The rise in craft gins and premium tonics has seen a corresponding rise in creativity in gin garnishes
Long gone are the days when the only choice was ‘fat’ Schweppes or Slimline, ice and a slice. Today you can get a veritable fruit bowl in your gin depending on how creative the mood of your bartender or mixologist. If you are lucky you can get your five-a-day in one hit.
The trend started in Spain when gintonics, as they are called, are practically the national drink. And where gintonics are an art form. The fishbowl shape of the Spanish Copa de Balon glass lends itself to elaborate garnishes and the Spanish style of gin garnish has spread globally.
I spoke to Mike Braff of Artisan Drinks …
Artisan Gin distillers are miles ahead of their big brand competitors, in everything from their logos, branding and advertising. There is a rise in radical experimentation in gins, beyond the basic coriander and citrus botanicals.
I think we need to thank Hendrick’s, which changed everyone’s thinking. Entrepreneurs started looking at other possibilities.
All the new wave of tonics are instrumental to the Spanish style of copas. Peppercorns, thyme, ginger and cinnamon sticks are all available in my local gin bar in Barcelona for your bespoke Gin.
Tonic, ice and a slice no more?
While your local pub may show a stubborn fondness for a highball glass with a lonely floating slice of lemon if you are lucky, or if you’re really lucky lime, there are many gin bars and gin palaces springing up all over the country dedicated to bringing you the best of G&Ts.
The Mixology Brothers
I asked Nick from The Mixology Brothers, cocktail services for hire based in London what he thought of the Spanish style of garnishing…
The G&T is a really important cocktail and, done right, is a beautiful drink both in appearance and taste!
We are also very pro experimentation and flamboyance when it comes to the preparation and serving of drinks. You take the first sip with your eyes, the second with your nose and the third with your mouth. So, to ignore presentation and garnish would be a mistake.
However, there is such a thing as an over garnished drink. (Have you seen the images of a Bloody Mary garnished with a Mini Burger?!) We take a very hard stance against such serves. On occasion the ‘Spanish’ style garnish sails close to the wind.
Ultimately it’s about consumer enjoyment. If the garnish adds to that experience then we are in favour.
As with all good drinks balance is key. There is a reason that we like to fine strain many great cocktails. The feel of the drink in your mouth is very important.
So, if you fancy creating a G&T that rivals the fresh fruit counter at your local Waitrose then go for it. Let your taste buds decide how to garnish your G&T. Experiment. You don’t have to be a mixologist to enjoy gin. Raid your herb garden. And your fruit bowl. And most of all have fun!