As the leaves start to take on a golden hue and the nights draw in, October marks a period of transformation. While many people transition from the crisp, citrusy drinks of summer to the hearty beverages of winter, there’s one timeless classic that remains a favourite throughout the seasons: the Gin and Tonic. Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or a newbie, this October edition guide will enlighten you on the subtleties of this enduring combination and how to perfect it.
A Brief History
While most Brits are intimately familiar with the pairing of gin and tonic, its history might be less well-known. The drink has its origins in the 19th century British colonies, where British officers in India began adding gin to their tonic water. This wasn’t just for the pleasure of it; the quinine in tonic was used to ward off malaria. The added gin helped to make the bitter quinine more palatable. Add a squeeze of lime for scurvy prevention, and you had the foundation of a drink that would become a global phenomenon.
Choosing the Right Gin?
Maybe its Brilliant Gin’s London Dry 43%
The heart of any Gin and Tonic is, unsurprisingly, the gin itself. The recent years have seen an explosion in the number of craft gins available, each boasting its unique blend of botanicals.
1. London Dry Gin: The most well-known style, it’s characterised by a pronounced juniper flavour. Brands like Tanqueray and Beefeater are typical examples.
2. Plymouth Gin: Slightly fruitier and softer than the London Dry, with a more pronounced earthiness. Plymouth Gin is the most renowned brand here.
3. Old Tom Gin: A touch sweeter, this style was hugely popular in the 18th century and is making a modern comeback. Look for brands like Hayman’s or Jensen’s for a taste of this style.
4. Navy Strength: As the name suggests, this is a potent style, often clocking in at over 57% ABV. Despite the strength, it’s designed to be full of flavour.
Choosing the Right Tonic
The quality and flavour profile of your tonic water can make or break your Gin and Tonic. Thankfully, the market is awash with quality options.
1. Indian Tonic Water: The most classic choice, it’s slightly bitter with a clean finish.
2. Mediterranean Tonic Water: Softer and fruitier, it pairs especially well with floral gins.
3. Elderflower Tonic Water: With a floral and sweet profile, this can add an extra dimension to your drink.
Here’s where you can get really creative. While a slice of lemon or lime is traditional, why not try:
- Cucumber: Especially good with gins that have a floral or herbaceous profile.
- Pink Grapefruit: Adds a zesty and slightly bitter edge, complementing the tonic’s quinine.
- Rosemary or Thyme: Introduces an aromatic and herbaceous element to your drink.
Perfecting the Pour: The October Method
- Chill Everything: Starting with cold gin, tonic, and even glasses can make a world of difference.
- The Golden Ratio: While personal preferences vary, a good rule of thumb is 1 part gin to 2-3 parts tonic.
- Add the Gin First: This ensures an even blend when you pour in the tonic.
- Use Quality Ice: Large, clear cubes are best as they melt slower, preventing dilution.
- Stir, Don’t Shake: A gentle stir is all you need to blend the gin and tonic.
- Garnish Thoughtfully: Remember, it’s not just about looks. The right garnish can elevate the flavour profile of your drink.
So, as October’s brisk air beckons, there’s nothing quite like sipping on a perfectly crafted Gin and Tonic to transport you to memories of sunnier days while embracing the charms of the season. Whether you’re enjoying it as a pre-dinner aperitif or a nightcap, mastering the art of the Gin and Tonic ensures you have a classic drink that never goes out of style. Cheers to that!