Exploring The World Of Botanicals: How Gin Enhances Culinary Experiences
Gin, a bitter botanical spirit made from juniper berries, has been around since the 17th century when it was first produced by Dutch distillers as an herb infused malt for harnessing its medicinal properties. It was during the Prohibition Era that gin came to be widely preparedly, albeit rather secretly, in many households because distilling gin seemed like a smooth process.
Before G&T became the wildly popular drink it is today, gin making went through numerous phases and there was actually a time when the ‘Gin Craze’ in London led to so much consumption that severe regulations were imposed on the production and sale of this favoured spirit. It was during the 19th century that distillers worked on evolving the process of gin making even further, crafting the enduring favourite, London Dry gin characterised by its slightly enhanced bitter profile.
Such are the flavour notes extracted from the juniper berries to make this spirit that gin can hardly be consumed neat and is often mixed with tonic water or bitter lemon to tame down its tart flavours. It is however an excellent spirit for making cocktails and some of the more famed mixes like the martini or negroni make brilliant use of the spirit to become really irresistible drinks. In fact, gin cocktails have been immortalised in popular culture too, so that James Bond is almost synonymous with a martini and Jay Gatsby cannot be remembered without paying homage to the gin rickey.
Gin And Food
But the botanical spirit has more to offer along with being a delicious base for cocktails. It has certain medicinal functions like acting as a natural diuretic and aiding digestion but even more importantly, when paired with food, the presence of herbs in the spirit takes every culinary experience up a notch.
There are some foods like chocolates and seafood which pair splendidly with a gin and tonic concoction. A leafy feel in an excellent Tanqueray No. Ten Gin enjoys a splendid marriage with a piece of bitter dark chocolate, serving as the perfect comfort food on a cold day. The same repeats with ginger prawns or smoked salmon because the floral notes in gin befriend the salty and tangy textures of seafood and cream cheese served with fresh caprese salad.
Gin In Indian Cuisine
The herbal liquor is truly polyvalent in its consistency, texture and taste which makes it malleable enough to pair with all different kinds of foods. A cuisine which complements a glass of gin excellently is Indian food whose curries are a mix of tangy, spicy and hot flavours that are a tad bit tapered down when accompanied by a classic G&T. The depth and warmth of a spicy paneer or chicken curry pairs with the crisp complexity of a gin-infused cocktail, so next time you have naan and chicken tikka, go forth and pair it with a glass of dirty martini! In fact, botanicals used in gin like coriander, anise and citrus peels are often used to marinate soft and succulent lamb mains that can be relished with flatbread, veggies and dips, all washed down with a glass of G&T.
Gin, Salads And Cheeses
Despite its bitter taste, gin exudes a certain freshness owing to the presence of herbs and florals like lavender and rose which make it an excellent accompaniment for salads. G&T works wonderfully with paté, light appetisers, tossed and cold salads made from cucumbers, radishes, leafy greens and delicious creamy, citrusy and herbal dips. A gin and cheese pairing is a wholly exquisite experience too. The spirit can be enjoyed with mature, aged cheeses like manchego and stilton or blue cheese as well as with select goat cheeses and smoked cheddar.
So, next time you host a cocktail evening, you can simply highlight a luxe bottle of Gordon’s London Dry Gin paired with delicious amuse bouches, cheeses and fresh salads to enjoy its herbal notes and floral layers.