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Top Ten+ Bars For The Fringe Festival

Hello and welcome to our very biased list of venues you should check out during the festival here in Edinburgh over the month of August.  With so many great bars in Edinburgh, we thought we'd focus on a mixed selection of some of our favourites from across the city that stock our low calorie gin that's not a gin.

 

Every year droves of people descend on the city to bask in all things creative so why not try a spirit that has creativity at its heart? Better still; why not try it in an amazing venue while soaking up the electric atmosphere. The good news is that this August is set to be a scorcher so keep cool and quench that thirst at one of the following venues:

56 North
Our first ever customer and one of Edinburgh’s most prominent and established gin bars. They (James and his merry team of stunning helpers) were doing gin ‘before it was cool’ and are situated right next to George Square, the main hub of the festival, why not pop in and get them to serve you a Minus 33, elderflower tonic with some hibiscus petals. This year they have partnered up with Tanqueray to create the fantastic Secret Gin Garden. They also have a fantastic terrace up front so if the sun is out, get be sure to get the Minus 33’s out!

Paradise Palms
The atmosphere here is electric. If you are looking for a great venue, where you can dance to the early hours of the morn look no further! Facing Bristo Square it is ideally situated for a post-show drink/rave. The venue is casual and the bar staff are phenomenally talented. A must visit for all you late night party animals. Try a Minus 33 with ginger ale and orange for something a bit more tangy and unusual.

One Square – The Sheraton
Situated just off Festival Square, if you are after a 5 Star experience, with great service, knowledgeable staff and comfortable armchairs, make sure you choose One Square.  Manager Alessandro, (aka Italian heartthrob) makes a delicious, refreshing Minus 33 Martini here, very dry, with a twist of lemon. Ciao.

Tigerlily

A popular one with the ladies. If you are looking for a glamourous night out and an excuse to wear your fanciest attire, head on down to Tigerlily. Perfect if you are looking to attend a show at the Assembly Rooms or in and around George Street. The bar team here, led by Andy can shake up any cocktail your heart desires.  Our recommendation – the new 33˚C cocktail. They never disappoint.

Juniper
Juniper, located inside the Royal British Hotel is the perfect pit stop after getting off a train to Waverly. The food is to die for and we have two features on their cocktail menu. The perfect serve and their foxy ‘Basil Brush’ cocktail which uses Blueberry infused Minus 33.  With wonderful views of the castle and the old town, treat all your senses with a trip to this fantastic venue.


Gin 71
Tea room by day, gin palace by night.  If you fancy a more relaxed drink, this table service only venue will ensure your inner gin princess/prince is pampered like the gin aristocracy you are.  A build your own menu, allows you to create a g&t just how you like it. Pick the tonic and garnish to go with your Minus 33 – we suggest a light tonic, and some orange and hibiscus.

Boozy Cow
Located in a snazzy venue below Frederick Street, Boozy Cow is a must visit after battling the crowds on Princes Street. They’ve got a great food menu and their staff can put together some great classics (using Minus 33 of course) which will have your mooing with delight.  

Jolly Botanist
Our favourite bar near Haymarket, the selection of gins here is fantastic and it’s a favourite among the locals.  It might take the most part of a year to get through their selection, but it’s well worth the time invested.

BBC
Run by Hickory Bars, situated in the beautiful surroundings of George Heriot's School, one of the older buildings in Edinburgh with one of the better views of the castle you’d do well to enjoy your cocktails rubbing shoulders with some familiar faces in this kid friendly venue.

The Royal Dick
Once the Small Animal Hospital of the Dick Vet School, this bar, is the centre point of Summerhall.  Great place to visit pre and post show and there is a distillery (not ours) in the grounds too.  So a lot to see and do, and more importantly, some great tasting drinks from some very experienced staff.

And finally the Pop Ups
Paolozzi at The Arches
Our history with Solid Liquids goes back to day one. Martin was instrumental in educating us on flavours and put us on our path to creating Minus 33. Their Pop Up Cocktail Kitchen, famous for their work at Pitt Street and weddings across the country is serving up a delicious Minus 33 Rose Lemonade.

Harry’s Bar Pop Up @ Impact Festival Gardens
If you've been to their west end venue you'll know that this social enterprise bar means you can drink well while you do good. They’ve set a pop up in the shadows of the castle, in a cemetery of all places! Just opposite the Waldorf at the bottom of Lothian road, it’s a new venue but it’s sure to be lively.

And that concludes our list. Unfortunately, we couldn't include all our stockists, but there are some fantastic bars in this beautiful city so wherever you end up, we doubt you'll be disappointed. Make sure to snap your tipples and use #minus33 so we can show you some love back. And if you see our mad scientist founder floundering around the venues make sure he gets you a round in.

