You can enjoy it straight up or on the rocks, shaken or stirred in a cocktail – there’s no denying that gin is one of the fastest-growing spirits in the world. The juniper-infused spirit, one of the most important building blocks for cocktails, is now the drink du jour for both hipsters and educated drinkers. “It’s exciting that the ‘ginnaissance’ that has swept the world –If you’re normally a vodka drinker, it’s not a huge leap to try gin. Gin offers something new and contrasting to vodka -- personally, I’d say gin can be more rewarding flavor-wise than vodka. The great thing about gin is that it’s so incredibly versatile. The flavour can be pushed in countless directions to create so many different styles of drinks, plus the industry is full of creative distillers. There really is a gin and a gin drink for everyone, it’s just about experimenting and discovering what you like,” Ally Martin, Hendrick’s Global Ambassador tells Outlook.
Ajay Nayyar, Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador explains why gin is gaining popularity. He explains, “The gin is a trending spirit and rising tremendously. Backed by many reasons, the first is the emergence of so many local brands in the market and second is a vast range of international brands now being accessible to the consumers. Over the last few years, vodka is a neutral spirit that was consistently enjoyed by consumers with various forms of mixers and as classic cocktails but now with the growing culture among millennials, mixologists have started experimenting with innovative gin cocktails bringing a multitude of flavour profiles that can be laid in the gin revolution.”
It’s fascinating to see a drink that started off being used for medicinal purposes with its origins in India, transport its way around the world, and become such a mainstay for gin culture in every country around the world.
For a while, the G&T was overlooked, but now it’s been reinvented for a modern audience.
He adds, “Another reason for the popularity of the spirit is innovation. Gordon’s for example is the world’s largest selling gin brand and is a 250-year-old recipe which has now come with a new variant with low ABV that is approachable and at an affordable price.”
Are there criteria for aging gin as we do for wine/whisky?
The mark of quality for a gin, really, is not about age, it’s about good, quality production and the clarity of the botanicals that shine through in the spirit. Martin tells us that gin is a very different spirit to something like whisky. “Our Master Distiller, Ms. Lesley Gracie, has experimented with the maturation of gin, but found that when you start to get the wood extraction from barrel ageing, it changes the spirit and dulls it down. You lose that clean, clear, crisp character that makes gin distinct.”
Nayyar adds, “Erstwhile craft gin producers used to age their gin for a couple of months but it’s an unfamiliar practice now. Unlike wine & whisky, where the flavours come from wood, gin is not part of the aging league. The flavours in the gin come from the different botanicals added during the distillation process. However, what’s trending is to age the cocktails made from gin to give more complexity to the final drink. A barrel age Negroni is a great example of an aged gin cocktail.”
What makes gin as a liquid stand out…
Gin is an intricate complex spirit that offers a diversity of flavour which makes it stand out amongst the others. There are endless possibilities of flavour that you can explore with gin as a liquid due to its versatility.
That’s not all, gin has a remarkably fascinating history, stretching back hundreds of years. The ingredient that undeniably makes gin, well, gin, is the juniper berry. It’s easily the most important botanical in any gin.
“Thousands of years ago, the juniper berry was renowned for its healing properties. There’s a very compelling mystique to this botanical that even several hundred years ago was thought to protect against the plague. It became incredibly precious as a result,” Martin says.
What are the best options to go as mixtures with Gin?
The classic mixer for gin is Indian Tonic Water, it’s the most popular gin serve around the world. But the beauty of gin, Martin tells us, “Is that it mixes pretty perfectly with a huge range of different mixers --- apple juice, ginger ale, soda water --- all of these work really well.”
Nayyar adds to it and says, “Vermouth, when mixed with gin, is called martini and it adds to be another outstanding mixer. If you don’t like bitterness from tonic, then soda with lemon/lime cordial also works well. The latest trend is SONIC which is half soda and half tonic. Gin & Juice with some sparkling water is gaining momentum in the current times. Additionally, there is a range of flavored tonic waters available in the market which just needs ice and gin.”
And the right food to go with it?
Martin tells us, “A few must-try options can be Chicken 65 with a Gin and Tonic – They go together really well as the freshness of the drink cuts through that spice. You can also have something like a Martinez with a richer, meat Biryani dish. And anything from the tandoori tastes amazing with a Gimlet or a Gin Fizz because the citrus works perfectly there.”
