A new experience with blue gin that turns pink, bamboo activated charcoal and cryogenically frozen gin
THEATRICALITY is in the air at the bar called Impossible, where anything seems possible in the immersive night club shows it’ stages in its basement lair.
But it’s not just Theatre of Impossible where it’s showtime – there’s a spirited performance going on in the hidden Gin Nest on the mezzanine area with its log fires and fur pelt draped booths.
Gin’s massive these days, but name us a better list than Impossible’s. Don’t believe us? Smell the juniper! Book one of their £25 a head ‘Gin Journeys’ and enjoy four G&Ts and a martini nightcap while an in-house ‘Ginstigator’ regales you with the history of the spirit and intriguing back stories about the folk who craft it.
We buttonholed one of those passionate barmen, Skee Matthews, for our own private voyage of discovery, going one better – sampling FIVE gins from across the globe. Including one from a Japan-mad Manc, who imports botanicals from there to distil his own liquid homage and a Portuguese blue-hued gin that turns pink on contact with tonic.
But first we had to ask Skee (aka manc_mixologist on Instagram): “Don’t your guests just stick to the names they know?”
“People are surprisingly adventurous and open-minded these days and if folk bring friends who aren’t gin fans we ease them in with a slight sweet one and a flavoured tonic and before you know it…”
Well, the gins we are sampling with him are hardly entry level, but it’s a fascinating experience as we sip each neat, then add an ice cube to see how it affects taste and aroma, ditto with an appropriate tonic water and finally a garnish that can play a greater role than you imagine in the overall experience.
First up was G’Vine Nouaison (£7) batch distilled in France’s Cognac region, using a neutral Ugni Blanc grape spirit, in which the vine flower has been macerated. This is then blended with nine local botanicals individually macerated and distilled separately in small, bespoke stills. To me, this delicate, floral gin was spring in a glass, particularly when married with elderflower tonic. A less alcoholic ‘G’Vine Floraison’ is also on the list.
The very different Kuro (£7) was inspired by its creator’s snowboarding trips to the Japanese Alps. Did we get the scent of those faraway mountains? Definitely. Of the 12 botanicals used, the most exotically up-front are silver birch bark, spruce needles and bamboo activated charcoal, the latter giving the name Kuro, which translates as ‘black’. So what’s the Japanese for super smooth? A rosemary sprig garnish consolidated the herbaceous hit.
Portugal’s unique Sharish Blue Magic (£9), from a hilltop medieval village, came about from a challenge to its creator, which resulted in this chameleon gin whose deep almost purplish colour comes from the extract of the blue pea flower. Citrussy tonic turns it pink but the deep fruitiness is thanks to botanicals such as angelica root, ginger, lemon peel and strawberry. So it came as no surprise the garnish was a single strawberry.
The tonic used here was again a Fever-Tree Mediterranean, but the cult 1724 brand accompanied our fourth gin, San Francisco’s No. 209 Sauvignon Blanc Cask Finish (£9.50). Its delicate sweetness enhanced the vanilla spice and toffee hints of a gin that benefited from four months ageing in casks previously used for the Napa Valley wine. This had the mellowness of a single malt. Gorgeous.
Finally, an earthy almost Hendricks-style gin from a 150-year-old Dutch family busines, Rutte 1872 Celery (£9) – “perfect for a Bloody Mary,” Skee tells us. Peppery on the nose, heavy on the juniper, it doesn’t win me over, but it is proof, if it were needed by now, that gin these days is a multi-dimensional treat.
And, of course, this Gin Nest boasts a further adventure that’s almost extra-terrestrial! A cryogenic freezer, one of only three in the world, is used to freeze any alcohol at minus 74 degrees so that guests can ‘eat’ a selection of frozen gins and cocktails.
Impossible, The Pavilion at The Great Northern Warehouse, 36b Peter St, Manchester M2 5QR. 0161 661 0103.