In a world of Vodka Red Bulls and Jack Daniels BBQ sauce, gin is perceived as one of the classier spirits. Regal it may be, but my first memory of gin was as a young boy, watching Vic and Bob chant “Gin, gin, gin, gin” to summon Donald Cox the Sweaty Fox on Shooting Stars. When the drunken fox croaked “Got any gin?” I always thought of the stuff as loony juice.
How times change.
“Gin has become much more popular due to the change in licensing in 2009. It allowed small batch artisanal producers to start changing the face and perception of gin. It allowed it to evolve and break away from its stereotype.”
I’m talking to Liquor Store bartender and chief mischief maker Danny Bigg-Wither, aka Biggsy, on the eve of one of the biggest days in the gin calendar – World Gin Day.
I’m more of a drinker than a dissector, so let’s turn it over to Danny for some gin-inspired thoughts.
We tend to associate scotch drinkers with a certain type of character. Is there a certain type of gin drinker?
I think stereotypes of all drinkers are now becoming obsolete. I used to be able to pour drinks for people as they walked through the door which is now not the case.
People now want to know what they’re drinking and love the options. Gin drinkers are now becoming connoisseurs to the spirit as they should be served the right spirit, the right tonic, the right garnish in the right glass. Bartenders need to be ready to accommodate anyone for anything!
What’s your favourite gin?
Old Tom, because I like old school heavy juniper! Portobello Road, because I find it very versatile. It can be drunk neat and also is a great ingredient in cocktails. I’m looking forward to the new distillery opening.
Have you tried Manchester Gin?
Yes I have! I think it’s a fantastic product and I love how small batch it really is; made in a garage in Chorlton with locally sourced botanicals including dandelion and burdock.
I think they and other small batch gins are the driving force of the gin craze as they provide a multitude of different flavours keeping things exciting and people open to experimentation with different products. So I think a big thanks should go out to Sipsmith gin for making it all possible.
How important is good tonic?
A good quality tonic is invaluable to a good G&T. Tonic has come a long way from the sugary syrup that the soda gun era forced upon us. But I think there’s more to the drink than gin, tonic and garnish.
The biggest and most important ingredient is the bartender. They should provide you with options and have the passion to put across a good quality drink. We remember when we’re served a super gin and tonic and where we got it from.
What are your favourite gin cocktails? Any chance of a few recipes?
For me Bramble is the perfect summertime drink to make at home or order in a bar.
Take 50ml of your favourite gin, 25ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, 12.5ml sugar syrup (which you can make at home with a 2:1 ratio of sugar and water). Mix in with some crushed ice and float creme de mure (blackberry liqueur) on top. Garnish with a fresh lemon & blackberry.
Also a Negroni, a favourite of mine and Leon Dalloway, the Gin Boss of Shake, Rattle & Stir, which is 25ml gin, 25ml Campari, and 25ml sweet vermouth over cubed ice.
How will you be celebrating World Gin Day?
We’ll be showcasing our range of gins over the week with a selection of specials from some of our favourite distilleries.