Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Martini Bowl 2012



Did you attend a party on Super Bowl weekend this year? I did, but it wasn’t on the day of the big game – instead, it was held the day before. This party was actually about a competition between Vodka and Gin called The Martini Bowl.



The Martini Bowl is an event held every year on Super Bowl weekend at New York City’s Union Square Wines & Spirits. During the event, customers are allowed to sample the various spirits, both on their own and in cocktails, in order to determine which is best. The winner of The Martini Bowl is chosen by the customers – whichever spirit sells the most on that day is the winner. Over the years, there have been different winners, but the one with the most victories in past competitions has been one of my personal favorites, Bulldog Gin.

Like last year, I only sampled the Gins – and even then, not the entire selection from the tasting menu. Yes, I’m slowing down with age – but I’m going for quality rather than quantity. (But enough about my romantic life)

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Speaking of Bulldog, they served up some rather interesting cocktails this year. One was called The Dirty Dog, a martini with an Italian olive called Cerignola; if you have a Whole Foods market nearby, you should be able to find it there – and remember to include the olive juice when you purchase some, because, as with any Dirty Martini recipe, it’s a crucial ingredient. Either shake or stir the gin with ice (as you prefer), then pour the contents into a martini glass laced with the olive juice, plopping the toothpick-skewered olive into the mixture once you’ve done so. Interestingly, this somehow manages to really highlight the citrus notes in the Bulldog.

Eye Of The Dragon is a cocktail that’s something of a cultural mix between Great Britain and Asia. It’s made with Lychee syrup, Bulldog Gin and a Lychee on a toothpick. If you like your cocktails a bit on the sweet side, this one might be right up your alley.

Finally, there’s The Spicy Pickadilly Circus – a cocktail which includes Bulldog Gin, McClure’s Spicy Pickle Brine and, of course, a hunk of pickle on a toothpick. If Eye Of The Dragon isn’t quite your style, I highly recommend this one – it’s quite different!

Two other gins I tried that day were Caorunn and The Botanist, both of which are made in Scotland. A few months back, I wrote about Caorunn gin; if you want to find out more about it, please click here.

Caorunn featured a Negroni served over ice with an orange slice and a particularly tasty martini with Lillet Blanc instead of vermouth, topped with an orange peel.

The Botanist is from Islay, The Home Of Peat. It includes 31 botanicals, nine of which are fairly standard to most gins, the remaining 22 are unique to Islay. It has a delicate taste, flowery on the back of the palate with a stronger taste of juniper on the front.


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