If the good ol’ gin and tonic is something you’ve never given much consideration, now’s the time to pay the classic cocktail some attention. Thanks to a revived interest by craft distillers in creating gins infused with a broad range of flavors and aromas, the wonderful world of gin has never been more exciting.
Hosting a sophisticated and most importantly, fun, gin tasting party is easy. Here are a few tips to get you and your guests reacquainted with the classic tipple:
- Have the proper equipment. Prepare your gin station with measuring implements like a spirit measure and cocktail shakers. Stock plenty of fresh ice cubes (there’s nothing worse than a lukewarm drink!) and serve the drinks with round wine glasses to best capture the different gin aromas. Consider using copas — balloon-shaped Spanish glasses — to give your tasting party an extra touch.
- Offer your guests a varied selection of gin. All gin must contain the botanical juniper to be called gin. But the new brands of gin incorporate lots of other aromatic notes like citrus, spice and florals. Make sure you include different types of gin styles like London Dry, Old Tom, sloe and even genever — the Dutch forefather of gin — to fully appreciate the range of the distilled spirit. Each has a distinctive flavor profile, which will make for some creative party chat!
- Serve different types of tonic waters. New and premium tonics suffice a tasting on their own! But for this party, be adventurous with the variety of boutique brands out there as different tonics enhance different notes of each gin. Play with the ratios to suit one’s palette, which can be anywhere from 1 part gin to 1 – 3 parts tonic.
- Have a variety of garnishes. Garnishes can make any ho-hum drink look more attractive, but choosing your garnishes wisely will enhance and contrast the gin itself. Lemon rinds, lime and citrus wedges and cucumber are some of the more traditional garnishes, but add color and quirk by including non-traditional flourishes like bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, edible flowers and even sliced jalapenos. Have them all prepared beforehand so that guests can play with their own flavor combinations.
- Mix up your tasting with gin-based cocktails. In the event your guests need a short break from a dry G&T, expand your horizons while keeping with the gin theme by featuring an iconic cocktail or two: martini, negroni, gimlet or a French 75. These are some of the classics, but the possibilities for cocktails are infinite!
- Prepare snacks that pair well with gin. Make sure you have something for your guests to nibble on while they’re imbibing. Go for bites that can stand up to the dry and strong aromatic flavors of gin: sharp cheddars, blue cheeses, smoked salmon, raw oysters, almonds and cured meats are just a few ideas. And to be sure, your guests will appreciate not getting too tipsy too quickly!
With these essentials, you’re well on your way to getting in on the juniper trend. So hunt down some copa glasses, crack open the tonic, and start pouring some gin!