Whiskey may be my spirit of choice, but I’ve never been one to turn down an offer of gin (or any other booze, truth be told).
So I was delighted last week to stop into Tavern Road for a tasting of Gin Lane 1751, which debuted in the UK in 2015 and has been gradually making its way onto shelves here in the States.
Named for the Gin Act of 1751, which aimed to reduce the consumption of gin in London, Gin Lane 1751 hearkens back to the traditional Victorian style of gin – simple and bold, with eight botanicals and prominent notes of juniper.
Trying Out the Goods
Gin Lane currently offers four styles – London Dry, “Victoria” Pink, Old Tom, and London Dry Royal Strength. Three of them were on display at Tavern Road, for sampling and in cocktails made by bartender extraordinaire Tenzin Samdo.
A bowl of Old Tom’s Punch was waiting for guests as they arrived, made with Gin Lane’s Old Tom, ginger, lemon, Zirbenz (a pine liqueur) and cava.
If you’re accustomed to seeing Old Tom gin with a darker complexion, Gin Lane’s version stands out for its clarity. Owner Geoff Curley, who was on hand to discuss the finer points of his product, explained that barrel aging was never part of traditional Old Tom gin production – barrels only came into play when the gin was shipped to America.
A tea-soaked negroni, poured from an oversize flask, featured the London Dry gin soaked in a blend of red teas. The London Dry is crisp and balanced, with distinct citrus notes that paired well with the tea.
“Victoria” Pink is Gin Lane’s most unusual offering, and my first thought was that it might be the white zinfandel of gins. The style actually dates back to the 19th century, and its pink hue is the result of bitters being added to the gin. It’s believed that the British Royal Navy pioneered the recipe, thinking it would mitigate the effects of seasickness (which it probably did not).
Tenzin used the pink gin in Her Majesty’s Bee’s Knees, a twist on the classic Bee’s Knees made with lemon, cardamom, saffron, and honey.
Tradition With a Twist
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting at Tenzin’s bar (or if you follow him on Instagram), you know he’s always got a few tricks up his sleeve when it comes to making drinks.
The contraption below is designed for brewing coffee or tea, but Tenzin used it to infuse the gin with additional spices and botanicals. Uniquely flavored martinis ensued.
Looking back, I suppose there’s an amusing contrast here: Gin Lane 1751 goes to great lengths to emulate a traditional style, while one of Boston’s most innovative bartenders reinterprets it with a thoroughly modern twist. Intended or not, it’s an approach that speaks Gin Lane’s versatility.
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