Gin Tonic and Chocolate Workshop with Entre Cepas and the Stracto Experience Madrid

Recently I attended a Gin and Tonic workshop provided by Entre Cepas, a Madrid based wine tourism company. Run by two bubbly sisters, Ana and Mar, they aim to merge gastronomy, hospitality and eno-tourism in their uniquely built routes and getaways, as well as talleres, workshops, personalized tastings at home or even private company events. The majority of their events garner about eight per group, as was mine, which turned out to be perfect; intimate, personalized and informative.

The Gin Tonic and Chocolate event was held in Madrid's neighborhood of Salamanca, on the swanky commercial street Ortega y Gasset. Stracto Experience, provided a welcome ambiance for the workshop and their upstairs bar had us feeling like professionals! Entre Cepas hired wine and spirits master Orlando to walk us through the evening. Many of us were rather oblivious to the possibilities of gin tasting, recognizing a few well known brands like Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire (from our fathers GTs) or Hendricks (popular these days) to occupany or standard cocktails. However we were introduced to 4 very different and very unique varieties, observing their smells, tastes on the tongue and throat, and finally designating the "personality" of each gin. The blind fold was unveiled and we discovered that those glasses held:

Botanic W&H - flavors of Buddah's hand, sweet orange, juniper, thyme, cilantro, lemon, cinnamon, mint, mandarin, cardamon and mango.

Gin Mare - a Spanish gin that evokes the Mediterranean; arbequina olive oil, rosemary, basil, thyme, coriander, juniper, mandarin and citrus fruits previously macerated over a year.

Martin Miller's - Dry English gin blended and filtered with Icelandic water (considered the purest) from a single distillation. Notes of orange and lemon peel, cilantro, cinnamon, nutmeg, licorice, juniper and root of the iris flower.

BR Essential - premium dry gin composed of 14 botanical ingredients, all distilled separately; including thyme, juniper and allspice.

The uniqueness of gin - powerful and smooth, dry and aromatic. 

And the Tonics for enforcing the flavors of the gin were:

Schweppes - maybe you wrinkle your nose, "but Schweppes, how old school!" this brand however has stood the test of time, since 1783, and is still recommended and used by many bartenders. They like its high carbonation, natural ingredients such as its Indonesian quina, citrus aromas and bitter taste.

Fentimans - British tonic water brewed with quinine and lemongrass. Sweeter and less carbonation than Schweppes.

Fever Tree - English brand since 2005, taste is derived from African cinchona trees as well as high quality and rare international finds. Small bubbles characteristic of those of champagne and a refined following of some of the best restaurants and chefs in the world, like Ferran Adrià and Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck.

The final portion of the event was in our hands, to use what we had learned and gathered (personally) from the tasting and blend our own cocktail. On hand at our disposal was fresh fruit, herbs and spices for additional flavor profiles. I went with Botanic gin and a Fentimans tonic, infusing raspberries and lime as a final touch (to blend with the lemongrass). Very nice! Others in the group used fresh cut ginger, basil leaves, or crushed juniper to spice up their drinks.

Some of our tools of the trade on display. Insider's Tip: When using the peel of a citrus fruit, be sure to break the skin over the glass, so that the essential oils fall into the cocktail. 

Orlando showing us the proper way to chill the glass. After this, ALWAYS drain the excess water before adding the gin. 

Very carefully he pours the tonic over the gin and ice as to not break the carbonation. 

We paired our cocktails with chocolate flavors that blended according to our drinks, i.e. a chocolate raspberry with mine, or a white chocolate and cinnamon bonbon with Martin Miller's gin. Chocolate provided by Stracto and the Cafento group. 

Who, What and Where: 

Interested in a chocolate tasting May 18th

Questions or interest in other courses offered by Entre Cetas, get in contact here.

For wine tidbits and tastings updates follow them on Twitter or Facebook

Visit the store and coffee specialty shop here: 
Calle José Ortega y Gasset 65
Madrid Spain
Metro: Lista


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