Since World Gin Day is upon us, we've rounded up some interesting 'ginformation' and recipes so that you can enjoy this popular tipple at its best, whether that be enjoying it in a jelly dessert or paired with cold coffee. Why is the spirit so popular, and what is the correct ratio for a cracking G&T? We've consulted the experts Matthew Coates, head drinks creator of GinTonica and Asda's spirits buying manager, Charlie Craven to get some answers.
A quick history of G&T
The making of gin can be traced as far back as the Middle Ages. In a nutshell, it is made by flavouring a base alcohol with juniper berries (the root of the word 'gin') and other botanicals to give them different flavours. Its uses have varied from the medicinal to what it is today - a classic cocktail ingredient. In tropical British colonies quinine (an anti-malarial compound) was dissolved in carbonated water, creating tonic water. Gin was added to this to mask quinine's bitter flavour, creating the time-honoured G&T.
What makes gin so great?
Matthew Coates, head drinks creator of GinTonica at The Distillery, says, "Gin is an extremely versatile and accessible spirit category that works well in a variety of drinks from the classic gin and tonic through to exciting cocktails such as Martinis and Negronis.
"Gin tastes like what it’s supposed to. For example, if a gin uses rosemary as a botanical you can pick that out in its flavour profile. This is perfect for consumers as it can be easily understood, used and experimented with. It's also an extremely refreshing and sociable drink, perfect to start or end the night come rain or shine.
"Botanicals used could vary from a fruit, nut, root, leaf, berry, petal, seed or bark but must be part of a plant. The variations are endless and each week new and exciting gins are released".
What's the perfect ratio of gin to tonic?
The answer to this question differs broadly depending on who you ask, and depending on how strong you're prepared to go! According to Matthew, it's 3:1 as you don't want the tonic to overpower the gin.
Matthew says, "to make the perfect G&T the tonic is just as important as the gin: choose both to compliment each other. For example, classic jumper-heavy London dry gins pair best with quinine heavy Indian tonic water; whilst light citrus gins go best with floral, aromatic tonics.
"Then comes the garnish; choose three fruits, herbs or spices to compliment the gin, the nose will highlight the flavours and botanicals of the gin."
How can you jazz up a G&T?
Matthew says, "adding fruit jam or marmalade to your G&T is a great addition as the sweetness really balances out the bitterness of the tonic water. I recommend trying different tonics - there are hundreds on the market all with different levels of quinine or with different flavours. The choice of tonic is as important as the gin and can completely change your G&T. Different juices work well with different gins but my personal favourite is apple juice, which pairs perfectly with light, floral gins."
A wackier suggestion is coffee (cold brew does the job better than espresso), which, Matthew says, works with tonic water and a nutty/sweet gin.
What kind of food does gin go with?
Typically you might see gin paired with light foods like seafood or salads. However, Matthew says, because there are so many different flavoured gins it really is quite a versatile spirit. A gin and tonic is, of course, the perfect aperitif.
Weird and wonderful gin recipes
Gin needn't be saved for cocktails - it can be used in everything from cakes to jams. Here are a few of our suggestions....
Fish and Chips. Who'd have thought it? James Martin says that adding a splash of gin and tonic to your batter ingredients results in perfectly light, crispy fish. We're not sure what the science is behind this one, but hey, it's an excuse to get stuck into the G&Ts while we're cooking.
Jelly. For a grown up take on the childhood favourite, try adding gin - it elevates a basic dessert to dinner party status, and it's fun and easy to make.
Limon-ginno. A gin lover's take on the Italian liqueur Limoncello, this citrus drink is summer in a bottle.
Which new gins should we be trying?
It seems like there have been gin distilleries popping up all over the place lately, but which gins are really worth trying? We consulted Asda's spirits buying manager, Charlie Craven, who recommended his top four gins and what mixers to pair with them.
Gunpowder Irish Gin: "An Irish gin with a fresh citrus taste and spicy notes of oriental botanicals, made with gunpowder green tea for a bold and bright flavour with a slight spicy freshness". Pair with: a classic tonic water or an aromatic tonic.
N03 London Dry Gin: "A classic London dry gin distilled to a proprietary recipe of the oldest wine and spirit merchant. This gin has juniper at its heart and six perfectly balanced botanicals distilled in traditional copper pot stills". Pair with: mediterranean tonic.
Extra Special premium gin: "An original recipe triple distilled gin with a coming together of seven aromatic botanicals to create a taste of pure elegance. Best served with a slice of cucumber and a splash of tonic." Pair with: classic tonic water.
The King of Soho gin: Created as a tribute to the original 'King of Soho' Paul Raymond by his son Howard. Paul Raymond ‘The King of Soho' was an entertainment and property tycoon who, from the 1950s onwards, played a pivotal role in the cultural and social liberation of British society. Affectionately known as 'The King of Soho' his story forms an intrinsic part of the history of the London district of Soho. Pair with classic tonic or ginger ale.