We asked a mixologist how to make a perfect gin cocktail
Once the vice of choice for 16th century Londoners, gin is back to reclaim its mantle as the city’s ‘it’ drink. For this, we can thank the phenomenon of craft gin — gin distilled in small batches — which has taken London by storm over the last ten or so years.
According to the UK Wine and Spirit Association, the amount of British gin brands on the market has more than doubled from 2011-2018. Now, there is seldom a cool city bar without a gin cocktail on its menu.
Kindred are no different. Take our Aegan Breeze cocktail, which mixes pink grapefruit and pomelo gin with apricot brandy, earl grey, lemon, and mint, or consider the more classic Cucumber Fizz: Hendrick’s gin, fresh cucumber, mint, and tonic water.
We asked Can Ozer, Bar Manager at Kindred, how to match pace with the pros and mix the perfect gin cocktail.
Can Ozer, Bar Manager at Kindred
“There are four different types of gin, but two are most commonly used. Both work with different flavours,” says Can.
Most of us are probably familiar with London Dry gin — often giving a clear juniper flavour along with bright, citrus notes. This is the ‘standard’ gin most people think of when they think of gin cocktails; Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire are both dry gins. Dry gin simply means that there is no artificial flavour added when distilling, only natural botanicals.
Other types of gin include Plymouth, considered to be drier than London Dry and with a spicier, earthy finish; Old Tom, a remake of an 18th century sweeter style of gin; and Genever, the original style of gin with roots in the Dutch juniper-based drink Bols. Genever is considered a rich, and almost creamy drink, with hints of juniper and citrus.
When picking the right mixer, consider what sort of cocktail you want to make. Is it summery and fruity, or something warming and intense?
“Dry gin goes best with fruity liqueurs, fruit purees, and egg whites,” says Can. “Flower and fruit-based gin cocktails are best mixed with light fruit juices or purees, floral liqueurs, and sweet vermouths.
“Most people like fruity cocktails, so I would say that you’d probably be safe with a plain, dry gin, as it will work with most flavours.”
For example, Kindred’s Lychee Martini pairs Beefeater gin — a London Dry gin — with fruity flavours from lemon and lychee juice. Dry gin is often steeped in fresh or dried citrus peels before it is distilled, which gives it a citrus flavour that can be enhanced by adding lemon as a mixer.
Whether you shake or stir your cocktail, be careful not to overdo it. This is the biggest mistake that Can sees when making a gin cocktail.
“Gin is a very light spirit, and mixing it five seconds longer than it requires will kill the cocktail. That’s a massive waste!” he says.
Different cocktails may require different types of mixing, depending on the ingredients you’re using and the texture of the final drink. The classic Clover Club cocktail is made with egg white, and has a famously frothy texture that requires vigorous shaking for maybe 25-30 seconds. Shake it for too long and the texture may break down.
Generally speaking, if your cocktail has fruit juice, cream, or eggs, it will probably need to be shaken. If all the ingredients in your drink are alcoholic, then you’ll be more likely to need to stir.
This is where James Bond’s infamous cocktail order — a martini, shaken not stirred — falls short: a martini is made with all alcoholic ingredients, and so should be stirred. Shaking a martini would melt more of the ice than if the drink was stirred, therefore diluting the drink, and it would probably make the drink cloudy rather than clear.
Kindred’s cocktail menu is available to members across all floors of our building, and for non-members in our Cellar, on the ground floor. We have recently launched a new menu concept, London Fusion, which celebrates the diversity of flavours, cultures, and ingredients that make up our city. Read more about our London Fusion menu
Featured image is of a Negroni, made with gin, vermouth, and Campari
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