Henry VIII (plus BULLDOG Gin review)


September 18, 2010 (Day 231) — Henry VIII

It is Cocktails, 365’s policy that it always reveal when we receive samples of booze to review for the Website. As well tell those who offer samples, we will accept the liquor for review, but that does not guarantee a positive review. This week Cocktails, 365 received a bottle of Bulldog Gin. Listed below are the opinions of Cocktails, 365 and no one else. And always, thanks and drink up!

Much like the HARLEM that I received while I was away, I also received a sample bottle of BULLDOG Gin — a newish London-based that’s stepping up to the plate to try and topple the big dogs. Gin, much like vodka, is another area of liquor that has its fair share of imitators, rapscallions and up and coming punks. Gin is also Jenn’s favorite liquor, so when BULLDOG contacted me asking if we’d like to review their contender, I was more than happy to jump at the chance.

They also have a pretty big hill to climb, because gin tends to be our area of expertise. The bottle is awesome, which gives me hope. It’s no secret, I’m a sucker for clever bottle design.

They were also nice enough to send some of their gin-infused chocolates. Very nice, but not enough to bribe us, BULLDOG! You still get judged on the same playing field as everyone else. So, it’s a good thing they’re able to bring it to the table.

Tasting notes:

Although I hate using the term “nose” to describe the smell of liquor, sometimes it’s the most fitting. The nose of this gin very pleasant. It has a bright, summery smell. I’ve often said gin brings back memories of summer six years ago. Taking whiff of BULLDOG, I was instantly back on Jenn and I’s old porch.

Served neat, this is almost insanely smooth. Dangerously smooth. There’s just the subtlest hint of juniper and herbs that you normally get from gin. While some gins (especially Tanqueray) beat you over the head with the “gin” flavor, BULLDOG is very subtle. It’s most definitely gin, coming on strong, but leaving almost nothing on the end. I’m very pleased with it. Jenn doesn’t drink gin neat, so she did a taste-test via a BULLDOG Gimlet. She nodded her approval, then took it down fast. Very smooth and balanced, which is a trick because gin is an easy liquor to screw up.

Neat, it’s delicious. Mixed, it’s great. This is very promising. Naturally, I hopped on over to the official Website in search of a suggested cocktail, specific to BULLDOG. I came across…

Henry VIII

1.5 oz gin (BULLDOG)

1.5 oz Lillet blanc

1 oz orange liqueur

2 dashes absinthe

1 whole squeezed lime

In a chilled cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour in all your ingredients. Now, BULLDOG says you need to shake, but I’m going to respectfully disagree. Like we’ve learned before (and I’ve harped on countless times), you don’t ever want to shake your gin cocktail. You can bruise the delicate flavors and end up with an off-balance cocktail. Stir that beast, and you’ll have a cold martini without jacking with what pretentious assholes call the “flavor profile.” Or, as I like to call it — the gin’s taste.

Anyway, stir at least 30 seconds until well chilled then strain into a chilled martini glass.

BULLDOG gin, this drink makes me want to shake your hand. I’ve always been a sucker for ambition. If you’re willing to put your neck on the line for something totally unique, even if you fail, I have tons of respect for you taking that chance. In my mind, naming a signature cocktail after this man, is ballsy enough.

Now, it’s entirely possible that BULLDOG was thinking of this version of Henry:

Sorry, BULLDOG, but despite premium cable TV’s best attempts, Henry will always be the murderous fat-ass we all learned about in history class. Who I happen to share a birthday with… So, you know, there’s always that.

Ah, but how does the martini taste? Did it fail in it’s hubris? Hardly. My first sip of the drink was slightly ambivalent. There was a very solid flavor there, but nothing that really knocked me off my feet. However, after sipping it over a couple minutes it slowly grew on me. It has a great sweet and sour balance that clears itself off the palate shortly after taking a sip. Excellent for sitting around on a cool fall-like evening with your loved ones.

Trust me on that one.

Cheers!

— Mark

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