Michelle Grady reviews this gin with a difference…
The Hoxton brand has been a favourite with some of London’s hippest movers and shakers since 2008, when The Hoxton Pony in Shoreditch first opened its doors. Inspired by the arty buzz of the Hoxton creative scene, the bar quickly amassed a trendy following – the likes of Mark Ronson, Calvin Harris, Henry Holland, Paloma Faith, Alexa Chung, Gizzi Erskine, Kelis, Professor Green, Jameela Jamil, Agyness Deyn and Alex Zane have all been spotted there.
The creator of this East End hotspot is mixologist and entrepreneur Gerry Calabrese, who previously worked in top venues such as Lab, Dust and Sex in the City, and has curated large events and promotions for high-profile clients such as Giles Deacon, Swarovski, Dinh Van and Elite Model Look.
Following his venue’s runaway success, Calabrese decided to create an own-brand gin, released in 2011. He wanted it to be like nothing else on the market, and, after several attempts at finding the ideal recipe, came up with the idea of adding exotic flavours to a classic juniper-driven base. The resulting product features an inventive medley of natural and ethically sourced ingredients, including coconut, grapefruit, juniper, iris, tarragon and ginger.
The gin has several high-profile ambassadors, including Babyshambles member, DJ and producer Adam Ficek and fashion designer and music industry manager Emily Deyn (sister of model Agyness). Many famous faces have also been snapped sipping Hoxton-based libations, including presenter Reggie Yates and Rizzle Kicks’ Jordan. This is obviously the gin to be seen drinking.
So the celebs love it, but will your average gin-drinker be just as enamoured? I shook up my very own Hoxton cocktail to find out.
The bottle’s ‘Warning! Grapefruit and Coconut’ label is the first clue that this is not your average gin. The second comes from its unique and rather un-gin-like aroma, which unsurprisingly boasts very strong notes of coconut – more often associated with rum – and a delicate grapefruity tang. Yet despite its strong fragrance, it isn’t overpowering on the palate, instead offering a pleasingly subtle and interesting twist on the usual dry, juniper-based gin taste.
Although it can be enjoyed on its own or with classic mixers such as tonic or cranberry juice, its unusual flavour makes it ideal for creating fabulous cocktails. I used it to make a Stone Sour, featuring a blend of 15ml of honey syrup (two parts honey to one part water), 20ml of lemon juice, 20ml of orange juice and 50ml of Hoxton Gin, served over cubed ice in a short glass, with a grape and mint garnish. The concoction was fruity and refreshing, with a satisfying zing thanks to the addition of the grapefruit. This punchy drink is delightfully simple to make, yet is a definite crowd-pleaser (just don’t tell anyone it was super easy to whip up).
Gin traditionalists may recoil at the idea of adding new flavours to their beloved tipple, but Hoxton’s version may be just what the drink needs to revamp its rep and make it a must-have cocktail component. Hoxton Gin will certainly liven up the drinks table and bring a little bit of Hoxton cool to your next party. We can’t promise a star-studded guest list though – that part is up to you.