Thursday, July 18, 2013

Gin & Tonic

Its often the simple things that are the best. Sometimes the simplest recipes are the easiest to ruin because there is nothing to hide behind. Ingredients and technique become ultimately important. A good gin and tonic can be made without anything fancy, especially once its hot outside. It is just so satisfying, so bubbly and bittersweet and herbaceous. A gin and tonic can be even better with great ingredients though.

I was in California recently and smuggled back all sorts of booze. Its very difficult to find things in Philly. The state of Pennsylvania has a monopoly on all liquor sales, so what they don't sell, you can't buy. It wasn't until the past ten years or so that it was even possible to buy liquor on Sundays. Anyways, I am very interested in the growing trend of micro brewers also being micro distillers. So after going to Ballast Point and being happily surprised by the vast list of beers I didn't know they made; I was even more excited to find out that they make booze too. (The most exciting weirdo beer I had from them was a curry stout. I want it constantly but I don't think they bottle it.) They make at least gin, white rum and vodka. The gin seemed most worthwhile because I feel that gins have a wider range of character due to the often addition of herbs. The Ballast Point gin uses Torrey Pine, a Cali native as well as Juniper and a dozen or so secret herbs. It doesn't taste particularly piney but it is delicious and smooth.

We planted a new herb in the garden this year: Borage. This is a strange and beautiful plant. The whole plant- stems, leaves and flowers are covered in tiny white hairs. It has a fuzzy glow in the sunshine. The whole plant tastes similar to cucumber. The leaves are a traditional garnish to a Pimms Cup. Having never made a Pimms Cup (yet) and with our plants struggling with the Philadelphia summer and therefore flowering very quickly without a profusion of leaves; I decided to pick the flowers and freeze them into ice cubes. As the ice melts in your drink a slight cucumber flavor is released. This seemed like it would be very pleasing in a gin and tonic. It was.

Gin & Tonic

2oz Gin
3-4oz Tonic Water
Lime wedge
Borage flower ice cubes

Build in an ice filled highball glass. Squeeze the lime at least a little. Add tonic to taste.
I prefer 3 oz of tonic and I always use Hansens brand because it is made with cane sugar and it comes in small (8oz) cans so I dont need to worry about a bottle going flat. When I only make one, I cover the top of the can with a jigger and put it back in the fridge. This keeps it surprisingly bubbly for a day or two.

Has anyone tried any other premium brands of tonic? I don't want anything with corn syrup. I've seen Fever Tree at a few stores but 6 packs of 6oz bottles sell for about $6. This seems absurdly expensive. Has anyone tried them? If they're great I could certainly buy them once....

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