I have always hated gin. My husband’s first order of the night is typically a Sapphire and tonic. There was something about the balance of too much sweetness and sourness, or just the flavor itself that put me off. Maybe it was the cheap tonic, or maybe the bulk produced gin. I couldn’t handle even a sip of it.
Then I was introduced to Hendrick’s. Hendrick’s, a pot distilled gin, is infused not only with the signature juniper berry but also cucumber and rose. This gin was different from all the other’s in the past. It had truly intense, yet restrained flavor. You could taste the care that was put into the distillation process, and a gin lover was born.
Now my newest obsession is artisan gin. A wine lover at heart, I often visit liquor stores and wine boutiques just to window shop and chat with the clerk on the latest arrivals and finds. However, I find myself veering from the aisles of California and French vino and into the (gasp) spirits department to check out the who’s who of this small batch gin movement. I’m intriqued by these gins that are made with interesting botancials like liquorice, cardamom, rosemary, and of course classic juniper berries. The once faux paus British spirit is making a come back and a fast growing one at that. Artisan producers now exist internationally with some of our favorite producers in Wisconsin, Colorado, and California. The variety of botanicals used are spurring hundreds of gin based cocktails on premium mixologist menus across the country, like Jaleo (Jose Andres) in Washington D.C.
Now back to my husband’s cocktail that I can’t stand… These long distance cousins of the bulk brands we are so familiar with may make interesting cocktails, but also elevate the classic gin and tonic that has recently become my favorite drink. Utilizing one of my favorite gins and premium tonic water (often has a less intense flavor), I’ve ditched the limes and lime juice for fresh vegetables, fruit peels, and even flowers. I’ve found the traditional lime masks the nuansces of the botanical flavors of the gin. What results is a clean, refreshing, restrained, and flavorful beverage that is perfect as an apertif. I encourage you to explore some artisan gins on your own (even if you think you hate it as much as I did), and just for kicks try our favorite g&t recipe listed below.
Our Favorite Artisan Gins:
- 4 ice cubes
- 2 ounces artisan gin (Hendrick’s, Death’s Door, Peach Street, Distillery No 209)
- 4 ounces premium tonic water (Q Tonic, Fever Tree)
- 1 slice cucmber
- 1 slice blood orange peel
- Mix gin and tonic water together in chilled cocktail shaker.
- Pour over ice.
- Garnish with cucumber and blood orange peel.
- DO NOT add lime juice or limes.