Friday, February 4, 2011

How I learned to love gin

In college I drank gin and tonics because everyone else was drinking them, and they kind of tasted like christmas, but when I experienced several episodes of excruciating late night leg cramps after nights of g&t imbibing, I swore off gin and switched to vodka tonics. The leg cramps stopped and from then on I avoided the juniper beverage. Looking back it was likely the quality of the Pinesol flavored well gin served to me at the Compound, Snake Pit and Rock Island that was messing with my muscles, so now that we're in an age where the gin category has exploded from a handful of choices to an incredible plethera of both large and small distilleries putting out really fine gin, I no longer fear the Dutch Courage.

I've explored a few of the gins out there- Leopold Brothers, Plymouth, Hendrick's, Bols Genever, Hayman's Old TomRansom's Old Tom and a couple others- but it was a real treat to have a guided tasting yesterday with AKA Wine Geek Steve Olson. I knew a little about the history of gin, and was familiar with the wide variety of flavor profiles of the many gins out there, from dry to sweet, and everything in between, but for almost three hours, Steve filled my head (and the heads of nearly 40 stellar local bartenders filling the basement of TAG) with both an in depth history of the very old liquor category and tasting notes that had me inspired to rush home to play with the gin and vintage cocktail books I've got in my home bar.

I'd tasted most of the seven gins set out for the tasting (Tanqeray, Sapphire, Bols Genever, Ransom, Plymouth, (crap forgot #6!)) but the one I had not tasted was the Tanqueray Ten and it really surprised me. Not knowing much about it I expected it to be fairly similar to regular Tanqueray, but the flavor was really different. Steve described it as, "...a fruit basket in your mouth." and it really was. There was an astonishing variety of citrus flavors rising up with the juniper and coriander as I held it on my tongue and even more in the finish. Plus it's sweeter and someone who really jumped back in with gin whole heartedly when I tasted the old tom gins and Bols Genever, it's definitely a gin that fits my taste.


  1. Ok, I'll have to try the Tanqeray Ten now. I just discovered gin a little over a year ago and am still in the honeymoon stage of plain love of gin, seltzer & limes. Guess I should also look into the vintage cocktails and start experimenting!

  2. There's a great line of reprinted vintage cocktail books on Amazon. They're soft bound with a reprint of the original cover and the pages are basically high quality photo copies of the original books!

  3. To me, a gin-and-tonic is the smell of summer rather than Christmas. My dad would mix himself a refreshing G&T after an afternoon of wrestling with the lawn mower. Myself, I thought I hated gin. I am forever grateful to the friend who assured me that I merely hated shitty gin, because he was right. Now I need to try the Tanqueray Ten!

    (NOTE: I still don't like tonic, though.)