Sunday, February 03, 2013

Martini Bowl 2013



Each year on Super Bowl weekend, I suppose that we all have our fair share of traditions – whether it’s shopping for snacks in anticipation of a big party with friends and family or making crazy bets about the length of the pre-game singing of our national anthem, there are just some things that we look forward to doing simply because they add to our enjoyment when it comes to watching the big game on television. 

I am certainly no different – but for me, part of my own annual tradition is attending another kind of competition known as The Martini Bowl, as held by Union Square Wines & Spirits in New York City.  In The Martini Bowl of years past, various vodkas would square off against gins in order to determine which would make the best martini.  This year, however, there was a bit of a twist in that it was an all-gin Martini Bowl – in other words, no vodkas need apply.  Not a problem for me since I prefer my martinis made of gin, in the traditional style. 


One of the things I look forward to every year at The Martini Bowl is to discover a new spirit – either something that’s new to the market or one that has been around a while but has been thus far unfamiliar to me.  In 2013, the interesting new gin I want to alert you to is something called Fords, a 90 proof spirit out of London, England.  Manufactured by The Eighty Six Company, it has been on the market for only the last couple of months. 

The first thing you might notice about Fords is the unusual design of its bottle – that’s because it is a gin created by professional bartenders specifically with their colleagues’ needs in mind.   To begin with, take a look at the neck – it’s long because when bartenders attach a pouring spout to the top of the bottle, they have a tendency to grab the bottle by the neck and turn the bottle completely upside down when mixing a cocktail.  Having the neck as long as it is makes it easier to grab onto when pouring. 


Another rather original aspect of the bottle’s design is the fact that it has gradations on its side; the units of measurement are in both liters and fluid ounces.  The reason for the gradations is again related to the fact that the gin is designed for bartenders.  Very often, bartenders have to pre-mix certain types of cocktails in large quantities; it’s not unusual for them to store these pre-mixed cocktails in empty liquor bottles for easy access during the evening’s shift.  By having the gradations on the side of the bottle, this makes it easier for the bartender to mix the cocktail in a batch right in the very same bottle where it will be stored. 

While the design of the bottle might be worth discussion, you certainly don’t purchase a gin solely based on the way its container looks.  So enough about that – let’s talk about its taste.  Fords is something of a throwback gin in the sense that it returns to gin’s roots of juniper as the main botanical; described by its company representative as having a very “juniper-forward” taste, I learned that while there are a number of other botanicals in the gin, juniper makes up roughly 50%. 


Speaking of the botanicals, the bottle’s back label contains a list of the gin’s ingredients.  It turns out that there are a total of 11 ingredients, all listed in order of proportion from the most at the top (juniper) to the least at the bottom (wheat).  In addition, the label displays the geographic source of each  of its ingredients as well as an explanation of how each ingredient impacts the flavor of the gin.    


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