Happy Birthday Charles Tanqueray!

charles tanqueray simple cocktails

There are few historical figures that I celebrate on an annual basis, but Charles Tanqueray (born March 27, 1810) is one of them. Gin was the first spirit I fell in love with, and Tanqueray has always been my gold standard for London Drys. The following is an excerpt of an interview I did with Tom Nicol, Tanqueray’s previous master distiller.

“Tanqueray was a genius” says Nicol, explaining that  Charles was passionate about making things and he invented many items – other than gin – over the course of his life. Some examples include a formula for horse saddle polish and medicines for injured animals.

It’s often reported that Charles rejected his father’s life in the church to distill gin, but there’s no evidence that Charles was on track to the clergy at any point. He was smart, to be sure, but Charles didn’t show any interest in attending university, and that was required for the pulpit. He sought to invent, to create, and to experiment.

Charles eyed other successful British gin distillers Felix Booth and Alexander Gordon, and decided to create “a better gin than theirs,” says Nichol. In his early 20’s, Charles Tanqueray developed several gin recipes, but it was his London Dry recipe that proved unforgettable. Nichol says “Charles won the lottery with that one.”

Charles Tanqueray reveled in his success. “He wasn’t the genius recluse like we sometimes see today, but Nicol recons that he was a genius who told everybody he was a genius. From his proud stature, to his knee-length frock coat, to his stately moustache and beard, Nichol says that “Charles liked to show off his success.”

Though he was a proud man, Tanqueray’s personal life is strangely undocumented. This leaves us to wonder: was Tanqueray obsessed with his business, but absent from his family? Or was he just a very private man who sought to protect his loved ones? By any account, we know few details of his personal life, in fact, we’re not exactly sure how many children Charles had.

The one child we do know of, though, is Charles Waugh Tanqueray, who took over his father’s distillery after his father died at 58. Tanqueray’s historians call Charles Waugh “an upright Christian gentleman of forceful character yet with social conscience,” and just like his father, Charles Waugh was a very young man when he began distilling. More of a businessman than an inventor, Charles’ son placed his attention on gin exclusively, resulting in Charles Waugh growing the Tanqueray brand much larger than his father, including his facilitating a merger with Gordon’s Gin—one of his father’s inspirations and competitors—in  the late 1800’s.

Charles Tanqueray really seems to have been a proud genius who both flaunted his talent and shrouded his family in mystery. Today, Tanqueray stands as one of the oldest and most successful gins in the history of the world.

*Photo courtesy Diageo Archives.

anCnoc Blas

anCnoc Blas

anCnoc is not a scotch I’ve had before, and I recently had an opportunity to pair their Blas bottling with a Hiram and Solomon Traveling Man cigar.

Blas is a collaboration between anCnoc (pronounced uh-knock) and Scottish fashion designer Patrick Grant, which is why the label is so stunningly designed, plus you may get a bonus pocket-hankie as I did, too (pictured above).

Make no mistake, this is a sweet and balanced scotch. A straw-colored highland whisky, Blas is caramely with a potent ABV of 54%. It has notes of vanilla bean and custard a slight rear palate barley-beer tang.  It’s an excellent after-dinner drink and it’s a surprisingly sipper even at 54%. I’ve been taking mine with a single small ice cube to add just the right about of cool water. As expected, its a great couple for a cigar, too.

anCnoc Blas retails for $80.

Swift Single Malt Texas Whiskey

swift single malt texas whiskey

Swift Distillery in Dripping Springs, Texas started with a very noble (and maybe a little expensive) undertaking: to distill scotch-quality single malt whiskey.

Here’s the thing: then a distillery starts, it makes the most financial sense to distill stuff that you can sell right away, like vodka or gin, while your whiskey ages. Swift has not done that, though, choosing laser-focus on the whiskey alone. Founders Amanda and Nick Swift traveled to Scotland, Ireland, Japan and Kentucky for research, then came home to Texas to work on their single malt.

Swift Single Malt is on its way, too: a floral, mild, orange-forward flavor profile that’s balanced and very drinkable. In fact, the only thing you’ll likely struggle with is getting a bottle as it’s only available in the Austin, TX area now.

For a passion-induced, quality American single malt, Swift is a great addition to your whiskey collection.

Podcast 123- International Scotch Day

new york cocktail

We celebrate International Scotch Day. We learn of “The Tish” cocktail. We drink Usquaebach Old Rare. “Days” are important to Jackson and Tish. “What costs a lot is interesting, not delicious.” Babies make you drink? We taste anCnoc Blas and make a New York cocktail with it.

Download Episode 123.

itunes button googleplay button stitcher button rss button

Gin Rickey

gin rickey

As a “cocktail guy,” I sometimes get asked about the simple cocktail I make most often, and when I really think about it, it’s not even close. While I make myself Old Fashioneds and Manhattans and Martinis pretty often, by far, the drink I make the most is a Gin Rickey.

