Published on June 9th, 2012 | by Greg0
Gin, Rum, And Margaritas: Summer With Friends
On this Friday night, we have just the solution for a long week of work. Let down your hair… or, put it up, slick it back, and join us as we explore a few new and interesting spirits and mixers. We've been setting aside the red wines and the heavier scotches and whiskies, and turning to the lighter drinks as the weather goes warm and we spend more time in the parks and gardens and outdoors spots around the city.
We'll start with Knockeen Hills Heather Gin, a "London Cut" gin that is fairly traditional in taste and crystal clear appearance, but far better than many other English-style gins. The bottles are quite attractive, and the quintuple-distilled spirit uses organic botanicals. Clean, crisp, it's a gin you can drink straight and that holds up nicely to tonic. Juniper and a grassy, peppery herbal note hold the tongue, but it's the soft texture that makes it stand out. There's already a little citrus in there, so you don't need to add the lemon- in fact, we liked a little more sweetness, like Meyer lemon. Solid, if you like a straight forward and delicate gin. A bit hard to find, but expect to spend around $40 for 750 mL.
If a sweeter drink is more to your liking, Pink Pigeon Rum will alter your impressions of the spirit. We were impressed- this is a rum with depth and character- and works great in daquiris and mojitos. Made from sugar cane harvested from a single estate in Mauritius, they also add in vanilla for a unique character that is a better-rounded and offers a more immediate appeal than some harsh or weak competitors. It's a very modern twist on a classic spirit, with hints of molasses and a chewiness. Runs about $35, and though the name may be odd, it comes from one of the world's rarest birds. The distinctive packaging stands out- this is a bottle that will make visitors curious (and even rum critics satisfied).
Finally, one of the best parts of going to the beach are margaritas. We've tried other mixes before- and machines!- but Powell and Mahoney's Low-Calorie Margarita Mix is pretty good. Made from agave, pear juice, lemon and lime juice, it runs about 20 calories per serving and is reasonably balanced. They offer a wide range of other mixers as well, from mojitos and cosmos to a full-calorie version of the margarita (70 instead of 20). We tried a few different tequilas and recipes- they suggest blanco in a 2.5:1.5 mix:tequila proportion- and we typically added some fresh lime juice and the necessary salt. Priced around $8 or $9 a bottle, and available fairly widely. It didn't have the depth of some margaritas that we've tried, but did offer no sugar (or artificial sweeteners) for those looking to save some calories!