Gin & Tonic Drinkers Are Killing Australia’s Cocktail Culture

Just as god-level beers (think: VB; red label Peroni) should make you feel like a peasant in a field, the finest spirits should make you feel like a Russian spy on a London rooftop.

Unfortunately, Australian cocktail culture is held back by gin and tonic drinkers.

Do not mistake yourself. I understand. I am as guilty as anyone. I never had a gin any other way until last year. Even then, I spent my first (direct) gin tastings grimacing and pretending to enjoy the “complex flavors.”

Even now, I’m not a huge fan. Pure gin is not an easy drinker. But out of civic responsibility, I persevere. If the rest of you are going to stick to “hard seltzers” and “just a G&T, thanks”, then someone needs to step up the game.

Where’s the charm?

Before you call me a snob, I’m not saying you shouldn’t drink gin and tonic. But you should broaden your horizons, just like someone who doesn’t eat cheese or certain vegetables. To grow. Try it directly. Make an awesome Negroni. The options are endless.

Otherwise, you are not a fully refreshed drinker.

As Anthony Bourdain once said, “They say Rasputin used to eat a little arsenic for breakfast every day, building up resistance for the day an enemy might poison him, and that Seems like common sense to me.”

“Judging from the accounts of his death, the Mad Monk wasn’t fazed by the trick at all; it took repeated hits, a few bullets and a long fall from a bridge into a frozen river to finish the job.

“Perhaps we, as serious diners, should emulate his example. We are, after all, citizens of the world – a world full of bacteria, some friendly, some less friendly.

“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed Popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock cafes and McDonalds?”

“Or do we want to eat fearlessly, tearing into the local stew, the mysterious meat of the humble taqueria, the sincerely given gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want all. I want to try everything once.

Inspired to order your next gin direct (we assume you already know how to make a Negroni)?

Here’s how to drink gin straight and enjoy it.

The most important thing to remember when drinking gin straight is to keep it cool. The next most important thing is to top it with unique ingredients related to the gin itself.

Fever-Tree Brand Ambassador Trish Brew (who was Bar Manager at Gin Palace Melbourne for eight years and Time Out Melbourne Bartender of the Year 2018) says: “If you’re looking to try your gin on your own, I would recommend keeping your gin in the freezer.

“If you store your gin in the freezer, the texture of ‘frozen’ gin is silky smooth, the alcohol is reduced, and the botanicals are muted.”

Joseph Judd, co-founder and head of marketing at Peddlers Gin co. says, “Gin straight is essentially a classic James Bond martini, so you can’t go wrong.”

“It also cuts the sugar from the tonic. The colder the better – on the rocks, or iced, some dry vermouth and an olive.

Ross Lusted, owner and chef of Crown Sydney’s Woodcut and Hickory Bar also says: “Drinking pure gin is the best way to taste the full range of botanicals.

His best advice? “It’s best served over ice, with a garnish inspired by the plants themselves – citrus is always a winner, but look for unique ingredients that could be included in the gin itself, like herbs or spices.”

He adds: “Ice is equally important to making a great drink – the use of filtered water is essential to the process, to eliminate the addition of unwanted flavors that can change an exceptional drink.”

“The size of the cube is also important – the smaller the cube, the faster it melts, diluting the drink and changing the flavor,” Ross tells us.

“At Woodcut we use ice cut into 40mm2 cubes and made with crystal clear Tasmanian water – the perfect ice for spirits.”

There you go, that’s how you drink pure gin like you’re dropped straight out of Downtown Abbey.

Put it in your glass and drink it.

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