Just as food tastes better with the addition of acid, the same goes for cocktails. A homemade grapefruit shrub adds brightness to this clean, refreshing gin cocktail that is the perfect antidote to rich holiday foods.
Cocktail lovers are seeking authenticity and a return to complex, high-end spirits and, while fall and winter is usually about brown spirits, premium gins are the current stars in this category and should not be overlooked.
The London Nº 1 Gin – one of a handful of premium gins actually distilled in London – was created to echo the complex and full bodied gins of yesteryear, albeit with a modern twist. It is all of the components that give The London Nº 1 its singular character … and why the London gin has become the most complex drink on the market.
The striking pale turquoise-blue color of the gin (it’s not the bottle) is derived from maceration with gardenia flowers. It is produced using the highest quality English grain from Suffolk and Norfolk and the small batch “pot still” method ensures a consistent quality. Finally, the inclusion of 12 carefully selected botanicals makes The London Nº1 a gin to be savored. It is tripled distilled in pot stills under Master Distiller, Charles Maxwell, an eighth-generation gin-maker.
At a generous 47% abv The London Nº1 is delicate and elegant on the nose. The Whiskey Exchange gives it 5 stars and notes “A high-strength (47%) gin quadruple-distilled in London by master distiller Charles Maxwell, The London Nº1 gin has a variety of traditional botanicals including cinnamon, orange root and angelica alongside less-common ingredients like gardenia and bergamot, which explains its distinct aromas of Earl Grey tea.”
- 2 ounces London No.1 Gin
- 2 ounces grapefruit shrub*
- 1.5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Club Soda
- Garnish: grapefruit peel
Add gin, grapefruit shrub and lemon juice to a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and pour into a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with grapefruit peel.
*To make the shrub: Supreme segments from one Ruby Red grapefruit (about 1 cup of fruit). Heat 1 cup filtered water and 1 cup granulated sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add the grapefruit. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 30 minutes. Strain syrup into a bowl; stir in 4 tablespoons champagne (or white) vinegar. Cover and chill shrub.
After much thought, the name I chose for the cocktail conveys The London Nº1’s provenance and recalls the English punk rock band The Clash’s anthem “London Calling”. Below is a ferocious tribute performance by Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Van Zandt, at the 2003 Grammy’s shortly after Joe Strummer’s sudden death.
More about shrubs: A shrub is a fruity, flavored vinegar, which is often sweetened and cooked down into a syrup, commonly used to flavor cocktails or carbonated drinks. You can make shrubs with nearly any kind of fruit—from berries and peaches in the summer, to apples, grapefruits, and pomegranates in the winter. Also called drinking vinegars, shrubs make fabulous nonalcoholic drinks and was widely consumed in the eighteenth and nineteenth century as a health tonic and a refreshing summer thirst quencher, especially for field hands toiling in the sweltering heat.
Shrubs can be made using a cold process or heated process. According to Food 52, it’s all in the sweet/tart ratio. A good place to start for cold process shrub is 1 pound fruit, 2 cups sugar, and 2 cups vinegar; for the heated process, go for 1 pound fruit, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and 1 cup vinegar. Each method should yield about 3 cups of shrub syrup. I followed the traditional simple syrup ratio of 1:1 (1 cup water, 1 cup sugar) and 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of vinegar, which may be more palatable to the uninitiated.
Disclosure: I received a bottle of The London Nº1 for review and recipe development. Opinions expressed are my own.