With his father owning a vineyard and a background in bartending, it was only natural for Felix Clark to have developed a healthy appreciation of alcohol. Getting into producing themselves, Felix and his wife Corinna launched their craft gin company, Ester Spirits earlier this year and already, the industry are raving about them.
Created with the intention of being flexible, Ester’s Dry Gin was designed to sit just as comfortably on the back bar as it does on the home shelf. The result is a gin that’s able to be enjoyed equally well in a gin and tonic, as in a martini or gimlet.
Awarded a 93-point Silver earlier this year at the International Wine and Spirits competition, Ester’s Dry Gin sticks to the original London dry recipe. The gin has a very traditional style with heavy hits of juniper, cardamom and coriander. To take it into the contemporary style though, Felix and Corinna have added Australian botanicals finger lime and lemon myrtle for native citrus notes. But the secret weapon is mandarin.
“When we first started experimenting with citrus flavours, we found that there was plenty of character and body through the front of the palate but something was lacking at the back,” says Felix. “Corinna then suggested mandarin. It’s a flavour that sits somewhere between the Japanese yuzu citrus we’d been contemplating and a more traditional citrus. We found it added just the right sweetness plus that oily feeling or texture we were after at the back of the palate.”
As you take the time to enjoy the dry gin yourself, you’ll find plenty of the all-important juniper and spice up front, pleasantly balanced with its bright citrus notes. The mandarin gives a smooth, creamy texture and just the right amount of sweetness to balance out its peppery spice finish.
Aside from the addition of mandarin, and the winding back of finger lime and lemon myrtle, the main point of difference between Ester’s Dry Gin and its Strong Gin is its ABV, which sits at 43% compared to the Navy gin’s 57%.
“The Negroni is the most drunk cocktail in the world and we feel like Ester Dry makes the best in the land,” says Felix. Wanting to stick to his traditional bartending roots, Corinna tells us Felix wanted to create a spirit that was big, bold and juicy, and able to shine through a wide variety of drinks. Also important is its ability not to get lost in a tonic. “Our gin goes best with a very dry Artisan tonic accompanied by a fresh bay leaf,” says Felix.
We think you’ll agree that Ester Dry is the kind of gin you’ll come back to again and again. Here’s a couple of Felix’s best suggestions on how to drink it.
30ml Ester Dry
30ml High quality rosso vermouth. We recommend Cocchi Torino.
Stir all ingredients on ice, strain into a large rocks glass with ice and garnish with an orange slice.
60ml Ester Dry
20ml Mandarin Cordial
10ml Lime juice
Mandarin Cordial for Gimlet
Equal parts whole mandarin, water and sugar.
Simmer mandarin and water for 30 minutes.
Blend and strain
Add sugar and bring to the boil.
Remove from heat and cool.
Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass.