The Gin Cometh
During 2017, I veered more and more toward gin (reducing my intake of vodka).
It started in London last November (2016). I couldn't drink the beer, but I could drink the gin and tonic, which is an English classic. I was impressed by the higher quality of both the gin and the tonic, as well as the many varieties offered in English pubs (Tolkien's Eagle and Child Pub in Oxford, incidentally, had perhaps the best selection). That trip made me a wholesale convert to high quality tonic water, though, lamentably, the practice has not sufficiently spread over the pond to the States.
About the only high quality tonic I really like in the United States is Fever Tree, and its main brand doesn't make much of a "splash" with vodka. If I'm drinking vodka tonic, I'm just as happy using a 99-cent two liter bottle of tonic water. Fever Tree makes a tonic geared toward vodka ("Mediterranean") that I'm excited to try, but I've never been able to find it. So until I get a better tonic to go with vodka, I'll probably stick with gin.
Especially now, since my oldest son, Alex, got me the Christmas gift pictured above. The bottles of gin presumably need no explanation. The box is from TÃ© Tonic. It contains a variety of infusions and spices, along with recipes to make different types of gin and tonics. A typical recipe (and a delicious one Alex and I drank Tuesday night):
Pour 1.8 ounces of gin into a glass, drop in the Orange Passion infusion tea bag.
Let steep for five minutes.
Add ice to another glass.
Pour steeped gin over ice.
Add 6.8 ounces of high quality gin.
Add the "botanicals" cassia cinnamon and Jamaican pepper.
I really like it, primarily because the infusion and spices make a subtle but reasonably noticeable difference. I roll my eyes when people with those oh-so-discerning palates comment on a drink, "A bit nutty, with hibiscus and cardamom . . . and oh, I think I detect a hint of mullein flower, which, if I'm not mistaken, was probably grown outside a yurt in western Mongolia."
None of that here. These drinks still taste like gin and tonic but the flavor is altered enough to make a difference to those of us with an oh-not-so-discerning palate. The kit is pretty expensive so I don't see myself buying another one, but the pack Alex got me should last a few months. In the meantime, I'll keep my eyes open for gin infusions when I find myself in higher-end liquor stores.