Gin has been said to be “a drinker’s drink.” A lot of people can’t stand the taste of it, and others realize it’s an acquired taste after one has delved deeper into cocktail culture. I stand up to the challenge of creating yummy gin drinks all can enjoy.
A sort of Gin Renaissance has come about lately. Small batch and artisan gins are being produced. However, you can still make an excellent drink with a good brand-name gin available at your local liquor store. Boodles is one of my favorites. It mixes well in a variety of drinks but is mellow enough to be sipped neat.
The Martini of the 1950s was made with gin, not vodka. This was in the days before flavored vodkas and ‘tini drinks become popular. Flavored vodka is nothing more than alcohol flavored with artificial ingredients. Cream Puff flavored vodka has no cream puff in it, and after the distillation of the vodka, any flavoring added is chemical-based. Gin is a neutral spirit much like vodka, but it is flavored with juniper berries and other botanicals. You could say gin is an all-natural spirit in the cocktail world.
A basic Gin Martini recipe is as follows: Fill glass with ice and add three ounces gin and an ounce dry vermouth. Stir and then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or olive. This is one of the most basic cocktail recipes. When executed correctly, the drink is lovely. You can increase the amount of gin and decrease the vermouth to make a Dry Martini. A Sweet Martini can be made by using the same recipe as above but using half an ounce of dry vermouth and half an ounce of sweet vermouth.
A Gin Fizz was also a popular drink in the 1950s. A little less assertive than the Gin Martini, this drink utilizes a little splash of citrus to sweeten the drink. The fennel syrup gives the drink a zingy flavor. It is a clear, refreshing drink best served on crushed ice in a large 12-ounce glass.
Fennel Grapefruit Gin Fizz
3 oz. gin
1 oz. fennel syrup
splash grapefruit juice
splash club soda
Pour gin and fennel syrup into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into ice-filled glass. Top with splash of grapefruit and splash of club soda. Stir and garnish with a lemon twist.
To make the fennel syrup: Take 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons of fennel seeds and bring to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to simmer for three minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for two hours. Then strain into clean glass container. Keep refrigerated for up to one month.
– Christina Jordan, Straw Hat Barmen