Cocktail of the week: Gintonica
Put on your yalmulka, here comes gin-tonica,
Its so much fun-akkah to celebrate gin-tonica!
With all due respect to Adam Sandler and his holiday chuckles, a well crafted Gin & Tonic is one of my favorite cocktails. The wide variety of gins available these days is far reaching, and goes beyond hte bathtub varieties of Prohibition, and past the mass market varieties that resemble little more than nail polish with a fancy label.
Before I delve in my three favorite Gin & Tonic recipes for your Friday enjoyment, let’s look a little bit at the history at gin. I first became fascinated with gin when I first went to Spain, where the Gintonic has long been held as a sacred ritual and art form. As it turns out, filed under the heading strange but true facts about booze, Spain boasts the third highest per capita consumption of gin around the world, after (oddly enough) the Phillipines and the United States. Britain, which is what pops in to most minds when you say gin, falls fourth in line. Considering that Spain produces world class wine, this is a pretty crazy statistic – but this Luscious Lushes is happy to have stumbled in to the country where a gin & tonic is a creative outlet for even the most back country bartender takes pride in.
Gin was originally derived from juniper berries in the Middle Ages, and was used as an herbal medicine. Today, gins are any clear spirit that is made from botanicals, and can be floral, herbal, woodsy, or juiper-y. The key difference here, is that while vodka is a flavorless spirit, gin has a ton of flavor, and distillers pride themselves on a unique and secret combination of herbs, flowers, and spices, to give their own special twist to their version.
legance in a glass. There are two distinct types of spirit that can be called gin:Today, with the craft cocktail craze sweeping the US and the world, gin is no longer a medicinal beverage or a poor man’s drink – it is e
- Gin – This is a juniper flavored spirit made by adding natural flavors to a neutral spirit. The predominant flavor must be juniper.
- London Gin – must be at least 70% ABV and cannot have any added sugar beyond .1 grams per liter. Because there is not
added sugar, London Gin is usually called London Dry Gin.
My favorite gins are all quite different, and I continue to explore and disvoer new versions that are as widely varied in falvvor as a Bordeaux is from a California Pinot Noir:
- St. George Spirits Terroir Gin – St. George Spirits, the makers of Hangar One Vodka, is across the bay from me and prouces three gins. Terroir is my favorite, with earthy, forest flavors, minty goodness and cedar notes.
- Old World Spirits Blade Gin – fruity and spicy, with ginger and hot pepper notes this is a citrus driven gin with earthy bones that really sing.
- Hendricks Dry London GIn – clean, crisp, dry. The perfect classic London gin.
Now on to the cocktails! The key to a good cocktail is having the right flavors, blended together perfectly. In this case, for my three favorite Gin & Tonics, I like to use bitters to enhance the flavor of the gin, along with different tonics which highlight key notes in the gin. Tonic makes all the difference! There are so many craft tonics out there these days, step away from the mass market brands and branch out to Fentimans, Q, or Fever Tree. If you’re very adventerous, try making your own tonic!
- St George Terroir Gin
- Fentiman’s Tonic Water
- 1 dash lime bitters
- dash lavender bitters
- dash cardomon bitters
- slice of lime
The aromatics of the lavender bitters plays particularly well off of the Terroir; the herbal notes of the bitters and the forest floor qualities of the gin are a stunning combination. The cardamon adds a hint of exotic spice that you wouldn’t otherwise expect, dancing off of your tongue, while the lime enhances the natural compliment of a fresh slice on top. The tonic of choice for this is Fentimans, as Schwepps is to flat in flavor, and the Fever Tree, while a tasty tonic, doesn’t pack the punch that makes this Gin & Tonic speical. I prefer the Fentimans for the lemongrass notes and citrus burst.
- Blade Gin
- Fentimans Tonic Water
- Slice of lime
A simple classic, the lightness of the Fever Tree enhances the Blade gin. Pure and simple.
- Blade Gin
- tonic syrup, mixed with sparkling water to make tonic water
- dash grapefruit bitters
- C&B Old Fashioned Quinine syrup, mixed per directions
- Antica Fomula vermouth, a premier sipping quality vermouth
The tonic syrup is a unique flavor, and naturally brown, as quinine turns when it ages. The adition of the grapefruit bitters pop the flavors up in this mixture, and the touch of vermouth brings a roundness and a caramelized sweet note that is pleasing on the palate. Make sure you don’t use white vermouth or an inferior quality!
I hope these drinks inspire you, and I encourage you to go out and make up your own drinks!