When I was a young bartender, gin was a simple category. You either drank Gordon’s, Tanqueray, Beefeater, or one of the Bombay gins. If you were exceptionally lucky, you might come across the odd bottle of Boodles, but there wasn’t the proliferation of gins that there are now. Everything widely available was a London Dry-style gin, and it didn’t matter what kind of gin cocktail you wanted because you got a London Dry gin. It’s possible that because I came of age before the cocktail revolution and the craft distilling movement, I have a certain love for London Dry-style gins. I’m generally a Beefeater man when it comes to martinis (although I’ll move brands occasionally, I do tend to find myself returning to Beefeater), and I happen to like the original, old-school Bombay gin for my gin and tonics.
Bombay gin and I have a long relationship. My first regular at my first bar job (Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus restaurant in Sacramento almost 20 years ago) drank Bombay and tonic. The one bottle of gin in my father’s liquor cabinet was a bottle of Bombay, and while he isn’t a gin drinker, I always saw the picture of Queen Victoria on the label when he opened his home bar. When I reached adulthood, Bombay Sapphire was the first gin that I really learned to like. Its exotic botanical recipe with orris root, cubeb berries, and grains of paradise always fascinated me, so much so that I actually learned how to use some of the botanicals for culinary applications. Over time, like many things, I moved away from Bombay Sapphire, not because it’s a bad gin, but simply because there are so many gins on the market now. It became almost a forgotten gin for me, which is really too bad because both Bombay and Bombay Sapphire are excellent.
A few weeks ago, Jason Moore, a Bacardi executive (Bacardi Brands owns Bombay gin as well as a number of other top spirits brands including Grey Goose vodka, Dewars scotch whisky and Cazadores tequila in addition to Bacardi rum) asked me if I’d ever tasted the new Bombay Sapphire East. While I’d heard quite a bit of chatter about it from my bartender friends, I hadn’t had the opportunity to taste Sapphire East. To be honest, I was surprised that Bombay was making a third London Dry-style gin. With the proliferation of avant garde gins flavored with blueberries and bog myrtle and whatever else, it seemed like another London Dry gin was exactly what Bombay didn’t need to be producing to be seen as cutting edge. Well, it turns out that not only is Bombay Sapphire East cutting edge with notes of lemongrass and black peppercorns added to the classic Bombay Sapphire profile, but it’s also one of the best gins London Dry or any other style on the market period. Bombay Sapphire East is a delicious and utterly mixable gin that will appeal to gin drinkers of all persuasions, and it will add an exotic yet approachable flavor profile to your favorite cocktails.
The best recommendation I can give Bombay Sapphire East is simply this. The other day, when I had a craving for a dry gin martini, I spotted the bottle of Sapphire East on my counter. I really wanted a Beefeater martini, but I needed to taste Sapphire East. So I grabbed the bottle and mixed myself a martini. It was outstanding. Bad gins or even average gins can’t hide in a martini. Sapphire East was the complete opposite of that: it’s a world-class gin and makes an incredible martini. One martini turned into two martinis, which turned into an interminable wait until the next day to have another martini (all good things in moderation.) I’ve fallen in love with Bombay Sapphire East, and it will be a gin that stays in the front and center of my liquor cabinet. Keep an eye out for Sapphire East; if you enjoy gin, this is one that you need to taste soon.
Disclosure: I received a sample of this product from Bacardi for review. No other compensation from Bacardi was received.