Gin bars are popping up in Barcelona. Gin and tonics aren’t new but there are now bars with an enormous variety of gins and lots of tonics to try.
The oldest gin bar in Barcelona the XIXBAR has more than thirty gins on offer,and is close by to where I am staying. There is an extensive menu using gins from all over the world and about half a dozen tonics. Not all the drinks on offer use tonic, there are plenty of other options including a blue gin made with a dash of curacao which looks pretty wacky.
Being a gin and tonic officinado myself, tasting the tonics seemed like a do-able plan, with the most chance of survival. Half a dozen tonics versus thirty odd gins seemed the safer option
So we decided to focus on the tonics. and see how much impact they had on our enjoyment. This all became a little hazy – not the enjoyment but the subleties of the tonic if we drank more than one at once. This is of course is partly due to the generous measures dispensed in the bars which has also lead to a new discovery that you’re meant to tell the bar tender when to stop pouring. This is obviously why we have been drinking such whopping great gin and tonics over the years..
The tasting panel consisted of myself, A Catalan and A Pregnant Lady which really gave the tonic an open rating as it wasn’t occluded by gin.
Some of the tasting was done at home and some in the bars
Feverfew Indian Tonic -price €5.40 for 4 bottles of 200mls
We thought this was a bit lemonady and gave a score of 2 . We weren’t influenced by the fact that Adria Ferran apparently drinks this!!
Fentimans Tonic -price €5.70 for 4 bottles of 200mls
A herby, bitter and tasty tonic. very nice for a change, scored 4 but was downgraded to 3 with the price consideration
Q Tonic -not sure of the price per bottle as we tasted this in the XIXBAR but probably similar to Fentimans
On our tonic research we had discovered that Q Tonic still uses quinine – most tonics use an artificial substitute as it’s cheaper- and had expected to excite our tastebuds but it tasted disappointingly ordinary and it got a score of 2
There was definitely enough tonic to make a whopping g and t in this bottle. It was fresh, a little bitter and not too sweet. We gave it a score of 4 – the Catalan was especially enthusiastic with a 5 but could be somewhat biased!
This was one of the XIXBAR creations. It looked spectacular and was lovingly prepared. First a lime skin was scraped over the ice, the rim of the glass was rubbed with lime juice and then then plenty of ice cubes were added. The gin was poured in – this was the moment in our education that the stop pouring instruction was discovered – and then the tonic. It looked spectacular and tasted very good. It got a score of 5 but cost a fortune so was downgraded to 4
The consensus was that this makes a jolly good g and t, not too sweet with a zing to it. This scored 3.5 but was upgraded to 4 with the price consideration!
At the end of the day, Schweppes tonic certainly does the trick and the other tonics are definitely fun to try but we think that there is an essential procedure for making gin and tonics and this has as much bearing as the gin or the tonic.
The glass needs to be large, preferably long and there must be plenty of ice and lemon. In fact enormous ice cubes really upgrade the drink. It’s a bit like blanching in reverse. Instead of having a huge pot of boiling water so that the temperature doesn’t plummet, huge ice cubes chill the drink without melting and making it watery. And of course good company and sunshine will always upgrade the experience!