A “rickey” cocktail is a mixture of spirit, lime juice and club soda, and you can make it any way you like: Whiskey Rickey, Rum Rickey (a very nice variation), etc. It apparently was a “worldwide sensation” in the late 1800’s when it was made with gin. There was probably some sort of connection to scurvy, too, the big reason gin and citrus started to mix so often in cocktail history books.

I started drinking Gin Rickeys because I found store-bought tonic water to be to sweet for my tastes, but still wanted a gin-and-fizzy-stuff experience. If you look at the ingredients, you’ll see there is no sweetener in this cocktail, only spirit, citrus, club soda. To me it’s crisp, refreshing, dry and the easiest to make. It remains the #1 cocktail I make for myself at home.

Gin Rickey

  • in a double old fashioned glass filled with ice, add:
  • 2 ounces gin (I used Seersucker)
  • juice from 1/2 a lime
  • top with Q Club Soda (about 4-5 oz)
  • stir briefly and garnish with a lime wedge

Special thanks to our sponsor Q Drinks.

Podcast 122- Deviation Dessert Wine and Valentini

Deviation Wine

Happy Valentine’s Day! White stag or unicorn? Jackson and Tish! How we met. We taste Deviation Dessert Wine. “What makes a Valentine’s Day Cocktail?” The -Tini Ratio. The Valentine’s date. We make a Valentini. Vodka flavor profiles by Jackson.

Download Episode 122.

itunes button googleplay button stitcher button rss button

Stiggins’ Fancy Plantation Pineapple Rum

stiggens fancy plantation pineapple rum

If we are to believe rumors, then Stiggins’ Fancy Plantation Pineapple Rum should not exist. Or, it should exist but you shouldn’t be able to buy it. Here’s the story:

In 2014, cocktail historian David Wondrich, along with Plantation Rum‘s cellar master Alexandre Gabriel created a “flavored” rum based on the Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, in which Reverend Stiggins often enjoyed “pineapple rum.”

This rum, dubbed Stiggins’ Fancy Plantation Pineapple Rum, was only given by Wondrich to friends at Tales of the Cocktail 2014. As the legend of this special rum grew, Plantation realized there was enough demand to actually bring it to market, and the retail version of Stiggens’ was born, and it won Best New Spirit at the most recent Tales of the Cocktail Awards (2016).

Let me clarify that this is no “flavored rum” as we’ve come to know it under, say, the Malibu moniker. This is quality, artisinally-produced fruit infused aged rum, and the end product shows. Outside of actual pineapple, no flavor is added, and no sugar either. It’s an amazing sipping rum, just on the rocks and makes some beautiful cocktails. For $30, it may be one of the most unique products you can buy at you local liquor store.

Below, I’ve collected the “how it’s made” cards from Plantation that explains the process they use to make Stiggens’ Fancy. Just click to enlarge:

 Plantation Pineapple How its Made

Podcast 121- Moonlight EXpresso and Russian

russian cocktail

Mighty big bottles. What Simple Cocktails is all about. If you don’t like it, Greg will drink it. We taste Moonlight EXpresso Coffee Liqueur. “He’s like our Julia Child.” We make the Russian cocktail. Breakfast, lunch and dinner cocktails at our ski lodge.

Download Episode 121.

itunes button googleplay button stitcher button rss button

Cuba Libre

cuba libre with q drinks kola

When I started Simple Cocktails, I noticed that usually, the classic cocktails are the simplest. A balanced drink is often an issue of a bit of trial and error, too, to get the ratio of liquor and mixer just right.

I’m excited to have Q Drinks on board for this drink in particular, because I feel like soda’s become more and more sweet these days from it’s original makeup, which was a bit spicy balanced with sweet, with notes of clove, cinnamon and vanilla. Q Drink’s Kola is just that, though, a less-sweet traditional cola that makes a killer cocktail mixer because it allows you to make a balanced cocktail, and mixing Kola with rum, which also has some great caramel and cinnamon notes, is a match made in heaven.

This is a cocktail that’s pretty well-known, a slightly jazzed up Rum and Coke really. Just add a touch of lime juice and lots of limes for garnish, and you have the Cuba Libre cocktail:

Cube Libre

  • in a double old fashioned glass filled with ice, add:
  • 2 ounces aged rum (I used Havana Club)
  • 1/4 oz lime juice
  • top with Q Kola or your cola of choice (about 4-5 oz)
  • stir briefly and garnish with several thin lime wedges

Special thanks to our sponsor Q Drinks.

Podcast 120- Seersucker Gin and Bittersweet

bittersweet cocktail

“How do you do it at a cocktail conference?” Pork belly tacos. We taste Seersucker Gin. We make a Bittersweet Cocktail.

Download Episode 120.

itunes button googleplay button stitcher button rss button
Page 3 of 5412345...10203040...Last »