We checked in for our masterclass and were taken into a large open room containing a large metal u-shaped table with bar stools running along the outside and a cocktail workstation setup at each stool position with everything we needed for cocktail making. This included a cocktail shaker, glasses, Bombay Sapphire gin and a few other devices we learnt about through the class.
Our teacher for the session was Gareth who was a young man who clearly loved his job and talked passionately about gin and Bombay Sapphire and gave us many interesting facts about gin and its history. One that stood out for me was that a cocktail needs at least three ingredients and therefore since it contains gin, tonic and a citrus slice such as lemon or lime a gin and tonic counts as a cocktail. The first part of the masterclass was a gin tasting lesson and much like wine it all starts with the nose and taking a good sniff to see if you can determine the ingredients used in the distilling process to give Bombay Sapphire its unique flavour. In total there were eleven to pick out and I managed about six which wasn’t bad with the most noticeable being lemon and coriander. Following the nose test we then went into the taste test and I was surprised at how balanced and warm the drink was and Gareth explained that a lot of the bitterness in gin drinks comes from the mixers rather than the gin itself.
Next came our first cocktail and this was named after the location and called a Laverstoke and contained gin, martini, elderflower cordial, ginger ale, mint, lime wedges cut and squeezed, ginger root and ice. The recipe is available via the Bombay Sapphire website and is very easy to make however we were given the extra challenge of having to pour in the ginger ale down the cocktail stirrer to ensure it didn’t lose any fizz in the journey. This was a fun and sticky manoeuvre but made sense when explained although I am not sure I will attempt the same pouring technique when recreating this cocktail at home. The LAverstoke cocktail was delicious, refreshing and dangerously drinkable.
The next cocktail was unnamed as yet and was a combination of gin, cranberry juice, lemon and a few other ingredients. This was then shaken and poured into a martini glass. It was a lovely cocktail but I preferred the Laverstoke.
Gareth also demonstrated how to make a martini and a classic gin and tonic. Explaining to us all the component parts and the importance of getting the glass chilled to avoid spoiling the tonic or gin. He did this simply by swilling large ice around the glass and pouring the drink over large cubes of ice. Interestingly the trick to avoid the ice turning to water and ruining the flavour of your drink is to use lots of it to create a very cold environment within the glass and help the ice last.
The masterclass was a lot of fun, well designed and informative.