Random Review: Fever-Tree Variety Gift Box
The very first review I’m going to try out with this new system is this Fever-Tree Variety Gift Box I received this past Xmas (within this review I’ll be using some Gin and Whiskies that I also received as gifts because people seem to love me enough to get me nice things). I picked this as my initial review item because I feel like it would be a fun and challenging item to review while still being familiarly placed in the Home Bar. I decided to review the kit as a whole but break down the mixers in the write up. It took me the better part of a week to try them all so here it is with an overall rating and review at the very bottom…
First thing to take a look at is, of course, the packaging. Simple but elegantly boxed with adequate protection of the bottles. I would be concerned a little about what would happen if it was handled too roughly but even my clumsy ham-fists didn’t seem to jostle it too badly. The labels on the bottles are clear and their design has a simple enough variety to differentiate each flavor while still keeping to a consistent, familiar template. Also, kudos for the Gin & Tonic pictured on the inside cover being served in a Copa de Balon glass (I still cheat with a bulbous red wine glass).
Right off the bat I wanted to try the two different Tonic Waters to see if I could even taste a difference. To do this I decided to use the lovely Greylock Gin from Berkshire Mountain Distilleries (which was one of my Xmas gifts). I wanted to see if there was any noticeable difference between the Naturally Lite Tonic and the Indian Tonic. It seems that the Naturally Lite Tonic is sweetened with some sort of “Fruit Sugar” as opposed to something like Aspartame or Stevia which I appreciate, not because those sweeteners are evil, unhealthy, or unnatural, I just don’t like how they taste. It’s also worth mentioning that Fever Tree also has a Mediterranean Tonic ,an Aromatic Tonic, a Sicilian Lemon Tonic, and an Elderflower Tonic which I feel are all worth looking into after having tried these.
I made them both identically and I can honestly say that the Indian Tonic had a much fuller flavor with a more significant citrus and a stronger, but still mild bitterness than the Lite Tonic. The Lite Tonic is completely inoffensive and doesn’t add much but the required carbonation. This isn’t really a bad thing if you’re looking for a nice, crisp carbonated neutrality. Also, for a lite, there was no shitty fake sweetener aftertaste.
For reference, according to the Nutrition Facts on the bottle’s labels, each bottle of 6.8 fluid ounces is considered one serving and each bottle made one full drink. The Indian Tonic is listed as having 70 calories per serving and the Lite has 30. Now you know.
For the Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale I wasn’t sure if I should try to make something that used them both identically like I did with the tonic waters or to try finding similar drinks that utilized each beverage to their best attributes. I decided to make two entirely different drinks, a Jameson and Ginger with the Ginger Ale and an Irish Buck with the Ginger Beer. O.k., other than their names they are identical drinks, though most of the time when one uses Jameson it’s called a Jameson and Ginger and the Irish Bucks I’ve seen online generally use Bushmills. For the record, Bushmills will never have a place in my bar next to my bottle of Jameson (which was also a gift) because this family doesn’t drink that protestant swill! See, it’s fun to take arbitrary sides (although I’m a damned heathen and I’m pretty sure Jameson is also owned my protestants)!
Between the two, the Ginger Ale was very mild, even more so than say, Canada Dry or Seagram’s and it was very reminiscent of what I get out in clubs, though it had a nearly floral essence to it. The Ginger Beer, however, had some serious ginger kick. When drinking it unmixed, as there was still a little leftover in each bottle, I was left with a significant tongue tingling that didn’t go away quickly. I’d put it up there as my favorite non-alcoholic Ginger Beer to date though I am still loyal to Crabbies, those Scottish hooligans.
I still have no definitive resolution if the classification of drinks called “Bucks” can use either Ginger Beer or Ginger Ale or if Bucks use Ginger Ale while Mules use Ginger Beer. A far as I know, the term “Mule” was just a marketing term to sell more Vodka “Moscow Mules”. Whatever the case, it’s worth noting that the other famous Ginger Beer drink, The Dark and Stormy, differentiates itself from being a Buck/Mule by being trademarked by Gosling. Apparently they get pissed when you use another rum. I would normally serve the Irish Buck in a copper mug but for some reason the Jameson and Ginger didn’t feel right in a Buck/Mule mug and I wanted to show them side by side.
I really wasn’t sure what to do with the Club Soda initially as I don’t use it often and I don’t have that much to compare it to in my history of drinking. I did recently make a Boris Karloff and noticed the Whiskey & Spring Soda on the product page on Fever Tree’s site, but ended up making a classic Astor Hotel Special. I couldn’t turn down something with Absinthe and Egg Whites. I will be honest that quite often when a drink recipe calls for Club Soda I usually just use carbonated water I make in the SodaStream I have (also a gift from a while ago that gets a lot of use).
I can’t really say how well this Fever Tree Club Soda worked over any other brand of Club Soda but it ended up as a damn good drink. I’ll make a post for the drink alone in a bit.
Since very little of the Club Soda was actually used I figured I had enough for another drink. I decided to make a drink that I had bookmarked from the Kindred Cocktails site called Black Rye which I made with some Bulleit Rye (also received as a gift). I’d forgotten about this drink that I intended to make whenever I finally got a new bottle of ROOT Liqueur from Art In The Age. What’s tragic is that I’ve recently heard that Art In The Age may have discontinued their line of liqueurs that include both ROOT and SNAP which are two of my favorite things that make my life complete. This makes me angry and sad.
Again, I don’t know how much the Club Soda affected the drink at all so maybe I should try to make one of these in the future with Club Soda vs plain carbonated water? Something to think about for the future but not before I make a full post on this particular drink and bring to life a new, original drink similar to this one that I think I finally nailed down.
Last in this set, but far from least, is the bottle of Bitter Lemon which intrigued me the most. I can attest to latter half of their statement: “Ignored by the major drinks companies for years, many now have no idea what it is or how to drink it.” Tragically their site didn’t seem to offer any suggestion either. That being said, since it is officially a Tonic made with Quinine I decided to kick it a little special and make and Old Tom Gin & Bitter Lemon Tonic.
This really was something nice IF you like earthy bitter. It reminded me a bit of the Suze Gin & Tonic or the Yig & Tonic I made last year that had that bitter edge from using Suze. I may have to get more Bitter Lemon Tonic to give it a try with some Suze, but that may be a bit overkill.