Monday, August 29, 2011

Imbibe Monday: How To Make A (Good) Gin and Tonic

“I never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast.” - W.C. Fields

There is definitely something to be said about a complex cocktail, finely and delicately built to perfection. But I also am one who leans towards simplicity. Give me a cocktail with a few good ingredients over a Vieux Carre any day. That’s why I think the Gin and Tonic is such a wonderful beverage. Perfect as a summer drink, it only takes two ingredients and some ice. Done! Easy.

Initially introduced in the 18th century by the British East India Company, Gin and Tonics were utilized for medical purposes for the British colonies in India. In the 18th century tonic contained large amounts of quinine, used to prevent malaria, which held a very bitter taste. Thus gin was used to offset the acrimony. Just as dry vermouth harmonizes well in a gin martinis, the quinine (smaller amounts used today) complements the juniper and botanical green notes used in the production of gin. And the very reason it was consumed in the warmer Indian weather led to it becoming a favorable summer treat.

You might be asking yourself why I would even bother writing a whole blog on how to make such an "easy" cocktail; however, even the simplest of cocktails can go down the wrong path. I would have three suggestions to enjoying a good Gin and Tonic: 

First use good gin. Today, there is a much larger market of gin, and some really good stuff is showing up in the micro-distillery sectors. Up and coming distilleries, such as Dry Fly and Breuckelen Distilling Company Inc. (as well as many others) are producing some very complex and intricate gins.  

Second, though it might sound strange to even bring this up, is to use fresh tonic. The worst thing to experience is an offering of Gin and Tonic where your host is using an old half-empty bottle tonic for your cocktail. Buy the small cans if you are not going to finish the tonic in one sitting. It's worth it.

Lastly and most importantly is what kind of ice you use. I am not necessarily a Gin snob but I will admit to being somewhat of an ice snob. My biggest disappointment when I order an Old Fashioned at a bar is when it’s brought to me with crushed or small cubed ice. Different kinds of cocktails use different kinds of ice. When it comes to Gin and Tonic I think large ice is best. This is not a beverage which needs to be diluted quickly – you just want it cold. 

Gin and Tonic Recipe (1 Serving):

2 oz gin
4 oz tonic water

Adjust to taste if needed, don’t ever think it, just use the best ingredients you’ve got. Maybe throw in some lemon (or lime) and juniper berries if you want.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting bit of history there on the drink, and I agree--a good gin and tonic takes good ingredients.