The negroni is one of my all-time favourite cocktails. Bitter, sweet, herbaceous and balanced. I didn’t think it could get any better. Then I found out – from a 5th generation gin distiller no less – that there is a way. Here’s how you do it.
However, when I was lucky enough to meet with James Hayman – the great great grandson of James Burrough, the founder of the family business now known as Hayman’s Gin – I learned of a new way to up my negroni game.
Within the Hayman’s Gin range is a drink that’s very close to my heart and something that takes me back to my childhood in an instant: sloe gin.
Sloe berries grow in the British hedgerows in autumn and early winter, and I have very vivid memories of going out to pick these bitter blueberry-like fruit with my mum and dad. We’d bring them back home, prick them with a fork (a no-no in pro sloe gin terms) and soak them in gin and sugar for as long as we could.
My dad would tend the bubbling air-locked demijohns in our garage right up until Christmas. Then the sweet, sugary berry liqueur would come out after Christmas dinner to the delight of everyone – especially my sister.
The sloe gin that Hayman’s produces is a little more refined than that. As James explained, there’s the gin sloe gin and the sloe sloe gin. My mum and dad’s was definitely the latter. The Hayman’s Sloe Gin still has those delicious berry and plum undertones from the sloes, but there’s still that delicate herbiness of the gin botanicals to enjoy too.
I sipped my glass of sloe gin and thought about those wintery days in England as a lad trying to avoid the horrific gouges of the thorns from the sloe bushes.
It was then that James dropped the negroni bombshell that shook me to my core.
“You can use this in cocktails too. Makes a delicious sloe-groni,” he said, offhand.
Why hadn’t I thought of this before?
Sloe-groni recipe – how to amp up your negroni
– 1 measure Hayman’s Sloe Gin
– 1 measure sweet vermouth
– 1 measure Campari
Stir ingredients very well over ice in a mixing jar and strain into an ice-filled tumbler. Don’t wait for the garnish – just start drinking it!
Of course, James wasn’t in town just to tell me my negroni repertoire shortcomings. He was in Sydney ahead of the launch of the Hayman’s Supper Club at the Lord Dudley Hotel in Woollarha.
Hayman’s Supper Club
Throughout October 2017, the Lord Dudley’s beautiful Garden room will play host to one of the best deals I’ve heard of in Sydney.
You can choose to have 1 or 2 dinner courses and gin cocktails, and the drinks will be matched with the food you order.
The entrées – cured salmon, crème fraiche with black grapes and strawberries or pork and veal terrine – are $25 each and are paired with a sparkling Hayman’s French 75 and a Hayman’s Negroni respectively.
The mains to choose from – panfried sand whiting or succulent Mirrool Creek lamb rump – cost $40 each and come with Hayman’s Mediterranean Spritz or a Hayman’s Sloe and Lemon Tonic respectively.
Or you can have an entrée and a main plus 2 cocktails for $60!
And the guys at the Lord Dudley are pretty flexible. If you want a different cocktail to the one that’s paired with your food, you can order something different. And if you want to try the Supper Club but the one you’re with wants something from the regular menu, that’s cool too.
I wonder – if you were to ask nicely, I’m sure you’d be able to get a sloe-groni here too!
Hayman’s Supper Club at the Lord Dudley Hotel
Book your seat at the Supper Club from 1st – 31st October 2017 either online via the Lord Dudley’s website or call up the Lord Dudley on 9327 5399.
The food’s amazing, the cocktails are delicious and the setting’s perfect for a spring treat.
Now, tell us: what’s your favourite way to drink gin? Tell us in the comments!