When we talk about the modern gin revival, it might be better thought of as a gin and tonic revival, such is the popularity for this harmonious blend.
But in our own experience at our cellar door, we have more and more conversations about what other serving options there are for gin. You can find lots of these ideas throughout our blog posts on this site, but in this article we'll look at two classics which almost never see the light of day anymore, and what a shame that is, because they are both utterly delicious.
Gin & French
A short drink (although sometimes used to be slightly lengthened by a dash of tonic), Gin & French is some ways a simplified and 'wetter' version of a martini.
The 'French' here refers to the vermouth used, dating back to when bartenders associated the lighter (in colour) and (usually) drier style of vermouth as coming from France.
A good starting place is one part gin to one part vermouth, stirred in a mixing glass with ice (see our posts on Short Drinks With Gin to explain this bit in more detail), and once chilled and diluted slightly by the ice melt, strain into a glass, either over ice or straight up. The traditional garnish is lemon slice, although we prefer alternatives.
Two examples follow:
1 part Pollination Gin
1 part Noilly Prat
Twist of lemon rind
1 part Navigation Gin
1 part Lillet Blanc
Green olive to garnish
The different vermouths above are each beautifully suited to those specific gins. We prefer to double the stirring time for the Navigation version, just to dilute the higher alcohols a bit more. And you can add a further part of tonic if you wish to lengthen the drink. The gin to vermouth proportions themselves can of course be adjusted depending on how 'ginny' you want your Gin & French to be.
All in all, its an invigorating aperitif.
Gin & It
The "It" here is short for Italian, to indicate the darker and sweeter style of vermouth (not because all versions come from Italy, but then again London Gin doesn't need to come from London!). If you're familiar with a Negroni, this is best thought of as a simpler, less bitter version, even though Gin & It predates the creation of that other wonderous drink. Back in the day, we used to sometimes refer to Gin & It as a Sweet Martini, but I'm not sure that's a helpful description.
Gin & It always seems to be a happier drink served on the rocks, and with an orange twist garnish (although grapefruit peel can impart a rather delicious lift too). In all other ways, the preparation is the same as for a Gin & French.
1 part Dyfi Original Gin
1 part Punt e Mes
Orange peel to garnish
1 part Hibernation Gin
1 part Dolin Vermouth Rouge
Grapefruit peel to garnish
I've seen some recipes which suggest an addition of orange bitters. This can lift the drink, but also takes it much closer to the Negroni (unless you use Cynar rather than Campari for your Negronis), and part of the charm of Gin & It is in its directness.
As is the case with all proper cocktails, but even more so when the mix is this straightforward, the quality of the ingredients you use will go most of the way to determine the loveliness of the finished drink.
Like its more renowned relation Negroni, Gin & French is terrific either before or after a meal.