SPRING at last? Free spirits longing to entice their senses with that giddy feeling we get when English gardens wake up to European summertime should try experimenting with the fresh, and flavoursome, botanicals that lie at the heart of premium gin.
From mother’s ruin to the cocktail darling, gin’s refreshing infusions, citrus flavours and brightness make this classic spirit an elegant and wonderfully balanced pourer for the quintessentially British season.
Voted the World’s Best Gin by the Wall Street Journal, Hendrick’s Gin (£21.75, 70cl, Waitrose) has 11 different botanicals of flowers, roots, fruits and seeds, distinguished by infusions of cucumber and rose petals.
Handcrafted and distilled in Scotland by whisky boys William Grant & Sons, it’s deliciously refreshing with a divine floral aroma. Uncork this unique spirit and pour into a long glass, fill with tonic water and garnish with a slice of cucumber.
Fashion-conscious tipplers will instantly fall in love with Greenall’s Bloom London Dry Gin (£19.99, 700ml, Vanquish 08456 800 500), dressed for success in an ornate, jewel-cut bottle. Boasting the only female master distiller, Joanne Simcock counts camomile, pomelo and honeysuckle alongside other pleasurable botanicals, and this triple-distilled gin was awarded a platinum medal at the 2010 World Spirits Competition.
Here’s an easy recipe to try at home and the cheeky marriage of wine and gin slips down a treat.
:: BLOOM CLASSIC COCKTAIL
50ml Bloom Gin, 6ml St Germain elderflower liqueur, 6ml white wine
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a seasonal petal, such as a pansy.
Named after its birthplace, SW4 London Dry Gin (£16.49, 70cl, supermarkets nationwide) is distilled and bottled in London SW4 by Charles Maxwell, Master of the Worshipful Company of Distillers, with a 300-year heritage. SW4 is a blend of 12 botanicals, invigorating and bright on the nose with orange and lemon aromas.
A perfect match with the bitter quinine flavours of tonic water (kind on the tum), and an aromatic gin that also works well in cocktails, such as this thirst-quenching long drink.
50ml SW4 Gin, 50ml apple juice, 10ml elderflower cordial, squeeze of lime
Shake all the ingredients with ice and fine strain into ice-filled collins glass and garnish with three slices of cucumber.
Pretty newcomer Geranium Premium London Dry Gin (£24.99, 70cl, www.thedrinkshop.com) by Hammer & Son distils the oils from our favourite window box buds to create crisp, citrus-rosy aromas with the delicate taste of juniper, and eight other botanicals.
As the name implies, Geranium is an aromatic gin that’s an ideal mixer with traditional tonic or vermouth, and fanciful-sounding cocktails, such as the exotic Cucumber Yum Yum. Here’s the recipe to experiment with at home.
:: CUCUMBER YUM YUM
40ml Geranium Gin, 15ml Aalborg Jubilaeums Akvavit, 30ml acacia honey, 20ml fresh lime juice, 4 fresh raspberries, 4 slices of cucumber
Crunch cucumber and raspberries first. Shake all the ingredients and strain into a rock glass with crushed ice. Garnish with raspberries and cucumber.
For the ultimate pouring brand, gin lovers won’t be lead down the garden path when they fork out for a bottle of Tanqueray No TEN (£33, one litre, www.thewhiskyexchange.com).
Most suited to a gin palace, Tanqueray No TEN is distilled four times to achieve a clean, fresh taste using citrus fruits, botanicals and spices.
I love the hit you get from the juniper, and it’s always a hot favourite on the martini trolley in posh bars.
Try Tanqueray with tonic and a wedge of grapefruit - a great overlap to the gin-based Pimms and summer sipping!
:: BEST BUY
The classic style of Beefeater London Dry Gin (£15, 70cl, supermarkets nationwide) makes it a brilliant workhorse in the cocktail cabinet. With nine botanicals and a distinctive citrus taste, you can’t go wrong when it comes to pouring a budget friendly G&T. Or for an upgrade, try Beefeater 24 (£26, 70cl, Waitrose) with 12 botanicals including Japanese sencha tea and green tea, this is a beautifully smooth gin for cocktails.
:: LIQUID NEWS
Sugar, sugar... Sexy threesome the Sugababes are celebrating the release of their new album with a bespoke cocktail, Sweet Seven. On sale for three weeks at the new PINCHITOtapas restaurant in London (price £6.50), it’s a saccharine concoction fans can sip while listening to their new single, Wear My Kiss. Guilty-pleasure drinking at it’s honeyed best! Here’s the recipe to try at home.
:: SWEET SEVEN
Spoon of lemon curd, 25ml Chambord raspberry liqueur, 35ml Finlandia grapefruit vodka, dash of citric acid, cava, rose water foam
Put lemon curd, Chambord, grapefruit vodka and citric acid in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake hard and strain into a martini glass. Top with cava and rose foam