Castles & Cocktails
A Highclere Castle Gin Blog

Feature Contributor: Khalid Williams

Chief Mixologist - Highclere Castle Gin

How to make a Gin Sour

The Gin Sour is pure cocktail perfection. Only three ingredients and a little technique, you will be rewarded a well-balanced drink with perfect acidity, pleasantly light sweetness.

Gin Sour Recipe

2 parts Gin
1 part lemon Juice
1 part simple syrup

Lemons

Your perfect cocktail cannot be created without fresh lemon juice. Using our royal technique, peel the skin from the lemons before juicing, and hold them aside. Note: One lemon will yield you two cocktails. Each Lemon half is the rough equivalent to an ounce, the necessary amount for one beverage.

Sugar

Simple syrup is to cocktails as salt is to food. A cocktail without it is thin, insipid, and forgettable. Even if one favors sour cocktails, the simple syrup is needed to properly release the notes of tartness in a balanced drink.

I plead with you-NEVER buy simple syrup from the market! It contains preservatives that do nothing but add a weird aftertaste. All one needs is boiling water and sugar in equal amounts (using a scale renders better consistency than measuring by volume. The hot water will dissolve the sugar with a few quick stirs, and it will last about a month in the refrigerator.

Lemon sherbet

In our citrus covenant post, we made oleo saccharum (sugar oil) from our held lemon peels. That oleo can now be used to make a real conversation starter-English Sherbet.

Lemon sherbet used in place of the simple syrup brins the beverage from “good” to “world class”: 4 lemons; 1½ cups granulated sugar.

  • Prepare an oleo-saccharum with the lemon peels and sugar. Refer to our previous post “A Citrus Covenant”
  • In a small saucepan, combine the oleo-saccharum and lemon juice over medium heat, below boiling.
  • Slowly stir to dissolve the sugar.
  • When the syrup has thickened, remove from the heat.
  • Fine strain into bottles.
  • The sherbet will keep for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • We have our ingredients, but at this point, they’re simply just 3 liquids. How do we get them to transform into one perfect cocktail?

Shakenly Yours

The industry standard tool for shaking cocktails is the Boston Shaker. Two tins, one large and one small, are used to homogenize, chill and most importantly dilute ingredients. Our mission is to use brute force to render liquids of different viscosities to a uniform body and weight and is at the heart of the bartender’s toolkit. I highly suggest using only tin on tin, as tin on glass has the propensity for accidents and injury (I’ve got quite the impressive scar to prove it.)

In a pinch, a blender bottle or snap ware container can get the job done, but investing in a proper Boston shaker is the sine qua non of home bartending.

A Hawthorne Strainer

Straining our cocktail separates it from the now wet and diluted (or spent) ice. This small metal tool with a coil spring fits nicely atop either side of our Boston shaker and will eliminate the majority of solids from the beverage.

Presentation

Traditionally, the sour is served straight up. Let me clear up a bit of confusion-straight up does NOT mean what it suggests, which is simply liquid poured directly into a glass without being chilled or mixed (the proper term for this is “neat” and I implore you to try a few sips of Highclere Castle Gin that way.) Straight up refers to a cocktail that has been chilled (via shaking, in this case) and strained into a stemmed glass. The “coupe” glass is the most classic and iconic. If you prefer a rocks glass, the cocktail is now served “down”. Same technique, different vessel.

Variations on the recipe

-Egg white became a part of the classic gin sour, and while not needed, it adds a silky mouthfeel and a lovely foam.
-To make a Tom Collins, we simply strain our sour into a tumbler style glass, add ice and top with seltzer water.
-All manner of fruit flavors can be employed by blending our simple syrup with fruit. Berries are the easiest, as more fibrous fruits and delicate herbs will up the labor a bit.

Gin, lemons and sugar create an easily executed foundation for the sour cocktail category, and the edition of soda evolves into the Collins category. The beauty of our garden party is that the simplest of things put together thoughtfully result in something of infinite possibilities and enjoyment.

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