It seems that today is dedicated to celebrating two things in a fan of - knitting, which I’ll happily do in public, and gin, which I try not to drink when I’m knitting because it plays havoc with my ability to count stitches properly.
I spent most of this afternoon doing a gin tasting at work which was amazingly popular. This was just a little table set up on the shop floor with a couple of products on it, and I don’t often get such an enthusiastic or well informed response to these kinds of tastings. If I think back even a couple of years the most common response was ‘I don’t like gin’. Not today.
I’m really pleased about this for a few reasons. The first is that it’s dull and tiring in equal measure to stand in the same spot for 3 hours if no one will engage with you. The second is that after years of asking people if it’s gin they dislike, or tonic, gin’s current popularity is making everyone more open minded (favourite customer of the day, a lady in her 80’s who had never had gin before but was determined to try it - she particularly enjoyed the Warner Edwards Honey Bee gin). The number of questions about mixer and serve options has also been brilliant. It helps keeps me on my toes; questions like these are absolutely the best and most interesting part of my job.
My personal gin collection is also growing again, D has been bringing me back interesting bottles from Scottish trips, and I’ve found a few interesting bottles myself. I need to get them altogether and have a good look at what I’ve got stashed around the flat. John Lewis have also targeted me with more than normally accurate marketing for a new limited edition Tanqueray - ‘Lovage’.
Limited is a relative term here, I think it’s a bottle run of 100000, but the rest of the series, all inspired by vintage recipes from the archive, has been excellent so obviously I’m going to buy this as soon as I can.
Just as the number of gins has exploded, and in line with the increasing variety of tonic water available, there’s also a lot of new books about gin, and cocktails, around. I’m less impressed with these, especially the ones that list or rate gins - the number of new things coming to market means they’re out of date before you know it, and I still think that a good vintage cocktail book (I’m currently favouring ‘The Savoy Cocktail Book’) is the best bet.
For most of us simplicity is the key. I want a minimum of ingredients, equipment, or fuss when I’m making drinks at home, and early cocktail books are great for finding just such recipes. They’re great for learning how to make a really well balanced drink, and from there it’s easier to work out your own successful embellishments.
And finally, this is clearly another opportunity to extol the virtues of the Gin Rickey. D finds these too dry, but for me this is the best possible summer serve for gin. It’s also the best thing I’ve found to do with sloe gin.
You want a tall glass, a measure of your chosen gin, the juice and shell of half a lime, and plenty of ice in a glass. Then top it up with sparkling water. Happy international gin day.