Who doesn’t love an ice cold G&T after a long week? Once regarded as a tipple that only your grandparents would choose, gin has become the spirit to drink.
It doesn’t matter how you drink it, on ice, in a cocktail or perfectly mixed with tonic water. All that matters if you want to be a part of the gin buzz is that you are drinking it!
Like the look of this St. Germain Lavender G&T? Get the recipe here
For the real gin fanatics there are plenty of gin themed excursions and trips, whether you want to sip gin aboard a train, check in to the gin hotel or take part in what will probably be the poshest gin-themed pub crawl you’ve ever been on, the options are endless.
There’s been a barrage of positive gin news recently. It’s low in cals, and and juniper, the main botanical in gin, is full of anti-oxidants which can help with bloating and help your skin look healthier. A G&T can even help with cure hay fever – do you really need any more convincing?
But which gin is right for you? And what’s the ultimate G&T pairing? We consulted the experts to find out…
Meet our Gin Experts…
As Chair of the World Drinks Awards, Felicity knows her gin, especially when it comes to the different brands. Felicity’s favourite gin for beginners is Bombay Sapphire, because its flavours are more delicate – “the botanicals are placed in a basket above the alcohol rather than boiled in it.” Once you’ve mastered this she recommends any of the gold, silver or bronze winners which can be found at The World Gin Awards website.
Leon Dalloway is a contributor for BBC Good Food and founder of the award-winning Gin Journey. Leon’s breath of gin knowledge covers everything from its history to where to find the most ‘banging’ gin bars across the country. Leon’s top tip is to try your gin with a dash of water – “use a max of equal parts. This allows you to understand what is the predominant flavour profile.” Leon can be found posting all things gin-related on the Gin Boss Twitter and Instagram.
What is the best gin for gin and tonic?
2016 was declared the year of gin, with around 40 million bottles sold. Since, enthusiasts everywhere have been keen to find the best value bottle. But with so many different varieties available, and new distilleries popping up all the time, it can be hard to know which gin is best (but you sure can have fun finding out!)
The World Gin Awards 2017 saw a 45 per cent increase in the number of entries this year so the competition was tough. But while Sweden’s Hernö Gin took the top spot as the World’s Best Gin for 2017, the UK had some strong entries. The UK’s Bullards Norwich Dry Gin took the title of best London Dry, while Ableforth’s Bathtub Gin Navy-Strength was named best Compound Gin – these varieties are made without distilling the botanicals. Instead, fresh botanicals are infused or essences are used.
Interestingly, paying more for your gin does not necessarily make it better. At the International Spirits Challenge (ISP), Aldi’s own brand gin, which costs just £9.97, beat the likes of Hendrick’s (£28) and Tanqueray Rangpur (£18) in a blind taste test. It’s even less than Sainsbury’s basic gin (£10.75)! Drinks expert Jilly Goolden declared Aldi’s gin as both ‘cheap’ and ‘classy’. Can’t argue with that combo…
Which garnish is best for a G&T?
All gins must use juniper and start as a neutral spirit to be classed as a gin when made in the EU. The rest of the botanicals vary considerably from bottle to bottle. When choosing what gin to buy, Leon suggests you look on the label to see the botanical mix of the gin, the ABV (Alcohol By Volume) and where it is from. This can help you decide what the best garnish is to compliment the gin you have chosen.
Leon says: “Cucumber works well with cucumber lead gins and citrus belongs in a lot of gins on the market. Lime is great in some yet is a native of South America so only made it’s way into the G&T relatively recently where as lemon is European and has featured for a lot longer.”
What is the best tonic water for gin and tonic?
Think carefully about your tonic if you want the best end result. Felicity said: “The quality of the tonic water is important – don’t skimp on this – it’s worth paying more for the best.”
Leon highly recommends Fever-Tree. He says: “They’re natural and they have a great range of expressions.” Other tonic brands that come highly commended are Q Tonic, Fentimans and 1724. If you don’t fancy tonic with your gin Leon has some other suggestions. “I find a good cloudy apple juice is incredible with gin, people are often surprised when I mention that.
“A splash of cranberry with that makes gin and crapple – delicious. Or a sparkling grapefruit drink like Ting is tasty as too.”
Leon recommends using one part gin to two parts tonic (or apple juice, ting, whatever your preference!)
What are the best gin glasses for gin and tonic?
Leon loves super tall glasses because the ice doesn’t melt as quickly, but he says balloon glasses are better for spreading aromas. These ‘balloon glasses’ originate from the basque region in northern Spain and are called the ‘Copa de Balon’.
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Similar in shape to a red wine glass, the Copa de Balon has a bulbous structure which sits on a stem. Gin connoisseurs and owners of the The Distillery, aka the Gin Hotel, Portobello Road Gin, explained how to get the perfect ‘Copa serve’: “Where the ‘copa serve’ really comes into it’s own though, is in the way that it’s garnished – utilising a variety of vegetables, spices and natural botanicals, pretty much anything goes – so long as they complement the flavour profile of the various botanicals in each gin and enhance the drink on the nose.”
Leon says regardless of the glass it is essential to fill it as full as possible with ice. He said: “This will mean your drink takes longer to dilute. Don’t serve me a puddle. Serve me the most crisp G&T you can fathom.” We couldn’t have said it better!
What are the best gin-based cocktails?
If you want something a little different to your classic G&T why not opt for a gin based cocktail. Leon recommends the following…
#ginmartini #dryginmartini #glasshousemanly #manlyspirits #cocktail #cocktailbar #obrigado
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A classic martini is comprised of five parts gin and one part dry martini. Will you take it as James Bond does, shaken and not stirred?
The Tom Collins
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This is a lovely refreshing tipple. Best served over ice with four parts carbonated water, three parts gin, two parts lemon juice and one part sugar syrup. We’ll take three please…
@imbibe & @campariofficial’s #NegroniWeek starts on Monday & and we’ll be serving up a special Negroni Menu in #TheRestingRoom with a percentage of every one sold going to @actionagainsthunger. One of our favourites here at The Distillery, we’ve found this perfect passage from @gazregan for @liquordotcom, explaining the drink’s interesting origins… “According to Lucca Picchi’s Sulle Tracce del Conte: La Vera Storia del Cocktail Negroni – the drink was created at Bar Casoni in Florence, according to Picchi, when Count Camillo Negroni ordered an Americano—sweet vermouth, Campari and club soda—with gin swapped in for the standard soda. This all went down circa 1920, after Count Negroni returned from the United States, where he rode the range, busting many a bronco on his travels in the Wild West. He was a tough man, by all accounts, and when American newsman Bob Davis bumped into him during a trip to Italy in 1928, he was sporting full cowboy regalia. “You speak English?” asked Davis. “You’re tootin’ I do, hombre,” replied the Count. In recent years, the Negroni has risen in popularity in the mixological community, and it has now joined the Dry Martini and the Manhattan to form the Triple Crown of classic cocktails. So why has the Negroni reached such heights? Besides being an incredibly well-balanced drink, it’s also a cocktail that’s hard to make badly—and this means that no matter where in the world you happen to be, if you order a Negroni you’re more or less guaranteed a great quaff. Try one. It won’t be your last.” We’ll drink to that! Cheers!
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This is Felicity’s favourite and perfect for those that like it strong! It is made of one part gin, one part Campari and one part sweet vermouth, giving it that distinctive bittersweet taste. For a twist on this one you might like the Negroni Spumante, it includes prosecco an pink grapefruit to garnish.