It’s summer. You’ve enjoyed a sunny, hot day on the dock and the sun has hit that perfect position in the western sky. You haven’t worn a watch all day but know, as would any true cottager, that it’s cocktail hour.
To me, the perfect summer cocktail, particularly on the dock, is a Gin & Tonic. It’s cool, refreshing, and was made for summer. In fact, it was summer when I had my first G&T. It was a hot, sticky, day and my mother was saying how great it would be to sip a G&T. I offered to mix her one. Although I was only a teen, I’d seen my father mix them often enough to feel confident in my offer. Surprised, and somewhat entertained, by my offer my mother said yes and then asked if I wanted mix one for myself and join her. I don’t think many teens would readily take a liking to G&T, but for me it was love at first sip.
To many, gin is an “old lady drink”, but I’ve seen a surge in its popularity in recent years. I recall reading an article in the LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine about gin coming into its own as a spirit. Gin is the new Scotch, and with that comes the education, debate and, well, snobbery of connoisseurs. Now, I’m not a snob. I’m just a long-time fan of gin and I know what I like. If you want to branch out and try gin, knowing a few basics will help you with your choices. What I can tell you is this: Gin tends to fall into two different taste categories: Citrus, and Herbaceous. A good example of a citrusy gin would be one of my favourites, Tanqueray. Bombay Sapphire, on the other hand, falls into the more herbaceous category.
With a growing selection of gins on the market, a taste test is always fun. In fact, as I’m writing this blog, I’m doing a blind taste test (and thankful for that Grade 12 typing class where I learned to “touch type” ). First, I’m trying my go-to gin, Tanqueray, against a relative new-comer, Canadian distilled Victoria Gin. Victoria is more of a premium gin, or at least its price point would indicate it as such. I can tell pretty quickly which gin is the Tanqueray. Its citrusy crispness is very familiar to me. Victoria, on the other hand, is more herbaceous. It’s a nice gin, but I don’t think the wedge of lime is doing Victoria any favours. That brings me to tip #2, G&T does not always have to be served w/ a wedge of lime or, God forbid, lemon. OK, I was a bit snobby there about the lemon, but my point is this: Choose your garnish based upon the type of gin you’re drinking. Gins from the citrus category are great with lime. Herbaceous gins, not so much. For these, try a thin slice of cucumber.
Next, I’m trying Victoria against another premium gin, and favourite, Hendricks. Now, I’ve had Hendricks a number of times, and although it is more herbaceous than Tanqueray, it’s great with lime. I’ve decided to give Victoria a fighting chance, however, and am having both gins with a slice of cucumber …… Well, Victoria has found her new dress! Cucumber is definitely the garnish for this gin. Now for the Hendricks … Oh My Lord! This gin is continuing to wow me. The cucumber, vs. lime, brings out entirely different, but equally amazing, notes. It’s great with lime, it’s amazing with cucumber and just seems to have a taste unlike any other gin. My opinion, and I do have one, is that this gin is in a league of its own. Apparently, its distillers agree. The back label of the Hendricks bottle reads as follows:
“This handcrafted gin is distilled from a proprietary recipe which includes traditional botanicals such as juniper, coriander and citrus peel. The “unexpected” infusion of cucumber and rose petals result in a most iconoclastic gin. It is not for everyone.”
Well, it certainly is for me! That’s not to say that Victoria isn’t a lovely gin. In fact, I have friends that prefer Victoria. Citrus or Herbaceous, Lime or Cucumber … Really, it’s all a matter of taste. When all is said and done, you can’t beat a G&T on a hot summer day! And that, as they say, is my gin soaked opinion.
Photos by Noelle Jenkinson
About Noelle Jenkinson
Noelle has dabbled in Mixology from an early age. Not surprisingly for an Irish lass, this Colleen has an inherent knowledge of cocktails. She is a graduate of The Jenkinson School of Bartending, where she and her siblings studied under the watchful eye of their father Noel. By the tender age of 12, both Noelle and her twin sister Lyndsay had mastered the art of making the perfect Manhattan. Over the years Noelle has expanded her repertoire and dedicated herself to honing her skills while on the quest for the best spirits.
We would like to salute Noelle (and her liver) for the sacrifices she has made during her studies. So we raise a glass, firmly make eye contact, and say, “Happiness Darling”.
Photo by Pierre Gautreau