So yesterday, I stumbled upon what was I later discovered was the first public tasting of Kammerling’s Ginseng Spirit in Callooh Callay’s Jubjub bar.
Kammerling’s is a new ginseng spirit which is quite different from anything else out there. Created by Alex Kammerling, who I think I recognise from his odd shift at 69 Colebrooke Row. Alex has certainly earnt his stripes behind the bar and is an accomplished author and drinks writer, and has been a brand ambassador for the likes of Grey Goose and Martin Millers.
Alex is instantly very likeable and is clearly a well-loved character in the trade given the number of well-wishers who came along to show support. He wasn’t standing on ceremony either, but getting stuck in and making the cocktails he invested with the spirit he created.
The Kammerling’s story started with Alex’s fascination with historical references to alcohol and medicine and with Kammerling’s Alex had the noble intention of wanting to create a drink that is inherently better for the cocktail fiends among us who drink in moderation.
The secret Kammerling’s recipe is a combination of 45 different botanicals, including echinacea, goji berry and wormwood – each chosen for its medicinal properties and flavour profile. Ginseng is key to the mix and there are four different types of ginseng in Kammerling’s.
The botanicals are macerated in a neutral alcohol spirit for 72 hours and distilled in a pot still, the first of which was in Alex’s Highbury flat.
Being made is a very similar way, it would have been easy for Alex to make Kammerling’s as a gin – an already established, well-loved and understood category. But, although Alex loves gin, he thinks there are far too many gins in the world (can’t say I agree, there can never be enough good gins in my book!), so instead of competing in an already very crowded market he is looking to almost create his own category.
You see Kammerling’s is so versitile I’m not sure what box to put it in, is it a spirit, aperitif or bitters? Indeed, it can be all three.
Kammerling’s was designed to fill the gap somewhere between Campari and Gin. Campari is 25% abv and a good gin typically 40% while Kammerling is a very proud 33% abv and so a lighter aromatic spirit, with a similar red hue to Campari but with just enough kick.
I started the evening with The Grosvenor, an delightful frothy mix of Kammerling’s, fresh lemon juice, Marachino liqueur and egg white. A fruity, zingy cocktail with a savoury, bitter finish. Perfect on its own or as an apertif and probably the kind of drink I’d order most often as a cocktail on a night out with the girls.
My favourite cocktail of the evening was the yet to be named ‘tbc’ comprising Kammerling’s, Punt e Mes (Italian Vermouth) and Ardberg Islay whisky.
It is a the perfect digestive after-dinner drink and a serious sipping cocktail which is fragrant, smokey, bitter and yet ever so slightly sweet – it is amazingly complex and the combination of flavours balance perfectly and linger and continue to develop long after you’ve taken your last sip.
This evening opened my eyes to a hard to categorise, very different, versertile spirit which takes what I love about gin, Campari and Pimms and brings them all together in a new and unusual way.
Created by a bartender of Alex’s pedigree Kammerling’s is of course designed to be mixed in a cocktail but would be equally at home served with some bitter lemon and plenty of ice.
Kammerling’s will be available at www.theDrinkShop.com, www.thewhiskyexhange.com, and with any luck, Callooh Callay and many other fantastic cocktail bars like it, as soon as the shipment of white powder Alex calls Ginseng makes its way through Chinese customs…
I arrived back in Madrid, Spain last weekend after four long months away. I’ve collected a lot of stories on my travels