A long way from being sold only at the chemist’s, being the poor people’s favourite drink: gin, the spirit of the past, is the newest hype with die-hard fans. Yes, my friends, GIN is IN, it’s the bartender’s favourite! And no, I’m not offering another gin tonic recipe, but a smooth, refreshing gin cocktail for a warm summer day, let me surprise you.
Do you want to find out the best gin for your cocktail, well the best way to taste gins for comparison, is at room temperature, diluted with an equal measure of water. Both qualities and flaws will be revealed.
Sweet pine and soft citrus of the juniper berry are gin’s primary flavours, all other added botanicals just highlight flavour nuances. Gin must legally have that “predominant juniper flavour” and nearly all juniper used in gin, is picked wild, almost none is cultivated. Don’t think actual berries, it’s the female seed cone (do I hear Christmas bells ringing?) that does the job.
Are you a master in balancing botanical flavors? A master in creating gin, distills botanicals: juniper, coriander, coriander, aniseed, cumin seeds, orange zest, citrus peel, cinnamon, almond or liquorice, with neutral grain alcohol. This is the drink meant to be mixed, to bring to life its hidden herbs and spices. Sometimes it might even include rose, cucumber, lavender, lemongrass, nutmeg, cassia bark, rosemary, angelica root, orris root, or black pepper, depending on the different brands. Thus it can be ginned up, making every gin a diverse one, creating a different flavor profile.
American gin has to contain at least 40% ABV (alcohol by volume), whereas EU gin only needs 37.5%!
Excuses needed to drink gin? Well let me give you some: it is a natural remedy for arthritis, joint pain and gout, so you’ll keep inflammation at bay with gin! Gin will eliminate wrinkles in your skin with its juniper–boost, regenerating cells. The diuretic gin ingredients will ease kidney filtration and fight kidney and liver disease. And it’s apparently good for the digestive system, even fights off cancer.
Ever dreamt of circumnavigating the world, solo in a sailboat? Follow Sir Francis Chichester’s success, but to do so remember that he credited his success to a daily glass of pink gin (gin, Angostura bitters and cold water).
Gin was first produced as a medicine in Holland (some claim Italy) in the 16th-17th century, with Sylvius de Bouve, known for his “jenever” concoction based on juniper. Later gin was used for medicinal purposes for British soldiers in the 1800’s to prevent or cure malaria. Actually the quinine in the tonic was believed to be the cure and the gin was merely added to mask its bitterness.
In the old days British sailors received a daily rum ration, where British naval officers got a daily ration of gin. You got to love the British don’t you…
Gin is also known as the famous “mother’s ruin”, helping the poor Londoners in the 1800’s to cope with their poverty and forget their worries. Gin and tomato juice were the hangover cure rage in NY in 1928, long before the famous Bloody Mary. And last but not least, do you want to have some “Dutch courage”? This British expression dates back to the Dutch War of Independence (1568-1648), where the drink was supposed to give the soldiers courage in battle… getting drunk on gin in other words.
Weird enough, gin is also mentioned as a contraceptive, used by Canadians and apparently a pint of gin combined with an extremely hot bath was even used to induce a miscarriage in Britain (1950’s).
We all know James Bond’s Martini quote, but did you know that Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond’s books, is credited with inventing the Vesper, a cousin of the Martini that blends gin, vodka, and vermouth – topped with a lemon twist.
A martini on the other hand is made with gin and sweet vermouth; a dry martini is made with gin and dry vermouth; a dry vodka martini is made with vodka and dry vermouth.
Offering you the quintessential English spirit in a glass:
- 35cl/ 12.31828uk fl oz gin
- 1l / 35.19508uk fl oz agrum lemonade (harnessing natural oils from citrus peels, grapefruit, mandarin and lime)
- 2 limes
- 1 lemon
- 2 handfuls of fresh mint (slightly crushed so it releases its zing and I use 3 different mint varieties)
- Lots of ice cubes
In case you find it not sweet enough, you can add one/two tablespoons of caster sugar, depending on your taste.
Off searching for the real stuff: real vintage items for my shop, but first things first: I’m so going to enjoy my gin aperitif!