Have You Jumped On The Gin Bandwagon Yet?
I can truly say that I have, without shame, jumped on the gin bandwagon. I have succumbed to the hipster trend of drinking gin, despite the fact that immediately prior to forcing myself to jump on it, I detested the stuff. So why is this? Why have I allowed myself to be brow beat into a fad that is everywhere? Am I a sheep? Do I just follow what everyone else is doing because social media coverage is in my face telling me constantly that I am missing out? There are gin distilleries springing up everywhere making all sorts of 'craft' gin. Apparently, it is relatively easy to make.
I'm being a little facetious because it is not entirely true but I must admit I did wonder what all the fuss is about. I adore champagne and if I had a choice I would only ever drink this. However, not every pub you go into serves champagne and so I need an alternative, something I have struggled with for a long time. I thought I had it sorted by drinking light beers, like Sol or Corona, but I can only have a couple of these and I'm back to square one. I know, it's quite a come down going from a glass of champagne to a bottle of beer! I'm not (or was not) a spirit drinker, the only one I would have drunk was vodka but I only like it with cranberry juice, which again you don't always get in certain bars. So, if I wasn't careful, I would start the evening off with a glass or two of champagne, followed by a couple of beers and then vodka and cranberry juice. Not good mix for me.
Apart from champagne, there is nothing I can really say that I like drinking. So, because gin was (and is) everywhere, I decided to give it a proper try, not a sip that usually made me screw my face up. But where the hell do you start? I thought I could just go to the bar and ask for a gin and tonic and get it handed to me. Oh, no, I was asked what gin I wanted. How would I know the answer to this question? I didn't realise it needed researching. So I asked what they had and I was handed the drinks menu, which was easy enough to navigate; beers, cocktails, wines, (no champagne), prosecco (rips my tummy out), wine, vodka & other spirits and then a full page dedicated to gin. I genuinely didn't realise there were so many gin options. So I admitted defeat, told the bar man I was knew to gin and could he please recommend one (can't remember what it was - maybe Gunpowder Irish Gin). I had previously had a conversation with a friend about gin and she too was experimenting and was given the advice to drink Fever Tree Elderflower tonic water. I'm a gin and tonic virgin, I was taking all advice possible! I do believe Fever Tree, along with other new super premium mixers, goes a long way to drawing people into the 'gin world' (70% of gin is mixed with tonic water).
My first impressions? No-where near as bad as my previous experiences with it. I do believe it was the tonic water causing much of the problem so this was remedied by ensuring I drank Fever Tree Elderflower. And given the, quite often, empty shelf where this product sits in the supermarket, alongside other Fever Tree flavours, which are firmly in place on shelf, I guess many people have tried and tested tonic waters to find this one the best. So, for the first time I thought I could perhaps get on with this drink. But this is the weird thing, I can only drink it out of a straw. Is this bizarre? I'm not trying to be all hipster-y and cool, I just really can't drink it without one. Perhaps it's the fish bowl glass it comes in that makes it impossible to have a sip from the glass. I can drink vodka without a straw.....it must be the glass?! Right?!
Anyway, I progressed to buying one for the house. Now, perhaps this is me showing off....let's buy a bottle of gin for the drinks cabinet! I didn't have a drinks cabinet before! I've been working on a champagne fridge though (you know, like the one Edina had in Absolutely Fabulous?!) but it costs more to fill and the bottles disappear more quickly. In the meantime I have a drinks cabinet with one bottle of gin in it (I'm working on it!). I don't want to get into the habit of drinking spirits at home, after all my new gin phase was a means to an end, i.e. a way to enjoy myself whilst at the same time actually enjoying the drink I am having that is helping me enjoy myself! But I must admit, in this summer weather if I fancy a drink in the evening at home, and it's only Wednesday (I'm not going to open a bottle of Bollinger for myself, cos I'll have to drink it all - it doesn't keep!), then a glass of gin and tonic is working well for me. It's surprisingly refreshing with lots of ice (yeah you gotta make sure you keep your freezer full of ice!) and a slice or two of lime. I would only have one and maybe a couple at the weekend, anymore than two and I start to feel like I'm getting drunk, which defeats the purpose of having a 'sociable' drink at home. Remember, it is a spirit, with a high alcohol content, so take it easy if you are new to it (or any spirit for that matter). In case you are wondering what gin I bought....I didn't do any research because there are too many and too many differing opinions so I bought the nicest looking bottle for £35 (didn't want to put myself off by buying a cheap brand). I went for No.3 London Dry Gin. I'll probably add a few others to my collection in time, until I get bored...., or maybe I won't! I'll only call myself a gin expert when I figure out whether I should add cucumber, spice or lemon/lime. Incidentally, I don't know if this one should be served with lime, it's just what I do. I must admit, I did set the bar high for myself with this rather expensive gin but I am always of the opinion when you are buying a drink for the house, you should spend as much as you comfortably can, just remember you would pay a lot more for a lot less if you were in a bar.
Gin isn't the drink it was once thought of, i.e. 'mother's ruin'. It's not what people with drink problems reach for. It doesn't have a stigma to it anymore. Other than the fact that it is a cool, trendy, hipster drink of choice that can be enjoyed on many occasions. Don't like wine with your meal? Have a gin and tonic! Drinking habits in the UK have changed which has given rise to gins (and other spirits). No longer are we heading to the pub for a pint, instead socialising in bars and casual restaurants where we can take our time sipping over more sophisticated drinks. We are not necking drinks to get drunk, we are drinking less and more wisely. We want to enjoy the experience of drinking, not the experience of getting drunk.
I've no idea how long this new fad will stay with me, perhaps long enough until it can't be called a fad anymore but not so long that I would call myself a gin and tonic drinker. I'm a champagne drinker at heart!