Bank Holiday Gin Tonics

With the Bank Holiday upon us (the last one in the UK until December) and the possibility that at least a few days in the long weekend will actually be dry and hot, I thought I’d share a few simple ideas for some gin tonic serves to impress your guests this weekend.

Glassware

In this sort of heat (currently it is 28.8c here) I want a very cooling drink with plenty of ice, so a glass like the large copita/fish-bowl glass popular in Spain for the Gin Tonica is the best bet. It does take at least 8 cubes to fill one of these, however, so unless you have an ice maker, I suggest getting a bag or two of ice.

If you don’t have a copita glass, than a large wine glass or stemmed beer glass (think the Stella Artois Chalice) will also work well. The stem helps to keep your drink cool, keeping your warm hand further away from the drink.

 

Recipes

Typically, I use between 25ml-50ml of gin and 150ml of tonic. These are slightly weaker than many might usually enjoy their gin tonic, but these drinks are meant to be long and cooling, and too much alcohol in great heat is not a great idea.

Gin Tonica Aug 2016 - Plymouth and Millers

The Classic

Plymouth Gin with Lemon and Lime Wedges (aka the Evans Style)

Plymouth Gin has a light sweet spice to it, which is balanced out nicely by the slightly sharp lime, whilst and the lemon complements the citrus in the gin.

The 21st Century Gin

Martin Miller’s gin with Strawberries and Cracked Black Pepper.

An unusual garnish choice on paper, but ever since one of the Miller’s brand ambassadors showed me this, I’ve been hooked. Fresh, succulent fruit works well with the refreshing nature of the gin, and the black pepper adds balance and bite. For an extra chill factor, use frozen strawberries.

Gin Tonica Aug 2016 - Apostoles and Shortcross

The Leafy Gin

Principe de Los Apostoles Gin with Rosemary and Baby Spinach

The gin itself is quite “green” – herbaceous and leafy – and the rosemary gives the drink distinctive, aromatic herbal notes as well as adding to the visual spectacle. The spinach adds more to the look than the aroma or flavour, although the leaves can also be a pleasant snack to munch on as you drink.

The All-Rounder

Shortcross Gin with Orange and Coffee Beans

I’m a big fan of Shortcross Gin from Northern Ireland and it has great mixability, including in a gin tonic. I’ve been experimenting with non-typical, but readily available garnishes and my good friend Julia Nourney suggested coffee beans to me. The beans add a deep, dark element to the nose, whilst still allowing the juniper to slip through. When you sip the drink, it is almost all about the gin, with just a little lusciousness from the orange. Almost a two-phase gin tonic.

The Maverick

Bombay Sapphire & Cola with Orange and Chocolate Bitters

Gin Tonica Aug 2016 - Bombay Sapphire & Coke

Putting gin with cola is seen by many, in the UK, as heresy, despite the fact that this is how gin is enjoyed in many countries in Africa and further afield. The only point that matters is – does it taste good?

In my opinion, it does. Bombay Sapphire, with its complex botanical flavour and light pepper notes works really well with cola, creating a flavour that is reminiscent of an old-school botanical cola; there are even some dry, piney notes in the background. The orange adds a little zest, whilst the chocolate bitters contribute to the drink’s finish.

In Conclusion

Summer drinking is meant to be friendly and fun; it’s a time to relax with friends and family. As such, the drinks should be fun, too. Hopefully this article has provided a little inspiration for you to up your summer drinks game.

Tanqueray & Tonic – An Investigation into the Best Garnish for Tanqueray Gins

Tanqueray GinTonica Title

This is the first part of my investigation into garnishes for Tanqueray Gin. I’ve spent a little time recently thinking about the lemon vs. lime argument. For World Gin Day, I made a Gin & Tonic according to a 1938 recipe using Mason’s Gin, which used lemon and/or lime (you had the choice). Having recently returned from Spain, I also fancied experimenting a little more with the Gin Tonica serve for this classic drink.

Naturally, after a quick reflection, I decided the best way to investigate this subject would be to do a taste test. I extended my normal citrus selection to include: lemon, lime, orange, pink grapefruit and red grapefruit.

I shall be tasting both of the following gins in my Gin & Tonics:

Tanqueray Export Strength (43.1%ABV) – from hereon referred to as “Original” – which is made using 4 botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, and Liquorice; and

Tanqueray No:10 (47.3%ABV), whose botanicals include: Juniper, Angelica, Coriander, Chamomile, White Grapefruit, Lime and Orange (for the citrus, the whole fruit is used, not just the peel).

Each drink will be mixed with Fevertree Tonic. I will add a double measure of gin to a tonica glass filled with ice and then add 150ml of Fevertree Tonic. Each one will be garnished with a wedge of the fruit being tested and a little spritz of oil from the peel over the top of the drink, for aroma.

Control (No Garnish)

Original: A rather classic Gin & Tonic with dry, piney juniper, some angelica and sweet liquorice. Cooling and refreshing, this works very well straight-up without a garnish.

Ten: A crisp and clean Gin & Tonic, with lots of citrus notes and some sweetness, such as liquorice, coming through. A hint of floral notes, too. Even without a garnish, this also works very well.

