Cocktails with Tiff – Gin and Champagne
Need to shake up some delight? Or stir a little heart flutter into your life? Our fearless Bellota leader Tiff Reimer is a cocktail fiend. A lover of the classic styles, her two mainstay books: The Savoy Cocktail Book and The Craft of the Cocktail, Dale Degroff are well-thumbed. And her friends and customers always well-sated. The pleasure she serves up in these flavour bombs are considered and impeccably balanced, delivered with a sliver of Tiff wit. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to be served by Tiff, you know what we mean.
Here she shares her thoughts on Gin and how to serve it. It involves Champagne, of course!
IT’S A GIN THING…
There is no doubt that Melbourne is a gin town, this ubiquitous liquor features in every bar be it in the form of the well-loved and lockdown staple Negroni or the newly appreciated French 75. Even Melbourne’s latest addition to the restaurant scene, Gimlet is an ode to gin.
Why the Gin Fling?
Gin is attributed to a Dutch chemist mid-16th century who was trying to enhance the therapeutic qualities of juniper in a medicinal beverage. The English caught wind of this drink which they had termed ‘Dutch courage’ and by the early 17th-century production of English gin had boomed. The invention of the Coffey Still refined the style, bringing a more pure dimension.
London Dry Style is considered the benchmark for quality. Other styles include Dutch Gin, a heartier rendition of Gin and Old Tom which is a slightly sweeter version of London Dry Gin.
Our favourite London Dry Style is Dockyard Gin.
Dockyard Gin is made at the revamped Chatham dockyards in Kent on the River Thames. The production prowess behind this gin is next level. Everything is local-centric – even the spirit used is made on sight and farmed from fields within 40 kilometres of the distillery. And of course, many of the botanicals are sourced locally including the fragrant elderflowers. This is an incredible story of hope borne from the derelict dockyards of Chatham.
When the dockyards ceased operating in 1984, huge job losses were felt in the local area as well as empty building shells. With this in mind, Bob Russell and his sons Matthew and Stephen have breathed life back into the dockyards, reinstating it back to its former glory days when it was home to the Royal Navy. They’ve bought engineering, innovation and industry back to the area. As well as a world-class gin.
Classical in production, the clarity and definition of the botanicals articulate a skilled and modern approach. This gin is invigorating and wonderfully detailed.
Included in the botanical mix are Italian juniper berries, locally sourced elderflower, Bulgarian coriander seeds, Spanish orange peel, Italian lemon peel, Guatemala green cardamom, grains of paradise from Africa, European angelica root and orris root. As well as their neutral grain spirit and Kentish chalk filtered water.
HOW TO SERVE YOUR GIN:
Captain Harry S Truman was credited with the birth of the French 75 during WWI. It is said he told his men just minutes before their French seventy-five guns fired their 75-millimetre shells at the Germans ‘I’d rather be right here than be president of the United States!” And celebrated with the drink – named after that French artillery piece.
1 ounce/ 30ml dockyard gin
3/4 ounce/20ml sugar syrup
3/4 ounce/20ml fresh lemon
3 ounces/90ml Champagne – Andre Clouet Reserve is our preferred Champagne for this.
Shake the first 3 ingredients over ice, strain into a champagne flute, top up with champagne- garnish with a twist of lemon.
Tiff’s riff on the traditional recipe:
Is it Cognac or gin? – the battle continues between the ranks of Cognac devotees and gin traditionalists. In New Orleans where the worship of the French 75 is absolute, it will always be made with Cognac, not gin. Elsewhere in the world gin has taken over. We all have the odd bottle of Cognac stashed away at home, what better way to find a use for it!
Why I love it:
Tiff: ‘This is the perfect marriage of two things I love the most in life – champagne and gin. There is nothing better to start your lunch or dinner off than a French 75, it’s sophisticated yet fun, it’s light and airy, yet has that delightful herbaceous hit from the gin. I’m a huge fan of classic cocktails and this one will always be a staple at Bellota Wine Bar- as Harry Craddock head barman at The Savoy during the 1920s and ’30s said of the drink – hits with remarkable precision- enough said.’
If you’d like to recreate these cocktails at home then email us with your order and we can put together for you. Or better still come in to Bellota and we’ll look after you. Our cocktails are always changing, or if there is something you had in mind, just ask.