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Cocktail Basics

By The Martini Whisperer
(Phillip A. Jones)

As the Martini Whisperer, I’m fortunate to experience new gins every week to review, and sometimes get to offer some free advice on local prototypes in the works. That is why I recommend trying the recipe samples below with an Australian Craft Gin. They’re all made with passion, love, a commitment to quality and sometimes a touch of weird science! They are also deeply informed by place. In wine they talk about terroir informing the flavour and nature of the wine, and I think it’s the same with Gin. Whether its local water, botanicals, or being inspired by their location, the distillers have brought something of these inspirations into what your drinking.

It’s your Gin, you’re welcome to enjoy it as you see fit (responsibly naturally), but certain Gins work best in different ways. Here are some classic suggestions on how best to enjoy them.

The timeless and iconic cocktail, and one close to my heart! It gives a quality Gin a place to shine and achieve even greater heights with the alchemy of Dry Vermouth, a few drops of Orange Bitters and served with the classic garnish of either Olives or a Lemon twist. Served very, very cold, and always stirred. If you do nothing else, chill all your glasses and mixer in the fridge, and your gin in the freezer for an hour or so before cocktail hour so you can craft a pristine and frosty cocktail to sip in style.

Italy’s gift to the cocktail hour. Traditionally, it’s made of equal parts Gin, Campari, Sweet (Rosso) Vermouth) served over ice with a slice of orange. You can now switch out the Italian ingredients with Australian versions of Amaro and Vermouth (aromatized fortified wine) that are available from makers like Applewood, Maidenii and Adelaide Hills Distillery. The beauty of the cocktail is its rounded, yet sharp flavours, make it perfect as a pre-dinnerdrink, and it’s simple to make. You can vary the ratios of the ingredients to suit, so you can dial up the Gin a little, and less bitter Campari. There are also barrel aged Negronis in some cocktail bars for a deeper and richer experience.

The Classic Gin + Tonic
The British Empire prospered due to this creation that saw the malaria beating tonic water married in perfect harmony with gin to take the edge off any situation. You should move beyond the lemon slice garnish and into a world of new flavours with the introduction of new touches like rosemary, blood orange slices, even a slice of green or red capsicum! Remember to choose a premium tonic water, like the Aussie Capi or the English Fever Tree to ensure your G+T is top shelf experience. Long glass or short, really doesn’t matter, though I think the former is more elegant.

Few people drink more Gin than the Spanish, and they’ve perfected a refreshing way of drinking it by inventing the Copa de Balon. A large, rounded wine glass of sorts, that designed just for a G+T. One advantage of the stemmed glass is that the ice doesn’t melt as quick and dilute the drink. Another touch is lots of garnishes! Not a sliver of tired lemon here, they add all sorts of things that compliments the botanical make up of the gin, strawberries, cracked pepper, juniper berries, dried slices of blood orange, fresh mint. They look and smell terrific, which is all part of the fun.

Sipping Style
Some gins are that complex or richer on the palette that they can be treated like a good Single Malt. In the European tradition they are drunk neat, or on ice. Remember, you’re not drinking alone if your sipping on a quality spirit, you’re communing with all the craft and time that went into making it.

About the Martini Whisperer
Phillip A. Jones has been writing and talking about craft spirits since 2012 via his popular website and social media. He frequently presents masterclasses on Martinis and Australian craft spirits around Australia and even presented a TEDx talk on the cultural history of the Martini. He’s a National Judge for the Australian Tourism Awards, and an Associate Member of the Australian Distillers Association and has a background in hospitality, consulting and event management.

He’s currently co-producing a new documentary series about craft distilling and cocktail culture in Australia.
Please visit his website for over 100 in-depth reviews and interviews of spirits from around the world, and contact details of every Australian Gin, Vodka, Rum and Single Malt distiller. www.martiniwhisper.com and tune into his daily inspiration on Instagram and Facebook @themartiniwhisperer