Summer is about to arrive with a bang, and with summer comes gin drinking season. So we went to the gin guru of Sydney, Ginstress Elly Baxter to find out her fave five gin cocktails to enjoy this summer. And here they are...
Are you concerned about nutrition? Cos this cocktail was designed as a health supplement. Yes really! Back in day when navy sailors were at sea for endless months with no fresh food, they had a serious problem with scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency. To combat scurvy they were given limes. These ships were also carrying navy strength gin. Mix together your daily ration of lime juice, your daily ration of gin, add a little sugar and you’ve got yourself and Gimlet and a scurvy-free voyage.
There are two suggestions as to why it’s called a Gimlet. One is that it may have been prescribed by British Royal Navy Surgeon Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Gimlette. Or it may have been named after a device for boring holes, a gimlet, as it had a gimlet like effect on the drinker’s brain.
60ml gin (Plymouth Navy Strength if you’re being traditional)
15ml fresh lime juice
15ml sugar syrup
Combine with ice in a cocktail shaker, shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lime peel. Or if you’re being traditional, mix it up in whatever ship-board empty vessel you can find and don’t pansy about with a garnish.
In the summer of 1874, spirited young men would race to a friend and say this lout Tom Collins is saying terrible things about you at the local bar, and when you got there the bouncer or bar man would tell you that he had headed off to the nearest bar. So you chase all over town asking bars for a Tom Collins. Tom Collins was the phishing DM of the 19th century. The prank was so convincing that the press reported on this lout spreading rumours about decent people, how he was still at large. Eventually bar tenders got in on the joke and made a drink of the same name. One Jerry Thomas included the Tom Collins in the 1876 edition of The Bartenders Guide. But is that the true history?
According to other sources the Tom Collins was actually invented in a London hotel in the early 19th century, the head waiter was one John Collins, and the Tom Collins was made with Old Tom Gin, a lightly sweetened gin that was very popular at the time. Hence the name Tom Collins.
Or it was invented by an Irish immigrant to New York in the 1840s as refreshing relief to the New York heat.
The long and short of it is no one really knows, but damn it tastes good!
45ml Old Tom style gin
15ml fresh lemon juice
15ml sugar syrup
Sparkling mineral water
In a shaker, combine gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup, Give it a good shake and strain into a tumbler or high ball full of ice. Top with sparkling mineral water and serve with a lemon slice garnish.
In the summer heat this is an great treat and a lovely alternative to a gin and tonic.
The White Lady was invented invented by Harry MacElhone of French 75 and Harry’s New York Bar fame. It took him some time to perfect the recipe. He first started making an early version of the White Lady at Ciro’s Club in London in 1919. It was made with two shots of Cointreau, one shot of white creme de menthe and one shot of lemon juice. I don’t need to taste this to tell it would be terrible. Orange, lemon and mint? Sounds like a some sort of Masterchef challenge gone very, very wrong.
By the time he opened Harry’s New York Bar in Paris he had refined the recipe and the White Lady as we know it today was recorded in 1923.
The White Lady is a variation on a gin sour. Sours are one of the most traditional cocktails and can be made with any spirit blended with lemon juice, something sweet and often egg white. In a White Lady the sweetness comes from orange liqueur, I’ve chosen to use Cointreau, however you can use Grand Marnier or any quality triple sec (the generic name for orange liqueur).
30ml fresh lemon juice
one egg white
Combine is a Boston shaker with ice and shake very vigorously to fully incorporate and foam the egg white. Serve in a champagne saucer and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
When the weather is warm and the scent of flowers is on the breeze, there is not greater taste of summer than honey. The Bee’s Knees is a prohibition era cocktail. As with many cocktails from this era and earlier, they are designed to mask the flavour of poor quality gin, but that’s no excuse not to use good gin these days. Now I’m not suggesting to mix your top shelf gin with honey, save that for a martini, but use a decent mid shelf gin for your cocktails. Beefeater and Tanqueray are good, punchy dry gins that are versatile enough for most cocktails where a specific gin is not listed.
20ml honey syrup
15ml fresh lemon juice
Combine these ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.
While we’re talking of flower scents on a warm breeze, we can’t skip the orange blossom scented Hotel Georgia. Created the Hotel Georgia in Vancouver in the 1940s, this cocktail is another tasty spin on a gin sour.
15ml Orgeat syrup (a french almond flavoured syrup)
20ml lemon juice
1 egg white
Combine all ingredients, except nutmeg, with ice in a boston shaker. Shake vigorously until the egg white is well combined and fluffy. Serve in a coupe and garnish with fresh grated nutmeg.
Want more gin? Elly Baxter writes about gin at her blog >> theginstress.com