Did you know that the original martini—no, not the one 007 drinks—was made from gin and vermouth? A Wikipedia entry mentions that E. B. White (the children’s book writer) described the drink as “the elixir of quietude”.
Then along came James Bond and ordered what is known as the Vodka martini. Purists have cried foul for decades, but who can mess with the man with a licence to kill?
But there is hope it seems. Gin, which finds its origins in the middle ages when it was derived from Juniper berries, is returning from the dead. “The opening of Tate Modern’s Botanical Bar, specialising in bespoke and blended gins from London microdistillery Sacred, is a sure sign that the drink once known as ‘mother’s ruin’ is now a metropolitan must,” says the Time Out London blog.
India is catching up too. Bangalore’s Monkey Bar launched an interesting selection of gin-based cocktails available on the menu every Wednesday at the British Invasion—an evening inspired by British food and drink. The names are aptly British as well. There’s the Aston Martini, a heady combination of gin, rose, cucumber, which so far has been their most popular experiment. But for the curious, there is also the Earl Grey Martini—it has the class of Earl Grey and the spices of gin.
Monkey Bar’s chef Manu Chandra recalls there was a time when weekend afternoons were about gin and tonic and bottles of quality gin were as sought after as a good bottle of single malt. “Gin is actually the perfect spirit for a cocktail. It has its own character,” says Chandra but adds that while guests are experimenting freely with new gin-based cocktails, it is far from being the rage.
“It will be a niche revivalist movement,” he suggests. It’s not just in Bangalore. In June 2012, Mumbai’s JW Marriott started a ‘Gin Bar’ to open the unexplored spirit to their guests.
Gin, they all point out, is not as neutral (read tasteless) as vodka and adds far more character than the latter does. What’s your favourite gin cocktail recipe? Write to us.
This weekly series appears on Tuesday and looks at what’s new with food, drink and how we are interacting with it.