I've had the most marvelous few weeks, testing lots of cocktails for these posts and couldn't be happier with some of the ones I've come up with. I've probably mentioned before, I am not an accomplished cocktail maker but can say with some pride that I am an extremely accomplished cocktail drinker, and chooser, so I'd like to think I have a pretty good idea of what goes together well and tastes nice. Saying that, I don't have very diverse tastes, and don't often steer pretty far from the classics, as cocktails are expensive and there's nothing worse than ignoring your favourite one, taking a chance on something a bit more experimental, then being disappointed and having to look on in envy as your friends enjoy the ones you usually have.
On that note then, I'd better get cracking, I thought I'd get started with this delight, gin and tonic but with a wonderful twist. Not quite a cocktail but a little bit more exciting than a normal gin and tonic. I've used Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin which is a pretty new discovery on my part. If you haven't tried this gin then you simply must. The smell of this gin is so intense that even the most inexperienced gin drinker/ taster won't be able to deny the strong aroma that hits you when you open the bottle. Distilled at the oldest distillery in England, it's packed with rich and exotic flavours; you get a citrusy hit to start with, but soon feel the gentle heat of the cardamom and coriander. As a consequence, it doesn't need much to accompany it, and is even lovely on it's own with lots of ice. I thought that might be a little bit heavy though, so to tame things down while accentuating the flavours further, I used coriander, juniper and lime ice cubes, and topped it with lots of light tonic water. The result is a spicy and flavourful drink which feels utterly festive yet lacks the carbs of most festive cocktails. In fact the whole drink boasts less than 4g of carbs and 100 calories, guilt free indulgence at it's finest!
I've popped these in large balloon glasses rather than tall glasses, while it's only subtle, these glasses really do help you to get more of the smell, enhancing the sensory experience. Apparently the science behind this is that a large part of the aroma and flavour compounds are carried by the bubbles, so the bigger the surface of the drink, the more room for bubbles there is and the greater the sensory hit when you put the drink to your mouth. They always serve gin and tonic in these glasses when we go to Majorca, even though in the UK they're usually always served in tall glasses. Anyway, it's Christmas so why not pop them in a huge decadent bubble glass?! Finally, go heavy on the ice, this is not a problem for me, I only like drinks which are very hot or very cold. There is also a bit of science behind this as well, apparently the lower a drink's temperature is, the harder it is for the carbon dioxide bubbles which create the bubbles to escape. This means that if it's really cold you will get more of the smell and fizz for longer, win win!
Right enough of all that, to make two, you will need:
- Four measures of gin
- Eight measures of chilled slimline tonic
- A small handful of coriander
- A tablespoon of juniper berries
- 1/2 a lime cut into thin slices
- Two slices of orange
- Two empty ice cube trays
- Two balloon glasses, or just use two cabernet/ red wine glasses
- The day before or at least several hours before, boil a kettle and let it cool. This is not essential but will ensure your ice is clear.
- Gently crush your berries in a pestle and mortar, only slightly just so the flavor starts to come through, you want them to still be pretty much whole.
- Tear the coriander leaves off and distribute them equally in the ice cube tray, follow this with the berries, and the small lime wedges. Keep them as whole as possible, as if they're in very small pieces they'll break off as the ice melts and you'll end up with lots of loose bits in the drink.
- Fill the tray up with your now cooled water and pop in the freezer. You can obviously ramp the quantities of this up as once they're in the freezer they'll keep and are ready to go whenever you need them!
- A few hours before, pop your glasses in the freezer to get them frosty and cool, again not essential but will all help with the temperature.
- Right before you want to make them, remove your glasses from the freezer and fill with the ice
- Add two measures of gin (50ml) to each glass
- Top up with tonic
- Take your orange slice and run it around the rim of the glass, before popping it on the side as a garnish.
- Inhale those wonderful aromas, lean back and enjoy!
*Contains PR samples