The Underrated Gin.
Its time to step away from the monotony of your bar routine as we introduce you to a new spirit- GIN
Surprisingly, many people tend to think of Gin as a feminine drink. However, Gin has always been a gentleman’s choice. Even from the days of British Raj. It is true that most people have certain drinks that they can handle better than others. And in this sense, Gin can’t be beaten easily. You can drink a fair amount of it without getting messed up and getting out of control.
Gin is a white spirit flavored with juniper berries and a multitude of botanicals like anise, cinnamon and orange peels. The spirit base is primarily wheat or rye. Slightly sweeter in taste, Gin needs no aging before being bottled.
Gin is also the most basic spirit for use in cocktails & a bar without a Gin is not a properly stocked bar. Unfortunately, still it is not ordered so often at bars in India. There isn’t much demand for Gin in India and is evidenced by the number of brands of Gin available in general compared to Whisky, Rum & Vodka. While 40 foot long bars outside India stock at least 15 different types of Gins, we still have meager two or three domestic brands & probably a couple of imported ones.
Keith, manager at MG Road’s famous cocktail lounge - Couch, says that Martinis are not ordered so much. The standard Gin & tonic is also mostly seen only on tables of Europeans and Americans, almost never with Asians. It’s a matter of conditioning, feels, Keith. Lalit, Band Manager at Perond Ricard, the company that owns two great brands of Gin – Seagram’s Extra Dry and Beefeater, thinks Gin was quite a popular drink earlier. Vodka came in and started replacing it. Look at Gin & Tonic & Martinis being replaced with Vodka tonics and Vodkatinis. I think it is also about knowledge. Most people do not know that Gin & Vodka begin life in the exact same way. And Gin is nothing but Juniper infused Vodka.
Gin, as a drink in India, is yet to echo what has been happening to other beverages in India. But having said that, one can see that the huge population here, especially in Bangalore, is slowly becoming more sophisticated and are realising the magic of this spirit. There isn’t a dramatic difference in the range and flavors of Gin available yet, but the young and drinkers who are experimental, are starting to exploit the exotic sounding botanicals that Gin is made up of. A seasoned beer drinker and a regular at Take 5, Atul has recently moved to Gin and now swears by it. He says he can drink all night long without feeling uneasy.
As a bartender myself, I feel that it is easy to come up with cocktails made up of Gin that people new to Gin will like. The trick is to overcome their reluctance to try a spirit they have not tried before. The operations most successful with gin are places that have a reputation for well-made cocktails. Take 5 is a great place to quaff Gin drinks. Try their Watermelon Coriander Collin (Watermelon chunks muddled with Coriander roots with Gin and crushed ice, Crystal Cooler (Muddled Black Grapes mixed Gin with & Cranberry Juice), Maiden`s Prayer (Gin, Triple Sec, OJ & Lime Juice)
If you want to ally any more of your inhibitions about Gin, take this cursory spin around four staple Gin drinks. These will make you like the Gin a lot better.
1) Gin & Tonic: the most easiest and dependable. Popularized during British days in India because the tonic water contains quinine, which helps repel mosquitoes. 45 ml gin in a highball glass full of ice, topped with Tonic water and garnished with a wedge of lime.
2) Tom Collins: A refreshing, light cocktail that can slowly but surely help a warm afternoon/evening pass very pleasantly. Bit old fashioned but a great charmer. Gin, Lime juice and sugar syrup shaken on ice and poured into a highball glass full of ice and topped with soda water, garnished with a lemon twist
3) Gimlet:Gin and Lime cordial poured over lot of ice and stirred in an old fashioned glass.
4) Martini: The James Bond Drink. Very strong. Not so easily liked by Indians. 80 ml gin & 20 ml Vermouth. There are myriad variations. Bond likes it shaken on ice while the traditional way is by just stirring and dropping an olive on a toothpick into the glass. There are plenty of variations & controversies. Hence Martini deserves one full write up.
Your most reliable options for high-quality gin are Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray No. Ten . Gordon’s is a lovely spirit too and Plymouth is an America favorite. Seagram’s Extra Dry is almost the most popular gin around the globe.
Next time you drop into a bar or open your liquor cabinet, do spare a thought on trying out Gin. Either straight or in a cocktail. Happy drinking!!