Neat, on ice, with tonic, with juice – there are many ways to enjoy gin. Given that last year, sales of gin surpassed £500 million in the UK alone, it seems as though we are enjoying every drop. We sat down with George Black, gin connoisseur and resident mixologist for artisan brand Slingsby Gin, to find out how to create the perfect tipple.
Selecting your Gin
“There is no such thing as the best gin – they’re all suited to different tastes and occasions. Try it neat first to open up your palette to the complex flavours, then try it with a splash of tonic, or rub it in your hands and see if the aroma appeals. Gin has such a wide-ranging taste profile. From the pomelo and honeysuckle flowers that make Bloom’s signature floral taste to the clean flavour of Hendrick’s created by the use of cucumber, it’s important to pay attention to the blend of botanicals that shape each brand of gin’s unique flavour. Slingsby’s London Dry gin is created using 24 botanicals (most of which are hand-picked locally) and is citrus-led in profile, which makes it a really versatile spirit.”
Choosing Your Tonic
“Start with a small amount of tonic. There is no sense in spending valuable time and money on selecting a gin to then drown its unique flavour. With each tonic water having different ingredients and botanicals like gin, it is important to pick a tonic that compliments the flavours of the gin.
“An important factor is the quinine content within the tonic itself that gives the water its distinct bitter flavour and also where the quinine comes from. The final factor, would be whether you choose a pre-carbonated tonic water or a concentrated syrup.
“There are some tonics that deserve a special mention with them having unique properties. 1724 tonic water is special with it using Peruvian quinine from the Inca trail (where quinine originates from) and has a crisp flavour. Fentimans pink grapefruit tonic water is utterly delicious, especially combined with our Slingsby London Dry with it having a pink grapefruit citrus base.”
“Experts say that up to 80% of what you taste is through your nose and if a drink looks good, it’s already left as a subconscious impression that it will taste good too. When choosing a garnish, I always think it should be elegant and relevant – visually captivating with either a strong aroma or subtle flavour to give the drink another level of depth for the senses. Dehydrated fruits tick both boxes.
“One of our favourite ways to garnish a gin and tonic is to pick a botanical that is either citrus- or fruit-based and offset this with a more savoury botanical for example strawberry and cracked black pepper or pink grapefruit and star anise.”
“The more ice you use the better; it keeps your drink at the best drinking temperature for as long as possible; prevents dilution of the drink for as long as possible; allows the subtler flavours and aromas to emerge and helps keep carbonated drinks at their bubbliest.”
And here’s one you can try at home: Slingsby Fizz
This is a summery and contemporary twist on a traditional Tom Collins.
40ml Slingsby London Dry Gin,
60ml pink grapefruit juice,
10ml elderflower syrup
20ml sugar syrup
Top up with 30ml soda water
Serve over ice in a highball and garnish with a fresh grapefruit wedge and tarragon sprigs.