So, in honour of that and the rash of gin-related stories that have hit the headlines this week – including 5pm.co.uk’s latest gin map of Scotland (revised to show the 25 new gins launched there over the past year), and the news that the UK exchequer’s tax take from spirits has overtaken beer for the first time (down in part to the gin boom) – we decided to offer you some great gin cocktail recipes to try out. And here’s a toast to Prince Philip, who coincidentally celebrates his 96th birthday tomorrow and has no doubt downed a few gin cocktails in his time…
Classic gin and tonic
We have to start with the classic gin and tonic, originally seen as an essentially English drink but now a global favourite. It has had a renaissance in recent years thanks to a huge range of new gins coming on to the market from distilleries like Martin Miller, Sipsmith and Dunnet Bay, and new tonics from businesses like Fevertree. So choose your gin, pour 50mls of it into a hi-ball glass over ice cubes with a squeeze of lemon juice or lime, depending on your taste, and top it up with tonic. Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime and savour the drink’s freshness and subtle complexity.
Basically a Bloody Mary but made with gin instead of vodka, the recipe for this red snapper first appeared in the early 1960s. It was hailed by connoisseurs as “a massive improvement” on its vodka-based sister. Fill a hi-ball glass with ice, add 50 mls of gin, 120mls of tomato juice, a pinch of celery salt, three dashes of tabasco and two of Worcester Sauce, a squirt of lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste (some put it round the rim). Stir and add a stick of celery or a red chilli if you like your drinks spicy.
This is the martini drink made famous by James Bond in Casino Royale. In the book, author Ian Fleming has Bond instruct the barman, “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?” In the film, double agent Vesper Lynd asks Bond if he named the drink after her because it has a bitter aftertaste. He says he named it for her, “because once you have tasted it, you won't drink anything else”.
Taking the traditional Tom Collins and aspiring to make it even more refreshing, the Cucumber Collins balances the dryness of gin with the freshness of cucumber. The recipe requires 50mls of gin in a collins glass, to which are added 25mls each of lemon juice and simple syrup, 4-5 slices of cucumber muddled, topped up with club soda. Garnish with fresh mint. To check out a twist on the classic-revival classic, visit 5cc in London’s Exmouth Market, which uses an elderflower liqueur for added punch.
With bitterness dominating the contemporary palate, the Negroni is spiking in popularity again, which explains why the past week has been Negroni Week. The classic ratio of equal parts Campari, gin and sweet vermouth, although seemingly simple, has been subject to much reinterpretation. Stir with ice, and finish of mix with a peel of orange for an added bitter punch. And a tip from the top, resist the urge to stir too much.
Although maybe lagging slightly behind its whisky counterpart in regards to iconic status, the Gin Sour deserves recognition. The simplest of drinks, this mix requires no more than 60mls of good gin, 30mls of lemon juice and 15mls of sweet syrup and a dash of angostura bitters. Egg white, while optional, provides a smooth frothiness that sets the sour apart from its cocktail counterparts. 15mls is quite enough. Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice filled glass.