It’s World Gin Day … hurry up and grab the ice!

Today, my dear friends is World Gin Day. A day to celebrate the lovely spirit which eases us at the end of the 9-5; which is delightful with ice on a summer’s eve; and is a relaxing sip with pals. Yes, it has its own day.

I spoke to the enigmatic Gin Monkey (I’m not revealing identities) who now organises World Gin Day. The concept of the day is simple, says Gin Monkey.

It is to get people drinking gin and “celebrate the spirit in all its juniper-filled-glory”.

World Gin Day
World Gin Day

OK, Gin Monkey, explain the history of G&T and why we Brits love it so much.

“The history goes back to India and the army of the British East India Company.

“Malaria was rife, and quinine powder made from the bark of a native tree was known to prevent the disease.

“The problem was that the powder had a very bitter flavour and was therefore often mixed with sugar and carbonated water to make it more palatable, effectively creating tonic water.

“Given the army received a gin ration, it was only a matter of time before the spirit was incorporated.

“When the army returned to Britain, they brought a taste for this drink with them and the rest, as they say, is history.”

So, I asked, it’s about botanicals. Is that right?

World Gin Day , Gin Monkey
Gin Monkey

“Absolutely, the botanicals are what make gin different from other spirits, and particularly the juniper berry. Without juniper your spirit is merely a flavoured vodka.”

Gin and tonic is the popular way to enjoy gin, but Gin Monkey says a great alternative is a Tom Collins, a mix of lemon juice, sugar syrup, gin and soda water.

Says Gin Monkey: “It’s long and refreshing like a G&T. I often recommend it for people who don’t like tonic water.

“There are hundreds of classic cocktails that feature gin. In the cocktail ‘golden age’ of the 1930s vodka was pretty much unheard of in the western world.

“When it came to white spirits, everybody drank gin.

“Consequently there are countless gin cocktails in classic cocktail books. My favourites are citrus-led such as the White Lady, Aviation or Last Word.”

Thanks Gin Monkey.

To mark World Gin Day I tried three new gins (well, new to me) simply with ice and Fever-Tree Tonic (£1.69, Tesco).

World Gin Day Warner Edwards’ Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin
Warner Edwards’ Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin

Warner Edwards’ Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin (various retailers or £38 online www.warneredwards.com) – I can’t tell you how much I love this. Don’t for one minute think this is a sweet rhubarb crumble confection. With a topple of tonic it has divine aromas (a little sarsparilla) from its dusky pink depths. It uses rhubarb originally grown in Queen Victoria’s garden.

World Gin Day Portobello Road Gin
Portobello Road Gin

Portobello Road Gin (RRP £25 Waitrose, Tesco) – It was founded in 2011 and has won a gold medal at the 2014 San Francisco Spirit Awards. It has nine botanicals, including juniper, coriander seed and orange peel; spicy ones too – liquorice, nutmeg and cassia bark. You won’t be disappointed. We loved this fresh, silky gin in our house. We’ve stocked up with a second bottle.

World Gin Day Edgerton Pink Gin
Edgerton Pink Gin

Edgerton Pink Gin (£24.70 www.31dover.com) – This owes its lush pink colour to pomegranate, and incudes 15 botanicals.

These range from damiana (the honeymoon herb of Mexico, apparently) and more familiar ones such as angelica root and lemon peel. Initially I found this too bitter for my taste; but I explored their website and found a recipe for Tokyo Pink which includes Rose’s lime juice. I tippled a tiny amount into my pink gin. And lo! This was very moreish indeed.

Happy World Gin Day.

Check out www.worldginday.com for more details and events. You’ll find Gin Monkey at www.ginmonkey.co.uk

Published in the saturday extra magazine June 13, 2015

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express

Gin Monkey had  so much to tell me …. you can read more here

 

Here’s six gin-related things to know as World Gin Day approaches

It’s World Gin Day on Saturday June 13 2015.  I spoke to the organiser Gin Monkey to find out more about my favourite spirit.
There’s so much to say … so here’s Part One.

 

World Gin Day , Gin Monkey
Gin Monkey
Gin the know #1

Does it matter what tonic you use as a mixer?

Gin Monkey says: A well-known brand’s tagline in their marketing is: “When three-quarters of your G&T is the tonic, make sure you use the best.”

They’re right. The tonic you use is going to make a huge difference on your final gin and tonic.

Three tips

World Gin Day
Gin and tonic; and yes, choice of tonic does matter says Gin Monkey
  • Don’t equate price with quality, try the different tonics (stay away from artificially sweetened versions though) and make up your own mind.
  • Also bear in mind that certain gins may pair better with certain tonics, if your gin is punchy it might want a strongly flavoured tonic water.
  • Equally, a tip for lighter styles of gin, use a 50:50 mix of tonic water and soda water, so that the bitter flavour from the quinine in the tonic doesn’t overpower the delicate gin.
Gin the know #2

What is the difference between Plymouth Gin and London Dry Gin?

Gin Monkey replies: Plymouth gin has to be made in Plymouth and is made by one company under a trademark. London Dry Gin can be made anywhere in the world, as the term instead refers to a style and way of making gin rather than a geographical location.

Gin the know #3

Are there other kinds of gin?

Gin Monkey says: There are other styles and types of gin, the most common being Old Tom gin, a sweetened type of gin popular in the 18th century.

There’s also sloe gin, which involves macerating gin in sloe berries, and a new style of gin termed New Western used to describe small distillers, usually based in the States. Finally some gin producers have been experimenting with putting their gin in barrels to rest or age it, although there is no agreed definition for this style of gin yet.”

There are also two gins which have Geographical Indicative status as to where they are made: Gin de Mahon which must be made in the port of Mahon in Menorca, and Vilnius Gin which must be made in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Gin the know #4

How about a gin cocktail recipe that people can try at home for World Gin Day?

Gin Monkey says:  Sure, this is a twist on a classic bramble made in the bar Casita

Bramble de Casita

Ingredients: Three raspberries, two blackberries, 25ml lemon juice, 50ml gin, 10ml crème de mure (blackberry liqueur), 10ml Chambord.

Now you’re ready to make it:
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker.
Shake hard to ensure the berries have broken up and released their juices.
Strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice.
Churn the mix with a bar spoon and top with a crushed ice ‘cap’ garnish with a lemon wedge and/or blackberries.

Gin the know #5

What makes makes gin so wonderful?

Gin Monkey says: Simple.  Its fascinating history and potential for innovation and growth.

Gin the know #6
World Gin Day - gin and tonic cake
Lemon Drizzle Gin and Tonic cake …. as made by Lis

And one final word from me .. did you know you can make gin and tonic cake?

Well yes indeed you can. A  lovely workpal Lis won an office
bake-off with this lemon gin and tonic drizzle cake.

Lis says here’s the recipe from Pudding Lane Blog.

 

Check out worldginday.com for more details on World Gin Day  or follow the hashtag #WorldGinDay on Twitter. You’ll find Gin Monkey on Twitter, and www.ginmonkey.co.uk