The gin-uine essential for farm-fresh fare

With its herbaceous notes and versatility, gin just may be your go-to spirit this year.
by Elyse Glickman

Like a black T-shirt, a Rolex watch or aviator sunglasses, the gin Martini is at once simple and sophisticated. It is also as personal as whoever orders it or makes it, as he can have it shaken, stirred, dirty or dry. Another way to personalize it is what gin you select as your foundation. You can reach for the classic, herbaceous UK gins like Plymouth and Bombay Sapphire or be daring with NOLET’S Silver Dry Gin, the new gin from the Netherlands that weaves in aromas and flavours of Turkish rose, peach and raspberry. This fruit-and-food friendly gin comes from the family that brought the world Ketel One vodka.
‘Here’s the quintessential cocktail, the one that inspires all others,’ declared consummate showman-mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim (above right) to a group of rapt food and lifestyle writers. ‘We’re talking fire and ice. Liquid satin. Fred Astaire in a glass. Surgical cleanliness, insight, comfort, absolution and redemption. We should not be surprised that more arguments have been waged, marriages broken and battles fought over the preparation of the cocktail that defined a nation.’
While Las Vegas-based Abou-Ganim built his reputation as a trendsetter, the Italian Riviera-inspired charm of Cecconi’s in West Hollywood provided the perfect platform for him to demonstrate why the Bombay Sapphire gin martini and other classics like the Negroni (pictured) and the Aviation are forever timeless, in their original states or as starting points for contemporary cocktails. His presentation was a hands-on history lesson, where the participants firmed up their measuring and stirring techniques in the process. The results surprised even admitted cocktail novices in the room.

‘There is a real myth surrounding the art of mixology that it’s reserved only for the high-and-mighty priest—the bartender—standing behind the great alter (known as) the bar,’ Abou-Ganim affirmed. ‘However, all you need is a top quality gin, the right tools, and a few techniques to be as good at home as the bartenders at your favourite night spot.’
Tony’s tips:

  • dry vermouth, which marries with the botanicals found in Bombay Sapphire, should be refrigerated, not stored in a liquor cabinet, and should be used within a month;
  • always measure the sweet and sour ingredients with a jigger to ensure accuracy and that your drink will be perfectly balanced;
  • pick out thin-skinned lemons at the market, and keep them at room temperature before you squeeze them. Squeeze, filter and refrigerate immediately, and use it within 36 hours. If you keep lemon juice around too long, the lemon juice will start to oxidize;
  • martinis are better stirred rather than shaken to ensure that “velvet in a glass” effect. Shaking will dilute or aerate the cocktails.


Above left: Nolet Silver Gin. Above right: Vietnamese pork sandwich.

Though you can never go wrong with entertaining with classics like the Aviation or the Negroni, farmers’ market food may tempt you to serve gin cocktails that complement the ingredients. NOLET’S Silver Dry Gin, billing itself as ‘The New Face of Gin’ is a great base for seasonal cocktails paired with fresh spring ingredients to complement NOLET’S Silver’s unusually mild palate.


Above: Roasted chicken with Asian-influenced coulis.

NOLET’S Silver Dry Gin rolled out at Santa Monica, Calif.’s Fig restaurant. Though this beach-side fine-dining spot is known for its patronage of local farmers’ markets and fresh, French café cuisine, the seasonal menu had some subtle Asian twists as well as simple preparations that allowed the natural flavours of individual ingredients to shine through. The following Nolet cocktails followed suit, and are equal parts fresh and refreshing.

 

 

 

NOLET’S Silver Dry Gin Raspberry Collins

1¼ oz Nolet’s Silver Gin
½ oz simple syrup
½ oz lemon juice
3 red raspberries
Soda for topper

Stir all ingredients except soda with ice in a martini shaker and pour into a Collins glass. Top with soda and garnish with a raspberry.
Mandarin Fizz

2 oz. NOLET’S Silver Dry Gin
3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
3/4 oz. Simple Syrup
1 Egg White
Angostura Bitters
6 tangerine segments
Zest tangerine

We’ve Got the Beet

1 oz. NOLET’S Silver Dry Gin
1/2 oz. Beet Juice
3/4 oz. Apple Syrup
1/2 oz. Lime Juice
Absinthe spray glass

Stir all ingredients with ice in a martini shaker and pour into a glass washed with absinthe. Top with soda and garnish with the apple wedge.

 

 

Palisades coffee

1 oz. NOLET’S Silver Dry Gin
1/2 oz. Root Liquor
1/2 oz. Benedictine
1 oz. Espresso
1/2 oz. Cream
1/4 oz. Simple Syrup
Stir in a shaker and serve in a coupé glass.

Mixologists who were recently minted brand ambassadors for Plymouth gin note that because gin is produced with botanicals like lemon peel, angelica root, orange peel and juniper, it is an ideal foundation for the farm-to-table cocktails sprouting up throughout the US and elsewhere. Summer Bell, award-winning mixologist from Oakland, California, tends bar at the city’s newest watering hole, the New Easy. According to Summer, as the bar only uses fresh juices and ingredients straight from the neighbourhood farmers’ market, the approach not only embraces the “shop local” mentality but it also enables cocktails to be organic and healthier.

 

True Love Brewster
Created by Summer Bell, the New Easy, Oakland, Calif.

½ oz Plymouth gin
½ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz golden raisin purée
½ oz rosemary-infused honey

Shake ingredients and strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass and top with an ounce of IPA beer. Garnish with a pick of multi-coloured raisins.
Home-made ingredients recipes: for the golden raisin purée, simmer 4 cups of golden raisins with 6 cups of water and half a cup of honey for 20 minutes, then blend in a vitamix till very smooth. Fine strain and let cool.
Rosemary infused honey: make a honey simple syrup by simmering with a ratio of one-to-one honey to water. Take off the heat and, while still hot, add several bunches of fresh rosemary. Let steep for an hour or to taste.

 

The Bellhop
Created by Sam Treadway, Backbar, Boston, Mass.

2 oz Beefeater London Dry Gin
½ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
2 long slices of green bell pepper (one for garnish)
Top with Barritts ginger beer

Muddle one slice of bell pepper, add Beefeater, lemon and simple. Shake well with ice. Double-strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with ginger beer, and garnish with a slice of bell pepper. •

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