The Many Ways to Enjoy Gin – From Neat Through to Amazing Cocktails

Words: Crush

Gin can be enjoyed in a number of ways, from clean to flavour pairings and cocktail mixes. The classic G&T has been made popular by the English, but it is not the only way to zhuzh-up and enjoy gin.

What is Gin?

Gin is a distilled spirit that is made from grains and flavoured with botanicals. The use of botanicals during distillation sets gin apart from the other liquors, particularly vodka. It is not a simple infusion. Instead, the botanicals are introduced in the still while the liquor is being made to create a very concentrated and well-rounded flavour. Gin is notorious for having a pine flavour, which comes from its main ingredient, juniper berries.

juniper berries
enjoy gin with juniper berries

The Signature Juniper Berry

A juniper berry belongs to the pine family and is not a true berry, but rather a cone that is produced from the female seed of the tree with stiff, pointed needles. The small, round ‘berries’ are green and have a flavour profile dominated by pinene when young, but mature to bluish-black colours and lose the piney, resinous backdrop as it is joined by more green-fresh and citrus notes.

Gin is one of those spirits that can get a bad rep for being very harsh or “too pine-y”. The haters will say it tastes like cleaning fluid but that could be from bad, cheap gin and the lack of knowledge about the spirit.

Learning about particular spirits – the history, art and proper procedure for tasting – often ignites a love affair with the spirit – this is how people grow to be die-hard gin lovers.

The Many Ways to Enjoy Gin

Gin can be enjoyed in many ways – and not just with tonic water. The ‘ginnoissieurs’ will drink it neat, the craftsmen will infuse it, the socialiser will mix it, and we can just simply appreciate and enjoy gin.

ways to drink gin

Enjoying Gin on its Own

Gone are the days where drinking gin is like drinking a Christmas tree. Don’t be afraid to drink gin neat. With the explosion of craft gins on the market, a lot more gins are designed to be drunk neat. It is so easy to find a gin that is infused with delicious and refreshing flavours. Whether you enjoy gin with cinnamon or cardamom, citrus or berry and floral notes, there’s a gin out there for you.

You can drink neat, which means no chilling, no ice and no mix. Just pour a shot into an old-fashioned cocktail glass and drink the gin slowly, in small sips so you can appreciate the flavours.

Chilling spirits tends to change the taste and texture. When you freeze gin it changes the texture – it doesn’t become frozen but rather becomes thicker and more viscous. As the gin warms up, the flavour profile opens up. ‘Having gin up’ is drinking it chilled but without ice. To do it the fancy way yourself, pour a shot of gin in a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake the gin thoroughly and then pour the chilled gin into a cocktail glass.

Drinking your gin on the rocks will obviously chill the spirit, but will also water it down as the ice melts. Add 2-3 ice cubes in a tumbler glass and then pour the shot of gin over the ice. Swirl the gin and ice in the glass a few times to help chill then gin, and then sip slowly and enjoy!

Pairing Gin with Other Flavours

Enhance and complement the flavour profiles of your gin by pairing it with other flavours. The classic gin and tonic combo is a refreshing and slightly bitter pair, but with sweet upliftment from the tonic water.

A tip for drinking tonic water: good quality tonic makes a difference.

The tonic should also be chilled because warm tonic will make the whole mix less fizzy and taste sweeter. Adding some citrus rinds or other herbs like mint, basil and rosemary will also add depth and enhance your flavour profiles. There are so many different flavour combinations to try to enjoy gin.

enjoy gin with basil

Something to think about… some bartenders might mix, for example, fresh rosemary with rosemary-infused gin to enhance the rosemary flavour, but sometimes flavours can be accentuated and complemented by adding a different flavour. A citrus-forward gin doesn’t really need more citrus. Perhaps adding soft, floral notes will contrast the citrus and therefore enhance it further.

Mixing Gin in a Cocktail

The original way of making a martini is actually with gin – not with vodka, and it should be stirred, not shaken. Gin is the spirit most commonly used in cocktails – probably due to the many flavour profiles gin could possess.

Make Yourself a Cape Hemingway Cocktail with Cape Town Gin Co.

Seeing as Cape Town Gin’s Rooibos Gin has just been voted South Africa’s best-flavoured gin at the World Gin Awards, it makes sense to give this one a whirl. This Rooibos Red cocktail is a twist on the traditional Martini. The Rooibos Gin, gooseberries and naartjie juice combine in a wonderful citrus explosion.

Rooibos Red Cape Town Gin Co.
Cape Hemingway Cocktail by Cape Town Gin Co.

Ingredients

25 ml Cape Town Rooibos Red Gin
15 ml Of simple syrup
2 Naartjies/mandarins, juiced
1 Tbsp (15 ml) sliced gooseberries
crushed ice

Preparation

Pour Cape Town Rooibos Red Gin and the syrup into a big martini glass. Stir well and add the gooseberries and ice and top up with the juice. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf.

For more information on Cape Town Gin and their different flavoured gins, have a look at this article. Or try out other Cape Town Gin cocktails with another delicious cocktail recipes because there are just so many ways to enjoy gin.

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