Gin is one spirit that is having its day across the globe. In the form of a Gin Tonic it has become a phenomena and is definitely one of the hottest and most fascinating trends out there. For those not familiar with gin, it is a neutral spirit with base ingredients including malt, corn, rye and/or molasses. However, it is the use of juniper and other botanicals (coriander seed, citrus peel, licorice root, fennel, etc.) that make gin unique from other neutral spirits like vodka. Each distiller has their own secret recipe that could include a few to multiple botanicals. The most common style is the London Dry, with a flavor based on junipers and citrus. Some of the best known gin brands fall in this style. Other styles you can find are Plymouth (the only gin with a protected designation of origin), Genever (the original gin invented in Holland in the 13th century and used originally as a medical remedy), and several others. Finally, the latest fad in gin is brown colored barrel-aged gin, that has attracted the attention of those into darker spirits like bourbon and whiskey drinkers.
The gin and tonic (G&T) was invented by the Brits. It is without a doubt one of the most popular drinks in the world. Making a passable G&T is not hard at all, and the good news is that making a great one is not that much harder. You just need a balloon style glass, similar to a red wine glass. Use the largest ice cubes you can. Chill the glass by stirring the ice around it. Drain any water and leave the cubes. Rub a thin slice of lime around the edge. Don’t squeeze the lemon just drop it inside. Add 2 oz. of gin. Finally, hold a cocktail spoon if you have one, over the glass and pour 100 ml of bottled tonic into it and stir gently. Voila! You just made yourself a great G&T. It is a pretty straight forward drink without all the bells and whistles of syrups, and other additives that other cocktails may require.
Across Europe, and specially in Spain, you’ll find that there is a gin cult that has been growing in popularity over the past six years. Spaniards go crazy for this mixed drink. If you walk into a bar you will likely find a “gin tonic zone” with its own dedicated bartenders making gin tonics all night long. They usually carry a menu listing at least a couple of dozen different styles of gin, three to four different flavored tonic waters and an array of fresh fruits to mix in. Choose your gin, choose your tonic, and care to garnish with fresh mint, a cinnamon or rock sugar stick? The combinations available on the menu give you much to experiment with and may result in many trips up to the bar for yourself and your friends.
Bars have been able to increase the price of a G&T by at least 50% if not more. The G&T craze is an activity and event within itself. Companies and large parties have the possibility of renting a boat and hosting a G&T workshop for their friends or employees. There is more cost involved in setting up these fancier G&T bars, but there are quite a few advantages to running them.
Very masterfully, the G&Ts movement has been able to turn a male skewed drink into a crowd-pleaser that suits the taste of a wide range of people regardless of gender or age. This is quite an incredible achievement. No other alcohol mixed drink out there that has been able to pull off this feat as successfully. In addition, the pricing is usually the same across all G&Ts offers, which further propels choices and experimentation for consumers. The economies of scale of this approach balances out any price variations in the individual ingredients used to make a gin tonic.
Here in the U.S., sales of high end premium gin have grown by almost 40%. While these gins represent a small percentage of the overall category, industry experts believe there is a lot of potential as the process of aging whiskey takes time and U.S. craft distillers need a product they can have ready relatively quickly to sell. A well-crafted gin can take just a few weeks to be made. It looks like U.S. consumers are catching up with their European counterparts as the trades are seeing an up-swinging increase of high premium G&Ts coming on to the market. According to Cheers magazine, “more gin joints are opening and educating consumers about this versatile spirit in the U.S.” At White Chapel Gin Bar in San Francisco, consumers can find more than 500 different gins from around the world. Natasha Bahrami (a.k.a The Gin Girl), owner of Café Natasha in St. Louis states: “Gin has the largest spectrum of flavor profiles of any spirit. So people who think they don’t like gin, I tell them, you haven’t met the right gin yet.”