Unlocking the Magic of Highclere Castle Gin
A Journey of Citrus, Botanicals, and Gin
One of my favorite things about spirits is that each one has its own personality that goes beyond the perceptible flavors. The combinations and characteristics of Highclere Castle Gin come together to make more than just a beverage. I look for spirits to transport me from my parlor chaise with that first sip. My experiences with this particular spirit have convinced me that the glass is a tiny castle, a vessel, a time machine. So much can be extracted from a well-mixed beverage with premium spirits beyond the naked eye.
Much like the world’s most famous country home, the beauty of the beverage is nothing without the people that treasure it. The celebrations around the cocktail and in the castle are the true grandeur. The caretakers of the bar and the curators of Highclere Castle give themselves to turn something inanimate into a living, breathing sojourn. There’s an eternal garden party happening all the while.
Empowering the Gin Cocktail Enthusiast
I am a professional bartender, and my focus for the recent past has been to “pull back the curtain” and empower everyone who enjoys adult beverages to develop their own cocktail repertoire. My job is to show you how simple it can be to significantly raise your ability to conceive and execute thoughtful drinks that any pro would be proud of.
The theme that plays in my mind repeatedly when sampling this most royal liquid is the gardens. The citrus grown there accounts for three out of the ten botanicals that bring the neutral distilled grain to life. Please understand-no botanicals, no gin.
The Power of Citrus: Gardens of Highclere Castle Gin
Citrus is a considerable part of my life. I began my Saturdays and Sundays for almost
ten years by peeling, slicing, and juicing at least 150 lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits. The sting of the acidity on my fingertips that initially made me question my life’s choices started motivating me to excel at my craft. The wafting oils that rose from the lemon’s rinds opened my eyes wide (which, in my younger years, was not an easy task on a weekend morning. I’ll not saddle you with my heroic hangover tales – today, at least.) I promised myself that my lemons would be the most perfectly sliced, my juice the freshest, and my twists the most fragrant.
I describe all of this to communicate one thing: fresh citrus juice in your cocktails will change your life and do so very quickly. The reward for juicing fresh is more than a well-balanced cocktail; each piece of citrus holds a prize, just waiting to be captured by the savvy cocktailian.
A Short Guide on Royal Citrus -Part 1: Unlocking the Essence
Lemon peels hold exquisite essential oils. Extracting them is simple and fast. Peel the lemons, toss them with sugar, and seal them in a jar overnight (a home vacuum sealer will shorten the process to about an hour!) Watch the oil slowly seep from the peels. This beautiful nectar, oleo saccharum, is the highest cost/benefit ratio of any craft cocktail technique.
A lemon sliced in half will yield juice for one cocktail (about .75 oz or 25 ml)
Royal Lemon Sour Mix: Elevating Your Sour Experience
Forget everything you have ever heard about sour mix from a dreadful soda gun or, worse, a powder in an aluminum foil bag. This is the real stuff and can be the base for all beverages.
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice (from the aforementioned lemons)
- Using a vegetable peeler, skin the lemons without too much of the pith
- Add the peels and sugar to a mixing bowl and muddle well, working the sugar into the peels. Let it stand for 6 hours. (This can be done overnight or at breakfast to be ready for late afternoon entertaining)
- Pull the peels to the sides of the bowl, allowing the oils to collect at the center.
- Transfer the peels to a jar and add the lemon juice. Seal the jar and shake until fully integrated.
2 oz (60 ml) Highclere Castle Gin
1.5 oz (45 ml) Royal Lemon Sour Mix
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker or any vessel that can be properly sealed.
Add ice, enough to “cover” the liquid.
Strain over fresh ice.
Optional: add flavored soda water for a fun rendition of a Tom Collins!