Gin is more than just the classic gin and tonic, although a good G&T is never bad when the weekend comes.
The soothing liquor is one of the lowest calorie drinks you can enjoy, as a basic G&T (2 ounces gin, 4 ounces diet tonic) can contain just 128 calories.
But if you're looking for other gin alternatives in the summer months, according to Rob Aspaas, director of cocktails at Tommy Bahama Restaurants, there's a wide range of bars and restaurants to choose from in part because of the variety of flavors brands are now pouring into it.
“Brands like Hendricks added a lot of healthier flavors like cucumber. It's pretty good and low in calories,” says Aspaas. "w let's talk healthy ingredients."
t sure how to up your gin game? Aspaas gives some tips on how to best use gin. He's also added two top Tommy Bahama Restaurants-approved drinks for you to try at home or while out on the town.
"In terms of mixology, we're in a time where it's really fun to play around with gin," says Aspaas. "How far has it come? People automatically think of gin and tonic, but gin is low in calories and with its bitter notes it could even make a great drink on its own.”
To get started on a gin spree, Aspaas shares some tips on the best ways to enjoy a good gin cocktail. He's also included a few top drinks to try at home or while out on the town.
Photo by Connor Home on Unsplash
GET THE GOOD GIN
To put it bluntly, one of the biggest mistakes people make when making a good gin and tonic is using bad ingredients. The ratio for making a gin and tonic is pretty simple – one part gin and one part tonic. But there are bad gins that you will find in bars. So when you go out, treat yourself to the good stuff. Ask the bartender what good gins he has and what he would recommend. The same applies if you plan to enjoy at home at home. It's always advisable to spend a few euros more for a quality gin. You will not regret it.
Another tip if you're out: if you see a bartender pouring tonic from a bar pistol, stay away, it's not tasty. Instead, ask for a good bottled tonic, also to take at home. For me, Q Mixers and Fevertree are the top two for best tonics. They have their flagship flavors and come in a variety of flavors as well. So if you use these at home along with a good gin you're good to go.
MIX ANY FRUIT OR FLAVOR WITH GIN
You really do find what you love about your gin, either through good research or just trial and error. If you're at home, you might find a use for orange peel, like in a Negroni. I'll actually hold a torch to the orange to bring out those burnt citrus notes. For a gin and tonic I was addicted to flavors like raspberries, pink peppercorns, juniper berries.
But as a rule of thumb, use lime in drinks that are a little smoother but have a lemony application - you'll see it a lot more like rum drinks and tiki drinks.
Lemon is a little lighter, a little spicier, but in a good way. So classically you see a lot more lime than in the gin and tonic, but in a drink like an Ambrosia Fizz (see below) I want to lighten it up to go with the bitter notes of Aperol and elderflower and the lemon with the Prosecco really brightens it up . So have fun with it. There really are no wrong answers.
GO "LIGHT" IF YOU COMBINE IT WITH FOOD
The good news about gin is that it's very light, so it's more suited to lighter fare. A little gin, perhaps with a good vermouth and soda, gives off that botanical, herbal, cucumber-like aroma that makes it great in a salad power. Also tastes great with fried fish. Another great combination is sushi. We're seeing more and more uses of sake and gin in cocktails at sushi joints, which I think is wonderful. Good sake is great, but bringing a good gin to the party makes it really nice.
Photo by Bjarne Vijfvinkel on Unsplash
I think, I think the cocktail world is finally catching up with the food world. Ten years ago you could learn how to cook a great steak or sea bass on YouTube. w you can search social media for the latest gin cocktail recipes. So for gin drinkers out there, or even people who are skeptical that gin tasted like pine cones 20 years ago, dive in and have fun with it. Walk into some cool bars and just ask them what kind of gin stuff you like. The gin cocktail menu is expanding because it's having a hot moment. Head to the right bar or restaurant, or even their Instagram page, you'll get some fun riffs on gin.
REPAIR BEFORE YOU DESTRUCT YOURSELF
For me, it's the Rule of One that still works best. Drink something, then a glass of water. Get another drink, then another glass of water. There are all sorts of things to do once the damage is already done, like Tylenol and other remedies out there, but if you stay hydrated while drinking - and drink in moderation, you'll be fine.
Summer Gin Cocktail Recipes (Courtesy of Tommy Bahama Restaurants)
Courtesy of Tommy Bahama Restaurant
Tommy G&T: Makes 1 drink
- 1 thin cucumber wheel
- 1 fresh raspberry
- 1 lemon zest
- 5 juniper berries or pink peppercorns 2 oz. Tommy Bahama Island Gin
- 5-7 oz. tonic water
- Pinch of grapefruit bitters
- Edible flower, for garnish (optional)
Preparation: Place lemon zest, cucumber, raspberry, and juniper berries in a wine glass. Fill the glass with ice. Add the gin, then the tonic water and pour down the inside of the glass. Add the bitters and stir gently once or twice. Garnish with the flower.
Courtesy of Tommy Bahama Restaurant
Ambrosia Fizz: Makes 1 drink
- 1 1/2 oz. Hendrick's orbium
- 1/2 ounce. Simple syrup
- 1/2 ounce. lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce. St Germain
- 1/2 ounce. aperole
- 3 ounces. Prosecco
preparation: Place all ingredients except Prosecco and Aperol in a mixing glass. Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Top up with Prosecco, then pour Aperol into the middle of the glass