Monday, June 15, 2015

France's gin game strong

Gin is the truth.

Two German classmates visited Toronto last week, on their Canadian leg of a big trip through the East Coast. Big vodka guys, one told me he liked vodka because 'it's the most honest drink there is'. I've been thinking about what he meant by that. Maybe just a random one-liner between (somewhat) drunk friends, but while we're on the topic of honesty ...

I've always loved gin, even before living in Spain. But man, that first real glass of gin tonic changes you. Even on a student budget, I drank oceans of gin tonics during my time in Barcelona, learning to see cocktails in an entirely different light. Spanish bartenders take a culinary approach to the cocktails, what North American hipster mixologists < BARF > call craft cocktailing - an excuse for them to completely sissify a good solid drink. They don't do that shit in Spain. No, the approach they take is always to respect the base spirit they use, in this case, gin. So you look at the character of the gin you're using to decide what tonic to marry it with, and what to garnish. And always, like any good chef, the star is the gin, not yourself. You can throw a half-dozen garnishes in the glass to appear impressive, but really, you have no clue - using flash and superfluousness to overcompensate for professional insecurities.

So of course, living there meant that I had access to the most amazing Spanish gins. But I want to talk about this one first, because I think Citadelle is an incredibly, almost criminally, underrated gin. Fresh, vibrant, floral with a touch of spice - but most impressive is that texture, a silkiness that hides the alcohol and leaves your mouth in full happiness. So when using a gin like this in a gin tonic, what approach do you take? You look at the elements of the gin that you want to emphasize - for me, it's the elements of freshness and texture. First thing to decide is what tonic to use. After all, the tonic makes up 2/3 of the drink. Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water is my preferred choice. It has that freshness from the herbs that's fully integrated in the aromas - not too sweet - and just enough dry extract to give you a sensation of texture while still remaining elegant. Garnish of a lime wheel to play up Citadelle's floral notes and give some citric lift.

And we come back to trying to understand what makes a drink honest. At this point, all I want to say is - honesty comes from respecting the ingredients going into your drink, and being thoughtful in what you put together. What gin with what tonic with what garnish(es). And always, always, always ... leaving your ego out of it. The gin tonic ... the most honest drink there is.

Gin tonic de Citadelle

Citadelle Gin
Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water
Lime wheel

Fill a gin tonic glass with large chunks of ice

Pour 3 ounces of Citadelle gin

Stir for 30 seconds to lower the temperature and texturize the gin

Pour the Fever-Tree into the glass slowly, over the back of the barspoon

Stir once to integrate, and garnish with a lime wheel


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