, I like the fact they make their own barley vodka, which then is used to make the gin. I love Prudence (their still), she is beautiful and also, they clearly have the passion. They are a true small scale business that’s doing well with great simple and down to earth marketing, yet stocked widely in national supermarkets now.
It’s hard not to like them, they’ve combined good gin with an honest approach to making and talking about it, it’ll be interesting to see how big they become over the next year. So, on the flip side – which is your least favourite gin brand?
At the moment it’s Bulldog Gin, moreso for their marketing presence and what appear to be some incorrect statements. The gin isn’t my kind of gin, but they seem to have made me dislike them. A close second might be Geranium Gin, though that was more the fact I had to fight them to taste it on its own, and not with tonic at an on-trade event!
It’s interesting that you also bring up Bulldog Gin as an example of getting it wrong as you’re now one of many that we’ve come across seemingly firmly entrenched in the anti-camp…. all of which summarized in your review (which was quite negative). What do you think they could do to turn it around, or is it too late given they’ve adopted such an uncompromising type of brand positioning?
I think they need to review their marketing approach, it’s the brand positioning that definitely puts me off. Ignoring the marketing and presentation, their gin is not too bad. Whilst it’s certainly not a must-have for me, I could have a better perception of it if they revised their approach.
They are featuring at the Graphic Bar Juniper Society event later this year, and it will be interesting to see what they have to say about that. Overall, for me it seems a gin that’s developed for the American market, and the American style of marketing doesn’t feel right for their UK presence.
There’s no hiding the fact that we think it’s a little brash and that we aren’t the biggest fans, as we mentioned to Sarah (Graphic Bar manager) it’ll be interesting to see if they change that around when they are down for the Juniper Society. Thanks for answering our questions and before you go, just time for another two – first, what’s next for YAG?
Looking to keep on writing about new gin, bar and general drink news; hopefully with a few more ‘guest’ posts appearing over time too.
I want to expand the whole gin tasting and keep that going, there’s been some great interest in G&T pairings, Martini Masterclasses and looking forward to Sloe and Damson gin tasting toward the end of the year. Also I have a real desire to make a proper small-batch gin, likely in the Old Tom style. As to ‘how’ this will work… stay tuned!
Of course, preparations will be underway to help get the World Gin Day (11th June 2011) word out there – the website is being created to help push it – look out for bars doing things, brands having events and maybe a few bottles of gin being given away too!
Nice reminder, we’ve been discussing how we are going to get involved with it over here, we’d better get a move on! So, final question – It’s Saturday evening, you’re at home and feeling adventurous so you make a cocktail to get the night started – what is it, how are you making and with what…?
I love making drinks at home and lately I’ve been really enjoying the inclusion of egg whites in my drink. So if i’m making a cocktail it’s likely I’ve got some lemons to hand, there’s definitely some gin on the counter, I can spot the cointreau too. Which means it’s got to be a White Lady for me, made with Plymouth Navy Strength.
The egg white gives a great froth to the drink, and an interesting texture. The balance from the lemon and cointreau is great; it’s not too sour or too sweet. A great way to start the night, before stripping it back to the basics with a martini once you’re out!
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, it’s been great to hear what you have to say on the world of cocktails and gin. For those looking more news, reviews and info we recommend you go to Yet Another Gin, or even sign up to their monthly news letter… We’ll also be posting news about World Gin Day shortly but until then click here for more details.