This began as the first of my alcohol-free missives for a sensible January but sixteen words in has already become a story of cider and gin and tonic.
The reason? I lasted all of 44 hours into the New Year before my willpower began to take its leave of 2015 and I needed a quick-fix hit of gluggable refreshment.
I’m not an expert cider drinker, but sometimes it just hits the spot. After days of wines and sherry and Irish cream liqueur, a drop of cider seemed to fit the bill. I wanted cider and nothing else would do.
At least I can say that my first drink of the year was an attempt at staying healthy-ish as Sainsbury’s Low Alcohol Cider (£1.10, 500ml) is 0.9 per cent abv.
When poured, it was as flat as a newly-ironed napkin. Not even a poppety-pop of a rogue solo bubble. It looked like a glass of something abandoned by a partygoer on a kitchen windowsill for three hours.
Saying that, it smelled of a good fix of sweet cider, and its amber depths delivered a decent cider taste too, but without the alcohol backdrop. Pleasant enough for non-cider experts, it would probably be good with ice cubes on a warm day. But,because of its sweetness, I couldn’t drink more than one.
In other “healthy” cider news, if you like fruit-flavoured ciders but want to cut down on calories, Magners Light is claiming to be the first low calorie cider on the market. Magners Orchard Berries Light (4% abv) has just been released and is 103 calories. Magners Pear Light ( 4.5%abv) will be following soon. They are in Tesco at £4 for a pack of four.
The cider led to the gin. Gin. Ah yes, I like gin and can’t resist temptation.
It went like this. I was browsing the shelves of my local Tesco for more low calorie ciders as a taste comparison to the aforementioned Sainsbury version but lingered by those little tins of gin (there’s a selection in Tesco for £2 each or four for the price of three).
Before I knew it, several premixed gins of various styles were in my basket.
The earth shook. Fellow shoppers clasped anything in the aisles for safety as my remaining Willpower hurricaned passed them out of the store.
Then later at home a Can of Gin Scientific Experiment began.
First up, straightforward G&T mixes. Some one-sentence quotes on these from me or my Other Half, and gins placed in order of preference.
Gordons Gin and Tonic:
Fresh aromas, but lacking in a lingering taste. Though very drinkable.
Tesco’s Gin and Tonic:
Lime and citrus aromas (me, I liked it) and “can’t taste the gin in that one” (said the Other Half).
Greenall’s Gin and Tonic:
Bitter and tangy, sweet and manufactured
Then onto some of the flavoured mixes. Again, in order of preference.
Gordons with a Spot of Elderflower
It’s nice that (says Other Half, with a smile). It‘s not in your face, with the gin coming gently through.
*Warning: this one is very very easy to drink
Gordons with a Hint of Cucumber
Just tastes like bland tonic water, no real taste, no passion. (Says Other Half). Though I’ve moved this up to second in the list because the gentle cucumber lift appealed to me.
Greenalls Gin and Pink Grapefruit
No escaping the clouds of grapefruit aromas. Dusky pink colour. Very sweet; as sweet as the sugar topping on half a grapefruit and a Glacé cherry at a 70s wedding reception.
As an aside, my favourite little gin cocktail came from a mixed gift pack of Warner Edwards gins (£18,www.warneredwards.com)
As part of our taste testing I clicked open one of the 5cl miniatures, the Warner Edwards Elderflower Infused Gin bottle, and muddled with tonic water. It blew the others out of the water in aroma, taste, depth and all-round loveliness.
At an equivalent of £6 a miniature (the others were sloe gin and Warner Edwards Harrington Dry Gin, you’d hope that would be the case. Still, its my favourite gin discovery of the last 12 months.
Published in the saturday extra magazine January 10, 2015