It is a truth universally acknowledged that the world loves a good gin and tonic — but what else does this complex botanical spirit have to offer? The answer is a lot! Gin is so much more than just juniper juice, and there are so many exciting ways to enjoy it.
As brave gin entrepreneurs innovate to create new types of gin, from flavoured gin — including experiments that infuse gin with lobster and beef (!) — to coloured gin like pink gin and even colour-changing gins such as Scapegrace Black Gin or Ink Gin, which owe their magical purple gin effect to the butterfly pea flower, there’s seemingly no limit to what can be added to gin to make it more exciting.
So it seems only fair that we get creative with how we drink gin too, whether it’s a classic dry gin or sloe gin, or one of the new iterations. Here are four new ways to experience everything gin has to offer.
“We don’t sip enough gin,” says Four Pillars distillery co-founder and distiller Cam Mackenzie. “Savoury botanicals tend to show more texture, so Four Pillars Olive Leaf Gin is actually really sippable over ice because it’s such a beautiful clean spirit.”
If drinking gin neat feels a step too far, you can opt for one of the world’s classic gin cocktails that still showcases a dry gin’s flavours: the Martini. A good gin Martini only adds one other ingredient — dry vermouth — and then finishes things off with either a twist of lemon, a little olive brine and an olive or a pickled onion.
Want to take your gin and tonic or gin fizz cocktail to the next level? Sit the lemon slice out and instead try a creative garnish that enhances the gin best. “A simple trick to garnishing your favourite gin and tonic is that you can never go wrong with a fruit and herb combo,” says Never Never Gin co-founder Sean Baxter. “Herbs add aroma, and fruit imparts a subtle sweetness, acidity or savoury character.”
He suggests you start by playing with combinations such as strawberry and basil, mint and cucumber or dill and pear and then try other pairings to see what you like. “Basically, have a think about flavours and get to your local market and see what looks good this week, then stick it in your gin and tonic,” says Sean.
We’ve all added a splash of wine to our cooking (usually while drinking a glass or two at the same time) but did you know gin also has a place in plenty of recipes? A splash of gin can add a gorgeous flakiness to pie crusts, and salmon or other fish cured with gin is another classic gin recipe, which pairs beautifully with cucumber and lime.
Even if you stop short of cooking with gin, another way that gin works with food is pairing.
Recently, a Japanese AI “tasting robot” decided that the best food to pair with gin’s sweet, sour and bitter flavours was a classic salty umami curry. Human tasters swear that the floral and herbal notes of gin go beautifully with smoked salmon or gravlax, and a good gin and tonic matched with a cheese plate (soft and creamy types such as camembert and brie, in particular) is a wonderful thing.
This Frozen Lemon Gin Mojito is a cool new take on a gin cocktail which has the same balance of mint and sweetness (from the sugar syrup) of the traditional white rum-based Mojito, but adds the Tom Collins citrus zing gin lovers adore. It’s one of the best gin cocktails to enjoy with grilled prawns or fresh oysters at your next barbecue.
Here’s how to make it:
However you’re consuming it — cocktail, on the rocks, a mix of gin and food — these fresh new ways to drink gin will be rewarding.