This is how to get into gin (if you’re secretly not a fan), says Claire Spreadbury.
Gin is the spirit of the moment. It’s been riding high for quite some time now, but it’s not to everyone’s tastes. If you’re happy with that, so are we. But if you find yourself wanting to be part of the gin club (its low-calorie appeal is hard to knock, not to mention the refreshment value and any-time-of-day suitability), here are some expert tips and tricks for making that goblet more appealing…
Buy yourself a fancy glass
“The vessel from which you sip your drink absolutely affects the way in which you experience the flavour and drinkability,” says Sasha Filimonov, the new UK Brand Ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin. “For a gin and tonic, my preferred vessel is an elegant highball. The reason I prefer the highball, is I find the ice dilutes at a slower rate, giving you a less ‘watery’ gin and tonic. Plus, the ice doesn’t hit my nose as much…”
Schweppes even created the world’s first scientifically-designed G&T glass. The design uses a technique that traps bubbles in between three layers of glass, to physically increase the fizziness of the drink. The heavy base fits perfectly in the palm of your hand and the shape supposedly enhances the sound of pouring, and lightly bursting bubbles before you take each sip.
“While not everyone will have a scientifically-designed glass at home, you can achieve a similar multi-sensory drinking experience by choosing a stemless, round based, heavy gin glass,” says renowned drinks expert Tony Conigliaro. “It should have a volume of around 300ml for the perfect serve.”
Pimp up your garnishes
“At Hendrick’s, we firmly believe that our G&T should be served with cucumber,” Filimonov continues. “This brings out the essence of cucumber, which we use when creating our flavour profile. Similarly for a Martini garnish, when others ask for lemon twists, we hail the cucumber slice.”
If cucumber isn’t your bag, there are so many other garnishes you can try. Lemons and limes are the obvious go-to (Conigliaro recommends a thickly-cut lemon slice and sprig of mint), but you can also try blood orange or pink grapefruit for a fancier citrus finish. Or go uber-cool and try a garnish of cloves, pepper, rosemary or vanilla pods.
Experiment with tonic
Filimonov notes the tonic category has grown up in a big way recently, with the number of premium styles and flavours spoiling us for choice. She suggests playing around, mixing and matching to find your favourite pairings.
“You’ll see some tonics taking inspiration from regional ingredients, such as an Indian tonic water or a Mediterranean tonic water – each having their own unique flavour characteristics. And you’ll also see tonics championing the citrus notes often found in gin recipes, such as lemon and orange peel, which means they’ll help to highlight those flavour notes in a G&T. There have even been tonics developed by bartenders to really focus on mixability, offer new flavour profiles and appeal to cocktail makers.”
Max out your mixers
If you don’t fancy tonic, there’s a seemingly endless selection of top-shelf soft drinks to try instead.
“For those with a palate inclined towards light floral notes, I would suggest rose lemonade,” advises Filimonov. “I have a penchant for sparkling rose lemonade with a Hendrick’s myself.
“Elderflower tonic – though still a tonic – has a flowery sweetness which cuts through the bitterness of the quinine.”
For those drawn to spicy and fiery flavours, have a ginger beer or ginger ale with your gin.
“The light heat of the ginger beer marries beautifully with the botanicals of classic gins, and still gives you an utterly refreshing and effervescent experience.”
And for those who love citrus and zesty flavours, simply buy yourself a premium lemonade (Filimonov recommends going all out with Sicilian, Victorian or bitter varieties).
Always add ice
“Ask (almost) any bartender and they’ll tell you that the number one, most important ingredient in any top-quality drink is actually ice,” says Filimonov. “Having lots of large, cubed ice in a G&T, filled to the brim, will keep your drink chilled and prevent it from swift dilution – giving you the perfect quaffing experience.”