Saturday, July 24, 2010
The Perfect Gin and Tonic
The gin and tonic is the ultimate mixed drink for summer. Light and refreshing, it cuts through the heat of the most oppressive summer day, and it by no means requires a recipe to make it. I rarely measure anything when making mixed drinks at home, but I was curious to see what proportions different recipes use. What I tend to make for myself pretty closely resembles the Food Network recipe I'm posting here, but varies from day-to-day. The most important difference my gin and tonic and the Food Network "Perfect Gin and Tonic" is the ingredients and the main reason I wanted to talk about a gin and tonic recipe. They recommend Plymouth gin and Schwepps tonic; I recommend Death's Door gin and Stirrings tonic water, which are not nearly as easy to find. Stirrings tonic water will probably be available at most liquor stores, but Death's Door gin is going to be most available in Wisconsin, particularly the southern part of the state (Death's Door Spirits is located in Madison). Some people prefer lemon in their gin and tonic, but I agree with the Food Network that lime is the way to go.
Why do I use much harder to find ingredients for my gin and tonics? I would rather have one high quality drink than multiple substandard ones. I get no pleasure out of rail gin and generic tonic and think the investment in quality ingredients is well worth it. Death's Door gin, aside from being a delicious, high-quality gin, is made from hard red winter wheat grown on Washington Island and processed in Madison. I'm happy to see Wisconsin not only have a flourishing microbrewery and winery culture, but start to produce its own spirits. Buying local is a passion of mine, and alcohol is no exception (my refrigerator currently contains local wine and beer as well). Stirrings tonic is the only tonic I've been able to find without high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweetener, both of which I avoid if at all possible. Bartenders were pouring gin and tonics long before these horrible ingredients permeated so much of our food and drink, and I wish more authentic cocktail ingredients were readily available (Stirrings is a great source).
The Perfect Gin and Tonic
from the Food Network, with caveats
4 to 5 tonic water ice cubes
3 oz. gin
4 oz. tonic water
1 T. freshly squeezed lime juice
Lime wedge for garnish
Place the ice cubes in a tall, narrow, chilled glass (the cubes should come near the top.) Add the gin, then the tonic water, then the lime juice, stirring well. Garnish with lime wedge, and serve immediately.
Note: To make the ice cubes, simply fill an empty ice cube tray with tonic water, and let the cubes freeze. It takes just a few hours. Covered well, the cubes will remain fresh-tasting in the freezer for at least a few weeks.