The G&T

02 October, 2013

It combines 2oz No.3 London Dry Gin, 2oz HopHead Hopped Vodka and ½oz of Maurin Quina Aperitif. Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and strain in to a coupe. Garnish with an Orange zest.

“This makes a beautiful pink-hued drink that combines the citrus and spice of No.3 with the hops of the vodka and the quinine of the Maurin to give a subtle bittersweet cocktail,” says president and chief operating officer David King. “It’s a little like the relationship between the UK, US and France, which supply the ingredients, so I call it the Triple Entente.”

Bartender power

Overall the US the gin market is developing largely as a consequence of bartender power and the proliferation of local craft producers. “Everywhere, it seems, has a local gin often with local ingredients,” says King. “Often this is not really distillation but just rectification and bottling locally.”

No. 3 is a classic London dry gin and as such is perfect for the spirits range of classic cocktails, namely the G&T, Martini and Negroni (right), which account for the majority of the volume. “People like to put a twist on the classics so they might experiment with different Vermouths or use Luxardo Bitters rather than Campari in a Negroni for example,” says King. “Cocktails and bartenders are definitely changing the consumer attitude to gin in the US, which has been adversely affected by high-volume, lesser-quality brands and substandard mixers for many years.”  

Happily the “improvements all round” are enabling gin “to kick vodka off the lists in many modern accounts”, particularly in major metro areas. This is good news indeed as in terms of cocktail history gin held sway for many years before the vodka tsunami got underway. Even a Bloody Mary was traditionally made with gin. 

“When you start looking at the classics they are all largely gin-led,” says Beefeater’s Stones. “But when you are demonstrating the quality of gin, the Martini and the Negroni are the litmus tests.”

Indeed, International Beverage Holdings is currently showcasing Caorunn’s five Celtic botanicals with a range of Martinis following close work with a select group of bartenders. As a result they now have five Martinis: Blush Apple, Myrtle, Heather, Dandelion and Rowan . 

“One of our latest favourites is Apple Three Ways from Ryan Chetiyawardana,” says  Bakos-Tonner. The latter is part of the team of bartenders who fronted Caorunn’s Sensorium during the Taste of London Festival week in June.

“A classic Dry Martini is unstoppable when made well, but with re-emerging gin styles coming back into play such as Hayman’s Old Tom gin, the cocktail universe is being handed previously lost gin styles with which to get at even more classics such as the Martinez and Tom Collins,” says Hayman’s Johnstone. 

“That hint of sweetness and smoothness of an Old Tom, versus the crisp dryness of a London Dry, just opens up once more a whole raft of gin complexity and creativity.” 

However, when it comes to the Negroni Johnstone is reticent. “ It’s a classic that is rarely made well, and is quite a bitter offering, which I think reduces an opportunity to really bring new folk towards us. It’s a bit like going straight to   Islay malt Scotch whisky, before you’ve come up through the blends or the softer Speysides.” 

Marriage made in heaven

Once described as a marriage made in heaven – that is Beefeater and Campari – the Negroni holds no problems for the London-based Beefeater camp. “With its citrus notes going on Beefeater is an ideal partner to Campari and sweet vermouth, whereas more herbal gins will clash,” says Stones. “In its way the Negroni is simplicity itself with its equal parts (gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth) – even a dodgy boozer is likely to come up with the goods.” 

Well that’s a moot point indeed. But look at the variations on a Martini – much like a cup of tea it has three ingredients and yet no one person goes for the same ‘brew’. And that’s true of the Negroni as there has been much tinkering of late on substituting the vermouth element with the likes of Punt e Mes or Carpano Antica – or the bitters with Cynar or Aperol – but whatever the ‘tinkering’ a fine balance is needed between the trio of ingredients and that is  definitely rocket science.

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