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Beefeater Tea Party

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Written by Greg Thompson/Special to LAist

Any dapper young man who ordered a "Beef Up' at a venue like the Playboy club in the 70's was likely to be met with an approving nod and maybe the single pistol hand gesture. Shortly following would be a refreshingly icy Beefeater gin with a thimbleful of vermouth poured up in that classic triangular stemmed glass.

It would be garnished, if at all, with a squeeze of lemon peel or a single olive. One displaying knowledge and an affinity for such an old school classic was unlikely to be burdened with the cumbersome request to produce ID. That shadow of doubt would be reserved for those increasingly ordering vodka and tequila drinks on the rocks or (reach in your purse for ID)... blended.

Well, the old school drinks are back and leading the charge are premium gins like Beefeater! Adding fuel to the cocktail resurgence are super premium top shelf brands and line extensions of established labels. Make room for the super premium Beefeater 24, brainchild of veteranmaster distiller Desmond Payne. After 40 years of crafting premium gin, Desmond is widely regarded as the world's leading expert. Last Monday at the palatial Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, the properly Brittish monikered Tinsley Buffington introduced him. Desmond in turn introduced Beefeater 24.

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Gin enters this world as a neutral grain spirit, like vodka. Its unique character derives from the proscribed addition of juniper and such botanicals as citrus rind, roots such as orris, licorice, and angelica, and herbs like coriander and cinnamon. Beefeater London Dry gin owes its unique dry flavour to bitter orange which is added, along with the other botanicals, during an extra distillation. 24 owes its name to Beefeater's longstanding tradition of steeping its botanicals in the grain spirits for 24 hours before the mentioned extra distillation process (and also to Londons 24 hour lifestyle). This final distillation takes place in a traditional pot still after the base is produced by distilling wheat in a column still. The Artisan Cut subtitle on 24's label comes from taking the center cut of the distillation, avoiding the heads and tails or first and final parts of the gin process. 24 uses 12 aromatics and adds grapefruit, Japanese Sencha tea and Chinese green tea to the traditional botanicals.

Payne was in Japan and noticed something odd about his favorite Gin and Tonic. They don't allow quinine in the tonic so he started using iced teas as a mixer. The tea with lemon and the fact that grapefruit makes a popular mix additive gave him ideas. After 18 months of tinkering and convening panels of the worlds top mixologists, Desmond had his own Gin. One that tasted great neat, still worked well with tonic and martinis but added something to the modern cocktail culture. So in Greystone's main courtyard along with sensational passed hors d' oeuvres and finger sandwiches worthy of any high tea, Desmond and company introduced 24 neat and served 3 cocktails that payed homage to tradition but added a little more.

Beefeater 24: Taken neat, 24 is soft, smooth and very well balanced. It shows a full rich mouth feel found only in super premium spirits. There are pronounced citrus and juniper aromas. Following through to the palate with a hint of tea they are joined by the expected fruit and licorice flavours. The long sweet finish shows the grapefruit.

Triple Citrus 24 & Tonic-

1 Part Beefeater 24™
2 Parts Premium Tonic
Decorate with thin slices of Lemon, Lime and Orange

A modern spinoff on the clasic G&T

24 Martini
5 Parts Beefeater 24™
1 Part Lillet Blanc
2 Dashes of Regan’s Orange Bitters
Stir and serve up with a Grapefruit Twist

The 24 and Lillet's orangey flavour add more than a citrus twist to this classic

Shifting Sands

1 & ½ Parts Beefeater 24™
1 & ½ Parts Fresh Grapefruit Juice
¼ Part Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Bar Spoons of Maraschino Liqueur
Club Soda

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A fave of the ladies, but I like it too!