Saturday, December 19, 2015

Gin and Murder with Ginger

As soon as the madness of Christmas is out the way (Boxing Day) the first thing I need to do is have a good tidy - I've misplaced so many things over the last few weeks it's beyond a joke (gift tags, sellotape, the tin I use for setting fudge, sundry books, a lot of ribbon, matches, perspective, the list goes on). The upside is that whilst looking for all the misplaced things I've found 3 bottles of gin I had forgotten buying. Turns out I have a lot of gin, stashed much in the way that a squirrel hoards nuts for winter. the reason there's so much is that I can't resist bringing a bottle of something new back every time I go to London, and can't resist favourites when they're on a particularly good offer at work. 

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. 


  1. Amazingly, I've never tried gin with ginger ale... would American dry work equally as well, if you don't like it quite as peppery?

  2. It would be fine, I'm an absolute tonic snob but am less fussy about ginger ale and anyway it really comes down to the drinkers preference. Pepper is a common botanical in gin and despite sales pitches, by the time all the mixings are added it's hard to tell which one you used. But gin and ginger is good and worth a try.

  3. Is that Jane Austen on the label of the Bath gin?

    There's a line in one my favorite movies, Hopscotch, where the hero asks the heroine if hers is still "gin and ginger ale." I always thought that sounded good but I've never tried it. I see a trip a trip to the store coming up. I don't even know how wide a range of gins is available here, but I know where to find out.

    1. It is Jane Austen, and she's winking. It's the most wonderfully inappropriate thing I can think of for a gin bottle. Good luck with your gin hunt.

  4. This post has led me to visit various Genever houses since that was my first experience of anything gin-like. What a treasure chest of delightful things I have found thank you so much for setting me off on an interesting journey!

    What are the gins that you particularly enjoy, other than Ophir?

  5. It's easier to list the ones I'm not find of - Hendricks. Although I don't actually dislike if it, and I probably wouldn't be very keen on Gordon's cucumber either. Otherwise I don't bother with cheap own label or generic 'Gin' but apart from those I've yet to meet one I don't like. Martin millers, No 3, Bombay Star of India, Chase GB extra dry, Plymouth, chase Seville, love all of those.