Gin for breakfast? You think we're kidding!
Yesterday saw the launch of Oxford's TOAD - The Oxford Artisan Distillery. This is Oxford's first true craft distillery specialising in vodka and gin made from ancient rye grown locally in Oxfordshire. We love what they are doing over there at TOAD and it got us thinking about how gin is certainly the star of the show at the moment with so many amazing blends out there.
But it doesn't stop with a good old trad G&T - oh no! We've been reading about a bakery in Cheshire making gin and tonic buns, gin and tonic tea cakes in Derby and even a gin yoghurt - now that is what we call a good start to the day!
But if we're taking it back to basics, we thought we'd sniff out what drinks scientist Stuart Bale, who was commissioned by gin brand Gin Mare to analyse the science of the ideal G&T thinks*...
He concluded that the perfect tipple should be 14 per cent ABV (alcohol by volume), which is usually about to one part gin to two parts tonic, once dilution from ice has been taken into the equation – though the exact amount of tonic to use depends on the strength of the gin.
And, although most bars in Britain serve their G&Ts in tall glasses, he believes that a large, wide glass – like the balloon glasses the drink is often served in in Spain - is actually the best way to appreciate the flavour.
“Eighty per cent of what you taste comes through your nose. A lot of the aroma and flavour compounds are carried by the bubbles, so the bigger the surface area, the more bubbles you get coming to the surface,” he explains.
As for the lime versus lemon dilemma, Mr Bale sits strongly in the lemon camp: “Lime is very fashionable now, but most gins have lemon peel in the mix, so why would you put lime with it?” However, he admits that sometimes, a G&T tastes best with a garnish that contrasts the botanicals in the gin, rather than one which mirrors them exactly.
When Mr Bale was asked to find an idea garnish for Gin Mare, a Mediterranean gin with flavours of olive, basil and rosemary, he originally thought a sprig of rosemary would be the answer. But out of 120 garnishes he looked at, he found that a strip of mango peel and a grinding of black pepper worked the best. The drink was such a hit with the gin's makers it is now being served at the Hixter restaurants in London.
“Mango has high levels of pinene, a flavour compound found in both juniper berries and Mediterranean herbs, so you can see why it works with this brand,” he says.
As for ice, he recommends plenty of it, because if the temperature of a drink is low, the carbon dioxiode molecules which create the bubbles find it harder to escape, meaning your drink will stay fizzier, and more aromatic for longer. “So keep your tonic in the fridge too,” he says.
Below are Mr Bale's suggestions for how much tonic you will need with 11 major gin brands to create the perfect serve. Just make sure you ditch the lime.