Although originally concocted in Holland many centuries ago, gin has long been considered England’s unofficial national spirit. So it’s not surprising that my Grandfather with his British roots would often declare around 4pm in the summertime that it was “time for a beverage” and would head to the kitchen to mix himself a gin and tonic. After we entered adulthood, my grandfather would mix one for my cousins - and me too - when we were visiting.
I have many fond memories of sitting on my grandparents’ front porch, sipping gin and tonics with my grandfather while grandma drank her tea, chatting with them about weather and family and “back-in-the-day” stories when most of my friends were still at the guzzling beer and lining up shots stage. Even though my grandfather passed away seven years ago, my grandmother still keeps his favourite gin in the liquor cabinet should anyone need to mix a gin and tonic and reminisce on the front porch.
If you’ve ever had a gin and tonic and didn’t like it, there are only two reasons for that (and one of them is not that you don’t like gin because that’s just impossible!):
There are lots of different types of gin on the market and while all gin starts with juniper berries as the main ingredient, distillers often jump off from there with other natural botanicals to flavour their particular brand of gin. Some are dry, others are sweet. Some have hits of lavender and lemon and others black pepper. Clearly there’s a gin for everyone’s taste – which is why there are more cocktails made with gin than any other spirit!
When it comes to the traditional "G & T" no matter what brand of gin you prefer, the ratio of gin to tonic is crucial. My father will argue that the minimum ratio is 1.5 parts gin to 3 parts tonic – but for some this is a bit too strong. Unfortunately, many bartenders will pour 1 oz. gin over ice then top the glass with tonic – this is all kinds of wrong and is easily avoided by asking for the gin straight over ice with a separate glass of tonic so that you can mix yourself.
And speaking of mixing up a “beverage,” here are three easy to mix traditional gin cocktails to help you celebrate:
1.5 oz. gin (I use Bombay Sapphire Gin just like my grandfather taught me)
4-5 oz. tonic
Wedge of lime
Fill a short glass or a tall thin highball glass with ice, pour gin over ice, squeeze lime juice into glass and toss the wedge into the gin. Add tonic and enjoy!
Before James Bond, martinis were made with gin. Here’s how…
2 oz. gin
Tiny splash of dry vermouth (a couple of drops is all you need)
Twist of lemon rind OR 2-3 green cocktail olives
Splash vermouth into martini glass, add gin and garnish. If you’re using lemon twist, try running the rind over the rim of the glass before adding to the glass.
There are lots of variations of this traditional cocktail, but this recipe is the easiest and the yummiest too!
2 oz. gin
1 tsp. super fine sugar (it disintegrates faster)
1 ½ Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
4-5 oz. soda water
Lemon twist and/or maraschino cherry for garnish
Fill a Collins glass (yes, like the martini, this cocktail tastes better in the proper glass) ¾ full of ice. Add gin, sugar, lemon juice and soda and stir gently. Top with lemon twist and/or cherry and serve.
Happy #WorldGinDay everyone and please remember to drink responsibly!
Looking for some of other favourite beverages? Here's a great list of Top 5 Pitcher Drinks.