Gin and Bear it: All About One of the World's Most Popular Liquors
All About Gin
Refreshing, sharp, herbal, and dry - gin is a versatile and surprising alcohol that is perfect for summer months and cold winters alike. Whether you go for the simple Gin and Tonic or a more complex Gimlet, gin is a staple in any bar or kitchen.
Gin's beginning's can be found in 11th century Italy, where Benedictine monks used the juniper berry for medicine. This practice continued throughout history, with juniper being used as a medicinal tonic and plague doctors even stuffing the berries into their beaks to protect them from the Black Death.
Eventually, it became pretty clear that patients were a little too keen to take their daily medicine, resulting in its use as drinkable alcohol by the 16th century.
Oops All Gin
In the United States, alcohol must contain 40% alcohol by volume (ABV) to be considered gin. The main ingredient is juniper, which is then infused with other botanicals to create a complex and refreshing flavor profile.
There are five distinct types of gin; London Dry, Plymouth, Old Tom, Genever, and International. Each kind of gin has distinct methods and flavors; choosing which gin is best for you requires a taste test of all of them, right?
London Dry gin is the most popular style of gin. This gin typically has a high proof and a 45% ABV. Juniper is the main flavor, often paired with citruses and coriander. A classic G&T is best with this kind of gin and can be paired with any number of botanical tonics.
Plymouth gin has a lower proof than the London Dry and is much less juniper-forward. However, it has a much higher ABV at 57%. The only distillery allowed to produce this kind of gin is Plymouth Gin Distillery in England. Due to its high alcohol content, it is recommended to use Plymouth Gin with sweeter cocktails like a spritz or a gimlet.
Old Tom gin is a much older kind of gin that often uses barrels in the distilling process. This gin is maltier and citrusy, making it perfect for a dry gin martini.
Genever gin is a precursor to modern gin, produced by the Dutch in the 16th century. Distillers in Holland and Belgium produce this kind of gin using wine rather than grain, making it richer and more savory than other gins. This is a gin that can be played with, often used in Negronis and riffs on the Manhattan.
Finally, International gin is expressed through different cultures around the world putting their own spins on the gin alcohol. It has become a modern practice to move away from the classic London gin and instead to make this versatile gin reflect local regions of Spain, Japan, and Brazil. These gins contain different botanicals and methods that fit with the cultures of where it is distilled. It will be exciting to see these gins incorporated into classic cocktails around the world.
Now that you know where it comes from and what gin might be best for you, it's time to get to the fun bit - the cocktails.
As mentioned above, many drinks can use gin, both classically and in more innovative ways.
The best way to serve a classic G&T is with 1 part gin and two parts tonic. A favorite is the London Dry paired with elderflower tonics, creating a flowery and refreshing drink perfect for an afternoon on the patio.
The gimlet is another classic that can be altered and played with to create new and exciting flavors. The gimlet uses gin, lime, and simple syrup, shaken and poured over ice. Any kind of syrup can be added to create different flavor profiles, such as basil, blackberry, or rhubarb.
The gin spritz is another versatile cocktail, using gin, simple syrup, prosecco, and club soda. Dryer flavors are often used in this drink, such as cucumber or grapefruit, and can be a perfect use of a Plymouth gin.
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