Gin has been my drink since I was 18 (well, almost 18) and first faced with the dilemma of what to order in a pub. It's what my mother drank, it was the first thing I thought of, and I still struggle to think of anything else. It wasn't a fashionable drink back then, so at university it became something of an affectation, but a gin and tonic is an absolute classic, and at least the current gin craze leaves me feeling vindicated.
Something I should probably make a New Years resolution is to keep a record of books lent, as I can't find my copy of Josephine Pullein-Thompson's 'Gin and Murder', I might have lent it to my mother, I hope I have, it's a book I'd hate to lose. I've borrowed its title for today's post, but actually as it deals with an alcoholic, and gin is used as a murder weapon, it might be in questionable taste to specifically pair it with a drink (if ever a book made me appreciate the virtues of a nice cup of tea it's this one).
In Pullein-Thompson's equally horsey mystery 'Murder Strikes Pink' the drinks are marginally safer but the whiff of juniper is almost as tangible as the aroma of stables (or maybe that's because it turns out I'm never very far from a bottle of gin). This is the gin - Gordon's or Beefeater - of the club house, the hospitality tent, the race course bar. It would sit in a tray in the corner of a room, or in a decanter with a silver label, and be drunk by women in pearls and twinsets with not enough ice, and a slice of lemon. It's the 6 o'clock drink that marks the gap between the working part of the day and the equally serious business of dinner.
A really good gin and tonic hinges on lots of ice, lime rather than lemon, and for preference something like fever tree tonic rather than schweppes, or (shudders) some generic or supermarket own label effort. Pointing this out at home doesn't always make me popular. Seriously though, whatever gin you favour get a really good tonic. Fever tree is the best on the market that's widely available, it will make a cheap gin taste better, and do a fancy one justice.
And after all that it's not a gin and tonic I'm going to recommend at all, but gin and ginger. When Ophir gin came in the market (pretty elephant on the label, selling point being that the botanicals are specific to the old spice route) they recommended it with ginger ale; it's quite a peppery gin and this works brilliantly. Tanqueray Rangpur which really emphasises a lime character is another good gin with ginger. What I discovered when we put it on tasting is that a lot of people who thought they didn't like gin turned out to not like tonic. It's also a warmer feeling drink than a G&T which is a bonus in winter (you still want just as much ice), and for the purposes of my Greyladies binge has a nod towards the very traditional whisky and ginger.