This year, my Valentines’ cocktail was inspired by a book. I was reading ‘Going Solo” by Roald Dahl. After a sheltered upbringing in England, Dahl made the decision to join the Shell Oil Company. His first assignment was in East Africa. He was sent to Dar es Salaam, in what was then known as Tanganyika (current day Tanzania).
The voyage per ship took two weeks. Remember, this was the 1930’s and the British Empire was still very much “The British Empire”. In the book, Dahl writes colourful reports on some of the strange fellow British passengers on the boat. At dinner, he wrote, the custom was to always dress up. Not putting on shoes and grabbing a ‘decently clean shirt’ dress up. A full on white shirt, starch collar with a black suit – fancy dress.
In one paragraph he was describing a scene in the bar. Various suitably dressed British gentlemen were waiting for the dinner bell to ring and having a pre dinner drink. The drink of choice was a gimlet. Dahl called it “the Empire-builder’s name for a gin with lime juice”.
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Now there is an idea! A Gimlet cocktail! So I started researching. Traditionally a gimlet was 2 part gin, 1 part lime, topped up with soda. There are various theories where this drink got it’s name. It was probably seen as more of a medical way to prevent scurvy on the British ships than a cocktail. Regardless, I had to try a more modern version of it.
Lime is the citrus of choice for the recipe, however, I was looking for something a bit more colourful. I wanted to use the beautiful Fentiman’s House of Broughton Rose syrup that I found at Norman Goodfellows and make something special for Valentines Day.
The Rose Syrup is made using natural rose extracts and not only adds sweetness but elegant, English garden, floral, summertime rose flavours. I played around a bit and tried grapefruit. Still a great citrus taste, but softer and it works beautiful with the House of Broughton Rose Syrup.
To stay with the theme, I looked around for a citrus flavoured gin and found 2 really amazing gins. I could not choose between the two, so any of these two great dry gin’s work wonderful.
First up the Bloemlemon gin. Distilled at Hope on Hoskins in Salt River, Cape Town, this classic London Dry style gin is hand crafted in small batches. It is flavoured with 10 natural botanicals and has flavor notes of citrus, light juniper, and spicy, floral nuances. It has a wonderful clean citrus taste.
Alternatively, the Clemengold gin works just as perfect. The Clemengold gin is a classic Cape Dry style gin with subtle hints of citrus. Nine botanicals, including sundried ClemenGold peels, cinnamon, honey and ground almond is used to flavour the gin. It is also part of the Hope on Hoskins Distillery in Salt River product range. Both of these local gins are available at Norman Goodfellows and good liquor stores.
The rose and grapefruit gimlet made for a refreshing cocktail. Especially for Valentines day, something different with a hint of roses. Something you can keep on drinking all through summer. And in winter – perhaps take a queue from the British sailors and drink this Gimlet for medicinal reasons. It will up your Vitamin C levels and help to keep the flu away.
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Recipe: Rose and Grapefruit Gimlet
- 60 ml Bloemlemoen Gin or ClemenGold Gin
- 60 ml Grapefruit juice
- 15 ml House of Broughton Rose syrup
- Dried grapefruit slices
Add ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Give it a good shake to mix everything up and pour into a cocktail glass. Decorate with dried grapefruit slices.
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