Gin. We love gin. You love gin. Everyone loves gin.
Sales of the spirit hit £1 billion a year in December 2016, with around 40 million bottles sold. In 2015, 49 new British distilleries opened and sales are set to overtake those of Scottish whisky by 2020.
But that doesn’t mean that we know everything about the juniper-laced drink. Which is why we’ve asked expert Abi Clephane, who works for Wild Islay dry gin The Botanist, to dispel a few common myths for us.
Myth 1: You need a 2:1 tonic-gin ratio for a G&T
The reality: “Just like with food, you’ve got to play about with what you like. So many people think they don’t like a gin and tonic, but, actually, they just don’t like the (often cheap) tonic that’s been used. Try a 3:1 ratio, and buy a nice mixer,” says Abi.
Myth 2: Neat gin will taste awful
The reality: Not so, Abi reckons. “It’s all about the product. An expertly made smooth artisan bottle, full of botanicals, can be served simply, over ice. I like mine in a martini, with just 5ml vermouth or fino sherry, as it doesn’t need other flavours.”
Myth 3: Serve gin drinks in a balloon glass
The reality: “They’re the more fashionable option, but those Mediterranean-style glasses can end up too full of mixer, and end up drowning the gin itself. I prefer a highball. That’s not hard-and-fast, though – if you’re on holiday in the sun, a massive glass full of ice can be great,” says Abi.
Myth 4: Gin is only for the bar, not for the dinner table
The reality: For Abi, pairing the spirit with food is a good indeed. “The fresh, citrus elements of gin work wonders with light, shellfish dishes – things like langoustines. In total contrast, the juniper flavours are a treat with venison, as the former contains pinene, which has a resinous woody flavour. You will also find gin cocktails that will go really well as a digestif (such as a Hanky Panky or a Martinez), so are good to pair with dessert or after a meal. It’s a versatile spirit.”
Myth 5: Citrus is the only garnish
The reality: Yes, lemon/lime/grapefruit are delicious. But, with such a spectrum of flavours in gin, it’s time to get more creative. “Try thinking about what you have around you,” recommends Abi. “Rosemary or thyme in the winter garden, strawberry and basil in the summer: just try things out.”
Myth 6: Gin is going to make you weepy
The reality: Poor gin. It’s garnered a rep for ending your evening in a sob-fest. “You’re only ever going to cry if you were already going to,” says Abi. “So that’s not something to worry about.”