Archive for August, 2009
The summer is in full swing and cocktails of all compositions are flowing freely.
Most cocktails are built on the foundation of a base spirit, namely vodka, rum, gin, whisky, tequila or brandy. As consumers move away from sweet, fruity vodka-based martinis toward more elegant and complex cocktails, gin is emerging as a leading base spirit.
In recent trips to San Francisco and Chicago, I visited a handful of bars renowned for their cocktails. Much to my surprise and delight most did not serve vodka. In fact, one had a sign on the wall that read, “If you ask for a Cosmo, we’ll ask you to leave!”
But why would an establishment choose not to serve vodka, the base spirit for a third of drinks served nationally?
Unfortunately the answer lies with the bar itself and I can only surmise. But what I do know is gin is making a comeback. Take the Tom Collins, a cocktail originally made with carbonated water, sugar, lemon juice and gin. Popularized in the 1874, bartenders are again serving it up albeit with a twist.
Flavoured with juniper berries, gin has a flavourful aroma that tempts the taste buds and is a worthy replacement in many cocktails that previously called for vodka as a base.
Yet why don’t more people drink it? The Great Tom Collins Hoax of 1874 made ‘Tom Collins’ a household name across the USA. The hoax began in New York when unsuspecting individuals were fooled into a chase across the city from bar to bar looking for a ‘Tom Collins’ who was said to be spreading vicious rumours about them. This imaginary ‘Tom Collins’ became such a legend that it may have been what prompted celebrated bartender Jerry Thomas to include the recipe for the Tom Collins in ‘The Bartenders Guide’ published in 1876.
Many admit they experimented with gin in their younger years but consumed the spirit in excess and, subsequently, turned off it. For those who fall into this category, now is the time to get reacquainted because gin will be one of the most dominant spirits in cocktail culture in the coming months and years.
I’m not suggesting you go to the extreme of remove vodka from your inventory. Rather, consider adding a few gin-based cocktails to the menu or, at the very least, your bartender’s repertoire.
If you’re still not convinced, try this delicious refresher on for size.
1 oz Bombay Sapphire
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
2 dashes grapefruit bitters (optional)