Reviews from Mr. Booze
Looking for an on the water getaway on the mid-Atlantic with a bit of interesting booze’ history. and a signature cocktail that will immediately take the edge off & the crimp out of your dad-drive shoulders? The Tides Inn in Irvington VA is such a glorious throw-back to simpler times, we thought it was well worth a shout-out. Hospitality is the absolute king at the Tides Inn and one feels like you’re walking back into a lost atmosphere at the resort. I love an era of bar, an era mostly lost in today’s flavor of the month restaurant mentality, and the Tides Inn delivers on all counts. Dark, cool, welcoming, a view & a bartender that knows what they’re doing. Try that Lancaster Lemonade if ever there. You won’t be sorry. Here’s a brief piece of the Tides Inn’ liquor history from G.M. Gordon Slatford –
The Tides Inn
The Tides Inn is a quaint small resort on the northern neck of Virginia which is gaining a lot of “notoriety” for its customer service and quality. Named the #1 resort in Virginia by Travel and Leisure magazine readers in both 2011 and again in 2012, it is a home away from home with remarkably good food and a location and views which are quite breathtaking.
Built in 1946 in a county which was dry, the Tides Inn has all of its bar area lined with walnut wood liquor lockers used in bygone times for guests to keep their alcohol in. The Stephens Family who built the Tides had little time for the puritanical few who decreed that alcohol and drinks were the devil’s brew and that it was really quite sinful to sit out on The Tides Inn’s terrace and enjoy a beer or it’s newly created house specialty, the “Lancaster Lemonade.”
Guests checking in before alcohol was allowed would pay $1.00 to be a member of the Chesapeake Club, an organization which ran the bar and was absolutely created to defeat the alcohol free rules of Lancaster County. Once the membership fee was paid, a key was given to the guest and they would immediately take the Tides Inn’s boat across the river to Urbanna where a multitude of naughty alcohol and beer vendors were eagerly waiting to take their money and send them back to The Tides Inn with a box of wines and spirits, sufficient to keep the guests happy and joyful for the extent of their stay.
Eventually, the puritanical few made way for a state liquor control board who realized that the state of Virginia could make good revenue by selling alcohol, and the lockers became forlorn and empty while the bar was lined with bottles and happy joyful people who would spend their time eating and drinking some of the finest food and wine in the state.
This is sounding like a fairy tale, but it is all true, and these lockers are used today for corporate groups who use them for memory games or just as a talking point.
The Lancaster Lemonade has become the #1 selling drink at the Tides and was created by a small team of the Tides Inn’s management and staff in the winter of 2010. There was snow on the ground and no guests to be seen, so Gordon The General Manager and Mine Host, along with others, created a plethora of different drinks in the Chesapeake Club. One was universally decreed to be the best, and it is now served proudly as the Tides Inn’s Signature Cocktail.
Take the juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon; add a shot of Limoncello and a shot of Vodka; place in a personalized Mason Glass and add pinwheels of lemon. Add ice and top off with Northern Neck Ginger Ale; garnish with fresh lemon balm from the Tides Inn’s herb garden, and you have what we call “A Southern Sippin’ Sensation.”
I was recently provided with a bottle of this English gin for review and wanted to share my reaction with you guys. I cracked it a few months ago, and since I tend to really rotate the spirits and brands I quaff, I just now laid the empty bottle to rest out in the glass bin. With each drink I poured using Bulldog, I tried to recall, sometimes successfully and without fog the next day, my experiences with the gin. Here are my overall and positive reactions.
The bottle itself is my biggest complaint. I know some love the look of it – a dark smoky-black one with an incorporated spiked bulldog collar around the neck. I find it almost too bold a statement like a too-hep twenty-something sporting too much ink and facial hair. The Bulldog barks atop your bar. I want a bottle that sits, pops a little, yet stays quiet till you need her. There, there’s my whine. Bottle doesn’t really thrill me….but the gin inside, now that’s another story.
When I cracked the bottle and took a strong whiff, the nose of the gin wanted me to immediately make a martini. The juniper used in distillation, along with eleven other botanicals from eight countries, was subtle and delicious. Bulldog smells special, and the perfume of a spirit usually crosses over into the drink. Bulldog’s woodsy, flowery-sweet scent also settled into my drinks which I appreciated.
I am happy to write that these smells of nature (lavender, poppy and pine) made their way into the smooth taste of the gin. When I poured my Noilly Prat French Dry Vermouth into the pitcher with my Bulldog, along with a couple shakes of orange bitters, the resulting martini carried a pretty friendly, yet complex, gin flavor into the pool. One of the better martinis I’ve ever tasted. Of course, some credit has to be given to my amazing martini-making skills – just thought I should mention that (wink).
Bulldog is quadruple distilled in the UK, so harshness is not an issue. I found this robust gin to be as smooth as any I’ve tasted. Within its first week on my shelf, I made a martini, a gin ‘n tonic and a gibson. Bulldog played well with the standards, but would she hold up with the juices and sours? I found out.
Tom Collins is a quiet fave of mine, and I insist that he’s made old-school with fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, club soda, fruit and lots of discernable gin. I want my gin to stand up and out in my juice cocktails. The glow one gets after a couple well-made gin hi-balls is appreciated, sure…but not as much as the botanicals and the smack of a gin that works in concert yet holds its own. Bulldog works in a collins, a pink lady, a vesper martini and a gin bramble. I know ’cause I made ‘em all with the Bulldog.
Look for this gin. It would be a nice starter gin for the vodka or white wine drinker you know, yet it stands beautifully complex enough for the serious cocktail lover to appreciate, and that aforementioned novice to stay with, as he/she grows into gin cocktails. Running between $25 & $30 a bottle, this is a pretty affordable gin. Keep your eyes peeled for it.