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UK’s first dedicated gin bar

When The Feathers Hotel in the picturesque Cotswolds’ village of Woodstock, unveils a massive refurbishment this spring, it won’t just boast 20 redesigned bedrooms, a brand new suite and swish, art-filled new public areas, it will also be the proud home to the UK’s first ever gin bar.

Creating the ultimate gin and tonic has been a labour of love for The Feathers’ gin ambassador Luc Morel.  Many hours have gone into researching its history, discovering new gins, experimenting with glassware and, of course, having a little taste of all trial runs along the way. Luc settled on Q Tonic for his ultimate G&T. Lovingly crafted by Jordan Silbert in Brooklyn. It never over powers the gin; it only enhances it. Its secret formula includes hand-picked cinchona bark (quinine) from the Peruvian Andes and organic agave as a sweetener. Made of 100% natural ingredients, it has fewer calories and a lower glycemic index than regular tonic water but a clean crisp taste – just the way tonic water was intended to be.

With over 50 gins on the list to choose from, it wasn’t an easy choice. Another round of gruelling tasting sessions led to Blackwood’s 2007 60% Vintage Dry Gin. This superb gin is made using botanicals from Shetland in the far north of Scotland. Made in small batches, each bottle is numbered. (The 60% volume, incidentally, is a playful reference to the Shetlands’ 60° latitude). Blackwood’s gin includes a truly unique blend of botanicals, chief among which are wild water mint, sea pink and meadowsweet flowers, coriander, angelica root, juniper, turmeric, orris and citrus peel.

The superhuman efforts don’t stop here. Luc will be serving his G&T with a bit of a local twist, namely ice cubes made from Blenheim Palace Natural Mineral Water. The spring is located just one mile from the Feathers. The finished result is served in a Riedel crystal highball and garnished with a freshly cut lime segment. The Feathers’ Ultimate Gin and Tonic costs £18.75.

Gin aficionados will find much to detain them on the ‘gin list’. Over 50 gins will be in stock at any one time, each one with its own distinctive fragrance and flavour profile. The gins are sourced from 8 different countries all over the world including the USA and, of course, England. Each gin, be it dry, semi-sweet, bitter or smooth can be paired with a perfectly complementary tonic. In addition to the very exclusive Q Tonic (£10.75/187ml), the bar will also stock Fever Tree and Schweppes Indian Tonic Water in regular and light varieties.

The Feathers’ new bar will also give due respect to the greatest cocktail of them all: the Martini. As well as serving it’s Ultimate Martini (using Martin Millers Westbourne Strength gin and a drop of Vya Extra Dry Vermouth by California’s Andrew Quady), the bar will serve the precursor to the Martini, the Martinez, a James Bond Martini, Cucumber Martini and French Martini. All Martinis will be made to order at the customer’s table and can be shaken or stirred. A selected offering of great gin cocktails such as the Negroni and forgotten classics like the Delilah will also be listed.

The bar list is a veritable A-Z of gin, from Aviation Gin (USA, 42%) to Zephyr Black (USA, 40%). In between are familiar names like Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire as well as some of the stars of the new British boutique distillery world such as Williams Elegant Crisp Gin made in Herefordshire from Organic Apples; Bramley and Gage’s Sweet Slow Gin (UK, 26%); Sipsmith Dry Gin (UK, 41.6%) and Fifty Pounds Gin, a handcrafted London Dry Gin made from the original 18th Century recipe (Fifty pounds is a reference to the tax brought in by George 11 in 1736). The full list is available on request.

1 March 2010 - Felicity Murray