At this time of year, we mistakenly relegate gin to the back of the drinks cabinet.
The ubiquitous gin and tonic is a summertime staple, but what can you do to turn it evergreen? Gin, like that other popular translucent tipple vodka, is traditionally distilled in cold countries, after all, and can be made from pretty much anything.
The only compulsory ingredient is juniper berries, which already imbue the spirit with a comforting pine-tinged aftertaste. This woody element is present in most London Dry gins – your Tanquerays, Beefeaters and Bombay Sapphires – but also in the craft, oak-barrelled varieties currently gaining a following.
US distilleries such as Waterloo Antique Gin in Austin Texas have been ageing their gins in old whiskey barrels, which lends it a smokey quality with hints of winter spices – cinnamon and nutmeg, for instance – that wouldn’t seem out of place in a recipe for mulled wine.
If the cold is really biting, though, a few spices won’t be enough to warm the cockles of your gin-soaked heart. But there are a number of hot mixers that should make it go down a treat. Lindsay Blair, brand ambassador and in-house mixologist for Daffy’s, a London dry gin, says her favourite thing to add is melted butter.
And there’s no complicated stewing required, either. “Just put them both in a cup in the microwave together, there’s no need to do it in a saucepan. Apple juice tends to work really well, too, or if you’ve got some ginger ale, honey, rosemary, lemon, quince or cinnamon in the house, these will go with citrusy and spicy gins.
“My winter Martinez cocktail uses Daffy’s infused with cacao nibs, fig liqueur, sweet vermouth and angostura bitters. If you want more citrus flavours, try a cocktail with gin, grand marnier, lemon and cranberry jam, shaken and served with a cinnamon sugar rim around the glass.”
It just goes to show, you don’t need to give up your gin for Christmas, you just need some ginspiration.