I should preface this review by saying that – despite the title of this blog – I’m 50/50 on how much I enjoy gin as a sipping drink, largely because a lot of commercialised gins end up tasting very bland and really quite abrasive. I usually put gins into 1 (or maybe 2) of 4 categories: good ol’ sipping gins, ‘Gin and Tonic’ gins, cocktail gins, and general all-rounders.
However, I am a BIG, HUGE, CRAZY fan of chocolate orange anything (hello, Terry’s Delight, Chocolate Mandarin Martini, and maaaaaybe something else in the works that’s coming soon – need I say more?) so when I had an opportunity to try a chocolate orange gin I was all over it.
And when I say gin, I do genuinely mean ‘gin’ and not ‘gin liqueur’. Make no mistake – the St Anne’s on the Sea Chocolate Orange Gin is as strong as anything you’ll have tried before, so don’t be fooled into thinking it’ll be a cheeky sweet treat. It really isn’t, and in all honesty it isn’t a gin that I would enjoy as a sipping gin, and potentially not even a ‘Gin and Tonic’ gin; it’s strong to the point of being unnecessarily harsh (especially when you take it to the back of your mouth) and there’s not a great deal of flavour to be had when drunk neat, straight or on the rocks. Basically, it’s just not a gin that works well on it’s own because there isn’t any of the promised chocolate orange flavour, which is a crying shame.
All in not lost though – sure, you can’t drink it as is, but you absolutely can use it in cocktails. Apparently combining this gin with other ingredients (and the sweeter they are, the better) is the secret to it’s success. There are more than enough gins out there that you can justify having one dedicated to just cocktails, so don’t feel so bad if you buy the St Anne’s on the Sea Chocolate Orange Gin and find it hard to enjoy au natural – you’ve just got to get creative.
Go wild and try it with some crazy cocktail combinations, or if you’re unsure then you can try it with our original recipes:
St Anne’s Revenge
You can clearly tell from name of this cocktail that I think I am hilarious. Like, the pinnacle of wit. Queen Anne’s Revenge, St Anne’s Revenge, GET IT?! Hur hur.
Luckily, this cocktail recipe is a damn sight better than my wit.
The first thing that hits you with the St Anne’s Revenge is the sweet, almost floral aroma from the Galliano. However, if you expect that to follow through into the drink itself you’re going to be (pleasantly) surprised, at least at first; the initial flavour is that of hearty lemon that’s backed by the sheer power of the St Anne’s gin, with all the fruity sharpness that you would expect from the combination of orange and limoncello. It doesn’t linger for the longest time, but instead melts away to then unveil the smooth and slightly warming vanilla notes that started the whole shebang. Whilst the St Anne’s gin by itself is harsh, you won’t find any unpleasant lingering after taste here. Despite my initial fears that it would need acidity to balance the strength of the booze, it frankly doesn’t miss it in the slightest, which is a testament to the balance of all the other flavours.
All in all, between the wonderfully entwined flavours and the extremely palateable mouthfeel, the St Anne’s Revenge is a cocktail that will appeal to the masses.
♦ 1 ounce St Anne’s on the Sea Chocolate Orange Gin
♦ ½ ounce limoncello
♦ ½ ounce Galliano
♦ 1 ounce cranberry juice
Shake all the ingredients together with ice and then strain into a martini glass.
Chocolate Orange Gin and Lemonade
Yes, it’s not your classic ‘Gin and Tonic’, but I do think that there’s something comforting about a really good gin and lemonade. There are days when the bitterness of tonic water is simply not needed nor wanted, and I find that a good quality lemonade is a great substitute for those occasions, especially during the summertime. Not only does using lemonade eliminate the potential distinctive bitterness of the tonic water that would typically be used in its place, but it also tempers the ferocity of the gin. This temperance enhances the flavour profile of the gin itself; in addition to making the chocolate flavouring stronger, it also tastes creamier once combined with the lemonade. It’s actually somewhat peculiar; this G&L is refreshing in a pseudo-healthy way, yet has a distinct feeling of a cheeky treat more akin to a few squares of chocolate that you would sneak out of the packaging before bed.
The orange juice serves to freshen the drink, to the point that it makes it genuinely thirst-quenching, as well as intensify the orange flavour notes in the gin. You don’t need much orange juice – an ounce was more than sufficient – but it is a very essential element of the cocktail.
The good thing about this particular recipe is that it’s customisable; if you find it too sweet then you can switch out the lemonade for soda water, and likewise if it isn’t sweet enough then you can add some of the cherry juice from the cocktail cherries.
♦ 3 ounce St Anne’s Chocolate Orange Gin
♦ 5 ounces lemonade
♦ 1 ounce orange juice.
Pour the gin into chilled gin glass and slowly top with the lemonade. Add the orange juice and the cherry and then carefully stir.
So there you have it; if we’re brutally honest I would say that the St Anne’s on the Sea Chocolate Orange Gin isn’t one to be purchased if you plan to drink it just in gin and tonics, but if you’re feeling more adventurous or don’t mind taking a risk then it’s absolutely worth a go. Plus, it’s always worth supporting smaller artisan gin makers so it’s a win-win all round!