I read with interest recently in Bon Appetit that Gin Is In. I am from England, so the classic Gin and Tonic has always been one of my favorite drinks, and one that we would always offer to guests, although most would usually go for a vodka martini. Apparently, gin cocktails are now starting to outnumber vodka-based drinks in the trendsetting bars across the US - from the Pegu Club in New York to Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle - so there has never been a better time to be a gin drinker.
Gin, distilled from corn, barley and flavored with juniper berries and other aromatics has been associated with London since the William of Orange from Holland took over the throne from King James II in 1688. Drinking Jenever, the early Dutch gin, became a symbol of patriotism. Britain banned the import of wine and brandy from Catholic France and encouraged the wholesale distillation of gin. Some time later the great London Gin distillers emerged such as Alexander Gordon, Charles Tanqueray and James Burroughs (known for Beefeater Gin). They developed what became known as the London style of gin, using pure water from the outlying villages and a continuous still to produce a light, dry gin. The flavors from botanicals such as angelica root, coriander, star anise, juniper berries, licorice root, bergamot and cassia bark add a taste and complexity to drinks that vodka does not, and each brand of gin produces a different flavored cocktail, depending on the variety of botanicals used in the production of the gin. Below are Pegu Club's Audry Saunders' recommended brands for five classic gin cocktails.
- Classic Martini - Tanqueray (94.6 proof)
- Gin and Tonic - Gordon's (80 proof)
- Aviation - Plymouth (82.4 proof)
- Negroni - Beefeater (94 proof)
- Tom Collins - Beefeater (94 proof)