By Rick Riozza
Last time we whooped it up by clearing off our venerable wine bar and setting up generous ideas for you gin lovers with some newer brands in town. Especially interesting was all this “Navy Strength” going around. You’ll remember that when all was said and done, Navy Strength meant your splash or dose of gin was harboring 114 alcohol content.
Recently I purchased a bottle of the recommended 3 Howls Gin—Navy Strength. In fact, we were on our way to one of the CV Weekly events held at the Big Rock Pub in Indio. So I decided to impress my wife and daughter with my Martini making skills and whipped up—technically a Gibson, prepared with cocktail onions & zero vermouth, and chilled up as cold as possible. It was a hit! They said it tasted like an “old school Martini”. I kept back the fact of the heightened proof—but they figured out what was going on.
It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without gin drinks. As mentioned last time, it’s such a complex spirit with all the juniper and botanicals going on. An indispensable staple in bars since the 18th century, it’s an essential ingredient in classics like the Negroni and the Gimlet and other such masterpieces as the Gin Rickey, Ramos Gin Fizz, Tom Collins, French 75, Singapore Sling, Alexander, White Lady, and I’m sure we could think of ten more if pressed to do so—at least while sipping on that refreshing Gin & Tonic.
Most folks enjoy mixing gin up in a cocktail, for it simply brings things to life with all the added complexities. So, if you will, allow me to ruminate and roughly ramble over some gin news that comes to mind.
Although, you know, I’m pretty slow to come around infusing and mixing stuff in my wine and your wine—with the exception of Sangria and a few other beverages, I’m all into infusing fresh fruit into the libation. The top fusion this summer has to go to the fresh, reviving and stimulating pineapple infused gin.
The simple procedure is to cut up a ripe pineapple in chunks and place it in a large jar with equal parts gin. Let it sit for a few days with a few shakes here and there, then take a sip: does it need more pineapple or more gin? It’s your concoction—be creative. When it meets your criteria, strain it and keep it in the fridge. Later, add a little soda and get to sipping! It’s also the perfect base for your favorite tropical cocktails such as a Daiquiri or Punch.
By the way, the pineapple featured on the Tanqueray crest and cap is the traditional symbol of hospitality, quality & discernment. There you go—time to show off this summer!
Don’t look now but Spain has taken over the Gin & Tonic! It’s become the Spainard’s unofficial national drink. One can hardly step over a crack on the sidewalks in Barcelona without spilling yours or theirs lovely uplifting libation.
In Spain, they leave out the ampersand and appropriated proprietorship by naming it Spanish Gin Tonic. Apparently this takeover happened when between 1999 and 2009, a Spanish journalist brought together elite chefs to exchange ideas (think elBulli). Every night the columnist and chefs went to their favorite watering hole where the GTs were sensational. Word got out that GTs were the top chef’s beverage of choice—so what do you think happened! The craze hit big time—in Barcelona it’s become an art form.
The Spanish Gin Tonic is elaborately garnished with herbs, spices, and flowers to amplify the botanicals in the gin—a long way from the simple squeeze of lime! But the drink is kept simple.
Spanish mixologists tell us, “Too many ingredients in a GT will break the bubbles. Don’t even add a full wedge of lemon/lime—rather, twist the citrus peel inside the glass to release its oils. Rub the peel on the rim to bring the aroma and place the peel in the glass. For an extra refreshing drink, keep the gin in the freezer and the tonic in the fridge.
Whatever the garnish, pour the gin onto it followed by the tonic at a ratio of 2:1 or 3:2 tonic to gin. Strong perhaps but tasty! I noticed the standard premium gin in the bars of Spain is Tanqueray—which indeed has a great fruity flavor that goes with a variety of garnish. Of course the Spanish add flair: all those beautiful flavors are served up in a large, bulbous goblet known as the “copa glass”.
And Spanish bars fill their copa glasses with so many cubes: the more ice cubes, the slower it will melt. Slower melting means less water in your drink. Go ahead and google Barcelona’s Spanish Gin Tonic scene for some very creative ideas. You can also go on to summitsips.com for some fun and tasty drinks and check out an “ongoing collection of musings about recipes, techniques, tools & and other cocktail related topics. ¡Salud!
And for those who wish to be in the know, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, reputedly the most important spirits competition out there, recently held its 17th annual judging. Best Gin: Tarquin’s The Sea Dog Navy Strength Gin from England at $45. Chill it up! Cheers!