I have a confession to make: I like gin. I like it a lot, in fact. I like it so much that I’m accumulating a vast array of gin-themed items, over and above my ever-growing selection of gins, and I’ve made it my mission to make my way through the menu of the local gin palace (it’s actually called The Gin Palace, and it’s decorated in full 1920s jazz age style, complete with low lighting, art deco furnishings and bartenders in white shirts and black braces. It makes my Great Gatsby-loving heart incredibly happy).
It hasn’t always been this way. My love of gin is a fairly recent phenomenon, and much like my newly-discovered travel bug, I’m making up for lost time.
The recent revival of gin is definitely helping me with that. After all, my former ambivalence to mothers’ ruin is probably down to the fact I only ever came across the Bombay Sapphire variety, usually when already fairly intoxicated, at a stage of life when it was normal to drink spirits straight (from the bottle) rather than turn said spirit into something subtle, delicate and delicious.
Now, not only have I grown up, but the gin market has, too. And I couldn’t be happier.
Hendricks can probably be thanked for my leap into the gin world. A few years ago it became THE drink to have, so naturally, one has to see what all the fuss us about. And I’m so glad I took the plunge!
It showed me how much gin, as well as my own taste buds, had changed over the years, and I think today’s attention to detail in terms of tonics and garnishes has made a huge difference, too. Once upon a time, if you ordered a gin & tonic at a pub you’d invariably have it served with a wedge of lemon, cheap tonic and only a few chunks of ice (as I discovered at my recent gin tasting, more ice is actually better when it comes to gin, as the larger surface area stops it melting so quickly). Not exactly the perfect g&t.
These days, the garnish is often carefully matched to the choice of gin, the tonics of a far higher quality, and the revival of the Spanish-style glass means you’ll get plenty of gin-fuelled bang for your buck (complete with a truck load of ice). The garnish can make all the difference, pinpointing different botanicals in the gin and bringing them to the foreground, which is why Hendricks, for example – cucumber being one of its key ingredients – should only be served with cucumber. Anything less than that and the taste simply doesn’t match up.
This is the reason, I think, I’ve come to love the humble g&t so much. The modern care with which it’s served makes it a truly enjoyable drink; it’s smooth and refreshing, rather than a too-bitter assault on the tongue with a cheap quinine aftertaste. The revival of gin means there’s plenty to try, too, and the rise of new tonics means there are more ways in which to pair it than ever!
This all means that I’m becoming slightly obsessed. I get excited about trying new gins, I love finding new tonics in the supermarket, and I’ve even branched out to realise that some gins can actually be sipping gins (who’d have thought it? Straight spirits after all!). I make a point of trying new gin bars, cocktails and combinations, and I recently had my first trip to a gin distillery (ticking something off my bucket list in the process), which means I now want to learn more about it, too. I was also excited to learn that a “gintern” was an actual job role – alas, I’ve yet to hear back about my application, but if I can’t have it on my business card, I’ll have it as a way of life instead.