Celebrate ‘Ginuary’ with Belle About Town

With no sign of the gin comeback letting up anytime soon, Ginuary (is that really a thing?) really couldn’t come at a better time. Whether you see it as mother’s ruin or it’s your go-to tipple, its best to drink your gin & tonic right. Sabcho Gavrailov, Food & Beverage Manager at the historic Sopwell House, reveals how to garnish your gin to ensure you can have a bar worthy G&T at home…

Floral Gins – garnish with lavender or elderflower

Lavender and Elderflower are great garnishes to floral gins as they add a wonderful perfume and are a pretty addition to the glass. The floral notes of chamomile and rose petals in gins such as BLOOM and Eden Mill Love Gin are complemented by the flower garnish.


Citrus Gins – garnish with pink grapefruit & rosemary

The lemon and herbaceous flavours of citrus gins like Bombay Sapphire and Monkey 47 pair perfectly with pink grapefruit and rosemary. The garnish adds a fresh vibrancy and accentuates the flavour of the gin.


Spiced Gins – garnish with a cinnamon stick, peppercorns or chilli

The flavour of spiced gins such as Ophir and Pink Pepper Gin is emphasised by aromatic garnishes like a cinnamon stick, peppercorns and chilli. The additional spices emphasise the existing flavour of the botanicals.


Sloe Gins – garnish with a slice of lemon

Sloe gins, such as Sipsmith and Boodles, are renowned for their sweet complexity and fruity notes. Serve simply with a slice of lemon, which will bring out the distinctive berry flavour further and add an additional zing.


The Perfect G&T 

The experts at Curio Spirits give us their top tips on creating the perfect malaria-busting tipple:

  1. The glass. Make it a wine glass. The bigger and wider the better the taste as most of your tasting will be done through your nose anyway.
  2. Freeze it all. From tonic to glass, gin to, ah ice – everything should be as cold as possible, just pop your glasses in the freezer for 15 – 20 mins before quaffing.
  3. Stand firmly outside the box for your garnish. Too many of us slap in a squeeze of lemon or lime and leave it at that. Doh! Gins can be savoury, floral or dry. Our own is light and breezy, with hints of wild botanicals straight off the Cornish coast, as well as the subtle seaside taste of samphire. Experiment: try us with complementary savoury flavours such as basil, thyme, rosemary or a cherry tomato. Alternatively, bring out the florals with cucumber or grapefruit. Hey –why not mix and match? It’s all down to personal taste. If you want throw in a curve ball – try a twist or two of black pepper.
  4. The ratios for gin to tonic are often quoted as a 1:2 or a 1:3. Curio’s Rock Samphire Gin is light and therefore can even be drunk straight with ice. If you want to make the pleasure last longer, then a 1: 2 ratio of gin to tonic would work best.
  5. Make the tonic the best it could possibly be. There are some lovely tonics out there on the market – go for the best in individual glass bottles, so the fizz is fresh. Alternatively, a more cheaper brand in individual cans would do.
  6. To squeeze or not to squeeze? Curio is definitely not for squeezing. The wringing of lemons was originally used to hide the more bitter taste of cheaper gins. We’ve nothing to cover up, in fact, the exact opposite – let the gin sing and just place your citrus into the glass to infuse.
  7. Pick the moment, the place and savour a cocktail that’s been around since the 19th century. These days however, the g&t as it once was, is no more. We have more complex recipes, distilling techniques, palates and botanicals, not to mention tonics. And that complexity needs to be celebrated not smothered. Relax. It’s g&t o’clock.

Looking for something a bit different?

