Gin and Tonic: A Guide to a Perfect Cocktail
And love it is!
Summer is finally here and there’s no better way to fend off the heat of an arid Arizona summer evening than with a well-heeled gin and tonic.
It’s an easy enough drink to make requiring little skill in mixology, yet a good gin and tonic can be difficult to find. The reason, I believe is the lack of care in selecting the ingredients.
Like most commercially grown citrus fruits, limes are harvested well before they’re ripe. The expectation is that the fruit will continue to ripen as it goes through sorting, shipping, agricultural inspections, distribution and the time it sits in the store.
It does. Sort of. Maybe.
The way to tell if citrus is ripe is to gently roll the fruit in your hand. If it smells like the fruit it’s trying to be, then it’s ripe. Most people think that limes need to be green to be good. Not to be a contrarian, but au contraire! A lime is ripe when it’s partially yellow. They actually start out solid green. An immature lime can be bitter rather than sour and will ruin any drink.
Nothing but crystal clear, unclouded ice will do. Cloudy ice indicates the presence of trace minerals, which can ruin the flavor, or it can indicate trapped air – which can make you burp. That’s the job of the tonic.
There are “tonic waters” and then there is “Q-tonic”. I much prefer the latter. Even though it’s a little pricey (around $7-$8USD-187ml, Whole Foods, Total Wines), the exchange is well worth it. I’ve suffered through too many crummy drinks due to cheap tonic. Schweppes is second in line, but a very distant second. The ingredient list below tells why.
- Q Tonic: purified water, organic agave (for sweetening-60% fewer calories), Peruvian quinine, Lemon juice extract, natural flavors.
- Schweppes: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium benzoate, quinine.
Though not an ingredient, it’s important to have one. Clean would be good.
There are a lot of good gins out there and fortunately I like many of them. Cadenhead’s “Old Raj” is the newest add to my favorites list. With only the slightest hint of saffron, it’s not over powered by the botanicals allowing the juniper to come forward but in a well-behaved fashion. There’s no raw “after-burn” of juniper as with many gins, just a smooth finish that demands another sip. This is one of the few gins that can present itself well when poured “neat”. Old Raj comes in two proofs: 92(red label) and 110(blue label) 750 ml. pricing: $39 and $49 respectively.