If you love your ‘Gin & Tonic’ to the core, then you might be aware about the origins of this alcoholic beverage. Gin is a crystal clear spirit which is basically brewed from grains and thereafter flavored with a range of ‘botanicals’ one of which has to be juniper. It is the juniper that imparts to gin its characteristic piney flavor-drinking the spirit is akin to sipping the pine cones and needles in liquid form.
Though wheat is chiefly used as the grain base, other bases are used as well including sugar, grape, and barley to name a few. Besides junipers, which is an indispensable flavoring agent, other botanicals like coriander, apple, angelica root, chamomile, cucumber, almonds, and lemon peels are also used to cater to different tastes and palates. A full-bodied gin is incomplete without juniper as it acts as a catalyst, stimulating other botanicals to release their flavors.
It was in Holland that beverages were flavored with juniper along with exotic spices for the first time. However, it was the English who gave a definite character to the juniper-flavored spirit (by refining the brewing process) known as ‘jenever’ that ultimately evolved into gin. And continuous evolution has meant that nowadays you have access to different variations of gin that can be classified under 4 basic types-‘Old Tom’, ‘Genever’, ‘Bathtub Gin’, and ‘London Dry Gin’.
You can clearly make out and savor the different botanical flavors used in gin owing to its neutral disposition, very much like vodka. No wonder then gin is one of the most popular bases for concocting a variety of cocktails and is in the same league with vodka and whiskey when it comes to making blends. Gin aficionados and connoisseurs might be familiar with all-time favorites-Vesper, Negroni, White Lady, French 75, and the Bees Knees.
And then you’ve the celebrated Martini which is unimaginable without gin. The ‘Gin & Tonic’ cocktail has a very riveting history. When India was under British rule, the colonizers found an effective cure for malaria, a tropical disease. The quinine in the bark obtained from the cinchona tree helped in curing malaria but it had an incredibly bitter taste.
In order to make the tonic palatable, gin was added to it with a dash of lime juice and that is how the renowned Gin & Tonic was born. In the following paragraphs, we will update you on the popular time-honored ways of drinking gin. We’ll also walk you through the most popular cocktail recipes.
Experiment with classic varieties after you become a connoisseur
After you’ve amassed extensive experience to be labeled an authority on gins, you become a perfect candidate for trying vintage stuff. Usually, you’ll bump into classic brands that deserve to be tagged as collectors’ items in quaint bars and pubs. Though gin traditionally was never intended to be decanted into martini glasses from bottles in which the spirit had been sitting for decades, you’ll be able to source the beverage from bars that stock bottles 50-60 years old.
If you wish to relish the variety of flavors, as they open up, pour your first shot and let it stay for 10-12 minutes. Sip the drink, and thereafter pour out the 2nd shot, and follow the same process. You’ll feel the flavor changing with every fresh round you take, albeit in a subtle manner.
Do not shy away from drinking gin neat
If you’ve been toying with the idea of quaffing the spirit in neat form, then go ahead and fulfill your wish. A variety of brands, of late, are being distilled in a manner that allows you to drink the stuff without adding anything at all. Since, most brands now are spiced with the flavor that you have a preference for like orris, cardamom, cassia or licorice you do not need to blend. This is particularly true of gins that that have been aged in casks or barrels. Distilleries in the US, especially those that distill in small batches, now mature gin in barrels that were originally used for aging cabernet sauvignon or sauvignon blanc.
Make the most of the endless range of gin cocktails
When it comes to savoring gin cocktails, your possibilities are almost endless. The essence lies in experimenting by blending flavors that sometimes harmonize and at other times, contrast. For instance, you can start by complementing a cinnamon-flavored gin with a stick or two of cinnamon and then graduate onto the contrasting part. Ask the bartender what kind of flavor will contrast with cinnamon as well as emphasize its distinguishing essence. Chocolate and pears are two flavors that come instantly to mind.
You bet you’ll fall for the Martini once you try it
Gin reveals its true avatar in a Martini. You can find it out for yourself by rustling up a martini in the cool comfort of your home. Gin is amongst the most neutral of spirits whose botanical flavors are perfectly highlighted in a martini. To prepare a serving of martini pour of 2-1/2 ounces of gin, ½ ounce of vermouth, and 1 dash of orange bitters in a mixing glass filled with ice and blend thoroughly. Transfer the contents into a martini glass or cocktail glass that has been chilled beforehand. Add a twist of lemon for garnishing.
Gin & Tonic