Gin-uary is here, and what better way to celebrate than by learning all about gin? From its brief history to the different types of gin available, this blog post has got you covered. Plus, we'll finish things off with a recipe for a classic gin cocktail that is sure to become a new favorite.
The history of Gin
The history of gin dates back to the early 17th century when it was first created by the Dutch as a way to treat various ailments. The drink quickly gained popularity and was soon being produced all over Europe. Gin became especially popular in England in the 18th century, and it is thought that at one point, the average English person was consuming over a gallon of gin per year!
Types of Gin
Today, there are many different types of gin available, each with its own unique flavor profile. Some of the most common types of gin include:
London Dry Gin: This is the most common type of gin and is known for its juniper-forward flavor. It is made using a combination of botanicals, including juniper berries, coriander, and angelica root.
Old Tom Gin: This type of gin is slightly sweeter than London Dry Gin and is made using a slightly different process. It is often used in cocktails that call for a sweeter gin.
Genever: This type of gin is made in the Netherlands and has a malty, barley-like flavor. It is often used in cocktails that call for a more complex gin.
Navy Strength Gin: This type of gin is higher in alcohol content than most other gins, typically around 57% ABV. It is often used in cocktails where the gin flavor needs to be more pronounced.
How to use Gin
Gin is one of those spirits that can get a bad rep for being “too pine-y,”. But it’s one of the most versatile and exciting spirits, distilled with a range of botanicals that play beautifully in cocktails with a wide range of ingredients. Once you get beyond the typical botanicals of a classic London dry gin—like juniper, coriander, angelica root, citrus— you’ll find all manner of experimental “new” gins playing with lemongrass, Douglas fir, or lavender, to name a few possible ingredients distillers are playing with. It’s safe to say there’s a gin out there to suit all tastes. Here are six helpful tips for exploring gin:
#1 Try Gin in Cocktails, preferably a Martini
Try a new gin in a Martini or a somewhat neutral drink to highlight botanicals and see what the gin can do.
#2 Maybe You Want to Go with a Gin & Tonic or Even Gin & Coke
Yes, a quality tonic makes a difference. The tonic should always be chilled. If the tonic is warm, the whole mix will taste sweeter and will be less fizzy. Read tonic labels and look for the flavor profile. For example, if there’s a rosemary tonic, you can look for gins that might work with rosemary. Or choose a classic London dry gin that mixes well with a range of tonics. There are a lot of other sodas that work well with gin, like soda water and San Pellegrino citrus sodas, or if you want to be a bit controversial, cola works well with gin.
#3 When Making Gin Cocktails, Complement, and Contrast
The possibilities with gin cocktails are endless. A citrus-forward gin doesn’t need more citrus, so think about what would highlight the citrus and complement it. The same goes if a gin is floral. Everybody loves to mix patterns in clothes. Why not in drinks?
#4 Don’t Be Afraid to Drink Gin Neat
“Don’t be afraid to drink gin neat. These days, a lot more gins are designed to be drunk neat. Gone are the days when drinking gin is like drinking a Christmas tree, that it’s easier than ever to find a gin that might feature flavors you prefer, whether you like cinnamon or cardamom, citrus or floral notes, especially if you bring barrel-aged gins into the mix. Barrel-aged gins have proliferated in recent years, particularly from small-batch distillers across the U.S. Long timers like No. 209 in San Francisco even experiment with different barrels, aging its gin in sauvignon blanc or cabernet sauvignon wine barrels.
#5 Play with the Temperature
When you freeze gin, it changes its texture: it becomes thicker and dense. Then, the flavor profile opens up as the gin warms up.” So, try sticking a bottle in the freezer, as many do with vodka, and watch how the spirit unfolds.
#6 Once You’ve Become a Gin Geek, Sip Vintage Gins
If you really start to get into this gin thing, there is another realm: vintage gins. Generally, you’ll find more collectors’ bottles overseas in cities like Tokyo and in bars like Lebensstern in Berlin that stock more than a thousand spirits, including decades-old bottles available by the pour. Whitechapel is one of the rare American bars to find gin bottles that date back decades and can be drunk.
Gins weren’t necessarily meant to be drunk aged or to sit in a bottle for 40 years. Aerate it first, then pour and taste it 10 minutes later, then another 10 minutes later, then an hour later to see how it evolves and opens up. The fun part is to see what the flavor palates were back in the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s.
Now, on to the cocktail! Here is a recipe for a classic gin cocktail that is sure to become a new favorite:
Snow Kissed Country
2 ounces gin
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/4 ounce of Triple Sec
4-6 mint leaves
Club soda, to top off
Garnish: Bay leaf
Glass: Coupe or Nick and Nora
In a shaker filled with ice, combine the gin, lime juice, simple syrup, and mint leaves.
Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Top off with club soda and garnish with a bay leaf
A splash of Cointreau or triple sec for added sweetness.
A few slices of cucumber for a refreshing twist.
So there you have it! Everything you need to know about Gin-uary and how to celebrate in style. Cheers!