Any time of year, gin is a favorite spirit. It mixes well while retaining its character, and its aromatics complement a great range of flavors. But there's something so special, so obvious, about gin and springtime. If flavors had colors, gin's would be green, and it's a perfect chance to start putting ice back in our cocktails because the external temperatures are finally bearable.
When fall falls, it falls hard. It fills our eyes, our noses, and, if we're doing things right, our cocktail glasses.
Apple cider is a seasonal classic, and its can't-beat-it flavor is a perfect match for all sorts of spirits and simple cocktail ingredients. You can make these seven apple cider cocktails with things you probably already have, turning a simple jug of cider into something that will make the whole month of October much more festive.
“Beloved, we join hands here to pray for gin. An aridity defiles us. Our innards thirst for the juice of juniper. Something must be done. The drought threatens to destroy us... Children, let us pray.” –– Wallace Thurman
Gin has some great quotes attached to it. Thurman's is one. Then there's Churchill's quote about a martini being a drink of cold gin while looking at a bottle of vermouth (Churchill has quite a few gin-specific quotes). Gin is there in the art of the 18th century, its in bathtubs during prohibition and in martini glasses in the roaring 20s. It pairs with tonic and soda, but is supreme in a true martini.
Each Wednesday, I post some of my favorite can't-miss links, images, and otherwise mindblowing goodies from across the web.
This is the Minotake bamboo spatula. It's amazing, and a good reminder that there is always room for more good design in the world, even on products that have been made and used for thousands of years. The series was designed by Makoto Koizumi and made by Japanese bamboo artisans Kohchosai Kosuga. Yours for a very reasonable $33.
Apparently, 90% of the world's huge
There are times to try new things. Times to taste different flavors, experiment with products, seek out something you've never encountered before...
And sometimes, you just want to know what the best option is. The easy choice. The go-to. The everyday variety you know will work when you need it, and rely on every time.
Now that it's officially summer, let's apply that search to a great bottle of gin. Gin is a particularly diverse spirit. Besides Scotch whisky, I can't think of one that has a broader spectrum of flavors. And different bottles will showcase the distiller's creativity and play better with certain ingredients. But there is one bottle that I recommend for almost any cocktail that calls for London Dry Gin; the thing I would take to a party or use in a punch or batch drink for a big group.
For years, I didn't think I liked a gin and tonic. Actually, for a while, I thought it was gin in general that I couldn't stand, but some wiser friends helped me learn with some really stunning gin-centric cocktails, and I quickly moved away from vodka in favor of gin's special aromatic and botanicals qualities. So, then I figured I just didn't care quinine-heavy tonic water, but that didn't make sense, since I'm particularly drawn to mineral and bitter flavors in cocktails and other beverages. Maybe it was the combo of the two...but by this point, I was already committed, so I was determined to figure out what was going awry, once and for all.
Whether you like yours mixed with a splash of tonic, some soda and lemon, or stirred with vermouth and a twist, we can all agree: gin is indeed the spirit of spring. And throughout its history, its been proposed to cure everything from the black plague to malaria.
Last summer, I shared my favorite trick for instantly upgrading your gin and tonic: use a better tonic water.
And what's the best tonic water?
Summer weekends are the perfect time to test out a new cocktail. Stop by the store on the way home from work, grab a new bottle and some citrus, and spend the rest of the weekend gathering with friends and nailing it down, just right.
This weekend, I'll be trying out an update on my number one, very favorite, easy-to-order-cause-its-hard-to-mess-up-unless-they-shake-it cocktail, the Negroni, by cocktail blogger Emily Arden Wells.
For many, the great treat of summer is a quality gin and tonic. For others, the warmer months mean ice cream season. And now, those two groups can hold hands as they sit outside in the long days and smell freshly cut grass after they barbecue amidst other summer tropes with some of this: gin and tonic sorbet.
Spring isn't the time for making complicated drinks...infusing spirits and boiling special syrups. It's the season for getting outside as much as possible, enjoying the ever-later evenings, and embracing simplicity.
The tradition of barrel or cask aging distilled spirits, wine, and beer goes back thousands of years. Letting the liquid mature within wood is what gives them their distinct flavors, aromas, and colors...when spirits are distilled, they're as clear as vodka; it's spending time with charred wood that develops the brown color of whiskeys, aged tequilas, brandies, and the like. The alcohol and the wood continue to interact, pulling out flavorful compounds known as vanillins and tannins, further distinguishing the product.
Over the last few years, some creative bartenders and cocktail experts have been experimenting with aging entire drinks
At least where I live, making your own spirits at home is still considered moonshinin', and therefore illegal. Were it not, I think I'd try to built my own mini-still and experiement with distilling and aging my own spirits.
Until then, I'm committed to the workarounds, like
Hit Chicago-based chef and restauranteur Grant Achatz had an interesting weekend dabbling in a bit of molecular mixology.
"Achatz tweeted... that he and [Chef de Tournant] Schoettler were "playing with sensation and texture in a gin and tonic," with a link to the above video (h/t Grub Street Chicago). "Playing with sensation and texture" seems to be an understatement. The gin and tonic Achatz is sampling in the video contains Anchor Junipero gin, yellow chartreuse and "cucumber alginate encapsulation."
There's a really weird origin story that surrounds the Collins. And by really weird, I mean some sort of hoax that I'm not quite sure I get. The Wikipedia article leaves me quite confused, but this post at Mental Floss explains a bit better:
"The Great Tom Collins Hoax of 1874...begat The King of Cooling Drinks, the Tom Collins. The hoax kicked off with a prankster telling a group that they were being talked about by the loose lipped Tom Collins, and then sending them on an angry goose chase to find him.
In 1874, the Steubenville Daily Herald reported that the hoax “belong[ed] to New York, where it was played with immense success
You may not know it yet, but the Negroni is your new favorite cocktail. It's strong, balanced, absolutely delicious, and makes a perfect pre-dinner cocktail that'll match nearly anything you're eating during the warm months.
The drink was supposedly invented in Florence in the 1920s, when Count Negroni asked the bartender to pump up his Americano (equal parts sweet vermouth and Campari, served tall with soda water) with gin.
And if you're brave enough to flame an orange peel, it's totally worth it. The toastiness of the orange oils mixed with the bitters and the spices of gin is a very fine thing indeed.
Turns out, James Bond had it all wrong. A martini is a drink that contains only spirits, and benefits quite a bit from stirring rather than shaking. Stirring creates a heavy, silky feel on the tongue, and avoids what connoisseurs called "bruising" the drink (integrating air bubbles). Of course, it's all about how you like it, but we hope you'll give this classic-style martini a try.
Just remember: a 3:1 gin (or vodka) to vermouth ratio keeps things refreshing, cold and balanced.
Rose's Lime Juice was created as a means to preserve citrus juice without alcohol in the 19th-century. And there's no better way to feature its unique properties than with a gimlet, a cocktail fashionable in the post-prohibition, Art Deco heyday of the 1930s and 40s.