TanquerayGinTonica Lemon FINAL

Lemon

Original: A good version of the drink, this is more floral than when using lime and provides a little more sweetness, too. It’s a very accessible and refreshing drink that makes you go back for seconds.

Ten: The slightly sweet notes of the lemon seem to muddle the more complex flavour of the Tanqueray No:10; it is still a quite acceptable drink, but I think that the lemon does the gin a disservice.

TanquerayGinTonica Lime FINAL

Lime

Original: Classic in style, this drink is dry, with a tiny hint of bitterness and a great citrus liveliness courtesy of the lime. A very classic serve and flavour, providing more bite to the drink than the lemon version.

Ten: Wow! A great example of how a garnish can add life and vitality to a drink. Lime is a great match for Tanqueray No:10. The drink on its own is good, but the lime really is the cherry on the cake and finishes the drink nicely. Easy to drink and rather morish.

TanquerayGinTonica Evans FINAL

Evans

Original: Works well with the two citrus fruits; the lemon adds sweet juiciness and the lime adds a crisp liveliness to the drink. Also, on the eye, the yellow and green are rather attractive. A good choice for Original Tanqueray.

Ten: Better than just lemon on its own: the lively lime works well with the gin but, alas, the lemon detracts too much and the flavour again becomes a bit muddied. Fans of strong juniper and coriander notes may like it, though, as these flavours seem to be amplified by the combination.

TanquerayGinTonica Orange FINAL

Orange

Original: Quite a soft Gin & Tonic. The orange is okay, but seems to clutter the underlying flavours of the gin somewhat and gives the drink a tannic quality.

Ten: Very fragrant and inviting, this serve highlights the gin’s juiciness. The orange works well with some of the lively bitterness from the pink grapefruit botanical, making this a much better match than with the Original Tanqueray.

TanquerayGinTonica PinkGrapefruit FINAL

Pink Grapefruit

Original: Just superb: you immediately get some citrus and floral notes from the garnish. The pink grapefruit adds a zesty succulence to the drink, but doesn’t overpower the gin, allowing Tanqueray’s underlying botanical character to come through strong. Simple, but effective, this is refreshing and definitely quaffable.

Ten: I thought that the Original Tanqueray went well with pink grapefruit, but I think that Tanqueray No:10 works even better. There is that same fresh, zesty, juicy citrus note coming through, but it’s accompanied by some more complex notes, such as a little bitterness akin to that of dark chocolate. This makes for a very sophisticated drink and one I could enjoy again and again.

TanquerayGinTonica RedGrapefruit FINAL

Red Grapefruit

Original: The orange and pink of the garnish looks particularly attractive in the glass and provides an enticing aroma. It creates a very dry Gin & Tonic with a little zestiness at the end; a slight squeeze or muddle of the fruit invigorates the drink, making it juicier and more lively.

Ten: Simply excellent. There are some very rich, bold flavours here, but they work really well together: the fresh fruit is succulent and refreshing, with a little zesty bitterness right at the end. Some very faint hints of vanilla come through, too.

In Conclusion

It is certainly true that the garnish really does impact upon the flavour and overall experience of the drink. Tanqueray No:10 seemed to pair particularly well with the citrus, more so than the Original Tanqueray, probably due to the citrus botanicals used in the gin.

I think that lime (the garnish suggested by Tanqueray themselves) worked well for both gins. Both pink and red grapefruit also worked well with both (unfortunately Waitrose didn’t have any white grapefruit, so I have yet to try that). Lemon seemed much stronger with the regular Tanqueray then the Tanqueray No:10, and I’d probably avoid orange all together, considering how good the other combinations were.

~

The Tanqueray Website

Tanqueray On Twitter: USA

Tanqueray on Facebook

Tanqueray (43.1% ABV) is available for around £20 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange.

Tanqueray (47.3% ABV) is available for around £22 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange.

Tanqueray No:10 is available for around £28 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange.

 

Gin & Tonic Variations – Cocktails with… Mayfair Gin

With Gin & Tonic on my mind today, regarding some edible experiments for Monday’s article, I started thinking about variations on the Gin & Tonic: something beyond “One part gin, two parts tonic and a wedge of lemon”. So, with a little online searching and some inspiration, I tried the following recipes.

The gin of the day was Mayfair Gin, which is made by Mayfair Brands who also make a rather good vodka and have a couple more products in the pipeline. The idea behind the brand is to create a drinks brand that folks can trust when they are looking for a quality alcoholic beverage.

Mayfair Gin is made at Thames Distillers in London and contains 5 botanicals:

Juniper berries
Coriander seed
Angelica root
Savoury
Orris root

Brazilian Gin & Tonic
Inspired by Caprihana, thanks to foodgawker for the recipe.
“In a highball glass, muddle together 2 slices of lime and a teaspoon of sugar. Add ice cubes, then 35ml gin. Fill glass with 80ml tonic. Stir lightly. Garnish with lime slice or lime peel.”

