This post comes to us courtesy of writer and mixologist Warren Bobrow.
There are various forms of gin; the old-style London variety can be almost vodka-like with hardly a hint of the signature juniper berry. Others, such as the botanical style — part of the new craft-distilling era — exemplify flavor first and the traditional rules for gin last.
These new botanical gins are the ones that really can make a difference in a mixed drink. Stylistically, gin is quite diverse, with flavors ranging from freshly cut roses and tropical aromatics to citrus juices, cucumber oil — and finally, the traditional juniper berry. Some even smell like sticky pine tree sap, while others have exotic aromas of ginseng.
Contemporary botanical gin isn’t the flavorless variety your grandfather sought for his gin and tonic. Usually the sugar-laced tonic water outperformed the gin. Modern-day gin, although still delicious with tonic, may be better served on the rocks so you can experience that “in your face” approach to craft distilling.
Or better yet, you can experience new flavors as exemplified by these three fresh ways to mix the new styles of botanical gin.
Gin and Coconut Ice with Seltzer
This cocktail should be served as a long drink: in a tall glass, heavy on the seltzer, light on the gin.
Coconut water ice (freeze sweetened coconut water in an ice cube tray overnight)
3 shots botanical gin
4 drops aromatic bitters
Thai basil sprigs for garnish
Fill two tall glasses with the coconut water ice cubes. Add 1 1/2 shots of botanical gin to each glass. Add a couple drops of the aromatic bitters directly over the gin. Top with fresh seltzer water. Garnish each glass with a sprig of Thai basil. Serves 2.
Absinthe-Gin French 75
The French 75 is a magical drink perfectly geared to the spring and coming summer months. I twisted up the preparation a bit by adding a good splash of absinthe, along with a dollop of simple syrup with fresh raspberry juice.
How To: Raspberry Simple Syrup
Juice and strain about a pint of fresh, organic raspberries into a glass bowl and keep chilled. Make a simple syrup and let cool. Add the fresh raspberry juice to the simple syrup until you reach the desired concentration of flavor and color. Refrigerate.
Several shakes cocktail bitters
1 sugar cube
1 shot absinthe
2 shots botanical gin
Raspberry simple syrup to taste (see note)
Sparkling wine to finish
Citrus wedges for garnish
Muddle bitters with the sugar cube in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker about 1/4 full with ice. Pour absinthe and botanical gin over the top. Add raspberry simple syrup to taste. Shake and pour into two coupe glasses. Top with sparkling wine and citrus fruit for garnish. Serves 2.
This mojito features botanical gin in a seasonal, springtime style.
1/4 cup cucumber chunks
1/4 cup lime chunks
1/4 cup grilled orange chunks (sear in cast iron pan or on grill), plus additional for garnish
1 to 2 garlic scapes, chopped finely
3 shots of botanical gin
Simple syrup to taste
Seltzer water to finish
Muddle cucumber, lime, oranges and garlic scapes in a cocktail shaker with the back of a wooden spoon to release their oils and aromatics. Fill the shaker about 1/4 full of ice. Add 3 shots of botanical gin. Shake and double-strain into two short cocktail glasses. Garnish with a chunk of grilled orange. Serves 2.
About the author: Warren Bobrow is the Food and Drink Editor of the 501c3 non profit Wild Table on Wild River Review located in Princeton, New Jersey. Warren was an Iron Mixology Judge at the Charleston Wine and Food Festival 2012. He attended Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in 2011. Warren has published over three hundred articles in fewer than three years since his reinvention from executive assistant in private banking to author. Warren writes with a unique free-form style. He is a writer/mixologist on everything from cocktail flavoring and Biodynamic/organic wines to restaurant reviews. He writes for Edible Jersey, Voda Magazine, Foodista, Tasting Panel, Beverage News and Total Food Service Magazine. Warren is the “On Whiskey” columnist for OKRA Magazine in New Orleans part of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. He was born and raised in Morristown, NJ on a Biodynamic farm.