Nayyar has his own favourites, he tells us, “Some combinations that work well are cucumber, basil, watermelon and grapefruit. A gin martini or simply a Negroni works well if you want to go for a cocktail. Gordon’s gin is my favorite has the much-pronounced flavour of juniper that needs just a touch of citrus & tonic making it a perfect summer afternoon tipple.”
Brunch to sunset, why gin is the liquid of choice for millennials?
The global trend today is to drink LOW ABV cocktails, starting from brunch to sunset. One needs to be a responsible drinker. You have huge characteristics and a variety of flavours in a bottle of gin which is a great way to enjoy it instead of adding a lot of syrups and making it sweeter.
Nayyar believes, “Today’s millennial is much discerning when it comes to drinking spirits and they are giving gin the due credit for the same. I personally love gin and sparkling water as an afternoon drink due to the right fizziness and strong juniper influence with overall low alcoholic strength. My tip here is to add a slice of grapefruit and rosemary to give a nice fruity & herbal touch to a regular G&T. Let the good times Be-Gin.”
Martin adds, “I think gin is a favourite with millennials due to the ease with which it can be mixed and the creativity that modern producers are demonstrating. Also, there’s that thing about people wanting to move away from the drinks that their parents drink. The millennial crowd wants to explore more areas of flavour that perhaps their parents shied away from in the past. Gin gives them a real opportunity to do that. Even though there’s a rich legacy of tonic in India, gin has not been a huge spirit in the country before, so it’s almost like they’ve discovered it for themselves. Now as it’s trending and growing ever faster, they have that feeling of having discovered something secret. It’s their spirit.”
What are the gin essentials in your home bar?
You should always have a bottle of dry Vermouth around for my martinis, tonic, naturally, for a G&T, a citrus squeezer, a good knife to slice your cucumber, a nice sugar syrup and a bottle of bitters. The possibilities are endless with those essential in your home bar.
A drinking measure is essential to balance drinks. Pair of highballs glasses for G&T or a Copa glass add to the beautiful bar at home. A martini glass if you love a classic martini cocktail is a must.
Gin is more popular than ever. It’s a good time to learn some simple gin cocktails:
HENDRICK’S & TONIC
The Hendrick’s & Tonic is the drink that sparked the ‘ginnaisance’ – its power is in its refreshing simplicity.
· 50 ml Hendrick's Gin
· 150 ml Tonic Water
· 3 rounds of Cucumber
· Combine all ingredients in a highball glass filled with cubed ice.
· Lightly stir and serve.
· Garnish with three thinly sliced rounds of cucumber.
The cucumber slices really add an extra sensory note to this G&T, but you can get creative with your cucumber garnishes and try all sorts of different shapes -- cucumber spears, roses and even balls are fair game.
MIDSUMMER SOLSTICE SPRITZ
This is perfect for a great outdoor summer get-together with friends.
· 50 ml Hendrick's Midsummer Solstice
· 50 ml Sparkling wine
· 150 ml Tonic Water
· Slice & Ribbon of Orange & Cucumber
· Add all the ingredients to a large wine glass.
· Stir gently to mix.
· Garnish and serve.
Chill your sparkling wine and tonic water for more of an effervescent fizz
I love this drink because it’s really well balanced. It’s fresh, it’s zesty and it’s full of zing. It’s the perfect way to kickstart any evening and makes a great aperitivo or works really well alongside a meal.
- 40ml Hendrick’s Gin
- 20ml Lime
- 15ml Sugar Syrup
- Combine all ingredients.
- Shake over ice.
- Double strain into a coupe glass.
- Gordon’s Gin -45 ml
- Cucumber Chunks- 8-10
- Sugar Syrup- 10 ml
- Basil/Mint Leaves- 5-6
- Lime Juice- 15 ml
- Tonic Water- Top up
- Muddle Cucumber, bruise basil/mint and mix rest of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker of a jam jar
- Shake well and double strain into a tall glass over ice.
- Top up with tonic & garnish it with slice of cucumber & basil/mint whatever you have used.
- Gordon’s Gin- 60 ml
- Honey Water- 15 ml
- Lemon Juice- 15 ml
- Orange Juice- 15 mil
Shake all the ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled glass.