With the added sugar, I was expecting this to be too sweet; I normally wouldn’t consider adding sugar to a Gin & Tonic, but, that said, given the high level of lime juice, I think the sugar does even out what would otherwise be a very tart drink. The lime makes the drink very refreshing and there is a very long finish of bitterness and tartness. The gin seems to work very well and the juniper and earthy botanicals are clearly there, but not overpowering.

Pink Gin & Tonic
This was a no-brainer, as it was a favourite of mine to enjoy after returning from a busy day at John Lewis; it’s a Gin & Tonic with a splash of Angostura Bitters. If you want to know James Bond’s take on the Pink Gin, click here.

Refreshing, like a Gin & Tonic, but there is a little, sweet, herbal spiciness that may fool you into thinking that someone has splashed a bit of ginger ale into your drink. It’s been a while since I have had one of these, but I now recall why I liked them so much. Cool and refreshing like a Gin & Tonic, but with that added depth of flavour. I might not drink these all night, but as the first G&T of the evening it’s a pretty good bet.

Witch Cocktail*
This is one from Nigella: gin & tonic with added cassis. In theory, you could take this recipe and extend it to creme de menthe, Galliano, creme de violette, etc., but I can see the attraction to cassis as it is quite tart.

For just a splash, the cassis has quite a pronounced presence, adding a sloe-gin like jamminess to the drink. It worked quite well and is pleasant enough, but for me those jammy, berry flavours are associated with winter and so it wasn’t one of my favourites. Mrs. B disagreed, as she quite liked it.

.

Camp David
Essentially a gin & tonic with a dash of creme de violette added at the end; the latter will tend to settle at the bottom, leaving a dark purple sunrise rising up the glass.
This drink was still quite dry from the tonic and gin, but I got a very definite sweet, floral note form the violette. Given that the violette is inclined to sink to the bottom of the glass, you can either give it a stir or enjoy the subtle changes in the drink’s flavour as you gradually make you way to the bottom. This isn’t for everyone, but was certainly a nice twist. Garnishing with a lemon wedge both offset some of the sweetness and, from an aesthetics point of view, the yellow nice offset the purple.


James Bond Gin & Tonic

A recipe suggested by Ian Fleming and used by James Bond in the book Dr. No. 007 drinks these whilst he relaxes after a long flight to Jamaica.

“Bond ordered a double gin and tonic and one whole green lime. When the drink came he cut the lime in half, dropped the two squeezed halves into the long glass, almost filled the glass with ice cubes and then poured in the tonic.

The high proportion of lime juice (equivalent to half the amount of gin) appears on the flavour profile of this drink before the familiar flavours of gin and tonic, making it deliciously tart and refreshing. When I first tried this, I thought that the lime juice would overpower the drink, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well-balanced the drink is; Ian Fleming certainly knew his stuff.

Mexican Gin & Tonic
[Add 50ml gin and 1 tablespoon of lime juice to a highball glass, fill with ice and add 120ml of tonic water ganrish with a lime slice and give it a quick stir]
This comes from Pete Wells who discovered, whilst travelling in the Yucatan, that Mexican bartenders, when making a Gin & Tonic, use lime as an ingredient, not just a garnish.

I quite like the addition of lime juice to a gin & tonic in addition to the garnish; like anything tart, it is thirst-quenching and good for a hot day. I think this drink works well with a relatively clean tonic, such as Fevertree Regular, rather than a more flavourful one (whilst good in their own right) such as Fentiman’s or one of the Mediterranean tonics. This variation opens up a door of similar innovation using lemon, grapefruit, orange etc. as a substitute for the lime, but that’s for another day.

EVANS Gin & Tonic
[Fill a tumbler with large ice cubes, add a measure of gin, add two measures of tonic water, garnish with a wedge of lime and one of lemon]
Invented by the world-famous British Gentleman, Robert Evans**, this is the closest to a classic G&T that we’ll get to today. This drink uses a standard 2:1 tonic to gin ratio, using Waitrose tonic and garnished with both lemon & lime. This easily answers the debate of lemon vs. lime as a garnish: be decadent, use both! Another essentially element to an essential Evans is for it to be ice cold, so plenty of ice is needed.

Usually, I would be more restrained and use only one wedge of lemon and one of lime, but, as I was using up the last of the fruit, I thought  that I would go the whole hog and use two wedges of each.
The result is an invigorating drink: the citrus is sharp and bright and makes it delightfully refreshing; there is also a nice contrast between the bright yellow, green and the silvery white of the ice cubes in the glass. If you want a full-bodied gin & tonic, this may well be the choice for you!

So there we have just seven ideas of gin & tonic variations and, hopefully, there are some ideas in there for you to experiment with yourself (please feel free to share any new creations in a comment). With variations there is always a temptation to fall into drinks snobbery, but, really, if it tastes great, what does it matter?

*For those of you familiar with the UK consumer money-saving magazine, a Witch? cocktail would probably be a rather bargainous G&T somewhat akin to this.

** Recent star of the Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” in the USA.

Gin Tasting Notes

Soft with a full mouth feel, almost like a marshmallow. strong juniper and some earthiness like orris. A little burn and a medium finish but pretty good.

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