Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Gin & Tonic

I can't decide how to feel about gin and tonic. Some days the drink excites and refreshes me, others it leaves me unmoved. To recap, the G&T was created in British colonial India during the 18th century, when it was decided the quinine-laden "tonic" the oppressors were drinking to keep malaria at bay might be a tad more tolerable with the addition of gin. A dismal history indeed.

Due consideration must also be given to the following advice from Kingsley Amis, who argues that the only decent way to drink gin is with plain water:
"To pour sweetened fizz like tonic water into such a masterpiece of the distiller's art makes about as much sense as, well, putting tomato ketchup on caviar, I was going to say, except that that strikes me as rather a sound scheme providing you're sure you've got enough ketchup to spare. Anyway, you get the idea - leave your gin alone."
Nevertheless, having recently discovered Hendrick's Gin it seemed plainly anti-social not to try mixing it with some tonic water. For such an important occasion I followed the advice of other, more seasoned cocktailians and snubbed Sainsbury's own brand of tonic in favour of Fever Tree, which uses "the highest quality quinine from the original chinchona trees". Since I understand that modern scientific method requires a control group of some sort I made a second G&T using Plymouth Gin.

The appropriate proportions of gin and tonic are debatable. Some prefer equal parts gin and tonic, others like to drown a splash of gin in half a pint of tonic water (these people, I suggest, don't really like gin at all). I went for a compromise ratio of one part gin to 1.5 parts tonic.

60ml (2oz) gin
90ml (3oz) tonic water
Lime wedge to garnish

Pour gin over plenty of ice. Stir plenty. Add tonic water and stir again. Garnish with lime wedge.

First off, the Fever Tree was an interesting addition, less carbonated than the cheaper stuff I normally use, and slightly sweeter. The flavours were gentler, and the aftertaste much less medicinal than usual. Well done.

As for the G&Ts, results were as follows:

Hendrick's Gin and tonic: Mild, smooth, more subtle flavours, gentle, dry finish

Plymouth Gin and tonic: Sweet, stronger juniper, like pine trees.

And there you have it: cucumber versus pine trees. I ended up squeezing most of my lime wedges into the drinks, which was reckless since the citrus probably masked some of the more subtle flavours at work. But these G&Ts were the most enjoyable I've had for some time. I fully expect to re-partake soon.

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