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World Gin Day: what makes a great G&T?

Today is World Gin Day. So let’s talk gin.

The best thing about gin is that all gin is good. There’s no such thing as gin snobbery because it’s mostly delicious. It’s not like vodka, where your drink might be cursed with Red Square or Smirnoff or, worse still, Glenn’s.

‘…It’s refreshing
it’s incredibly versatile
it’s palate-cleansing
and it’s vast…’

The worst you can get when it comes to gin is supermarket own which, on the whole, is perfectly acceptable. Even Beefeater and Gordon’s have a loving neighbourhood in this great gindom of ours.

So where to begin? Gin is refreshing, it’s incredibly versatile, it’s palate-cleansing, and it’s vast – so there is most definitely a gin for you. Also, it’s full of antioxidants, which means it must be good for you. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. And you can bastardise it till your heart’s content, turning it into a gin liqueur, and you won’t upset anyone. Sloe gin, damson gin, elderflower gin. It’s all good.

Since the Hendrick’s boom and the introduction of its best friend the cucumber, we’ve broadened our minds as to what gin can offer us. We are no longer bound to the Abigail’s Partystyle Schweppes tonic, ice and lemon, served in a highball. Our gin need is greater.

But there’s a problem. We have all of these artisan gins (with their artisan prices) just waiting to crash against cubes of ice in a solid bottomed glass and be enjoyed with a gasp that only gin can conjure as it fornicates with your tongue, releasing all of its wondrous meadow-like flavours.

But then we add Schweppes or Britvic, or, dare I say it, gun tonic and a slice of tinned lemon to the cocktail. We may as well have ordered the house gin and saved ourselves a few quid.

If we want to drink artisan gin, we need to serve it with artisan tonic and not just simply default to ice and a slice. I really struggle not to burst out laughing when someone asks me if I want ice in my G&T. No, I’ll have it warm, thanks.

There’s a bit of room for snobbery when it comes to gin, but these are delicate flavours and deserve more than an old bottle of tonic left over from Christmas.

So, here are three-simple-yet-helpful ways to enhance your gin experience. But first of all we need to know how to pour it.

Throw away your measuring device. Grab whatever vessel you choose to serve your G&T in. My preference is a low, heavy bottomed tumbler. It just feels right. Or the Spanishstyle goldfish bowl (balon) wine glass. Fill it two-thirds to the top with ice, then glug in your gin a third of the way up the glass. Add your botanical, then top up pretty much to the brim with your choice of tonic. Stir, sip, gasp.

1) Tonic

This wonderful quinine enriched, mouth-watering creation can completely change the taste of your gin, depending on which brand you choose. Run-of-the-mill tonics are fine for run-of-the-mill gin, but at least add proper fizz. Buy cans instead of big bottlesthey’re the exact amount of tonic you need anyway.

Better still, experiment with premium tonics like Fevertree and Fentiman’s. For instance, Hendricks is a completely different beast when mixed with Fentiman’s tonic. I thought I’d gone off it until I tried it again with its correct partner, Fevertree.

2) Effervescent-less?

Ever found yourself continuously pouring flat G&Ts even though the tonic is fresh? Try just using a bit of rind instead of a squeezed wedge, as sometimes the acidity kills the bubbles. Or experiment with herbs. Lavender, a cinnamon stick and a star anise is an amazing concoction and works with most gins. Or try a couple of crushed cardamom seeds. One sip of this and you’ll feel like a mahārāja!

3) Put your trust in gin

If my favourite gin – Bathtub Gin – has taught me one thing, it’s that sometimes less is more. Gin need not be muddied with any fruit. I like Bathtub Gin neat or just with a bit of Fevertree tonic and, for the love of gin, it’s good! Most distilleries balance their spirit perfectly with the right infusion of their own blend of botanicals, so trust them.

Anyway, enough. I hope you’re salivating. I have glass of gin in my hand and three more waiting in the kitchen. But before I go, a small shout out to the publicans of Manchester. Don’t limit yourself to one tonic. There is scope for all the tonics of the world to get involved with our drinks and only serving gun tonic or flat Schweppes is clearly a crime.

In the name of the lemon, the lime, and the holy juniper. Ahhhh gin.

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