Le Lion Bar in Hamburg and the original Gin Basil Smash
December 22nd, 2017 | drinks
The Le Lion Bar in Hamburg is considered one of the 50 best bars in the world (!) And justifiably so! The cradle of the cult drink “Gin Basil Smash” is therefore in Hamburg. We looked at this famous and highly recommended bar and brought the original recipe for the Gin Basil Smash.
This bar is something of delightfully “old school”… We had read of “Le Lion” and wanted to take an aperitif there. The fact that we had not booked on a Thursday around 7 pm, made the smart but somewhat unfriendly doorman raise the eyebrow. After all, he had heard our ringing and somewhat reluctantly admitted.
“You can go upstairs, there you are the only guests at the moment. Downstairs everything is reserved starting from 7.30 pm.” “We anyhow only want to stay until 8 pm.” “As I said, upstairs you were the only guests.” “But we would rather prefer to sit downstairs.” Then he led us into the downstair area of the bar, pointed to a table and instructed us: “Side by side. On the sofa. The small table. Until 8 pm!” Said it and disappeared.
Puhhh, this start admittedly not made it easy for me to like the bar right off the bat. Anyhow, that changed dramatically, when a friendly bartender with a full beard and little hair came to our table, brought us water and the bar menu and asked for our wishes. Bright-eyed, attentive, all-round host. That’s how it should be, he makes us feel fine in this elegant, dark brown ambience with the Brocade wallpaper on the walls and the mighty golden lion behind the counter.
The Le Lion Bar is considered the inventor of Gin Basil Smash
My choice is clear, a Gin Basil Smash is a must – gin, lemon, sugar and fresh basil. After all, Le Lion is considered the inventor of this drink. The friendly bartender with good sense points out the way to the right drink for my captain, an Acheron – Bermuda rum, Angostura bitters, maple syrup, Granny Smith apple juice. One thing is clear, here there are no cocktails in the sense of sweet sticky drinks with a fruit basket as a decoration, but clear, pure drinks, which are characterized by a few, but first class ingredients.
Leaning back, the glass in our hands, the étagère with canapés on the table we little by little find access to the Le Lion. It is an oasis in the midst of the busy, pre-Christmas city. One is lulled into an environment that is getting more and more beautiful, we enjoy the tranquillity, the hospitality, the quality of the drinks and first-class service. Such as the water glass served immediately on arrival, is never empty. A very pleasant gesture that I would wish in any restaurant as a welcome.
The Le Lion is said to be one of the 50 best bars in the world. For us, it is a trip into another world, a bit retro, a little dignified, a bit like holiday. I’m glad that the doorman did not succeed putting us off.
The original Gin Basil Smash Recipe of Le Lion Bar
Jörg Meyer, who is Managing Director of Le Lion Bar, has published his recipe for the Gin Basil Smash. He recommends G’VINE NOUAISON or rather citrus dominant varieties, such as Tanquery Ten or Bombay Sapphire Gin. Classic gin varieties with juniper flavor are not suitable according to his estimates. As an aperitif with a Buffalo Mozzarella, the drink also called ‘Gin Pesto’ is said to be excellent. Who would doubt it?
Gin - Basil Smash / GIN PESTO
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