Being in the booze biz, people ask me all the time what my favorite cocktail is. I think of myself as more of a seasonal drinker – so the time of year and the weather dictates what I’m mixing up at home or ordering up my local bar. Fall and winter months are dedicated almost exclusively to whiskey: perfect Manhattans, Boulevardiers and bourbon neat. But as soon as it starts to warm up and those patio chairs get dusted off, it is almost exclusively gin season. Gin gets a bad rap, and I get it, several people I know have been burned by some pine tree tasting beast of a gin, but all that I’m saying is give gin a chance. There are so many beautiful and unique gins, especially American gins, out in the market right now that have such a depth of flavor aside from juniper. It makes it fun to explore and taste your way through this whole new world of gin.
The most classic gin cocktail is a good old gin and tonic – the perfect cocktail for the spring season. There are a lot of beautiful craft tonics on the market as well. Hopwater is a local company that makes a great alternative to tonic. Metropole makes its own tonic, using the traditional ingredients of the tonic of yesteryear, quinine derived from cinchoa trees and bark powder, lime, sugar and citric acid. It is delicious. As far as G&T’s go, I don’t think anyone does it better than the Spanish. Spanish G&T’s are so awesome because they use things like berries, spices, and herbs to flavor their cocktail. Imagine a sangria version of a gin and tonic. For these beautiful cocktails it’s all about the garnish.
SPANISH GIN AND TONIC GARNISHES
Berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries)
Citrus (orange, grapefruit, kumquat, lime)
Spices (star anise, cardamom, cinnamon)
Herbs (basil, mint, rosemary)
The trick to making this cocktail is to pick out your garnish first and then build the drink on top to further flavor your cocktail. It’s a great way to mix up and old classic.
PARTY ON: This would be a great bar to set up at your next out door shindig. Offer different types of gin, different types of tonic and an assortment of garnishes. Your guests can build their own gin and tonics to taste. It’s a great to pick a theme for your bar when you throw a party, and always fun when you can get your guests to participate in building their cocktails. You can also pre-make these babies in pitchers, and the great thing is not only are they delicious they look beautiful. Also, Metropole sells their house tonic so you can wow and amaze your friends with this unique mixer.
So what did we learn today? Gin is our friend and Spain is helping us up our G&T games! Cheers, and here is to gin season!
Your neighborhood bar geek,