The G&T

02 October, 2013

Beefeater master distiller Desmond Payne on a trip to Spain recently settled down to enjoy a Gin Tonica in Santander at the end of the day. “The gin was perfect as it was Beefeater 24 – but the garnish included a slice of lime and lemon, a cherry, a strawberry, an 18-inch stick of lemon liquorice and more besides.” 

Clearly, when in doubt just sling everything in. Not quite the finesse favoured by Sam Carter, Bombay Sapphire’s UK ambassador.

At a serious preview of the brand’s new distillery, Laverstoke Mill down in Hampshire, Carter was showcasing three Bombay Sapphire & Tonics (all Fever Tree) – the straight, with a T’wist  – which featured Fever Tree Lemon Tonic – and finally a swirl of lemon and cassia bark. All were served in very large bespoke Bombay Sapphire balloon glasses. Perfecto. 

Stylish serve

“I think the G&T is very exciting in Spain, with its stylish serve and variety of garnishes,” says International Beverage Holdings’ Ibolya Bakos-Tonner, brand manager for Caorunn Gin. “While the traditional G&T is still one of the best-loved drinks, other serves are emerging and gin-based cocktails have become incredibly popular, especially with younger consumers. 

“Alongside this, the emergence of smaller, niche brands have brought something different to the market and challenged the preconceptions of gin. It’s a vibrant, creative market now and consumers have responded to this amazingly well.” 

In short, consumers are now seeing gin in a new light and are happy to experiment with flavours and cocktails. International Beverage’s super-premium Caorunn has a signature G&T which sports a wedge of red apple to complement the aromatic flavours – “aesthetically it looks great” and the experience is a quantum leap away from the now prosaic wedge of lime or lemon.  

“The G&T is definitely the drink in Spain,” says Beefeater brand ambassador Tim Stones. “At last trade and consumers are starting to understand the need for more than one ice cube and that’s thanks to the movies. There’s that great line in the Casino Royale remake where Bond’s just gone through hell, then gets to a bar and asks for a Martini and when the bartender asks if he wants it shaken or stirred he replies: ‘Do I look as if I care?’ It’s wonderful.”

That said, in the actual book Bond is after his own version of a Martini, which he christened the Vesper after his love interest.

The Vesper comprises: “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” 

When his friend Leiter comments on the drink Bond goes on to explain: “When I’m ... er ... concentrating, I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made.” 

Well these days, Bond would have to be careful where he orders his Gordon’s, in case it’s below 40% abv, and a substitute for Kina Lillet would have to be found, as the Bordeaux-based aperitif wine producer has replaced this with Lillet Blanc. 

Over in the US, BB&R Spirits’ distributor Anchor Distilling has devised a bespoke Vesper cocktail for its stonking 47.1% abv gin No.3, which pays homage to the Vesper as described by Ian Fleming in Casino Royale.  

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