The Perfect Gin and Tonic

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What’s this, alcohol ? I thought there was meant to be a change of direction here, I thought this was all about healthy eating…”

It is about healthy eating, but it is also about variety, moderation and balance and  it is about FUN.  A gin and tonic can be part of healthy eating…lots of G&T’s possibly not !

On friday’s husband and I gather at my parents for a chat and occasionally some food or a film (Spider had a thing about James Bond this year and we ended up working out way through most of the films on fridays). My Dad and I indulge in a G&T, well usually 2 G&T’s. Some time ago we decided to start trying and comparing Gin’s and over the next few weeks I will try and tell you about them…if I start writing down what we thought about each brand then I can at least pretend we are connoisseur and not alcoholics !

gin

There is however no such thing as a perfect G&T as it’s all a matter of personal taste, however what follows is how we make our G&T’s and it is how we have tested each of the various brands we have tried so far.

  1. Take a cut glass tumbler…you can use any old glass but I think the drinking experience is so much nicer when you drink out of good glass…besides we used to use the markings on ours to measure out the gin…these days we use a proper measure !
  2. Put four lumps of ice in the bottom of the glass  (if you add the ice first it starts cooling the glass down)
  3. Add a slice of lime… in most pubs in the UK you tend to get lemon…our family has just always preferred lime, so lime it is.  If it’s not a naturally juicy one then give it a quick squeeze to help it out…alternatively rub the lime round the top of the glass.
  4. Choose a decent brand of Gin – our standard for years was Gordon’s Export which wasn’t always easy to get and we were reliant on people going abroad to bring it back as duty free.  At some point after 1992 we switched to Tanqueray. Both of these are London Dry Gin’s and are actually owned by the same people (Diageo)
  5. Measure out 50ml of gin… as I mentioned we used to pour the gin to a particular point in the glass but about 3 years ago decided to act like responsible adults.  We use a measure that came as a lid to a bottle of tonic once, it was approximately the same amount of gin as the mark on the glass method…much much later one of us poured the measure into a measuring glass and worked out that our G&T’s were based on a double measure !
  6. Top up to taste with whatever brand of tonic water floats your boat.  For a long time for us it had to be Schweppes indian tonic water and it had to be the full fat version as the diet versions used artificial sweetners and just tasted plain nasty… however at some point Schweppes seems to have changed their reciepe  so we switched tonic. We now top up with Fevertree…and I don’t know how much tonic is involved but for us it tends to work out as 1.5 small bottles of tonic between the 2 glasses…again it’s all down to taste and how strong or weak you like your G&T
  7. Very important this last bit… give it a swizzle (stir) and…
  8. Enjoy

Calories: in ours  182 calories…  not all gins have the same calories, not all tonics have the same and presumably there are some nice low calorie versions out there, so if you want to reduce the calorie count then play around until you find something you like

Even a Tart has a lemon in her fridge…

as Nigel Slater memorably said in one of his books (think it was Real Food) and then went on to explain that amongst other things it was indispensable for G&T’s. For me admittedly the lemon in a G&T makes the drink simply “summer in a glass”, the very sight of it just cheers me up , although bizarrely our family always drinks its gin with limes…today I could do with one as I desperately need cheering up, but I have to wait until Saturday (I’m on a once a week alcohol regime)…

I knew the economy was going wrong when the price of lemons went up – for as long as I can remember they have been about 18-20p as have limes – when they went up to 30p it was obvious something was wrong – and I object even to  paying the lower price as Dad used to grow them…but that was a long time ago “and in another country…”

When we returned to the UK, lemons most usually appeared in our kitchen in the form of Jiffy lemon – confusingly the same name as the lemon scented  sink cleaner (now CIF)…but towards the end of the 80’s they became more common in shops and I think I would find it hard to cook without them. They are one of the ingredients that I let myself off the “buy local, buy seasonal” hook for.

Tonight I need cheering up, if the finances ever recover then I’m taking the family off to Italy, to Sorrento where the lemons grow (and near Versuvius as they all have volcano obsessions) but only if we have enough airmiles…I’m not holding my breath though as just when you think you are drawing ahead of the game someone knocks you back down again…

In the meantime I appear to have lemon grass, a lemon, lemon squash, lemon essence and lemon oil in the cupboard and a recipe for cake involving SR flour (as that is all I have left in the cupboard apart from wholewheat bread flour) in mind….

If you google “nigel slater” and lemon you get a wonderful recipe for lemon polenta cake. I recommend the article itself purely as a spirit cheering exercise, it really makes you smile and feel better – but I have no limoncello and no polenta so it’s lemon muffins for me (recipe to follow when I have time to type it in).