I am told by the fountain of knowledge that is Adam Smithson esq. that Schweppes once brought out a short-lived Juniper-flavoured Tonic water, dubbed “The Driver’s Gin and Tonic” and I think that, too an extent, Monin Gin Syrup was designed around a similar concept.
Here are the results of my taste experiments:
It’s rare that someone will drink this on it’s own (it’s flavoured sugar syrup!) but it helped give me
an idea of how to mix and it might be useful reference point for you readers.
Nose: some juniper, quite a lot of pine, quite fragrant.
Taste: still a lot of pine with come juniper and a touch of citrus
#2 Gin & Tonic
[Monin suggest a 5:1 ratio of Tonic Water to Gin Syrup]
I mixed this with Schweppes and still this was too sweet, so I changed it to 6:1and added a wedge of lemon, this was a great improvement. The juniper/pine notes mix well with the tonic and although I don’t think you could mistake this for a G&T it is a pretty decent non-alcoholic recreation. I actually found using lemon-flavoured tonic worked quite well too.
[5ml Monin Gin Syrup, 10ml Water, 10ml Roses Lime Cordial, SHAKE Twist of Lime]
Very crisp with elements of juniper & pine and of course a good punch of lime, pretty good. On the downside it is a tad sweet with the sugar from the Gin syrup and the Rose’s Lime Cordial so I would suggest perhaps mixing 5ml of fresh lime with 5ml of the Roses instead.
[5ml Gin Syrup, 15ml Lemon Gin, 10ml Water, 1/2tsp Blackberry Jam, Stir very well and serve over crushed ice]
Not too sweet and the lemon and blackberry flavours come through; the pine and juniper of the Gin Syrup sit subtlety in the background. It’s not quite the same as a normal Bramble but it still has some similar features to this more contemporary classic***; the sharp freshness and the taste of blackberry and lemon.
#5 Tom Collins
[10ml Gin Syrup 15ml Lemon Juice, 50ml Soda/Sparkling Water]
I think this is pretty good drink to use the Gin syrup in, it refreshing, interesting and thirst-quenching but it doesn’t have any really fancy ingredients, nor is it time-consuming to make so (in a bar) that would keep costs down. Theoretically you could premix batches of the syrup and lemon juice to make it even easier to make.
Good balance between sweet and sour with neither the lemon nor the pine/juniper being over dominant.
#6 MonGin Special (from the back of the bottle)
[10ml Monin Gin Syrup, 20ml Monin Curacaco Syrup, 60ml Orange Juice, 10ml Lemon Juice] SHAKE
Unfortunately I didn’t have any Monin Curacao Syrup, nor did I have any suitable replacement so I decided to omit it and see what the result was.
It was rather delicious; fresh and juicy citrus followed by a slightly sticky pine and juniper. I served this in a Martini Glass with a twist of orange but I would prefer to double-up the quantities and serve it in a large high ball with plenty of ice.
Some More Thoughts
I think that it would be unfair to compare this to Gin and the task of making a non-alcoholic drink taste like its alcoholic counterpart is exceptionally difficult, even more so with a complex product like gin. I think that the syrup has quite a strong pine element but there is some juniper too. If you happen to try the syrup on it’s own or mix it with a bit of water don’t expect it to taste like a London Dry Gin, because it doesn’t.
For me, the gin-like qualities of this syrup comes when mixing it in drinks, when the flavours of gin syrup are often intermingled with the other ingredients. For this reason the syrup works well with other strong flavours and in drinks with a few ingredients; sadly, I’ve not yet found a good recipe for a non-alcoholic Martini.
When mixing with the syrup it is quite sweet so that needs to be remembered in you are mixing, in most cases it also fills the role that the sugar syrup in recipe would take. Also it’s important to make sure it is stir or shaken in properly to ensure an even mix.
Cocktail highlights were the Tom Collins and the MonGin Special, the G&T was pretty good too, but a decent garnish would go far.
If you buy this product expecting it to be just like Gin, you’ll be disappointed** but if have a bit of imagination it can be used effectively in typically gin-led cocktails resulting in drinks that are fitting non-alcoholic tribute to their boozy cousins.
*It’s worth noting that both Juniper & Pine are Pinales, a botanical order.
** I think the task itself is near impossible, unless someone discovers a Star-Trek Synthenol or something.
*** Oxymoron I know