Gin Is In!
I’ve written about different types of brown spirits, whisky and single malt scotch, but never about white spirits like vodka and gin. Vodka is extremely popular in many cocktails because it’s flavorless, while gin is popular for anything but. Gin is vodka with botanicals, and it always has to have juniper. But there are some outstanding gins that have other dried botanicals like citrus fruits and herbs, as well as some that even add things like Spanish olives and basil into the distillation. All of these lend themselves well in a Gin and Tonic, but some of the more unique ones also do well in other cocktails, or alone.
Why I Choose Gin Over Vodka
A few years ago we went through some changes in our home life, and suffice to say, I developed stomach aches off and on. My doctor said it wasn’t an ulcer and gave me a daily antacid to take. At the same time I had taken a class on bitters. I already knew that the dried botanicals in gin were considered “restorative” and the bitters were equally so.
Of course there are many people, even my husband, that don’t care for the botanicals in gin. To each his own. What is curious to me is that as soon as I make a gin Martini, or have one made for me, within a few sips my tummy relaxes. Who knows for sure if it’s the gin or just the idea of turning off the mind and sipping a martini at the end of the day – signaling my body that it’s time to rest? Whatever it is – it works for me. Hope this inspires some readers to drink out-of-the-box and try something new.
A couple of definitions you will need to know. Navy Strength (Four Pillars makes a tasty one) means it’s a stronger gin, with a higher proof, and London Dry gins won’t have any botanicals added in the final distillation.
Martinis and Mixers
I’ve seen and tried different measures of Dry Vermouth in a Gin Martini, from 1/2 a cap to a full ounce, and firmly believe it’s up to your taste preference. Lillet Blanc, a white Bordeaux wine with quinine and botanicals, and my personal favorite in a Martini, is about perfect at one half ounce to one to two ounces of Gin.
Favorites and Why
My favorite cocktails to make with Gin include the Vesper (2 parts – commonly ounces – gin, 1 part vodka and 1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc), a Martini (recipe as mentioned above), a Negroni (1 part gin, 1 part sweet Vermouth and one part Compari) and of course, gin that is so tasty on its own I sip it on ice with just an orange peel garnish.
For a sipper look for Gin Mare, a Spanish gin that is distilled from Arbequina olives, rosemary, thyme, basil and other botanicals. Another, on the expensive side but worth having in your liquor cabinet is Monkey 47, which you probably guessed, has 47 botanicals in their recipe. Hendrick’s, known for its cucumber and rose petal notes, has another recipe, the Midsummer Solstice purple label which also includes lavender in the mix. Found Nolet’s gin – notes of rose, peach and raspberry – at Salt Creek Grille Valencia and recently got three more people at our table to try it in a Martini and they all loved it, is also enjoyable as a sipper.
For a classic Gin and Tonic, often referred to as a G and T, the unique dark blue color of Empress 1908 changes to pink when plain tonic is added, Gin No. 209 has a secret recipe but citrus and spices are among the botanicals, and I recently discovered the inexpensive Tanqueray Rangpur, with notes of orange and lime. Fever Tree, a top notch tonic company, makes different flavors that you will want to try during your G and T journey. One last word, though lime is common in a G and T, try an orange peel if some of the gin notes include orange, it’s a refreshing change.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.
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