Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In Praise of Gin

Tasting notes from Drinkopolis...

What would drinking be without that pinnacle of clear liquors, gin?

Whenever I'm asked 'Why gin?' by some amateur imbiber, I always recall that piquant bon mot of Oscar Wilde's: "Fuck you, that's why!" Recherche, no? (Or perhaps this isn't attributable to Wilde, I sometimes lose track of my sources)

Gin is vodka for adults, the backbone of such irreplaceable drinks as the Casino, the Twentieth Century, the Blue Moon, and of course, the Martini.

Let's peek inside my bar, Drinkopolis, and sample some of the gins therein:

I'll begin with some of the more accessible ones, and work towards the stronger and more serious.

New Amsterdam - I had a coupon, okay? This is the vodka of gins, a great place to start for those who "don't like gin." Sweet, citrusy, with very restrained juniper.

Hendrick's - Despite the labeling which flatters you as a unusually daring drinker (and yes, I WAS flattered, and forced to buy though I KNEW I was being manipulated), this is a soft-flavored gin with many interesting expressions, the nose being heavy with rose and less so with its advertised cucumber.

Magellan - Flavored with iris, this gin is blue (not just the bottle, like the otherwise clear Bombay Sapphire), and makes an outstanding Gin & Tonic for those afternoons when you're not in the mood for heavy juniper.

Hayman's Old Tom - This is a gin not in the London dry style, but the Old Tom style, which is a sweeter, softer gin style that predates the harder edge of the London gins.

Boodles - I mix a lot with Boodles, a good, well-rounded gin that is content to take the backseat to whatever cocktail it graces. It makes an outstanding Vesper.

Plymouth - Ah, Plymouth. I believe this is the only remaining 'Plymouth-style' gin, and it is wonderful. I took the advice of Ted Haigh and made a Pink Gin with this (gin, 5 dashes Angostura, shaken and strained straight up) and oh! Who would imagine basically straight gin could be a cocktail of depth and complexity? Mmmmmm....

Gordon's - Cheap, plentiful, and surprisingly good for a gin you find on the bottom shelf. Just enough complexity to be 'good enough' for anything you want to mix it in.

Brokers - 94 proof, and there's a little bowler hat on the bottle. The high alcohol content makes this gin aggressive and straightforward. Quite good in gin & tonics, and makes a very smooth Blue Moon.

Bombay - This may be my favorite gin. Bold, with strong botanicals, perhaps a little rough around the edges, and it says GIN loud and clear while you're drinking. My favorite with Martinis.

Bombay Sapphire - Also very good, a much smoother, complex version of the regular Bombay.

Tanqueray - This is the classic, juniper heavy choice for gin & tonics. I always order Tanqueray at restaurants, because it has enough flavor-strength to fight the overdiluted exertions of the modern bartender.

Tanqueray Malacca - Alas, it only exists as an empty bottle now. This was a short-lived Old Tom-like expression of Tanqueray, which I discovered had been discontinued after foolishly drinking my last jigger in some long-forgotten cocktail. Oh, if I had only known! I would have treated that pour measure with more reverence.

Beefeater - Big, bold, harsh, like Bombay only more so. Good for when you're in the mood for gin, and only gin. I like it in Martinis, Twentieth Centuries, and Collins drinks.

Anchor Genevive - HOLY HELL WHAT THE FUCK IS IN MY GLASS? This is a stomachache in a bottle, a necrotic malignancy spoken of in tones usually reserved for Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth. Genever is the original expression of primordial gin, the drinking of which probably gave the Dutch the bugfuck crazy idea that they could run an empire that would span the earth. A crude, petroleum-tainted distillate, conjuring aromas hinting of Sterno and gas pump and service station restroom. I'll freely admit, I'm not man enough for this potable, and even writing about it here is stirring a churning vat of nausea deep in my gullet. Let's never speak of it again.

That's all the gins I can recall, from my nest here at the writing desk. I'll have to work my way to Drinkopolis and see if I've missed any.

Any gin of your own that you think I should try?

1 comment:

  1. My last dog was named Boodles :) What does that tell you? Though personally I am a Tanqueray gal.