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.

Cocktails with… Shortcross Gin – from Northern Ireland

Last October, I helped to organise London’s first Craft Distilling Expo in the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. As part of this, I held spirits drop-in sessions with aspiring gin distillers to discuss their ideas and products one-on-one. One of my appointments was with a couple from Northern Ireland who were making Northern Ireland’s first craft gin. I was delighted to see the same couple, Fiona & David Boyd-Armstrong, when I held similar drop-in sessions at the recent ADI Conference in Seattle; this time, however, their gin was finished.

ShortCross Gin

Shortcross Gin is made at the Rademon Estate Distillery near Downpatrick, south of Belfast in, Northern Ireland. With an NGS wheat spirit base, bottled at 46.0% ABV, the gin uses water drawn from the estate’s own well and a botanical mix that includes:

Juniper
Coriander
Lemon
Orange
Cassia
Fresh apple
Elderberry
Wild clover

On its own
Nose: Rich and fruity, almost like a hedgerow in bloom with a mix of berries, leafy herbal and floral notes. This is followed by slight vanilla creaminess and citrus, reminding me of lemon shortbread.
Taste: Mouth-filling texture and pretty smooth for 46% ABV. Coriander and citrus upfront, followed by a little berry sweetness and then the more complex floral and herbal notes, part of which is from the clover; then juniper and angelica, mixed with spice, before a long, lingering, dry finish.

Gin & Tonic
Fragrant and herbal with lavender and heather, as well as bright citrus. A good, bold flavour that should stand up well to most tonics. There are also some complex flavours with a collection of floral and herbal notes, and juicy berry before a dry, crisp and refreshing finish.

Martini
A little inviting vanilla on the nose, leading you a lovely, clean Martini with a good level of botanical intensity. Some lovely, fresh, leafy, green herbal notes, as well as a touch of sweet spice and a dry citrus finish.

ShortCross Negroni

Negroni
This is an earthy and bitter Negroni, with plenty of gentian and dark chocolate flavours on the finish. Despite the strong Campari flavours, the gin’s character is still discernable, thanks in part to the strength (46% ABV), providing dry flavours of juniper and angelica with floral, spice and herbal notes, too.

In Conclusion
Shortcross Gin is one of those spirits that is simply a pleasure to review; each drink was delicious and revealed different aspects of the gin’s character. I like that the signature botanicals are discernible, but not overpowering, and that they work well with the more classic ingredients. I liked all of the drinks that I tried, but, on balance, I have to say that the Gin & Tonic was my favourite.

Ireland have started off their 21st century gin distilling in fine style.

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