Friday, August 23, 2013

Tonic and Gin? Gin and Tonic?

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I make my gin and tonic commencing with an age-old recipe.  Or is it a tonic and gin?  Whatever you intend to call it, my gin and tonic is made according to the recipe that I learned while traveling in the Ivory Coast of Africa.  The unrest of today was still simmering on a low boil when I visited back in 1976.  My parents took my sister and me to the Ivory Coast to see the hidden side of the country.  This far-away place was still ruled as a French Protectorate and the cocktails that were enjoyed were befitting a Colonial presence in this French speaking country.  As cocktails rule palates and certain drinks offer more than just a passing metaphor for getting drunk, the French certainly know a thing or two about the art of getting pleasantly drunk.  The heat might have something to do with it, often exceeding 100 degrees for weeks on end.

You want to stay as hydrated as possible, but you must not drink the water!  It’s poisonous!

Ice must be made the old fashioned way with twice boiled water, or if you are really wealthy it would be made using Evian.  Talk about carbon footprints!  But the day you drink a cocktail with ice made from the tap?  All bad things would happen to your stomach.  That’s why the gin and tonic cocktail contains so much gin, to kill the microorganisms in the ice and making any malaria carrying mosquitoes fall off, quite drunk!

My gin and tonic is made with twice boiled water and the ice cubes come from a silicone tray in one-inch cubes.  They fit perfectly into a hand-blown glass vessel and cool this venerable drink with alacrity.  In a tip of the hat to the original inventors of this cocktail, I have included the syrup of tonic from my friend Tom Richter.  His product known simply as Tomr’s, (his childhood nickname) is a concentrated, cane sugar based syrup containing the essential ingredient in a gin and tonic cocktail.

The cinchona bark is in a concentrated form so you can control the amount of tonic flavor in your glass.   I like about .25 oz. of the syrup to a ratio of 1.5 oz. of gin. The Cinchona bark when combined with quinine water and gin makes for a lovely cocktail.  But I don’t stop there.  My gin and tonic has a pinch of curry powder in it and a slug of Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral water in the mix.  I also take the lovely and concentrated Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters and give them a couple shakes over the top of the fizzy, healing water, Tomr’s Tonic Syrup and gin.

  In this case, the gin that I prefer is the No. 3 Gin.  The No. 3 Gin is magnificent stuff with citrus notes including pink grapefruit zest and candied and caramelized orange peel flavors.  In a recent blind tasting of 17 amazing bottles of gin at my home, the No. 3 Gin came in the top 3 of all the gin that I own.  It was up against some pretty formidable world brands. To have the ability to taste it against the world leaders and have it come out on top is truly exciting!

I LOVE the No. 3 Gin as much as the other winner, Barr Hill Gin from Vermont, pretty high praise in my tasting. Curry in a Gin and Tonic Cocktail is a most unexpected flavor.  In a tip of the hat to those people who enjoy curry, this cocktail is deeply seasoned and powerfully aromatic.  It really is a surprise when people try this cocktail.  First of all they don’t expect curry in their mixed drinks.  Secondly, the Tomr’s syrup is not at all as cloying as a bottle of Schweppes or some generic tonic water from the supermarket.  Tonic syrup as a cocktail ingredient is red-hot as a trend.  If you cannot find the Tomr’s Tonic syrup, may I suggest finding the brilliant Q-Tonic water from Brooklyn?  It’s also a gorgeous product, and it is worthy of your hard earned money.

I’m a firm believer that cocktail bitters are the way to go in a gin and tonic.  They offer depth and character to a tall glass of tonic and gin, or is it a gin and tonic?  Of course the lime is also important so I suggest instead of using the classic, thinly sliced pinwheel of lime, that you cut a nice fat chunk of lime and serve it on the side of the glass so that your guest doesn’t have to stick their fingers into the glass to fish out the garnish.  In this case the garnish is as important as the hand cut ice, the artisanal hand-made gin, Bitter Truth Bitters and the Tomr’s Tonic syrup finished with Perrier Mineral Water in Lime essence.

And on a day like today when the temperature is sizzling hot, the last thing that I want to do is perpetuate the heat.  I want to quench it with a tall glass of Tonic and Gin!

The Gendarme Cocktail

1.5 oz. No. 3 Gin
.25 oz. Tomr’s Tonic syrup
Pinch of yellow curry powder
1 oz. Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral water in Lime Essence
2-3 dashes Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters
A nice chunk of lime sprinkled with sea salt for balance

Add about a ¼ teaspoon of curry powder to a Collins glass (just a pinch really)
Add several hand cut cubes or silicone formed cubes of ice to the glass
Add the Tomr’s Tonic syrup over the top of the cubes
Add the Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral water to the Tomr’s syrup and stir to combine
Add the No. 3 Gin over the top
Stir again to cool thoroughly
Add 2-3 dashes of the Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters over the top, stir again once or twice to combine
Add a straw and serve quickly to preserve the cool liquid in your belly!
Garnish a cocktail napkin on the side with the chunk of lime sprinkled with sea salt for squeezing over the top

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

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