It's Friday and I am counting the hours. I'm giddy today as I am recovering from a cough and I finally got sleep last night. I have high expectations for tonight because, you see, I have a love affair with Gin. Gin is basically a grain and cane sugar distilled spirit that is flavored with botanicals and almost always with juniper berries. It is easily one of the most distinguishable and definitive spirits due to it's distinct ability to inhabit the essence of its ingredients. Gin always has an omnipresent refreshing bitterness coupled with different profiles and tastes that can present a symphonic harmony of botanicals, herbs and exotic spices. Gin comes in a few different forms including the classic London Dry, Plymouth, Sloe and it's comeback cousin Genievre. Here are some basic details:
juniper berriesLondon Dry: the most common form of gin and the gin you get when you ask for "gin." In other words, your daddy's gin.
Plymouth: a slightly sweeter variant of London Dry, but still a relatively dry gin. The difference some say is the cleaner, softer finish at the end, which, to me, makes it a wonderful martini gin.
Sloe: take out the juniper and add sloe berries (cousin of plums apparently) and you get this somewhat syrup colorful gin. Once considered the bastard of the gin family, sloe gin hit a revival a year or so ago and quickly got ignored again.
Genievre: currently the trendy "in" gin, you can find Bols Genievre at many well stocked nicer bars. It is a slightly sweeter softer Dutch style gin that is very easily sipped straight or with a splash of citrus. It is what I call the "pretty" or "sexy" gin. It even sounds sexy... pucker your lips in a French mocking accent and say Jen-nee-verr. Grrr.
Side story, I met a Bols Geneviere (from Cattani Imports) rep at Zinnia who was quite nice. Offered to have myself and my chef friend over at Absinthe for an industry introductory lunch, but then days later, told me there wasn't any space and never returned my call about a wait list. I may not stock Bols Genievre at my future restaurant for that reason, there's a Montreal based one that I like just as much. That's how I roll, Bols Genievre.
Today, gins are becoming more complex and bars are beginning to finally pay attention to the needs of gin drinkers. Thank goodness, because I cannot drink Tanqueray and Sapphire anymore - two of the worst gins in the market. Here is a lover's breakdown and some basic preferences I have:
The Trophy Wife: Miller's Gin
A gin after my own heart. THE gin. Balance, flavor, complexity, finish all come together to make for a simple beautiful gin. It is a masterpiece and the makers call it to be “born of love, obsession and some degree of madness." I believe them wholeheartedly. I tested, mother approved.
Puppy Love: Hendrick's Gin
One of the most floral of gins, Hendrick's is my reminder of the turning point between what is a crush or flirtation into a full belief of true love. It always brings about warm feelings of discovery and bittersweet loss - a sentiment beautifully explained in its sweet rose and cucumber scent.
The Jilted Lover: Old Raj Gin
A gin that punishes you if you try to dismiss it. For all its refined flavor and tinted appeal, it is a punishing blow to your senses. It is both strong and soft and it speaks straight at you without warning. There is nothing you can do but be drawn to it. The tint in the gin comes from the infused saffron and the gin possesses a earthy zest to it at a 110 proof. The best word to describe this gin is probably: haunting.
Do not look past this pleasantly affordable and subtle gin. It's secret and subtle hidden good looks can explode into a freaky and seductress night of debauchery when given the chance to shine. Remember, served with glasses up, dressed with something sweet (vermouth that is), lace with something zesty and you have a hidden gem. Plymouth encompasses all the things you would want in your gin and in a woman - a nice smooth and easygoing personality that plays well with others.
The Passionate, Exotic, (sometimes Bitchy) Hot French Model Girlfriend: G'Vine Gin
A Gin that drives you CRAZY. Cool, smooth, sexy, fragrant, exotic and assertive - this gin takes no prisoners. Once it perches at the tip of your lips, it's fragrance and taste is hypnotic. It tastes like a sunset summer afternoon in a cardamom field and it will dominate not only your weak mind, but the complete attention of anything that decided to even sit in the same glass. The sweetness is very exotic as the gin is distilled with the assistance of grape, which seems to pronounce the floral elements of the botanicals. You'll wake up in the morning and find the need to scream her name on a mountain top.
The Stand-In, The Rebound, The "She's A Great Girl, But": No. 209 Gin
No. 209 is a fantastic gin. It's definitely not hard to appreciate and love. It's the type of gin that you never mind spending time with and it leaves you satisfied and fulfilled. You appreciate 209 because it is wonderful, balanced and fragrant, but, sadly, there is no passion or distinctive attribute there. We'll always be close and we'll be very good friends.
Favorite Gin Drinks
Gin is not the hardest to spirit to pair, but it is often hard to pair properly, unlike say vodka which seems to pair with almost anything (because its essentially flavorless). Creating a suitable gin drink often requires a person to be very in tune with their own palette because everything about gin is about subtlety. E.g. Too much liqueur or juice may overcast the gin, too little and your acidity isn't balanced. Shaking causes bruising (think basil and mint) and off flavor. Too little stirring causes an an uneven release of botanicals. It's finicky I admit. Here are some of my own favorite gin drinks.
The Vesper (without the Betrayal, i.e. vodka)-3 parts G'Vine Gin
-1 part lillet-dash of bitters
-lemon peel to garnishServe very cold, serve up
The Liason (my very own favorite drink, have to trademark it)-2 parts Miller's Gin
-2 parts Grapefruit-splash of Lillet
Serve on ice on tall glass
Hylantree-3 parts Hendrick's
-1 part apple juice-splash elderflower liqueur
-1 squeeze of lime
-mintMuddle mint, add juice, liqueur and Hendrick's, stir and serve in tall glass with ice
-lime peel for garnish
-lime peel for garnish