Twisting Spirits is a new micro gin distillery based in Oxfordshire. Founders Mary and Richard Bateman jacked in their IT jobs and followed their hearts to embark on their gin adventure. They quickly set about creating three distinctive and unusual craft gins including what’s thought to be a UK first: Douglas Fir Gin. The pair use hot and cold distillation techniques to produce their signature spirits, from their converted garage which is now a fully developed micro distillery. Here’s what they’ve come up with:
– Douglas Fir Gin: imagine sitting in a pine forest with the scent of freshly mown grass blowing in on a bright sunny day.  You’re eating a grapefruit salad with a twist of lemon zest helped down with a G&T. As far as research reveals, Twisting Spirits is producing the UK’s first Douglas Fir infused gin, where this is the primary botanical and the gin is named after it. The Douglas Fir is sourced from nearby Nettlebed Estate.
– Kaffir Lime & Lemongrass Gin: waves of exotic, fragrant aromas pop right out at you, followed by the gentle subtleness of fresh lemongrass and leaving a creamy warming aftertaste.Made with 18 botanicals, our kaffir lime leaves are grown and sourced from a UK supplier, and some from the Bateman’s very own little tree.
– Earl Grey Tea Gin: using the finest Earl Grey tea leaves that are sourced from a local tea specialist, the cold distillation of the leaves preserves the delicate crisp bergamot citrus, floral hints and delicious earthy high tea flavours. Serving with a slither of lemon zest, or a slice works really well as does a sprig of thyme.
The hot distillation process employed by the team produces the fine base gin. The cold distillation uses cutting edge rotary evaporator technology to preserve the tastes and aromas of the more delicate botanicals. The two distillations are twisted together to present perfectly balanced palate punching gins. They distil, fill and label each and every bottle by hand. 

Mix it!

These low-calorie cocktail recipes can be enjoyed without guilt or breaking your good intentions for the New Year. All these cocktails contain under 100 calories per drink, after mixing:
1. Opihr Gin & Ginger (54Kcal)
For a more fiery twist, try swapping ginger ale for ginger beer.
25ml Opihr Gin 
Light or Slimline Ginger Ale 
Fill a tall glass with ice, add Opihr Gin & top with a light or slimline Ginger Ale.
2. BLOOM Winter Berry G&T (70Kcal)
25ml BLOOM Gin 
Fever Tree Naturally Light Tonic 
Garnish with fresh or frozen cranberries or blackberries
3. Thomas Dakin Tom & Mary (76Kcal)
25ml Thomas Dakin Gin
120ml tomato juice
15ml lemon juice
1 teaspoon of Worcester sauce
1/2 tsp horseradish sauce
1/2 tsp Tabasco 
8 coriander leaves
Splash of orange juice 
Combine and stir all ingredients over ice
Serve in a chilled hi-ball glass
Top with a splash of orange juice
Garnish with sprig of coriander, stick of celery and grounded black pepper

Read on…

And if our Ginuary exploration has whetted the appetite for more knowledge of this most discerning of tipples, grab yourself a copy of Aaron Knoll’s aptly titled Gin: The Art and Craft of the Artisan Revival (RRP £25 hardback, available here). Inside the covers, New York based gin specialist Aaron Knoll takes you on a world tour through today’s global artisan gin revolution, divulging along the way the scintillating history, appreciation, making, tasting and drinking of this ever popular spirit.

GIN is the first book to take a global overview of new gin categories and place them in context with the old guard. With craft distilleries springing up all over the world and new offers hitting the market almost daily, gin expert Aaron highlights the ways that today’s artisan drinks-makers have transformed the notion of what a classic or contemporary Gin can and should be.
Charting its rapid expansion from the Renaissance Genever apothecaries of the Netherlands and Belgium to the streets of London, via the distillers and cocktail bars of the Americas, the Antipodes, across Europe and beyond, this tantalising, extensive and exhaustive research reminds us of the crests and waves gin has experienced over pre-and-post war decades, giving nods to in-vogue popular culture and ‘the signature cocktail’ scene amongst other drinking fashions. The author also, refreshingly, acknowledges prohibition-era cocktails and the female players in
his riveting and spirited historical account.

Featuring 300 of the world’s best gins, fifty gin cocktail recipes, profiles of the world’s emerging and established key players, the importance of botanicals as ingredients, and hundreds of ideas for how to drink it, GIN: The Art and Craft of the Artisan Revival captures the essence of this subtle, delicate, versatile spirit, and the flavour-boundary-pushing inventiveness it inspires. Immerse yourself in new botanicals and flavours from Plymouth to Portland to find your perfect mix.

  • Aaron Knoll is the author of The Craft of Gin. A prolific gin blogger, he regularly reviews all that is new and interesting in the gin world at www.theginisin.com, which he founded in 2009.
Emily Cleary

Emily Cleary

After almost a decade chasing ambulances, and celebrities, for Fleet Street’s finest, Emily has taken it down a gear and settled for a (slightly!) slower pace of life in the suburbs. With a love of cheese and fine wine, Emily is more likely to be found chasing her toddlers round Kew Gardens than sipping champagne at a showbiz launch nowadays, or grabbing an hour out of her hectic freelancer’s life to chill out in a spa while hubby holds the babies. If only!


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