Gin is big in Spain. And so is the way they serve it. The instantly recognisable Gin Tonica is extravagantly served in a large fishbowl glass with generous mountains of ice and a tempting array of garnishes. Now one of Spain’s signature serves is making it big over here too with The Distillery’s Gin Tonica Bar launching last year. But if you can’t make it over to Spain, or indeed to West London, David T. Smith has just launched his own Gin Tonica book to help you make your very own Spanish cocktails at home.
This stunning book benefits from simply beautiful photography by Alex Luck but it is much more than a glossy picture book; there is some serious knowledge at its heart. The author is a freelance drinks writer, and Chair Judge and Gin Specialist for the International Wine and Spirits Competition, so he really knows his stuff.
Mainly a recipe book, Gin Tonica also features a brief but informative introduction, as well as an essential guide to how to make the perfect Gin Tonica, including how to match gins and tonics as well as crucial advice on ice and glassware. The rest of the book features forty Gin Tonica recipes, divided into themes of classic, contemporary, experimental and seasonal.
My first attempt, during Wimbledon season, simply had to be the Spanish Strawberry; a long summery drink featuring Blackwater Strawberry Gin and Lemon Fanta. I used the Navy Strength Strawberry Gin simply as that’s what I had to hand (and I like my drinks hard!) but the original recipe does include the standard ABV gin, so don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on the Navy Strength. The large Copa de Balón glass, with its narrowing at the top of the glass, definitely helps to concentrate the aromas of the drink and the strawberry bouquet from this cocktail is mouthwatering. As is the drink; despite my suspicions that the Fanta would make it overwhelmingly sweet it was, as David promised, perfectly balanced with the drier Blackwater Gin.
I also revisited 6 O’Clock Gin in the Companion Tonic. Having tried this before, I knew I would love the more classic style G&T with its intended accompaniment; a clean tonic water with low carbonation and a dominant, but gentle, lemon flavour. However, it is worth noting that you might struggle to purchase 6 O’Clock Indian Tonic Water, as it is listed in this book – 6 O’Clock Gin recently sold their recipe (which remains identical) to a new start-up business and it is now known as Distiller’s Original Tonic.
I also couldn’t resist trying a Gum & Tonic; an unusual, but surprisingly quaffable, combination of Sipsmith Gin, dark rum and light tonic water! Definitely one for the less enthusiastic gin drinkers in your gang. And then there’s the immensely decadent Chocolate Gin Tonica featuring McQueen Mocha Gin and Peter Spanton No. 9 Cardamom Tonic. This one has to be tasted to be believed!
And I’m sure I’ll be working my way through the rest of Gin Tonica too, although it may take some time. Not least because even I (with my frankly ludicrous gin collection) still don’t own a lot of the gins featured in this book. And, similarly, not all of the mixers are particularly easy to get your hands on without ordering online. That said, David does cleverly suggest alternative gins to use in each cocktail, and, perhaps more importantly, this book can certainly be used as inspiration to get more experimental with the gins you do have at home (which will give you a perfect excuse to buy some more!)
I would not hesitate to recommend this book for yourself, or the gin lover in your life, as it would certainly make a lovely gift. With every drink looking so beautiful and sounding so delicious, Gin Tonica should probably come with a health warning though!
Gin Tonica is published on Tuesday 11 July 2017 and is available from Amazon, Foyles, Waterstones, Wordery and the Book Depository at an RRP of £7.99.
With thanks to David T. Smith and Maria Hughes at Ryland Peters and Small for the complimentary copy.