From finding your favourite new gin to choosing the ultimate food pairings, garnishes and tonics, our ginspirational guide has you covered…
Words: Kayleigh Rattle
So, you love gin. Great news: us too! But with the UK currently in the midst of an unprecedented gin renaissance – more than 73 million bottles of gin were sold in the UK in 2018 alone, plus there are now more than 361 gin distilleries UK – it can be tricky to know where to begin. Worry not – we’re here to address all of your gin needs in time for World Gin Day on 8th June 2019, so all you need to do is sit back and slurp your favourite tipple. Bottom’s up!
What’s your flavour?
It’s not as simple as saying you like gin. Sorry! Like wine, all manner of elements can influence the flavour profile of British gin, from the distillation process to the unique blend of botanicals used to make floral, fruity, citrus, spicy or juniper-led gins. Flavoured gins are currently experiencing a boom in the UK, experiencing a 751% growth year on year, with pink gins flying off the shelves in particular. On top of supermarket own-brands and pink gins from long-standing behemoths Gordon’s and Beefeater, craft pink gins to look out for include Norwich’s Bullards (it’s flavoured with strawberry and black pepper) and Warner’s Rhubarb gin.
The perfect serve
While traditional highball glasses (or Collins glasses) undoubtedly have their merits – who doesn’t love their favourite cocktail served in one – when it comes to summer 2019 G&Ts, it’s all about the curvaceous, Spanish-inspired ‘copa’ glass. According to gin gurus, their spherical shape and wide rim help to enhance the nose and fragrance of gin, and to draw out the unique aromas of the botanicals used. If you glass cabinet is short of these en vogue receptacles, a large red wine glass will do. Make sure to feel it to the rim with ice, too – a couple of lonely ice cubes floating here and there simply will not cut it!
With English wine also experiencing a revival, it’s a great time for the British drinks’ industry. In fact, a couple of English wine makers are even making gin from leftover wine grapes. For Foxhole Gin, it’s a case of making use of a by-product of the wine-making industry know as ‘marc’ – a pulpy mass of grape skins that remains after grapes have been pressed to make wine – to make a grape base spirit. It works wonderfully in a dry martini. At Kent’s Chapel Down, Pinot Noir grape skins from the winery’s grape harvests are blended with an English wheat spirit to create a juniper-led citrusy gin, with a red berry aroma – and hue!
Match made in heaven
Pairing gin with food is nothing new – who doesn’t love that olive served with a martini – and you may be surprised to hear quite how many foods gin pairs well with. So much so, it’s not uncommon to see plenty of gin-infused foods in the shops; think Loch Fyne’s Gin Infused Smoked Salmon or Pinkster’s Gin Jam. When it comes to main meals, gin and curry are a match made in heaven – check out Mayfair’s Michelin-starred Gymkhana, whose gin list plays on the spirits’ purported medicinal qualities to experience the combo for yourself. If fish and chips are more your thing, a refreshing gin and tonic can cut through crispy battered fish and a garlicky side of tartare sauce with relish.
Gins in tins
Perfect for picnics and barbecues, grab-and-go tinnies are having a moment – and you can now quench your thirst with a G&T in this transportable format, too, thanks to a whole host of nationwide supermarkets and distillers getting on board. To get in on the act, Sipsmith has just launched a London Dry Gin & Tonic tin, available in regular and a low-calorie light, while Longflint Drinks’ Wild Hedgerow G&T is bursting with botanicals foraged from East London canal paths and is a real thirst-quencher on a sunny day.
Just the tonic!
Now you’ve got your gin sorted, what about the tonic? For premium tonics brand Fever Tree, it’s a case of carefully pairing your gin with the right tonic, depending on your chosen gin’s flavour profile. The brand recommends serving citrus and herbaceous gins with their Mediterranean tonic; sloe and sweet gins with Lemon tonic; fresh and floral gins with Elderflower tonic and juniper-rich gins with an Aromatic tonic. Or, how about going the extra mile and making your own mixer? Take inspiration from a number of leading London restaurants, such as Skye Gyngell’s Spring, where their in-house tonic water contains jasmine sourced from London parks.
When it comes to final flourishes, a traditional ‘ice and slice’ garnish, such as a thin wedge of lemon or lime, always works well with citrus-led gins. But for a twist on convention, we recommend experimenting with grapefruit or cucumber slices. Not only will they add a refreshing extra, but they will look great sitting in your glass, too. If a a floral gin is more your thing, fragrant thyme sprigs or elderflower buds are a personal favourite while warmer, spice-led gins are just asking to be served with orange peel, a stick of cinnamon, a cardamom pod or a star anise a go. Happy experimenting!
Against the grain
On top of traditional gins, there are all manner of weird and wonderful gins popping up across the UK if you’re really looking to raise your gin game (or you’re serving a difficult crowd). For a taste of one of springtime’s finest crops, look no further than Hussingtre’s Asparagus Gin from Worcestershire, which uses local asparagus as its main botanical. And, for a guaranteed visual wow-factor, M&S’ colour-changing gins (available in British Rose and British Lavender) will most certainly impress your guests this summer.