Keep Calm and Drink Gin and Tonic
Feature image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, cyclonebill.
There are many iconic drinks of summer including a fruity sangria, a minty mojito, an elegant glass of rosé wine, or a frosted G&T. With gin making a comeback, it is interesting to rediscover classic favourites and to try some of the artisanal gins that are being made in our own backyard.
The history of gin stems back to 16th-century Holland. Since then, various styles have emerged from crystal clear and bone- dry to honey-coloured and fruity types.While you may go local when buying wine, craft beers, artisan cheese and farmers fresh produce, there is also a local distiller in Ottawa (and several more throughout Ontario) making one-of-a-kind gins to enjoy this summer.
Loyalist Gin – Sixty-six Gilead Distillery in Prince Edward County is constantly creating and adding a new twist on its portfolio of spirits. Loyalist Gin is loaded with junipers and botanicals including locally grown lavender as well as heritage hops flowers. Available at the LCBO or the distillery. $43.95, 43% alc/vol. 66gileaddistillery.com
Piger Henricus – a traditional London Dry gin made with botanicals such as juniper berries, coriander, angelica root, lemon zest, cardamom and parsnips. This last secret ingredient gives the drink a very distinctive taste that is hard to pin point, all the while making it über refreshing. “Piger Henricus is not your grandfather’s gin,” remarked founder Stephen Ruffo. Available at the LCBO $39.00, 43% alc/vol. pigerhenricus.com
Triple Beam Gin is made in Ottawa at North of 7 Distillery using juniper berries sourced from Ferme et ForêtinWakefield, Québec, along with a concoction of botanicals (many that are local). Available only from the distillery at 1733 St Laurent Blvd. $39.95 40% alc/vol. northof7distillery.ca
Unfiltered Gin 22 and Rose Gin – Dillon’s Small Batch Distiller in Niagara creates a base using grapes from neighbouring wineries. Herbs, flowers, fruit and other secret ingredients are also sourced from local farmers. Available at the LCBO or at the distillery. Unfiltered Gin 22 $39.95 40% alc/vol, Rose Gin $49.95 38% alc/vol. Cherry Gin and Strawberry Gin are available in August at the distillery. dillons.ca
Once you have your gin of choice, keep the bottle in the freezer for that opportune moment to pour a G&T. Try this recipe:
Celery Gin & Tonic from the creators of Piger Henricus
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar or maple syrup 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 ounces gin
1 small stick of parsnip
Muddle celery with sugar and lemon juice in a blender for 1 minute. Add gin. Pour in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake until the outside of shaker becomes frosty (about 30 seconds). Strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with parsnip and lemon twist.
Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
If you have ever traveled to England during the summer, you would have noticed that G&Ts have been replaced with a dark- coloured drink called Pimm’s. This is a cocktail made with a gin-based liquor and is the cocktail of choice at Wimbeldon tennis matches. Grab a bottle of the ready- to-mix Pimm’s from the LCBO ($29.95) or try making your own.
1 part gin
1 part red vermouth
1?2 part Cointreau
Club soda, 7UP or Sprite
Mix the ingredients in a pitcher and refrigerate. When ready to serve, add sliced strawberries, sprigs of mint & cucumber to the pitcher and soda, then pour into ice-filled glasses.
London Dry Gin – typically dry & heavily juniper flavoured without any sugar added, classic to for use in cocktails & martinis, names you will recognize include Gordon’s, Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater.
Plymouth Gin – less dry than its London cousin, it is infused with more roots to create an earthier, softer-flavoured gin. Only one brand is available, Plymouth Gin.
Genever or Dutch Gin – a darker-coloured drink made from a base of malt grains. Good for sipping straight up or chilled.
Old Tom Gin – the sweetest of the bunch. Used for making the classic Tom Collins drink. It can be difficult to find, so be on the lookout for Hayman’s brand.
International Gin – the umbrella style for all gins that are made with ingredients other than juniper berries. Hendrick’s is a brand that is growing in popularity.