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.
Think of an Irish alcohol. Chances are Guinness is the first to spring to mind. Or perhaps whiskey, which some claim was invented by Irish Monks. Irish coffees and poitín probably get a mention before gin. But, trust me, you can expect that to change. The Emerald Isle is home to a number of outstanding gin distilleries these days and they are starting to get the recognition they most certainly deserve.
Now renowned for its salmon fishing and wonderful scenery, the Blackwater River in south-east Ireland was once at the heart of the Empire built on gin. White’s of Waterford were, in the Victorian period, one of the largest importers of spices in the British Isles. Their vessels would return to Waterford from the far east with new teas, herbs and botanicals which would then be sent by steamer up the Blackwater River. They were landed at the pier in Cappoquin, barely a kilometre from today’s Blackwater Distillery.