Recently, like many other Americans — and San Franciscans, especially — I've hopped on the gluten-free train for health reasons. Without getting into the reasoning behind my decision, suffice it to say my beer intake has gone way down. I love beer, so it's sorta depressing. But on the flip side, I've discovered the beautiful vibrance and flavors of gin.
I've always been a whiskey guy, but there's a unique botanical complexity to gin that I've fallen in love with. My liquor cabinet at home has always been fairly well-stocked and lately, I've started crafting gin cocktails. Here are three drinks that are easy to make and allow the gin to be the star of the show. (You're not gonna need to make your own simple syrup for these.) Enjoy!
[jump] No.209 & Fever Tree Gin & Tonic
Mission Bay's No. 209 Distillery uses cassia bark in its botanicals, giving this gin a distinct South Asian quality. Yet every sip manages to be very San Francisco. It's a consistently amazing gin that's a go-to order when I'm out at a bar. But it's a special treat to pair it with Fever Tree's fine Mediterranean Tonic at home. Fever Tree is worth the extra spend, cause t doesn't have that cheap quinine flavor that ordinary liquor-store tonic water does. Drop a lime wedge in the glass and it's the “greatest gin-and-tonic in the world” feeling, all while sitting on your couch. Sure.
Duke's Martini w/ Plymouth Gin
This martini recipe changed my life. Plymouth Gin isn't as dry as your typical London gins, so it opens up into a more vibrant and naturally citrusy flavor when it's ice-cold. The juniper is balanced and not so forward on the palate. The trick here, though, is to make everything as cold as possible. I keep my bottle of Plymouth in the freezer and run my martini glass under water before popping it into the freezer for five minutes or more. Two to four ounces — yeah…four! — shaken with ice and then poured into a martini glass. Garnish with a nice thick lemon twist to turn the martini game upside its head. The absence of vermouth lets gin be the star here.
St. George Terroir Gin on the Rocks
Look, I'm not gonna beat around the bush here: This is the best gin I've ever had. Alameda's St. George Spirits is the finest craft distiller in the country, and its Terroir Gin is a flagship product. The botanicals skew to the pinier side, evoking the crisp air atop Mt. Tamalpais. It's applying viticultural concepts to gin and just a wonderful example of what you can do with spirits when you think outside the box and really believe in a vision. I drink it straight, because I like to appreciate the singular characteristics of one of the best spirits in the world.