What is gin?
So what is gin anyway and why is it so popular? Gin is made from a neutral alcohol. Its main ingredient, which gives it its characteristic taste, is juniper. The colourless spirit is distilled from grain or molasses; only then is the juniper added for flavour. Depending on the type of gin, other botanicals are added. The range is extremely diverse, so that everyone should find the gin that suits them. Whether angelica, anise, citrus peel, cardamom or coriander: the taste of the gin changes depending on which additional botanicals are used. Meanwhile, there is even gin with gingerbread, honey or vanilla flavour. It is precisely this diversity that makes gin stand out and makes it the trend drink par excellence. By the way: only drinks with an alcohol content of at least 37.5 percent can call themselves gin. Connoisseurs drink it straight, but for most it serves as the main ingredient for the well-known gin and tonic.
What is gin made from?
In principle, gin can be made from any neutral alcohol. Mostly, pure alcohol of up to 96% alcohol strength is used. As a rule, grain or potato serve as the basis. Therefore, gin is basically nothing more than a type of vodka. Nowadays, however, some types of gin are also made from grapes or other types of fruit. In addition to the numerous botanicals such as fruits and herbs that are added to the high-proof alcohol, one ingredient must not be missing: Juniper is an essential ingredient in a classic gin, because juniper berries give it its typical slightly bitter taste. The question "What is gin made of?" cannot be answered in a general way, because each variety has its own special and usually secret ingredients. Some well-known gins contain as many as 120 botanicals.
You have to distinguish between different types of gin. The best-known gin is certainly London Dry Gin, which is dry. Dry gin is also dry, but with less juniper. Do you prefer it sweeter and more aromatic? Then opt for the Genever variant. This is a juniper schnapps with an alcohol content of at least 35 per cent. This juniper schnapps originally comes from France or the Netherlands. Today's gin owes its name to jenever, which originated around the 17th century. Somewhat sweeter and spicier than the normal dry gin are the Plymouth Dry Gin and the Old Tom Gin. So you see: gin is a very versatile drink and available in many variations.
What is the best gin?
As mentioned earlier, there is now such an inexhaustible variety of gins on the market that it is easy to lose track of them all. There are top gins from Germany, Scotland or the Scandinavian countries. Real classics, however, that should not be missing from any well-stocked home bar are, for example:
- Gin Mare
- Elephant Gin
- Niemand Gin
- Tanqueray Gin
- Monkey 47 Gin
There is no general answer to the question of what is the best gin, because, as we all know, tastes differ. In fact, gin is probably the most diverse drink in the world. Reliable sources say that there are currently almost 5,500 different types of gin. New ones are added almost daily. In Germany alone there are about 700 different gins. Well-known are, among others, the Berlin Spree Gin, the Knuth Hansen Gin from the Hanseatic city of Hamburg and, of course, the Windspiel Gin, which is made on the basis of potatoes. Monkey 47, on the other hand, is probably the best-known gin from the Black Forest, which delights with aromas of cranberries, spruce and elderflower. But the gins from France, England and Italy don't have to hide from the German gins either. Be sure to try the Gin Mare, one of the best-known gins from the Mediterranean. The gin from Spain scores with Mediterranean ingredients such as rosemary, citrus fruits, thyme and basil. But Tanqueray Gin is also one of the most popular gin varieties and is available in many variations. This gin has been voted the best in the world several times and delights with its clear taste, effervescence and spiciness.
How do you drink gin?
The classic way to serve gin is with a gin and tonic. What is gin and tonic? With the gin and tonic, the gin is topped up with tonic water and served with either a slice of lemon, a slice of cucumber or a sprig of rosemary. You can vary your gin garnish to your heart's content, because whatever you like is allowed. Gin and tonic is a classic aperitif that goes well with many occasions. It is characterised by its slightly tart yet refreshing note, making it the perfect summer drink. The mixing ratio for gin and tonic is up to your own preferences. Variants from 1:1 to 1:4 are possible, but we do not recommend a 1:1 mixture, as the alcohol is then too dominant. A mixing ratio of 1:3 is more common, because then gin and tonic harmonise perfectly. By the way, real connoisseurs don't just use any tonic water, but choose one that matches the gin. Tonic water is a fizzy water that gets its refreshing note from the citric acid. Numerous other natural aromas, water, sugar and quinine are further ingredients of a good tonic water. In fact, however, not all tonic water is the same. Here, too, a distinction is made between different nuances of taste, such as:
- lemony and fresh
- fruity and sweet
- spicy and tart
The amount of carbonic acid, which provides the effervescence of the gin and tonic, also varies. A good tonic water is characterised by fine bubbles and long-lasting carbonation. If you prefer a classic dry gin with a distinct juniper note, it is best to combine it with a dry or bitter-tart tonic water. If, on the other hand, you like very spicy, floral or herbal gins, it is best to combine them with a tonic water that is very similar in taste. But here, too, the basic rule is: The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and it's best to find out for yourself which combination tastes best to you.
What is gin and tonic is now answered. But there are many other interesting cocktail creations that can be made from gin. Among the best known are:
- Gin Basil Smash
- Dry Martini
- Gin Fizz
The Gin Fizz in particular is a real alternative if you want to try something other than gin and tonic. Similar to the Gin Tonic, the Gin Fizz is also very refreshing. In addition to gin and soda water as the two main ingredients, a classic Gin Fizz must also contain some lemon juice and sugar beet syrup. It gives the gin fizz its pleasant sweetness. You should also definitely try a Clover Club: The combination of gin and raspberries is simply irresistible. You need a shaker for this drink with egg whites, as this is the only way to create the delicious foam. James Bond's favourite drink, the Dry Martini, also needs a good gin. In combination with vermouth and served with lemon and olives, the flavour of the gin comes out particularly well.