Gin is a wonderfully complex spirit that varies dramatically between every brand and batch. It’s also the only spirit that is almost never enjoyed neat. It’s well deserving of its recent popular resurgence, but with all these small-batch, artisan options now on the market it’s becoming increasingly difficult to know which bottle to turn to when concocting the perfect cocktail.
Do the botanicals foraged from Baobab bark beef up a classic Martini best, or should we turn to a more traditional blend like Beefeater? We’ve sourced the perfect gin to suit five favourite gin cocktails, so all that’s left for you to do is break out that shaker and get sippin’.
Best for a Tom Collins – Gin Lane 1751 Old Tom
The ideal cocktail for the entry level drinker who thinks they don’t like gin, a Tom Collins is just the right amount of sweet, sour and bitter. While pub gardens might be full of people quaffing mass produced cider and beers on a summer’s afternoon, we think the citric sweet zing-fizz of this classic provides the ultimate refreshment.
2 Parts Gin Lane 1751 Old Tom
1 Part Lemon Juice
1 Part Simple Syrup
-Add the lemon juice, simple syrup and gin into a shaker and fill with ice.
-Shake well and strain into a highball or Collins glass filled with fresh ice.
-Top with club soda and garnish with the lemon slice.
Why Gin Lane 1751 Old Tom?
Old Tom gin is lighter and less intense than the currently popular London Dry style and was the preferred drink in Victorian gin palaces. While sweeter, Gin Lane has also raised the star anise botanical profile to ensure a well balanced gin. The spice and sugar content ensure it perfectly complements the elegant bitter sweetness of a well-mixed Tom Collins.
Best for a G&T: Plymouth
Fever Tree make a good point in their advert: If three quarters of your G&T is tonic, make sure it’s the best. However we think it should be closer to two thirds mixer with the bulk of the taste coming from the gin. Regardless of one’s preferred strength, what’s most important is that the botanicals in the gin and the flavour profile of the tonic complement one another. So, if you prefer sweet – go with an Old Tom and Schweppes. If you prefer floral go for a botanically forward gin such as The Botanist and pair it with Fentimans tonic.
Call us boring traditionalists but we believe the G&T should not be the drink with which to try out experimental flavours, combinations of exotic botanicals or attention seeking garnishes. Here, less is more and simplicity is key.
When looking for a classic gin, as is required for a Gin and Tonic, one should ensure that the primary botanicals include the holy trinity of coriander seeds, angelico root and orris root. Other than juniper, without which it isn’t gin, these are the most traditional and essential botanicals. Plymouth contains an uncomplicated seven botanicals that also include orange and lemon peels plus cardamom. This makes for an archetypal highball steeped in history.
1 part Plymouth
2-3 parts tonic
-Add the ingredients to a tumbler filled with 4 chunky ice cubes.
-Squeeze the oils of a twist of lime rind into the glass before adding it to the drink.
Best for a Dry Martini: Fords
Apart from the rampant sexism, non-sensical plot lines and callous murders there is another unsavoury element to the Bond films. Vodka martini? Shaken? How many bartenders have had to grit their teeth while some smiling, faux-suave goon in an ill fitting suit has used Bond’s line to impress (read: disappoint) a date? The origin of the Martini is a subject of debate. What is undebatable is that a well made Martini is a beautiful, crisp, balanced piece of art made with gin and stirred.
6 Parts Fords Gin
1 Part Noilly Prat dry Vermouth.
-Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and stir for 10 seconds.
-Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
Why Fords Gin?
Considering a Martini is, in all but the oldest recipes, almost entirely gin, it’s of paramount importance that the gin is, firstly, of the highest quality, and secondly a dry gin – so no Old Tom here. London Dry is the preferred style. Thirdly, and most importantly, it must complement the only other two ingredients, the garnish and the vermouth.
Best for a Negroni: East London Liquor Company Premium Gin Batch No.2
The classic aperitif, reportedly created in Florence for Count Camillo Negroni as a beefed up version of the Americano, it is as sophisticated as the tale of its concoction suggests: an excellent, savoury pre-dinner drink.
25ml Nardini bitters
25ml East London Liquor Company Premium Batch No.2 Gin
25ml Regal Rogue Vermouth
Stir over ice, serve short.
Garnish with an orange zest
-Fill a tumbler with ice and add the gin
-Add the vermouth then the bitters and stir just enough to mix
-Garnish with orange peel
Why ELLC’s Batch No.2?
The herbaceous, warming, wintry notes in this gin are created with coriander seeds, bay leaf, fennel, sage and thyme. They blend perfectly with vermouth and are emphasised further by the bitters. This refined balance makes for a standout Negroni with personality, best enjoyed in the herb garden of a traditional Tuscan hillside home before a beautiful plate of pasta. Pro tip: close your eyes and take in the aroma before your first sip and you can transport yourself there from the comfort of your own sofa.
Best for a Corpse Reviver 2: Glendalough Spring
Originally intended as a restorative, morning-after drink the Corpse Reviver 2 and its less popular, saccharine forefather, the Corpse Reviver, contain enough booze, including a splash of absinthe, to bounce you right back into the spirit of the night before. No surprises then that it also works well as a kickstarter to the evening.
25ml Glendalough Spring Gin
25ml Lemon Juice
-Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled glass and garnish with orange peel.
Why Glendalough Spring?
Glendalough Spring is strong and punchy enough in bold, botanically-forward flavour to allow more than the usual splash of absinthe whilst maintaining the gin as the primary spirit flavour. Using a 41% ABV gin with a full 5ml absinthe, a Corpse Reviver made with Glendalough will do more than lift the spirits; it’s a veritable defibrillator for the soul.
Get this for the friend who didn’t want to come out but agreed to “come for one.” At the end of the night you may well be bundling a tangle of limbs into an Uber while your driver espouses the benefits of personally foraged botanicals in Irish small batch gin.