Gin Is Hot Again
Gin is the latest spirit to hit the craft scene, with small producers using a variety of flavor profiles. If you think all gin tastes like household cleaners, you haven’t tried the right one, and now is the time to join the party. This spirit is distilled from a number of grains that are often fermented first, then redistilled infusing botanicals, most notably juniper. Producers can also include things like essential oils, cucumber and citrus in their magic botanical mix. A classic martini is made with gin (not vodka) and vermouth, but vermouth is a wine, not a spirit, and loses its luster after a few days. Many bars let it sit around for weeks, even months. In this case, it loses more than its luster; it’s downright bad. This is one of the reasons gin martinis have fallen out of favor and vodka has taken the lead, according to Jay Sanders, beverage manager at Point 57 in Cape Coral. He jokingly calls himself a “gin-thusiast.” About vermouth, Sanders says, “You have to treat it like a lady.” While making a martini with Boomsma gin, he describes it as “bright, smooth, a bit of sweetness on the mid-palate and a spicy finish. Vermouth fills out the empty space in gin and smooths off the finish.” It doesn’t work as well with vodka. The beverage manager uses 2½ ounces gin, and ¾ ounce vermouth in his martini. In the absence of vermouth, he says, try Campari. And despite what James Bond says, it’s always stirred, never shaken. According to Sanders, gin should be shaken only if citrus is being added to the cocktail. He explains, “Shaking adds air, and with gin you don’t want oxygen, just a little ice for dilution; air would bury the flavors you’re intended to receive.” Even in the rush of a busy bar, he takes his time with his gin, slowly
The latest spirit to make a splash
stirring, gently pouring, carefully garnishing, serving with affection. Besides a martini, the gin and tonic may be one of the most iconic mixes for this spirit. But to reintroduce yourself to gin or to try it for the first time, Sanders recommends a gimlet. Made with fresh lime and sugar, it is refreshing and enjoyable, especially in the Southwest Florida climate. Which brands should you look for when staring at a wall lined with gins from all over the world? Point 57 has 29 selections and counting. Caorunn is a Scottish gin with flavors of lemon peel and coriander; it’s good for a gimlet. Hayman’s, from England, is another versatile gin for mixing. Uncle Val’s makes two distinct gins. The Botanical smells and tastes like a garden, with some orange flavors; it mixes well with citrus. The Restorative has a little more juniper but is not overpowering by any means. Juniper can be polarizing to many bar patrons, but if it’s a flavor that does it for you, then ask for London Dry. Barrel and oak aging adds layers of flavors to wines and spirits, and gin is not to be left out of the game. In place of whiskey, Sanders often uses St. George Dry Rye Reposado and Ransom’s Old Tom in some of his cocktails. Old Tom has flavors of cinnamon, while the St. George has both spice and vanilla. Try one of these in a Gin Martinez, a warm, comforting cocktail with a little vermouth and cherry brandy. Sanders likes to toast an orange peel to express more flavor and float it on the top—perfect for the fall. Cheers to gin; it’s back “IN.”
Gina Birch is a regular contributor, a lover of good food and drink, and a well-known media personality in Southwest Florida.
Many craft and classic gin brands line the bar shelves at Point 57 in Cape Coral.