The evolution of cocktails wouldn’t be what it is without gin in the mix. Its versatility and mixability has made it an integral part of cocktail history, which is why Fords Gin is a staple in bars and homes around the world. What historical moments made gin into what we know it as today?
Gin Throughout History
Gin, when you open a classic cocktail book, it’s everywhere! It’s estimated that somewhere up to 80% of the world’s classic cocktails are based with gin. The position of gin as a heavy hitter of the cocktail world is for a number of reasons.
Taxes, Cocktail Books & Stills
Firstly, timing. Like for so many other trends, timing is key. There were a number of events that happened that were fortuitous for the rise of gin as a cocktail essential. In the mid 1800s heavy export taxes on gin from Britain were lifted, creating a boom in popularity. When you combine this rise in popularity with the early beginnings of the cocktail book and bartender manual, (the OG being ‘Jerry Thomas 1862 Bartenders Guide’, ‘How to Mix Drinks’, or the ‘Bon Vivant’s Companion’) you have the perfect conditions for creating a cocktail icon.
Gin was also evolving into the spirit we know today through changes in technology such as the birth of the Continuous Still. This enabled the creation of the virtually flavourless neutral alcohol, which could then be used as a base for gin. Grain spirit – essentially unaged Whiskey – had been the mainstay, but it would gradually be replaced. This allowed gins to become lighter and drier in style.
Glass, Transport & The Martinez
As we moved into the early 1900s glass was becoming mass produced. The growing affordability and availability of glass bottles meant that gin would spend less time in wood for storage or transport.
Yes, you read that right, even gin was stored and moved in barrels.
Add to this the development of faster more efficient transport for moving gin around the world, and the likelihood of additional flavours or character being added to a Gin from a wooden barrel after distillation would be reduced, eventually to zero. That is until recent times, today we see Gins going back into wood, this time however, solely for the purpose to add additional flavour and character to the gin.
All this advancement meant that gin went from being something that could be subbed in for whiskey in a cocktail, into the complex yet crisp and dry spirit we know today.
No other cocktail epitomises this transformation more than the Dry Martini. A journey that takes you from the first recorded Martinez recipe, in O.H. Byron’s 1884 book, ‘The Modern Bartenders’ Guide’. In which it describes the Martinez as a Manhattan made with Gin instead of Whiskey. Through various other Martini recipes using liqueurs, syrups and sweet vermouths, the Martini gradually evolves until we finally reach the first recognisable Dry Martini recipe in 1904, which used only Gin and dry vermouth at a ratio of 2:1, with a dash of orange bitters.
Balance Is Fundamental
However, it wasn’t just good timing that meant that gin would become the darling of the cocktail bartender. The real strength of the best classic gins, especially for mixing, is the perfect balance between complexity, lightness and a dry finish. Flavours that are powerful enough stand up to other ingredients without being lost. Yet delicate enough to work with almost any and every other ingredient. It’s this classic gin mold that the versatility of Fords Gin is forged from. Simon Ford’s twenty or more years experience in the classic gin world, combined with the knowledge of Charles Maxwell, one of the world’s most experienced gin distillers, Fords Gin was always destined to become a classic.
Balance, balance, balance! It’s all that ultimately matters when it comes to making great cocktails. You can have the finest ingredients, use the most cutting edge techniques and the fanciest equipment. However, this is all for nothing if you cannot find a recipe’s perfect balance point. That moment when no one flavour overpowers any other, but every ingredient is allowed to sing. Making great gin is also about creating something with perfect balance. The bitter, herbaceous notes of juniper, bright citrus, dry earthiness, delicate florals… These flavour profiles and more can all be found, in perfect balance in Fords Gin.
The Best Way To Test This?
Add a splash of Fords Gin to a tasting glass, small wine glass or champagne flute. Gently, and from about an inch above the glass, nose the aromas of the gin coming out of the glass. Taste a little if you like, but don’t shock your palate with too much. Now, accurately add the same amount of filtered water as gin to the glass and cover the top of the glass with your hand. Give the mixture a couple of swirls then wait about thirty seconds or so.
When ready, peel away your hand from the top of the glass and get your nose in there. This will reveal all that Fords Gin has to offer as the alcohol, weakened through dilution with water, will release all its delicious secrets onto your nose. Now taste the gin. You can coat your whole tongue as the water has removed the alcohol burn, and enjoy the flavours as they develop and travel on your palate.
This may not be the way you want to drink Gin, but it’s a great way to analyse it so that you can appreciate all the flavours and aromas packed into it. You’ll also more easily spot, and appreciate them, when you mix Fords Gin into your favourite cocktails.
Versatility, The Key To A Great Cocktail Gin
Its delicately balanced flavour profile and high quality alcohol puts Fords Gin into an exclusive club of classic style gins that work with almost everything. You can’t go wrong, whether you’re stirring down a Dry Martini or experimenting with new flavours, ingredients or techniques.
Fords is a Gin built for cocktails, so much so that the bottle has been specifically designed with bartenders functionality in mind, and even more interestingly for batching cocktails! Learn about the bottle design in ’The Story Of The Fords Gin Bottle’, and perfect your batching skills with our ‘Guide to batching classic cocktails’
The versatility of Fords Gin allows you to create endless combinations of delicious cocktails. From the aforementioned Dry Martini to a Red Snapper, Negroni or a Gimlet. Try making a modern classic like the Bramble cocktail or a tried and true Bee’s Knees. Happy mixing!
As always, don’t forget to show us what you made by tagging us!
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