The TianShang gin cocktail at Yauatcha Mumbai.
You’ve probably noticed that gin is very much the booze of the moment. From gin tastings to craft gin launches and even gin and tonic tea bags, gin is turning out to be an effortlessly cool and sophisticated drink.
The spirit can, however, be a little confusing at first as gin isn’t normally consumed neat. That’s where gin mixers come into play. Tonic is the most obvious choice - October 19 is observed as International G&T Day.
But what if you run out of tonic at a party. Or if you are a tonic hater (tonic water is bitter; and the flavour is not to everyone's liking). Or you want to get more creative with your gin?
The popularity of G&T notwithstanding, there’s more to gin mixers than just plain tonic water. Bartenders and mixologists share alternatives to the traditional tonic, to bring out the flavours of your favourite gin.
Gin & soda
There’s no denying that the clean, faintly mineral fizz of soda allows a particularly flavorful gin to shine without overpowering it the way a tonic might. Plus gin and lime are happy bedfellows.
“The beauty of gin is that it blends perfectly with a range of different mixers. Gin and soda is a textbook example of a truly refreshing beverage. A ratio of 1:2 gin to soda is ideal to have a decent dilution to the gin while maintaining a good balance of flavours," says Kevin Rodrigues, sommelier, KA Hospitality Pvt. Ltd (Yauatcha, Hakkasan and Nara Thai).
"Don’t squeeze the lime, as the sharpness of the juice may mask the more delicate tasting notes of the gin. Simply drop the slice of lime for the aroma and a zesty hint,” Rodrigues adds.
This isn't a new combination, though. Back in the 1920s, a Gin Rickey - a highball glass with lots of ice, 50ml of gin, and topped up with soda water and a squeeze or two of fresh lime - was the fashionable drink of choice of the Bright Young Things.
Vivaciously bubbly, this three-ingredient spritz is easy to concoct and devoid of the slightly bitter taste of the quinine sometimes found in tonic water.
Add fresh, muddled mint leaves and a little dash of sugar syrup for a refreshing ginny twist on the traditional Mojito! The best part? It’s only 100 calories per serve!
Also read: Charles Tanqueray and the origins of London dry gin
Gin & lemonade
It might sound overly simple, but gin and lemonade are a natural cocktail pairing featured in many classic drinks. Think Tom Collins, Gin Fizz, French 75… they all pair gin and lemon! If you’re in the mood for a laid-back version of these drinks, simply stir together gin and lemonade. This bright, citrusy and effervescent drink is great for warmer days when you’re feeling too lazy to mix a proper drink.
Gin & ginger beer
One of ginger beer’s best and most underappreciated pairings is gin.
“You can add this warming mixer to pretty much any gin, although it pairs best with a spiced or winter gin such as Ableforth's Bathtub Gin, as it brings out all of those lovely botanicals like cinnamon, cardamom and orange,” says Rodrigues.
Gin & tea
“Tea, compared to other mixers, is much milder... Neutral-flavoured gins with not too many botanicals works best with a base of white or green teas,” says Anubha Jhawar founder Celes Té, an artisanal tea brand.
Jhawar has experimented with various tea blends and methods for gin and tea-based cocktails; she recommends a slow overnight infusion.
“Leave a tea bag in 120-150 ml gin overnight (6-8 hours). This helps the gin to absorb the taste of the tea and the other ingredients in tea like chamomile or lemongrass. Just top it up with soda and ice for a simple but revitalizing drink,” Jhawar explains.
Also read: Desire for dummies | All things gin
Gin & juiceFor summer in a glass, add freshly squeezed orange juice to your gin. You can also dilute the drink with soda water if you find that the flavours are too intense. “Gin and grapefruit juice is also a delicious combination, particularly if you are a fan of tart, almost bitter, citrus flavours. Top-up with prosecco, and you’ve made yourself a refreshing gin-based grapefruit cocktail,” says Rodrigues.