The director of Montreal’s only gin pub gives the rundown on what’s good
This week, we are talking gin. I could talk about my love of gin for hours. Its bitterness, its versatility, its oomph. As a bartender, I have a lot of fun creating and mixing with gin. Anything that vodka can do, gin can do better, in my opinion.
When I found out a gin bar existed in Montreal a few years ago, I quickly became a frequent visitor.
Le Pourvoyeur, located at 184 Jean Talon St. East, in the Jean Talon market, offers over 125 different kinds of gin to drink on the rocks or in your favourite cocktail.
Stéphane Bernard is the associate director of the gin pub, which opened six years ago. Bernard and I talked cocktails and favourite gins. But before I give you all the scoop, let’s go through some basics.
What is gin?
Gin is a spirit derived primarily from juniper berries. Gins usually include other botanicals, such as coriander, lemon peel, orange peel, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg. The difference in flavour from one kind of gin to another largely depends on the balance between botanicals.
How is it made?
Gin, funnily enough, is technically flavoured vodka. Gin is made from the distillation of a neutral grain alcohol, the botanicals mentioned added after. Vodka is just made from distilled grain like wheat, rye or potatoes. In other words, gin is way more awesome. Technically speaking, gin has a more complex flavour.
As with any drink, people have their favourites. For gin lovers who prefer coarser, more bitter gins, Bernard recommends the Filliers Dry Gin 28, a Belgian gin barrel-aged in a bourbon barrel for added depth and intensity. The gin takes its name from the 28 botanicals used to distill the alcohol, including Belgian hops, angelica root, allspice and fresh oranges. Le Pourvoyeur uses this gin to make one of Bernard’s favourite cocktails: the gin old-fashioned. The drink is made the same way as the classic old-fashioned, but with gin instead of bourbon.
Alternatively, Bernard recommends Juniper Green gin. This London gin is organic, and has a dominating pine flavour.
For the lover of softer, more subtle-tasting gins, Bernard recommends Brockmans gin. It is subtly bitter with light floral notes. Bernard says it’s the perfect gin to drink on its own, over ice.
Bernard also says to take advantage of all the awesome Quebec gins available at the SAQ, and at his pub, of course. These include Ungava, Saint-Laurent, Piger Henricus, Romeo’s gin and Neige.
Mixing it up
The pub’s cocktail menu includes all the classics, from a Negroni to a Pimm’s Cup. But it also has some funkier, delicious options to try, such as the Earl Grey G&T or the cocktail of the month, the Gold n’ Ginger. This special drink is a mix of Botanivore gin, cognac, ginger syrup, thyme, an egg white and fresh lemon. One of Bernard’s favourites is the Piger Bloody Caesar. The classic bloody is made with a Quebec gin, the Piger Henricus, instead of plain ol’ vodka. The gin flavour really elevates the clamato flavour and the spiciness of the drink.