The private club Boodles, in London, founded in 1762 by Lord Shelbourne, Great Britain’s Prime Minister from 1782-1783, during the final years of the American War of Independence, is so exclusive that even its web site is “Members Only”. Adding to the exclusivity , Boodles is a gentleman’s club, which, as Uma Thurman’s Emma Peele discovered in the 1998 film, “The Avengers”, means “No females have been in Boodles since 1762”. That leaves one to conclude the reference was to either a scullery maid or kitchen cook. Fortunately, Boodles Gin, which takes its name from the legendary club (Ian Fleming name checks it in two Bond novels), makes no such distinction. And now with the introduction of Boodles Mulberry Gin, the spirit derived from juniper berries and usually associated with warmer weather, can be enjoyed year round, straight or mixed into a variety of satisfying cocktails.
Three of those cocktails were on the tasting menu at The Clocktower at 5 Madison Avenue on Monday night, October 1st, when Tom Walker, bartender at the insider speakeasy Attaboy on the Lower East Side, introduced an assembly of writers, editors and arbiters of trends and taste to the new liqueur that is derived from the mulberry tree, a familiar sight in the English countryside for centuries. Guests at the food pairing dinner were welcomed with The Wassail, concocted with Boodles mulberry gin, grapefruit, lemon juice, dry vermouth, simple syrup and soda. A first course of Poached then Smoked Salmon, with walnut, pickled grapes and celeriac, was paired with a Mulberry Hopper, mixed with Boodles mulberry gin, maraschino liqueur, simple syrup and lemon juice, followed by a main course of Long Island Duck with sauce l’orange, fennel, endive and salt baked turnips that was matched with a Crown Negroni, made with Boodles gin, dolin blanc and montenegro. Dessert was Grapefruit Sorbet with curd and supremes, hazelnut streusel and fennel marmalade.
The ambiance in the dining room was full on Yuletide, with swaths of pine and juniper hanging on the mantel above a warm fire, and Christmas crackers at each place setting. The wrapped cardboard tubes popped open to reveal a small bundle of herbs, to pair later on at home with one’s own Boodles mulberry gin cocktail. Bar Director, Nathan Rawlinson, who is also a food photographer, welcomed everyone, and gave a bit of background on the menu at The Clocktower. The chic new restaurant from British Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton and acclaimed restaurateur Stephen Starr has practically every critic in paroxysms of praise and tribute. The hard to please New York Post food authority, Steve Cuozzo, deemed it New York City’s best new restaurant in a review published back in July, and even The New York Times has bestowed praise upon the chef and the cuisine. It is hard to deny the appeal of the place, a 90-seat gastronomic gem, located on the second floor of the iconic Metropolitan Life building which Ian Schrager has transformed into the casually elegant New York EDITION Hotel.
Traditional sloe gin – a product long steeped in British tradition – serves as the primary inspiration behind Boodles Mulberry. Made with mulberries, a touch of raspberries, Boodles Gin and a blend of natural ingredients, Boodles Mulberry is a liqueur perfect for sipping both warm and cold over the holiday season. It’s the perfect complement to Boodles British Gin’s unique botanicals of rosemary, nutmeg and sage, creating the proper balance and complexity of flavor. Boodles Mulberry is the first of its kind in the United States, and it is available nation wide for a suggested price of $28.99.
The poached then smoked Salmon at The Clocktower is unforgettable; The texture of the fish, combined with the flavors of the walnut and celeriac and thin slivers of apple, is unmatchable. Apparently it is inspired by a Polish-Jewish favorite of London’s East End, and combined with those lovely pickled grapes, between sips of the Mulberry Hopper, the flavors were heavenly. Delicate little mince pies were served at the very end, and I saved mine for later. My experience with these fruit-based mincemeat pies has been dodgy at best; traditionally they are served at Christmas, and I always found them rather dry and bland the few times I had them over the holidays while in England. I cut one in half and ate it slowly, expecting to be disappointed, as in the past, but the crust was so perfectly crumbly and the filling so sweet and tart, the little berries popping in my mouth, I immediately consumed the other half.
5 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10010
212 413 4300
Boodles Mulberry Gin