My uncle who was in the Navy and regularly travelled to some of the hottest places in the world would always say ‘there is nothing more refreshing than a Gin and Tonic’.
It may be strange to think that what is now classed as a rather sophisticated drink of choice is enjoyed by the armed forces to cool them down, however the combination of gin and tonic is actually something we have the army to thank for. In India and other tropical regions malaria was a persistent problem, and in the 1700’s it was discovered that quinine could be used to treat the disease, although the bitter taste was unpleasant. British officers in India in the early 19th century took to adding a mixture of water, sugar, lime and gin to the quinine in order to make the drink more palatable.
Now I think it is safe to say that the quality of gin will have much improved since it was first mixed with tonic, as will the taste. Something I am also pleased to say is that Britain remains the world leader in the production of gins, predominantly London Dry gins, but with other regions producing excellent alternatives.
Hendricks of Scotland has become increasingly fashionable in recent years, which has an incredibly distinctive flavour due to its infusion of rose petals and cucumber, and is a great fresh tasting alternative for those who may think gin tastes a bit too overpowering.
A locally produced Lake District gin made with spring water from Ennerdale in the western lakes. This water is distinctive by having a very low balance of PH, sodium, and nitrates and this gives Bedrock a very fresh citrus characteristic. The citrus essences can really be drawn out by garnishing with fresh basil and lime.
A good international contender from Spain, which in true Mediterranean style mixes classic gin infusions with thyme, basil, olives and rosemary, and enables the drinker to close ones eyes and imagine they are someone more exotic than in their back yard reclining on a deck chair.
Plenty to choose from at Waterhead
In what is becoming a rather crowded market, there are new London gins making an appearance, trying to get noticed with different flavours, such as Hoxton’s Grapefruit and Coconut gin, or with unusual bottle designs, such as Bulldog gin with its distinctive studded ‘collar’.
One cannot forget or underestimate the classic London gins though which have stood the test of time due to their quality and consistency. Favourites include Tanqueray, best served with lemon and lime peel to bring out its citrus flavours, Bombay Sapphire served in its distinctive blue bottle (the gin itself is actually clear) and distinctive juniper taste, Plymouth which is an incredibly dry gin best garnished with rosemary and orange. And who can forget the original Gordon’s gin? Like a good friend it is reliable, can be easily found, and will get you tipsy when required!
Any of these gins would also be ideal to try in any of the classic gin cocktails such as a Singapore Sling or a Tom Collins, or simply as a large measure mixed with tonic. What’s my favourite? Hendricks gin, plenty of ice, cucumber garnish and slimline tonic for guilt-free indulgence, enjoyed whilst reclining on our new rattan garden furniture and enjoying the amazing lake views here at Waterhead.
All gins listed are available at the Bar & Grill at Waterhead. Cheers!
- Written by Lindsay Price, Waterhead Deputy Manager