Sunday, 22 February 2009

Cocktail hour

Simplicity is the name of the cocktail game at the moment, according to Hans, JMP's resident mixologist. It's easy to try too hard, he says, and now, in these difficult times, is the time to get the simple things right. He has had a whimsical look in his eye since he finally made it back from his sojourn in Norfolk on Wednesday; it's all embracing the natural world, googling 'smocks', and listening to the Archers at the moment. (He's especially worried, as we all are, about the fate of Tom Archer's bangers.) All well and good, but the best cocktails get to be made in London, Paris and New York rather than Swaffham, so I hope he reverts to type soon.

Anyway, back to simplicity, and as we are at G in Hans' A to Z cocktail challenge, this cocktail hour is, after the vulgar flummery of the Face Ache last week, all about the perfect gin and tonic. Here are Hans' tips:

1. The drink should be very cold; but undiluted, so far as possible, by ice water. The answer is to chill the glass in the freezer beforehand, and to use lots of ice. (Pubs invariably get this wrong, and serve a G&T either tepid, or diluted.) 

2. A double measure of gin should be used. More than that, and it's too strong, but less and the gin is fighting the tonic, and - I quote Hans - 'isn't given enough space to breathe'. Quite.

3. Which gin? A matter of personal taste, of course, but never trust someone who proudly claims to prefer Gordons over the better, more expensive brands. Use Bombay Sapphire (the gin of choice in JMP Towers), Tanqueray or Plymouth, and you won't go far wrong.

4. Which tonic? Schweppes. In individual small (glass for aesthetics) bottles, so it can't go flat.

5. Lemon or lime? Hans advises that lemon complements the botanicals in the gin much more subtly than the rather heavy handed lime. He also says - and in this he is surely right - that it is mere pretension and vulgarity to wipe the lemon (or lime) around the rim of the glass. A slice or two of lemon in the drink is all that's needed. Hans puts two slices in the bottom of the glass, on the ice, before adding the gin and tonic.


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