It’s still one of the biggest questions I get asked at a tasting event.
I don’t like tonic, so how should I drink gin?
The truth is, there is no wrong or right way to drink gin. Well, unless you’re drinking it upside down, when you’re just asking to make a mess. On it’s own, in a cocktail – a personal favourite is ginger ale – or do a little Snoop Dogg and gin & juice it.
But if all that comes to mind when you think of tonic is a little yellow bottle, then you’re missing a trick. There are a lot of tonics on the market now, so it might be worth giving them a go. You might find a tonic that actually suits your palate.
One of the most recent companies to bring out their own range of mixers is Folkington’s – not content with their range of juices (their Pink Lemonade is a favourite) they launched their tonics, soda water, bitter lemon, ginger ale and Sicilian lemonade early last year.
And I’ve managed to get my hands on the whole set, so I can tell you all about them, but before we even get started, the bonus is that they come in perfectly sized cans.
I’m pretty sure we’re all trying to cut back on plastic anyway, but the alternative offered by many of the brands has been glass. Glass is perfectly recyclable, but it’s heavy and, as I have experienced on more than one occasion, easy to break. There are few things more disheartening than a bag slipping from your hand and the audible crack as it hits the pavement. For someone as clumsy as I can be, the can is perfect. Light (and so perfectly portable for tasting events), recyclable, and if I drop it, all I’m going to have to worry about is a dent – and maybe wait a little while before I open it.
They’re also a pretty perfect measure at 150ml – ideal for a single G&T.
So, to the important bit – what do they taste like?
Obviously the soda water is soda water – it’s got a good fizz to it, not to much that it ends up sharp, but enough to mean that your drink is bang on. And no aftertastes, or overt minerality.
Onto the most popular options, the tonics. The Indian Tonic Water is lighter and more citrussy than Fever Tree or Schweppes. There’s less bitterness and the classic lemon sherbert notes of natural quinnine. If you’re not a tonic fan, this is definitely worth a try, as it’s often the overtly sweet and overtly bitter flavours that turn people off tonic as a mixer.
The Indian Tonic Water Perfectly Light is slightly more bitter and less sweet. They’ve taken the option I prefer, to simply reduce the sugar added, as there are no artificial sweeteners in this light tonic. Again the sherbet lemon flavour comes through, but the extra bitterness means it will stand up better than some against a London Dry or juniper forward gin.
The Dry Ginger Ale really is ginger-laden! It’s got lots of flavour, but no heat at the back of the throat (which as a proper ginger nut I was a little disappointed about, but have seen they have a ‘hot’ traditional version I’ll have to try), and a soft citrus finish to it. Perfect with a wedge of lime and your favourite rum – or simply swap it for tonic with your gin. Brockman’s works beautifully with it if you have a sweet tooth, or if you’re like me and like something more herbal, Windspiel Gin goes beautifully with it.
Finally the two citrus mixers. The Sicilian Lemonade is perfect. Sweet, sharp lemon – another contender for gin, though it does tend to need something punchy to be able to cope with the flavour of the lemonade. And the Sicilian Bitter Lemon – rather like a bastard child of the tonic and the lemonade. Sharp, bitter and perfect for things like a sloe gin.
Overall, Folkington’s offers a brilliant range of mixers, and I’m definitely going to have some stashed in the fridge!