Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gin: A Love Affair

It's well documented that I'm a lover of all things gin (here, here, here, and here).  Gin is herbal and dry and light, yet beastly.  It helps ease seasickness when drank with bitters (not really) and cures malaria when drank with tonic (definitely not).  Gin martinis were drank by Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart, and Winston Churchill, though they mostly preferred their cocktail to be a whole lot of gin and nothing else.

And, although this breaks my wife's heart, gin knows no seasonal boundaries.  Mix it with fresh basil and lime juice in the summer for a new take on a gin gimlet. Add a few dashes of deep red Angostura bitters to a few ounces of gin in the spring for a flowery little bizarro martini called Pink Gin. Dig deep into the winter solstice with  Hemingway's martini of choice, the Montgomery: 15 parts gin to 1 part dry vermouth.  Or, welcome in autumn with my most recent gin love, the dramatically bitter Negroni.

There is even a blossoming world of craft, artisan gins made in small batches and aged in oak barrels. These result in a complex spirit, similar to a Jenever, with an added sweetness and hint of oaky char. We enjoyed Ransom Spirits Old Tom Gin in a Martinez, a concoction of gin, sweet vermouth, bitters, and maraschino cherry liqueur. This historic gin cocktail was the precursor to the most ubiquitous cocktail of all - the martini. The Martinez uses a balance of Angostura bitters and sweet vermouth to bring out the floral nature of the Old Tom Gin. A mellow pine and juniper flavor lingers on the tail end of this smooth, slow-your-roll drink. The complexity of this cocktail reminds me of those deep, robust bottles of red wine that seem to take hours to reveal themselves.

Basil Gimlet
The New York Times
  • 1.5 oz gin
  • 0.75 oz lime juice
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup (equal parts sugar in water, heat until it dissolves)
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, muddled
Shake over ice and serve up with a basil leaf garnish.

Pink Gin
  • 2 oz gin
  • 2-4 dashes of Angostura bitters
Serve on the rocks.

  • 1.75 oz Old Tom gin
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • splash of maraschino liqueur (the liquid from maraschino cherries works too)
  • 1 dash of Angostura bitters
Stir over ice and serve straight up, garnished with a cherry.

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