- Food & Drink
Backlit barman descends from on high with gin. Good
When I started this blog in 2009 I thought I’d have reviewed all the gins within a year and could then move on to the important job of reviewing crumpets. Lovely, buttery crumpets. But 7 years have passed and I am no nearer the toaster. The bottles of gin, on the other hand, stretch out before me, lined up along an infinite bar. Or, at least, a very long bar. I definitely can’t see the end of it.
New distilleries are opening up. New gins are being blended. And the average fan of juniper-flavoured spirits can’t keep up with the number of new gins on bar shelves. or, at least, they shouldn’t unless they’ve got a liver donor on speed dial.
One of the newest gins is Daffy’s Gins. It has been created by a former winemaker and whisky distiller, Chris Molyneaux, who wanted to create a sippable gin that’s both good over ice or with a mixer. A couple of week’s ago I met up with Mignonne Khazaka, Chris’ wife and the model for the goddess on the front of every bottle of Daffy’s (drawn by Robert McGinnes, the man behind James Bond and Barbarella’s movie posters). We settled down in Callooh Callay to try Daffy’s straight up and mixed in a few cocktails.
Every new gin launched has at least one botanical that counts as its USP. Daffy’s is Lebanese mint, which found their way into a Scottish gin company’s cupboard thanks to Mignonne’s French Lebanese roots. A fresh-tasting spearmint, the Lebanese mint gives Daffy’s a grassy, springtime edge.
The roster of more regular botanicals – the juniper, cassia, orange peel, lemon peel, coriander, angelica and orris root – root it in the London dry tradition. Like Pickering’s, Daffy’s is so close to being what I imagine a London dry gin to be it’s almost a Platonic ideal.
Drunk straight up, Daffy’s is a little like a liquid spring clean. Piney and crisp, it’s rippled with lemon sherbet and orange sorbet flavours. Sweet and smooth, Daffy’s sippability is dangerously high. Consequently, it should never, ever be made into martini because you’d almost certainly try to drink six or seven and end up losing the power of speech forever.
Not that you can’t mix into cocktails. Or, more specifically, the nice bearded barman at Callooh Callay can. We began with a Last Word. A zippy little drink with a lime-lipped rattle at the back of it, as if regiments of barmen were lined up roaring and ready for battle. In short, I liked it and plan to never drink another cocktail ever again.
Although, I did drink two more after I finished my Last Word. Callooh Callay’s Valentine’s Day cocktail included ritzy like aphrodisiacs honey and saffron (and gin), along with nigella seed, which made the drink smell like Turkish bread. It was a little disconcerting. But the Martinez we ended the evening with was dangerously drinkable. Perhaps I won’t commit to only drinking Last Words just yet.
Daffy’s Gin is priced around £34. You can buy it directly from them, online shops and Harvey Nicks if you’re feeling swish. It’s not just the free cocktails talking when I say that Daffy’s is an excellent gin. Super smooth, sweet and refreshing, I think it might be the gin that finally makes negroni’s genuinely tasty.
In case I haven’t already made it abundantly clear, I was a guest of Daffy’s Gin at Callooh Callay.