Vodka, tequila, whiskey… Gin? Gin is a spirit that’s existed since the 16th century, and much of its flavor is derived from juniper berries.
The history of gin
Gin is based on Jenever, which is the original juniper-based drink from the Netherlands. That’s where we get the name “gin.”Even today, Jenever is the official spirit of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Jenever was first produced through the distillation of malt wine. Herbs were added to mask the overbearing flavor of the malt wine. Back then, this spirit was sold as herbal medicine. Jenever was believed to treat gout, gallstones, stomach pain, and other ailments. During the Thirty Years’ War, soldiers fighting in the Low Countries banked on their “Dutch Courage” to get them through battles. A nice, warm shot of gin or two, and the troops were ready to go.
This spirit would ease their anxieties and also help them warm up in cold and damp climates. After the war, the British troops brought this spirit back with them to the motherland. It quickly became a favorite among the lower class.
So where does gin come into the picture? Well, genever eventually evolved into gin. The word “genever” was abbreviated into “gen,” then somewhere along the way, it was modified into the word “gin.”
After the First World War, an absolute craze broke out in England over gin. Considered how much cheaper it was than beer, it was an instant hit throughout the nation.
Immediately, people began distilling the spirit from home, introducing new variations of juniper-based drinks to the market. This new style of the spirit was lighter and sleeker, shedding a great deal of genever’s bulkier feel. However, its juniper content was left the same.
Over time, people began to realize the value of gin as a cocktail ingredient. To learn what to mix with gin year-round, keep reading below with Saucey.
The type of vermouth you should use depends on the flavor profile you’re going for. Luckily, there are a ton of different vermouths on the market these days. For instance, if you’re looking for a bolder, more dense taste, extra dry vermouth like Martini and Rossi will do. Those who prefer a lighter, more delicate taste go for a fruity, floral dry vermouth like Dolin.
This is one of the cleanest combinations out there. Dry vermouth was practically made for gin. Together, these two ingredients make for an incredibly smooth, flavorful drink.
This drink was first presented as an antimalarial, thanks to the inclusion of quinine in tonic water. At this time, malaria was a serious fatal disease that was killing countless people every year.
Beyond the practical aspects of the pairing, tonic and gin also match up well in terms of taste. The bittersweet flavor of the tonic is ideal for pairing with the floral, spicy notes of most gins.
Avoid overly sweet tonics, though. Many mass-produced tonics contain over 20 grams of sugar, which can smother the flavor of your gin.
For those who like their drinks extra sweet, soda might be a better option than tonic. The carbonation of soft drinks helps bring out the acidity of the gin.
Coca-Cola, Sprite, Sunkist; take your pick. Any of these sodas will help sweeten and fizz up your drink. Just be light on the soda. You don’t want the flavor of the soda to overwhelm the natural taste of your gin.
Lemon or lime
For some more subtle add-ons to your gin, you can opt for a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Both of these ingredients will boost the acidity of your gin while adding some nice, citrusy notes.
Adding lemon or lime juice to your drink will result in a bitter, citrusy taste. If the taste of lemon is too sour for you, substitute it for lemonade.
The use of lemon and lime in gin was first popularized by the British navy, who would commonly add the juices from these tangy fruits to their gin gimlets.
Use a 2:1 or a 3:1 gin-to-lime ratio for your cocktail. You don’t want to add too much lemon or lime juice. If you find that your drink is a bit too bitter, you can add some simple syrup. For additional citrus notes, garnish your drink with a lemon or lime wedge.
Grapefruit is one of the most acidic fruits there are. This fruit also carries a faint bitterness that matches well with gin’s strong palate. Grapefruit pairs particularly well with any western dry gin that already contains grapefruit in its botanical notes.
Cocktails that utilize grapefruit are best garnished with a salt rim, which complements the fruit’s bitterness.
Are you noticing a pattern yet? Another delicious, acidic fruit that works well with gin is pineapple. Unlike lemons, limes, and grapefruits, though, pineapple is very sweet.
Pineapple is best used for cocktails that are meant to be bright and tropical. On a hot day, few fruits are as refreshing to eat as pineapples. But pineapple isn’t just meant for tiki drinks. A splash of pineapple juice can add some serious depth to your cocktail.
Do you know who else loves fruity juices mixed with their gin? Snoop Dogg. In fact, one of the biggest songs by this platinum-selling rapper is named “Gin and Juice.”
Seltzer works with nearly any liquor, and gin is no exception. It’s low in sugar, very bubbly, and almost tasteless. To add some texture to your drink without disrupting its flavor profile, seltzer or carbonated water is the go-to.
If you’re purely looking to add texture to your drink, go for a flavorless seltzer. If you want some additional notes in your drink, grapefruit or lemon-flavored seltzer are solid options. Blackberry seltzer is also a very tasty, subtle additive.
There are a ton of different seltzer flavors on the market, so feel free to experiment. If you really want to get crazy, try adding a hard seltzer to the mix. Using a hard seltzer like White Claw will increase the alcohol content of your drink while still giving you the light flavor of normal seltzer.
While many of the aforementioned ingredients boost the acidity of your drink, cucumber is used as a natural hydrator for cocktails.
This watery fruit adds a touch of grassiness and sweetness to drinks. It is also one of the two primary botanicals used to make Hendrick’s Gin, so it makes a perfect pairing for this option.
Earl Grey Tea
Earl Grey tea is a black tea blend that’s flavored with the oil of bergamot oranges. Though subtle, the flavor of this tea carries notes of orange, lemon, and lime.
When combined with gin, earl grey tea is known as royal tea or the queen’s tea. Both gin and earl grey tea contain a healthy amount of botanicals, which play off each other nicely. You can either serve this cocktail warm or cold, depending on your preference.
The Brits were among the first to introduce this classic spirit to the world. It took years for this drink to develop into the refined spirit it is today.
Feel free to blend your gin with any suggested mixers listed above for a refreshing beverage. Just hold off on trying to make the gin yourself.