*Exit Stage Left.*

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Our Easter Egg Hunt

This week in the lab we have been looking to concoct a way of celebrating the start of Spring. After a lot of reminiscing about easter eggs, hot cross buns, arts and crafts and having scrolled through dozens of bunny puns, we decided to bring back the joys of a good, old-fashioned, egg hunt by creating our own.

 



Details of the experiment follow:

Aim: To find a fun way to celebrate the later sunsets, the warmer weather and Easter

Method:  We've hidden an easter egg in one of our bottle packs of Minus 33

Result: Somebunny will find said egg and we will reward them with a private Minus 33 tasting for 10. Whether you are in Rosyth, Torquay, Brussels or Mars, we will get Sam, well stocked with Minus 33 and other cocktails over to yours for an afternoon of fun, laughs and of course cocktail bliss.

Start your egg hunt here and don't forget to try out our latest Easter Cocktail.

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Flower Power - That Little White Sachet

What the juice is in that sachet?

Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it something you’d find in your grandma’s underwear drawer? Wait, what!?! No, no and a resounding NO to all the above.

Despite it’s rather alternative appearance, that little white sachet is actually the best way to deliver our fresh little gift to you. Yes, gift, we are nice like that. Free delivery, (check) cool packaging (check) and now a little gift?( Check)  We like going the extra mile, it's in our veins (along with that healthy dose of Minus 33 we consumed earlier).

So what is this gift and how do you use it?

Inside the sachet is a handful of dried hibiscus petals. 

Geek alert: Hibiscus (/hᵻˈbɪskəs/ or /haɪˈbɪskəs/) is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae. (Yes we stole that from Wikipedia)

Now some of you may be familiar with hibiscus in syrup, used to add some colour and sweetness to champagne/ prosecco. The idea behind our inclusion of this sachet in each pack is not too dissimilar....

Where possible, we love to jazz up our drinks with simple, natural add-ons and a 33 & T should be no different. Just add one or two petals to your low-calorie gin and tonic to bring a nice rich, wholly natural, pink colour to your marvellous creation. It works with a variety of cocktails too.

 

Does it change the flavour?

As part of a cocktail it won’t have much effect, in strong concentrations it can add a surprisingly pleasant sour flavour, but unless you let it steep in just the spirit, by itself, it shouldn’t change the taste of your drink. So use it sparingly after adding your mixer.


What more can you tell us about Hibsicus?

Not only does it add to the visual appeal of a cocktail, Hibiscus is reported to have health benefits as well. We’ll leave those claims to the doctors and researchers, after all, we are adding it to alcohol - so we can't take the medical high ground here. But everything from lowering blood pressure, to aiding weight loss and potential anti-cancer properties (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15922006) have been linked with this awesome flower. 

All we know is it looks great! So next time add a sprinkle and enjoy.

Order yours here

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Creating Minus 33

28th February 2015 is a date I will remember well, it was the first day I entered ‘the lab’. Now the lab has to remain anonymous as I technically wasn’t meant to be there. A friend of a friend, who I am now very close to, would sneak me in after hours – 6pm to 6am. 12 hours to create ten different recipes. My mission was simple, create the best tasting spirit I could, and the focus was gin!

Gin is enjoying a resurgence at the moment and back then the first ripples of the gin wave were being felt. It seemed to be the right spirit to work with – a lot more versatile and exciting than vodka and was a lot quicker to make than a whisky.

My first taste of a decent gin came in 56 North, a renowned gin bar in Edinburgh. My friend, the owner, James Sutherland, made me a gin martini using the premium Beefeater 24, it comes in a beautiful bottle and has Sevillan orange as a key botanical. It tasted great (check out our cocktail post to see how to make a Minus 33 Martini) and I was hooked – so gin it was!

I knew nothing about distilling a spirit and didn’t know where to start, luckily I met my perfect (distilling) match. A wacky professor type, I was introduced by a friend to Cory, and the first thing he did was take me into his lab and proceed to feed me different botanicals. Some sweet, some bitter, others dry and some downright weird. One of the more memorable was an ingredient from China, the name ecapes me but the best way to describe it was biting into a battery – a weird electrical feel, that initially was ‘shocking’ but was mildly addictive.

I had found the man, Cory went on to surprise me with his skills further (I’ll save that for a future blog) but on the surface of it someone who was willing to try anything, who was passionate about making great tasting products and thought outside the box. A partnership was formed. We spent the following year in the lab creating around 50 recipes for each nocturnal week.

At the end of each week I’d meet with my expert panellists (a mix of different groups who all shared in their love of great tasting alcohol) and I’d ask them how we could improve the recipe – each time I’d take their feedback back to the lab and work with Cory to improve the recipe.

