Beyond the Bathtub

Friday, May 1, 2015 | 1:23 am

I have a friend who really likes gin.  When she first moved into her condo in Marina del Rey, there was nothing in the kitchen but limes, tonic water, and gin.  She was the first to introduce me to the gin and tonic and somehow finds a way to slip it into any drink that isn’t champagne.  If a gin shortage were to ever threaten the world’s supply, she would be the one to see to get your fix.

At least, that was what I thought.

smokedsalmoncanapeUntil I stepped into The Flintridge Proper, I had never heard of a craft gin.  I suppose it’s not out of the realm of imagination, considering the craft goods renaissance that’s happening in America.  From beer to bow ties, there are now hundreds of small batch and hand-made alternatives to products offered by larger corporations.  Apparently, gin is one of those items.

It’s not surprising that we’re seeing a resurgence of small gin distilling operations in America.  After all, bathtub gin was a huge product during prohibition.  The popularity of (professional) distilleries seems to have only increased, clearly demonstrated by The Proper’s massive, over 200 bottle collection.

To share their love of the spirit with their customers, The Proper hosted their first gin tasting event which they called Made in America.  The evening focused on New American gins, one of the five common styles.  With help from their lead bartender (who is not only extremely knowledgeable but very excited about gin) and owner Brady Caverly, the event aimed to inform customers about the history, production, and styles of gin as well as teach them how to taste it.

crackerI was lucky enough to attend the event, which turned out to be a lot more than I bargained for!  The tasting ended up being a lot more unstructured than what I expected, with more conversation between “instructors” and guests rather than a strict lesson.  That’s not to say it wasn’t effective– the event still managed to impart new knowledge about gin but in a much friendlier, get-to-know-your-neighbor environment.

We sat down to our tasting stations to find vials of spices and a handout describing our selections for the evening.  Each pour was given to us in a wine glass and while small, they were more than large enough to successfully taste the gins.

We were lucky enough to try the 5 American gins Junipero, Bluecoat, Amethyst, Few, and Perry’s Tot.

Even the laymen could taste the differences in the brands and recipes.  Flavors you wouldn’t normally think of being in gin, like grapefruit and lavender, popped out with the help of our gin specialists.  Encouraging feedback, attendees called out their observations as they tasted.  Sandalwood!  Citrus!  Oddly, juniper was one of the least observed flavors, truly illustrating the versatility of modern distilleries.

endiveThe kitchen also got a work out, delivering specially paired small bites along with each tasting.  The tiny but tasty menu included bleu cheese stuffed house-cured olives, a house-smoked salmon canape, honey poached pear with goat cheese and green onion, and a ceviche with pink grapefruit in endive.  Every dish accentuated new flavors in the gins I didn’t notice earlier, which added another layer to the tasting.  We ended with a bright sorbet and an impressive cocktail made with the Amethyst brand gin.  The cocktail was topped with whipped egg whites and not only tasted impressive, but it looked impressive too!

For anyone who is even remotely interested in expanding their drink repertoire, I would highly recommend keeping an eye out for The Proper’s future events.  The atmosphere is relaxed but they provide a lot of information, guaranteeing a fun but very informative evening.

Plus, you can stick around for dinner!

Take my word for it– you might NEED to.  Not only did I walk away with knowledge, I walked away mildly loaded.  Talk about bang for your buck!

The Flintridge Proper is located at 464 Foothill Blvd., La Canada Flintridge.  For more information, please call (818) 790-4888 or visit http://theproper.com/

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