How to handle cocktail emergencies: lesson six
Jazzing up a gin and tonic
I like people to be amazed and astounded by the cocktails they are served in my home. I don't always have the time to juice lemons and limes, muddle herbs and ginger or faff around measuring and shaking endless ingredients. I always have gin (and vodka for The Husband who doesn't actually like gin) and I usually have tonic, so a something and tonic tends to be my default cocktail. So how to make a simple gin and tonic into a snazzy delight? Here are my emergency tricks for bamboozling your guests into thinking you are a cocktail genius.
1) The glass. I haven't looked back since I started using heavy lead crystal tumblers. I read somewhere that heavy bottomed glasses make the bubbles in the tonic last longer. I can't say my gin and tonic ever lasts long enough for that to be important but the glass does feel nice in your hand. My well stocked kitchen presses are due to my recent(ish) marriage and the gift giving that entails but there are bargains to be had in charity shops and outlets like TK Max.
2) The tonic. If you can be organised enough it is definitely worthwhile having some fancy tonic water laid in. I need to do some further experimentation but the two brands I would recommend are Fever-Tree and Fentimans. Individual bottles are best as flat tonic water is unacceptable (unless you are desperate, though in that case skip the tonic and just have the gin).
3) The ice. This is where it gets really interesting. I started off freezing individual borage flowers in ice-cubes (thanks to Katie for the tip) and I haven't looked back. I have now tried every edible flower and leaf on my balcony and allotment and they are all wonderful. Lemon balm leaves complement a gin and tonic particularly well but my favourites are the beautiful marigold flowers. In addition to my regular ice trays I recently purchased these ice balls into which its possible to pack lots more leaves and flowers. Obviously these can jazz up any number of drinks (jugs of water etc) but I don't usually bother for anything other than a cocktail.
4) Lemon twist. These don't really belong on a gin and tonic. They look much better on something like this. However, if you have no fancy ice flowers and you are down to your last shriveled lemon, it might just be the cocktail trick for you. There is probably some professional way to do these, but here's how I do it:
Step 1: using a sharp knife cut a long strip from the lemon. Step 2: trim the sides to give a neat edge. Step 3: cut into strips of the desired thickness, I use different sizes depending on what I want to do with them.
Steps 3 and 4: grasp one end of the strip and begin to spiral the strip around. Step 5: leave to rest for a minute and they are ready to go.