The groups were really interesting, different ages and sexes had such different palates and so trying to find a recipe everyone could agree on was going to be challenging. But we got there in the end. What we discovered was that citrus and floral notes were more appealing that dry, spicy notes and a fuller, more rounded spirit would trump a spirit that had one or two predominant flavours. We even sampled non gin lovers to ensure the spirit was as open to everyone as possible and once again we found it was the dry notes that turned the vodka crowd off gin.

This was all very important data so as we kept trialling new recipes we’d work to zero in on the best taste possible. At the end of the whole year we had a spirit people told us they loved. We also found a design they loved, running different looks past them each session as well. 

Now all that was left to do was scale up the size of the batch by taking it to a big still. There was however one issue, the favourite taste of spirit was 33% which left it outside the conventional rules of what can legally be defined as a gin. In the EU, core spirits such as gin, vodka, whisky, rum all need a minimum abv of 37.5% - these rules were created back when distilling methods were poorer as a way of ensuring a good quality spirit.

Technological advances have since allowed us to improve the way we distil spirits and so the argument is these rules are redundant. Interestingly enough, other continents and nations have rules that are a lot more forward thinking and allow for more innovation. Rather than follow the rules, we decided to break them in the name of taste. By shifting the goal posts we could be a lot more expressive and creative with our spirit and truly make a great tasting product that consumers loved.

What we found was that a lower abv opened up more of the flavours and performed better in taste tests. Alcohol carries spice very well and spice in turn helps exaggerate the alcohol, the outcome is an overpowering taste and heat that prevents other flavours from shining through. To overcome this unpleasant burn we were guided by our panels to remove many of the typical dry botanicals you find in gin and to also lower the abv.

33% was the most popular abv – at this level, the floral notes, lavender and elderflower shone through and the citrus notes (coriander, lemon and orange peels) also came to the fore. The result was a well rounded, great tasting product.  Why stick to the rules when it tastes so much better to break them!?

The challenge we then faced was what to call it – we in theory had created a whole new category. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, Captain Morgan for example is known as a ‘Spiced Rum’ but in theory, that category does not legally exist in the EU – if you look closely at the bottle it never alludes to rum at all and instead opts for the ‘jazzy’ title Premium Spirit Drink – not the most exciting. We wanted and needed a name that would explain what this new product was, but we also needed one that fitted in with the monster EU directives. So we settled on Juniper Distilled Spirit, gin lovers know Juniper is the main botanical in gin and so it allowed us to define what the product was without breaking the law!

So it was a long winded and challenging process creating Minus 33 – but hopefully you agree it was well worth it in order to create such a great tasting product.

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Big on Taste, Light on Calories

When it comes to how and why I created Minus 33, taste was the prominent thought. I wanted to create the best tasting spirit and was willing to stop at nothing to ensure we had the liquid just perfect. The taste was decided on after a year of creating countless recipes and running samples through a panel of spirit lovers.

The spirit they chose as their favourite was a 33% product – lighter than what you’d expect from a traditional spirit, but the lower alcohol level allowed the more subtle flavours (floral and citrus) to come to the fore and create a better tasting, fuller more rounded flavour.

When distilling we remove a lot more of the heads (the first section of liquid that comes off the still) than most – this removes some of the harsher alcohols and leaves a smoother spirit. In fact it is this method that lends to a smoother spirit than the lower alcohol itself.

In a lot of spirits sugar is used to help counteract the harsh burn the alcohol brings, a burn that is compounded by the presence of very dry, spicy botanicals (another traditional element we avoided on the advice of our expert panellists). Sugar on a molecular level binds with the tongue before the alcohol and therefore reduces the burn effect. On a large industrial scale, a concentrated form of sugar is used, as removing too many of the heads isn’t cost effective. Luckily for you we put taste ahead of the economics and spare no expense in creating the best tasting liquid we can.

Sugar is obviously very high in energy / calories but sweetness was a quality our gin loving crowds enjoyed in the liquid so to keep the process as natural as possible we looked to nature to find a botanical that could help us bring that sweet edge and we didn’t have to look far. Liquorice Root! – Now if you are anything like me, you hate liquorice – I for one can’t tand it, but liquorice root is completely different, much like sugar cane is it fairly hard but full of sweetness – the difference is liquorice is a natural sweetener and very low in calories as a result it was a perfect, natural way for us to add a sweet edge without having to add sugar.

The result was a great tasting spirit that was lower in energy. So why is that even significant!? Well after fat, alcohol is the second densest form of energy and as a result not very good for you. Lots of you enjoy a low calorie mixer but it is the alcohol you should really be worried about. So by reducing the alcohol content and by adding no sugar we created one of the lightest spirits on the market and the lightest spirit in the UK. At 46 calories a serve you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that tastes this good that isn’t as bad for you.

Compare it to a double measure of another spirit and you can save up to 33 calories. Not the largest victory, but still, every little helps, and it may just help you justify having that third helping at the end of a long week.

Big on Taste and Low on Calories – Minus 33, the best of both worlds.

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