Surely by now we’re all making great G&T’s? Gone are the days of very little ice and a tired old slice, even my parents are now very particular about their glassware, their garnish and their gin style!
So, where did it all begin? I’m not talking about the invention of gin but the current gin-mania and the obsession with serving them in glasses as big as fish bowls?
Big round stemmed glasses
Well, this glass trend started in Spain, but to be more precise it was the Michelin starred restaurants of the Basque region. You may now be picturing well heeled diners perusing a 25 page gin menu like the one at the Galgorm Resort Ballymena, but it wasn’t like that. Instead, picture the end of the night in a super hot kitchen in of one of the world’s greatest restaurants, with customers eager to meet the superstar chef. Picture a chef wanting to both wind down and cool down at the end of a busy shift while meeting their customers. The chefs would reach for a G&T in a glass big enough to hold the maximum amount of ice – a big round burgundy red wine glass. Once the customers saw these rockstar chefs relaxing in this way, they all wanted to be part of the club. Fast forward a few years and today in Northern Ireland we’re demanding the same glassware, and we’re getting upset when our Gin & Tonic is served in anything other than a big stemmed balloon glass!
It certainly makes your G&T a lot more Instagrammable but is there more to it? Yes, yes and yes! As any great Chef would say, don’t add a single thing to a plate that doesn’t improve the overall dish. Your G&T is your dish. So, what works? Well, check the label. If it tells you what to add, bingo, if it doesn’t then it’s sure to tell you a few key botanicals or flavours. Without over-complicating things, you can enhance the flavours of the gin by adding the same botanicals or flavours, Hendricks with a cucumber garnish is a perfect example. Or Shortcross with a wedge of orange is another – the flavours are already in the gin so you’re simply drawing them out by adding fresh herbs or fruit.
I’m going be controversial and say there are just 3 styles of gin. Yes, there are thousands of different gins but personally I think Gin falls into one of 3 styles: London Dry, New Western and Flavoured. If you prefer to think there are more, I’m happy to agree to disagree! London Dry Gin is the classic, the traditional Juniper & Citrus driven Gins – think Beefeater, Tanqueray and Boatyard Gin. New Western Gins are the more funky gins with more unusual botanicals added – think Shortcross, Whitley Neil and Monkey 47. Flavoured Gins are self-explanatory and, although the surge in their popularity is recent, they’ve actually been around since 1938. Plymouth Sloe Gin is a good example of the traditional stuff. But it’s the likes of Gordon’s Pink, Jawbox Pineapple & Ginger and Parma Violet Gin Liqueur which has got everyone excited.
While there are debates on who invented gin (sources point to the English or the Dutch), it was definitely the Spanish who mastered the serve, and it’s now Northern Ireland who have fallen in love with Gin!