It’s not just the classic gin and tonic in gin, although a good G&T is never a bad thing when the weekend rolls around.
Soothing Spirit is one of the lowest calorie drinks you can enjoy, as a basic G&T (2 ounces gin, 4 ounces diet tonic) can be as low as 128 calories.
But if you’re looking for other gin alternatives during the summer months, there’s plenty to choose from, according to Rob Aspaas, Cocktail Manager of Tommy Bahama Restaurants, who says gin, created centuries ago as a herbal medicine, is making a resurgence in bars and restaurants in part because of the variety of flavors brands are infusing into it now.
“Brands like Hendricks added lots of healthier flavors like cucumber. It’s quite good and low in calories,” says Aspaas. “Now we are talking about healthy ingredients.”
Confused about how to up your gin game? Aspaas shares several tips on the best ways to make the most of gin. He also added a pair of Approved by Tommy Bahama restaurants best drinks to try at home or in town.
“In terms of mixology, we’re in a time where gin is really fun to play,” says Aspaas. “How far did he go? People automatically think of gin and tonic, but gin is low in calories and with its bitter notes, it might even make a great drink on its own.
To start a gin binge, Aspaas shares several tips on the best ways to enjoy a great gin cocktail. He also added a pair of premium drinks to try at home or on the town.
GET THE RIGHT GIN
To put it plainly, one of the big mistakes people make when making a good gin and tonic is simply using the wrong ingredients. The ratio for making a gin and tonic is quite simple – one part gin and one part tonic. But there are some bad gins you’ll find in the bars, so if you do go out, splurge for the good stuff. Ask the bartender what good gins they have and what they would recommend. Same thing if you plan to enjoy it at home. It’s always wise to spend a few extra bucks on a quality gin. You will not regret it.
Another tip if you’re out: if you see a bartender pouring tonic with a bar gun, stay away, it won’t taste good. Again, ask for a good bottled tonic instead, even for at home. Tome, Q-mixers and Fevertree are the two favorites for the best tonics. They have their signature flavors and also come in different flavor varieties. So if you use them at home, with a good gin, you’re good to go.
MIX ANY FRUIT OR FLAVOR WITH GIN
You really find what you like with your gin through good research or just trial and error. If you’re at home, you might find an application for orange peel, like in a Negroni. In fact, I’ll put an orange blowtorch to get those burnt citrus notes out of it. For a gin and tonic, I stuck to flavors like raspberry, pink pepper, juniper berries.
But as a general rule, use lime in drinks for drinks that are a little sweeter but have a citrus application – you’ll see it much more like rum drinks and tiki drinks.
Lemon is a little brighter, a little sharper, but in a good way. So typically you’ll see a lot more lime like gin and tonic, but with a drink like an ambrosia fizz (see below) I want to jazz it up to go with the bitter notes of Aperol and floral elderberry, and the lemon with the Prosecco really brightens it up. So have fun with it. There really are no wrong answers.
GO “LIGHT” WHEN PAIRING WITH FOOD
The good news about gin is that it’s very light, so it kind of lends itself to lighter dishes. A little gin, with maybe a nice vermouth and a soda gives off that botanical, grassy, cucumber-like aroma that makes it ideal for pairing with a salad. It is also excellent with roast fish. Another great pairing is with sushi. We’re starting to see a lot more applications of sake and gin in sushi restaurant cocktails, which I think is wonderful. Good sake is great, but bringing a good gin to this party makes it really enjoyable.
I think the cocktail world is finally catching up with the food world. Ten years ago you could go to YouTube to learn how to make a great steak or sea bass. You can now check social media for the latest gin cocktail recipes. So for gin drinkers, or even people skeptical since gin tasted like pine cones 20 years ago, dive in and have fun with it. Go to a few cool bars and just ask them what kind of gin you like. The menu of gin cocktails is expanding because it is boiling. Go to the right bar or restaurant or even Instagram, you’ll get some funny gin riffs.
FIX YOURSELF BEFORE YOU DISADVANT YOURSELF
For me, this is the rule of one that always works best. Drink a glass, then drink a glass of water. Take another glass, then another glass of water. There are all sorts of things to do after the fact, when the damage is already done, like Tylenol and other remedies, but if you stay hydrated when you drink – and drink in moderation, you’ll be fine.
Summer Gin Cocktail Recipes (courtesy of Tommy Bahama Restaurants)
Tommy G&T: Gives 1 drink
- 1 slice of thin cucumber
- 1 fresh raspberry
- 1 lemon zest
- 5 juniper berries or pink peppercorns 2 oz. Tommy Bahama Island Gin
- 5 to 7 oz. tonic water
- A pinch of grapefruit bitters
- Edible flower, to garnish (optional)
Preparation: Put the lemon zest, cucumber, raspberry and juniper berries in a wine glass. Fill the glass with ice. Add the gin, then the tonic, pouring each over the inside wall of the glass. Add the bitters and stir gently once or twice. Garnish with the flower.
Ambrosia Fizz: Makes 1 drink
- 1 1/2 oz. Hendricks Orbium
- 1/2 oz. simple syrup
- 1/2 oz. Lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. Saint Germain
- 1/2 oz. Aperol
- 3 oz. Prosecco
Preparation: In a mixing glass, add all the ingredients except the Prosecco and Aperol. Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with Prosecco, then pour Aperol in the center of the glass