Believe it or not, there are some establishments still oblivious to the revolution that we are all part of! Dare I say it, but I thought that the days of dirty wine glasses, a choice of Gordons or a double ‘supermarket label’ gin, and a warm bottle of ‘ Schweppes or Britvic?’ proffered with a smug smile, had long since been the domain of second rate golf clubs. Any request for ice would be met with a grunt and, at best, two lumps! Three minutes of scrambling under the bar, in kitchen cupboards, in the store room – accompanied by more, grunts, huffs and puffs, of course – would be followed by a meagre slice of lemon, extracted from its’ tub of brine with a handy fork, should one have been as bold as to suggest a garnish…
Alas, whilst so many pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants have embraced the rapidly evolving and highly profitable gin market, many try hard and fail, others try poorly, whilst many more don’t even bother…
Now, I don’t consider myself to be a snob in any way shape or form, and I understand that financial constraints restrict many quieter establishments from clearing out the shelves at Waitrose in order to stock the garnish trays behind their bars. However, I do feel that if an artisan distiller has gone to the end of the world and back to source their ideal botanicals, before running 147 trial batches to perfect their recipe, then a modicum of respect should be shown to the end product. After all, the garnish and mixers can potentially make or break your gin, if you should decide to not drink it neat.
The internet is a wonderful thing; it allows us to post pictures of cute looking puppies on social media, whilst receiving offers of huge amounts of money hidden under the beds of very believeable characters in far flung corners of the universe. It also allows us, as gin fanatics, to understand exactly what goes into our favourite tipple, as well as some great information as to what to put with it!
Personal tastes do differ. Not everything is for everyone, but you know best how your palate works and for the most part, unless your entire life has been spent solely drinking fresh water from a pure source of Himalayan glacial meltwater and consuming Iceberg lettuce, one cannot claim to be have the taste buds of a French Sommelier. Let yourself be guided by the gin – sample it neat, add ice and sample again – before adding your mixer. Some gins will scream out at you, their underlying notes begging for a garnish to bring them to life, whilst others may want a little assistance in contrasting one flavour element with another.
Gin is probably the most complex of all spirits, and as we see more and more variations come to market, the complexity is increasing almost daily. For many of these gins, the addition of a garnish, or the splash of a mixer, can lead to confusion and ultimately, complicate the tastes. In many ways, a ‘simpler’ gin is more flexible and can accommodate a wider variety of additions.
Take a classic London Dry, such as Bombay Sapphire. It will work with any citrus fruit and a wide variety of infused tonic waters, whilst a structured style of ‘gin a la Citadelle’ demands a garnish that complements its’ subtle nuances, such as cinnamon or lemon, and a simple premium tonic water. Straying too far from these notes will mask its’ glory.
Likewise, the latest trend for fruit infused gins certainly calls for a replication of the flavours in their serve, or a complimentary addition in your garnish and the notion of a floral or aromatic tonic could make your toes curl. Just imagine – rhubarb crumble with pesto…
So the next time you part with your hard earned cash in a swanky bar, pause for a moment and just check that the recommended serve works for you; its all in the interests of your enjoyment.
So, until next time - Bottoms up!
SHARING IS CARING:
The Gin Bible 2018