Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gin in teacups

April 15

I didn't drink any gin out of teacups, instead I drank my neat sloe gin out of a highball glass, but there were plenty of teacups available if people were inclined to drink out of them. Why the teacups? Well, it's quite natural that there was tippling out of teacups since Plymouth Gin was holding its Sloe Gin launch party at the Lower East Side speakeasy, The Back Room.

While it was described as a launch party, it's already available in the United Kingdom. Oh, and it won't be available in the United States until May. And by "available," not retail. So only bars and restaurants. At least for now that is, that might change.

Plymouth's sloe gin is made with just sloe berries, water, sugar and gin. Sounds simple enough, but talking to Sean Harrison, Plymouth's master distiller as well as one of the people who determines whether or not a batch of sloe gin is indeed sloe gin, he explained that using fruits makes can make the product's flavor and taste vary from bottle to bottle. And say the weather isn't all that sloe berry friendly one year? Look forward to a very small supply of sloe gin. It even goes through taste testing to make sure a batch is good enough to unleash upon the market.

Mr. Harrison said, that even in UK sloe gin isn't something that's ordered on it's own a lot out in bars. Some of the reason has to do with a lot of artificially flavored varieties of sloe gin souring people's opinion of it. Also as a traditionally homemade liqueur, it sort of had the image of something your mom would sneak a sip of, or it was something you had in the winter around the holidays. To the average drinker out on a night on the town? Not sexy at all.

So the people who want to purchase Plymouth's sloe gin are those who know what they're doing with it, or at least those willing to serve it. Bartender demand is also a large part in why its finally making its way here to the United States.

At the same time it's not like Plymouth's sloe gin is something easy to produce on a very large scale. The sloe berries are ordered from sources in Europe. And these aren't large farms dedicated to cultivating sloe berries with a dedicated contract with Plymouth. Harrison said it's more subsistence, where if Plymouth does not put in the order for sloe berries, the berries wouldn't even be picked by the suppliers.

While this limited availability might help with maintaining a sort of exclusive image for Plymouth's sloe gin, the production truly is limited by the availability of sloe berries and quality.

A pretty good crowd had gathered for the event. I couldn't help but joke that it was taking me ten minutes to leave the place because I kept finding people I recognized. Not that I'm complaining though. I remember it used to scare me to go to events because it'd freak me out to be there on my own just, sort of out there and totally new to everything. I don't have that much anxiety about that anymore...well, maybe a little still, but it's nice to be able to say "Hi" to folks.

I finally got to meet Dale DeGroff, whom I've only spoken to on the phone or through email before. I'm just going to say it: It was so cool to finally meet him. He told me that The Museum of the American Cocktail was gearing up to reopen, so I was pretty excited to hear that. I waved to Don Lee of PDT early in the evening, and spotted Jim Meehan later when I was about to head out. Willy Shine and Aisha Sharpe were also there, both whom I hadn't seen since the summit at Vail. Talking to the always (or at least the times I've seen him) well put together Alex Day, I learned that he's though he's still at Death and Co., he's no longer behind the bar at Tailor, but is now at and Milk and Honey. I even saw Marshall Altier and we both kind of reminded each other that we needed to talk about the drinks at Terroir. I had missed out talking to him about it because I was in Vail at the time. He's not behind the bar at Terroir, and the last time I talked to him he said he was at Insieme, but hearing about Alex's shift in venues also reminds me that I should double check with him about where he's behind the bar, since its been a little while since I've talked to him.

Drinks from the launch party:

Sloe Gin Fizz
Plymouth Gin, Plymouth Sloe Gin, freshly squeezed lemon juice, egg whites, simple syrup, club soda

Sloe Gin Genie
(created by Wayne Collins)
Plymouth Gin, Plymouth Sloe Gin, freshly squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup, mint leaves

Gin Wibble
Plymouth Gin, Plymouth Sloe Gin, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup, wild blackberry liqueur

Plymouth gin, freshly squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup, Maraschino liqueur

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