Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #3: Gin & It

Here’s a drink recipe I stumbled onto last night and just had to try.

I have written at some length of my love for the Negroni, and indeed all gin based cocktails; I even touched on the Negroni’s predecessor and its place as a literary libation of everyone’s favourite secret agent.

For some reason the obvious had escaped me, Gin & It. The simple dance of Gin and Italian Vermouth. A non bitter Negroni, or perhaps just a herby gin. yuss.

Invented sometime last century, the Gin & It shakes apart a modern miscarriage whereby vermouth is something to be wafted from the other side of the room or diluted in ratios ranging from 1:12 to 1:50. This drink calls for equal measures, or perhaps as far as Embury takes it in 1948, 3:1 in favour of Gin.

I agree with Embury, and in the interceeding 62 years, distillery has come a long way. Gin is a far milder mistress and won’t make you blind or generally any more depressed. It deserves the bigger role. Picking up a gold statuette for Best Actress in a supporting role, however, is Sweet Italian Vermouth. Her dark looks and the deep, herby flavours even the briefest kiss lets linger. Well, delicious, more words only cloud the issue.

The Gin & It

60mls Tanqueray Gin, 20mls Italian Vermouth. Stirred, over ice. Strained up and adorned by the simplest of garnishes, the peel of lemon.

Rush home and try three now.

At home, Cocktail

Southside Cocktail

IMG_5498This is a drink that I was most thoroughly introduced to by Jacob Briars, socialist, bon vivant, erstwhile global Professor of vodka for 42Below and the eleventh best bar chef in New Zealand.

The Southside is essentially a Gin daiquiri  with mint. It is a simple drink that relies entirely on the quality of its ingredients. I’ve found that the round mint gives the best result and I prefer it with a softer Gin, like Moore’s or South but it is palatable whichever spirit you bring to the mix.

It’s another of those great drinks that got their start during the Prohibition. Although it’s Chicago roots set it apart from most of the classics and, appropriately are wrapped up in the Gangland culture and history of that time. The territories in the city were split North & South, the boys in the North had cornered the market in high quality spirits, smuggled across the border from Canada, leaving the Saltis-McErlane gang with access only to hooch and swill, manufactured locally and of dubious provenance. The mobsters used sugar, citrus and mint to cover the imperfections in their products. While history has not been as kind to Frankie McErlane as it was to Al Capone, Frankie blazed trails outside of the field of mixology, being the first man to use the Tommy gun and racking up at least 15 bodies during the bootlegging wars.

The Southside.

Two teaspoons of caster sugar, the juice of half a lime and 60 mls of South Gin. Combine in a boston glass and add eight leaves of mint. (don’t muddle it, you’ll only make it bitter.) Ice the glass and give it a good, hard shake. Double strain the mixture into a cocktail glass, a few of the smaller pieces of mint might get through, but it makes for a pretty drink with a few specks. Slap a couple of leaves over the glass to boost the smell and the flavour. Garnish with a single mint leaf.

What you’ll be left with is a great balance of sweet, tart and strong with an amazing cool element that makes this a perfect summer drink and in the Professor’s own words “Frrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrresh.”