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The Expert Guide To G&T

From mixing to serving to pouring, expert bartenders, mixologists and gin specialists from iconic restaurants and hotels across the UK reveal exactly how to enjoy the nation’s favourite tipple

Agostino Perrone, master mixologist, The Connaught Bar: “There’s no cocktail quite as iconic as the martini”
“There’s no cocktail quite as iconic as the martini. My perfect blend includes: five parts gin (usually Sipsmith, Tanqueray or The Connaught Bar Gin), one part vermouth, and a dash of ginseng and bergamot essence, which I crush myself. It’s a dry but beautifully-balanced, as the perfect martini should be. Our signature Connaught Bar martini – of which we mix about 4,000 a month – is our most popular cocktail, and it’s brought to our guests on our martini trolley and mixed to order. A selection of five house-infused bitters, including lavender, cardamom, coriander, tonka bean or bergamot and ginseng, are on hand to make the martinis bespoke. To enhance your own gin at home, I’d recommend infusing a bottle of your favourite gin with cardamom pods or coriander seeds and letting it sit for 24 hours. My choice of gin varies according to the drink I’m preparing, where I am, and how I feel at the time, but my preferred gins are generally classic ones, such as Sipsmith, Hepple Gin, Star of Bombay, Tanqueray Number 10 and Beefeater 24. Overall, when it comes to serving gin, I believe that the quality of the ingredients is the most important. For this reason, we use dry ice in all of our drinks at The Connaught – it stops the drinks from diluting, allowing the taste of the drink and the overall experience to last longer.”

Lucas Brun, bartender at Knight’s Bar, Simpson’s in the Strand: “Freeze watermelon or strawberries and use them as ice in your G&T”
“Your choice of tonic is important as it should highlight the gin, not overpower it. I always think Franklin & Sons is a good choice. Made in London, it’s one of the most balanced tonics I’ve tasted, and the perfect combination of sweetness, bitterness, acidity and fizz. The garnish should complement the gin’s botanicals; for example, if the gin is citrusy, go for some lemon, orange or grapefruit peel/wedges. But you don’t have to play it safe – the main thing is to enjoy your G&T, so break the rules if you want to. Try it with some watermelon, ginger, apple… go for it! If you don’t have a cocktail shaker at home, use an empty water bottle and pour all the ingredients inside, give it a quick shake and leave in the fridge to chill or serve straight away over ice. Follow your mood and your tastes. Think about seasonality, about what you like, and what you fancy at the time. In warmer weather, why not freeze some watermelon or strawberries and using them as ice in your G&T?”

Jordan Sweeney, assistant head bartender, The Wigmore at The Langham: “The perfect G&T is a cold one… with a healthy measure of gin!”
“Temperature is always key when drinking gin. It must be cold when used for mixing, but if you plan on drinking it straight, room temperature is ideal for extracting the flavour profile and subtle nuances within the gin. I would always recommend tasting a gin before mixing it to enjoy the product in its purest form. Glasses are personal preference, but if you want to enjoy gin in a G&T, I would recommend using a highball glass, filled with as much ice as you can fit, and to follow the measurements: one part gin to two parts tonic. The other way to enjoy gin is the Mediterranean way, in a copa (balloon) glass filled with lots of ice and lots of tonic. The gin is somewhat lost in the mix, but if the sun breaks through the clouds on a warm British summer day, this serving suggestion will truly win you over. Garnishes work best when they represent the flavours within the gin. For example, fresh edible flowers for floral gins, fresh citrus peels and slices for citrusy gins and fresh herbs for herbal gins. If in doubt, a lemon or lime wedge will go a long way. In my opinion, the best gin cocktails are the simple ones; it’s hard to beat a Tom Collins, French 75, Bramble, Bees Knees or Southside. Always use good quality ice and be sure to fill the glass with it. Lots of ice will not dilute your drink as it’s commonly believed. Rather, it will keep the liquid cold and slow down the melting process. The perfect G&T is a cold one… with a healthy measure of gin!”

Mark Hix, chef and restauranteur: “Have martinis ready-mixed in the freezer”
“I’m a classic gin and tonic fan, and I’ll serve my G&T in a thick tumbler, with a slice of lemon. When it comes to cocktails, it’s a martini or negroni for me. I like mine classic, with Campari and vermouth, or in a ‘Full English’ as we serve at HIX (Conker gin, Sacred Rosehip Cup liqueur, and English sweet vermouth). For a martini, I like to serve the gin straight from the freezer, with a little glass rinse of vermouth. At home, I have martinis ready-mixed in the freezer. They contain about one teaspoon of vermouth per bottle, then all I need to do is add is a simple twist of lemon. I’m a big fan of Salcombe gin, and not just because I have collaborated with them! I also love Conker and Plymouth gins, and I recently visited Ramsbury and tried their London Gin, which is delicious, too.”

Daniel Stepien, head barman at The Ritz: “Pre-chill your glass so the ice doesn’t melt too quickly”
“One of my top tips for serving gin is to pre-chill your glass so the ice does not melt too quickly. Next, strain the water from the glass and pour in the gin – double measure of course – so you can taste the juniper. Pour very gently and serve with a nice piece of citrus or herbs, with a premium tonic on the side. I’m a very classic bartender; one of my favourite English gins is Plymouth gin, which is a navy-strength gin and one of the oldest distilleries in the UK. It is nicely juniper-led, and 41.2 % abv, so is a great strength. I’d also recommend Silent Pool from Surrey; the gin is crafted perfectly and has a nice chamomile flavour. We serve our gin and tonics at The Ritz in a highball glass, with the tonic on the side. We then pour the tonic for our guests to the desired amount.

Darren Ball, bar manager at The Ivy: “Garnishes should add flavour and aroma, and not interfere with the pleasure of drinking”
“The two main rules for garnishes are: they must add a flavour or aroma to complement the drink, and they shouldn’t interfere with the pleasure of drinking; floating juniper berries and rose petals can just get in the way. I like to keep it relatively simple, with a slice of lemon or grapefruit, or maybe a grind of finely ground black pepper. One of the most popular gin drinks served at The Ivy is the Negroni; this cocktail has seen a definite rise in popularity recently, which I think is a result of people becoming more comfortable with bitter flavours, perhaps tied to the increase in hoppy, craft beer. More and more people are asking for pink gins, too. Here at The Ivy, we’ve made our own blush concoction using a base of two gins; one with a pronounced blood orange, aroma and the other infused with wild strawberries and pink peppercorns.”

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