Many of you are probably not aware of this, but I have a fancy for delicious cocktails. M. and I are certainly those people who when you come to our home we have a giant booze cabinet and probably a signature cocktail on the go.
For my first entry I decided to showcase my favourite drink and really the one that got me into fancy cocktails to begin with. It is time to rethink your gin and tonics.
Gin and tonics became famous in middle class England during the height of the British Empire, when India was still very much under British control. In order to combat the spread of malaria among British soldiers, a daily issue of tonic water was given because in 1800 it was discovered by Scottish doctor George Cleghorn that quinine present in tonic water could be used to prevent and treat the disease. However, tonic water alone is very bitter and not refreshing, which is especially important when you are a British soldier posted in far-away and very hot India. So the soldiers began to mix the issue with gin (a local Indian botanical spirit), and lime and water. Thus the gin and tonic was born. The cocktail itself became popular during this time as soldiers returned home to England and shared the refreshing beverage with their civilian friends. Within years gin and tonics were a staple among middle class English-people as a statement of worldliness and a symbol of the diversity of the entire British Empire.
The traditional gin and tonic is very simple (duh, it was made by British soldiers after all). You get an ounce of gin over ice with tonic and garnished with a lime. You can squirt some extra lime juice in, or simply plop the lime wedge into the drink and enjoy. However, the problem with adding lime to the mix from a mixology perspective is that gin and tonic both are already very acidic. Adding lime simply makes the drink more acidic (and a little more bitter albeit with some sweet). So we can re-think the gin and tonic by perhaps adding a different garnish.
Now for this drink, I highly recommend Hendrick's gin
which is brewed in Scotland using a blend of traditional and non-traditional techniques that involve steeping the alcohol in traditional gin aromatics with the addition of cucumber extract and rose peddles (see where I am going with this). The result is a truly fine gin with a hint of fruity after-notes. But I must stress that gin and tonics when you add cucumber are good with any gin, even those terrible bar gins that are better suited (in my opinion) for removing paint from cars than human consumption (yes, Beefeater I am looking right at you!).
The following is the penlessej way of putting this drink together.
1) Start with a clean and dry tumbler or rocks glass (no need for these tall glasses and certainly stay away from coffee mugs, come on now what is wrong with you we are making art in a glass here!).
2) Add ice. You can fill to the brim or just add a few chunks. If you are really fancy you might use ball ice which melts slower. Doesn't matter.
3) Add one slice of English cucumber on top of the ice and pour over one ounce of Hendrick's
4) Add tonic water. Now you can go with cheap tonic water that is plain or you can dig out the fancier stuff that has infused botanicals, etc. Doesn't matter. I prefer just a plain tonic but you can be adventurous and try out different infused flavours without question.
5) Do not stir the drink(!), pouring the tonic should stir up the gin enough. Stirring will just make the ice break up and melt faster, and no one wants that. It also induces little bubbles into the entire drink and that just looks weird in my opinion.
6) Add a cucumber slice or twist to garnish over the rim (to be left alone or added to drink but the lucky person who gets to consume this delicious beverage). You can also add a sprig of mint if you are feeling really adventurous, it adds a little freshness to the flavour of the drink when use but be aware that some people really
do not like mint flavour.
If you are feeling really adventurous and want to take your drink to the next level; you can muddle some cucumber to add before the gin instead of a slice. This will really bring out the flavour of the cucumber and elevates the drink without question. It also makes the whole thing turn a slight green colour which looks cool in the glass in the sun because the quinine gives off a cobalt blue colour-- pretty cocktails.
What you get? A delicious gin and tonic with all of the good-head-lightening and social lubricating effects of gin but without the acidity. Don't be surprised if she goes down faster than expected, this is an extremely refreshing and tasty drink and perfect for summer days. It is also great because you can make a big batch of it and serve it right from a pitcher with friends-- or for you, either is cool (just don't be driving anything afterward).
If you use the recipe or try out the drink yourself, please let me know. This drink is leaps and bounds my favourite drink of them all and is a staple in my house just not during the summer but all year round.