When I was a kid I drank tonic water like it was Coke or Fanta – I preferred the slightly dry, bitter taste from the quinine in it (good for malaria!) over sugary fizzy pop. Looking back, I think it was destiny that I went on to choose tonic water’s beloved, gin, over vodka or rum as my tipple of choice.
There’s been quite the gin renaissance in recent years, with artisanal distilleries springing up everywhere from Hammersmith to Herefordshire.
Tony Conigliaro, mixologist and owner of 69 Colebrooke Row told Forbes "Gin is massive at the moment. You can’t get away from gin; it’s everywhere. It’s kind of the vodka of a few years ago. There are so many new gins out there. People got over their fear of it being depressing, or junipers being depressing, and actually really appreciate the flavors in gin."
These are a few of my favourites:
Bloom professes to be “inspired by the natural flora of an English country garden” which I rather like. Key botanicals in this blend are chamomile, pomelo and honeysuckle, and they suggest you drink Bloom with strawberries and tonic to enhance the delicate, floral flavour.
The one that’s based in Hammersmith. The founders of Sipsmith are the proud owners of the first copper distillery in London since 1820, and they call ‘her’ Prudence. Sipsmith have a fantastic website with all sorts of information about their own gin, plus fascinating trivia about the history of the drink – did you know that in the early 18th century gin was always sold alongside gingerbread? I think I’m going to bring this back – if they can do it with champagne and hotdogs, why the hell not?
I feel like I’ve been on a gin odyssey over the past few years, drinking this one with cucumber shoved in it, and that one with flowery notes, and actually all along the best one was right under my nose – good ol’ Gordon’s. It’s clean, crisp and tangy and makes the best gin and tonic. Plus they got some supercool designers to give the classic green glass bottle a bit of a makeover so it looks even fancier now. Flash Gordon indeed! Sorry.
Also good are London No.3, made by Berry Bros. & Rudd (a 300 year old family firm based in St. James), Brecon gin and Plymouth Gin which is the best in Martinis, at least in our household and according to their website, which says: “In 1896 the first ever recipe for a Dry Martini specified Plymouth Gin (in Stuart's Fancy Drinks and How to Mix Them) and by the 1930's Plymouth Gin was the star of the cocktail era. It is the only gin still around today to be named in numerous recipes in the renowned Savoy Cocktail Book.”
Fun Non-Gin-Related Fact:
Chase vodka is made from the same potatoes that make Tyrrells Crisps! In Herefordshire! And it’s been voted the best vodka in the world! Isn’t that cool? This vodka has such a deliciously creamy, buttery taste that you can easily drink it neat. I like sipping it from a shot glass so I can pretend it’s a pint and I’m a giant.
My favourite cocktail is a classic gin Martini, served with an olive. They do really good ones at Viajante, Rules and, of course, Dukes Hotel. This is where Ian Fleming used to hang out and where he is said to have invented 007’s own special, the shaken-not-stirred Martini.
Although, when you actually order a Martini at Dukes, it’s neither shaken, nor stirred – instead they wheel a little trolley carrying all the ingredients up to your table and mix it for you on the spot. Because everything’s been kept on ice and there’s no need to shake or stir anything – they wash the glass out with vermouth so it coats the inside, then they pour the gin in, and that’s it. Hardcore.
Now obviously please drink responsibly - the whole point of a delicious cocktail made with a fine, artisanal gin is that you savour it and appreciate the flavour - so be sensible, ok?
And tell me, are you a gin fanatic (bore) like me? What's your poison?