Updated: Jul 14, 2021
It had all started with so much promise. An excellent three hours at a Gin Academy in glorious rolling countryside, an entertaining distiller to guide us through the basics of making a gin as well as the intricacies of producing something actually palatable. It’s very easy to make gin, he said; but very difficult to make a good gin.
Afterwards a trip into the nearby town, where there was rumoured to be a rather fine gin bar. There was indeed a gin bar, and it appeared at least initially to be very fine – large, well-lit, and enticing. Disappointing to discover however that they only served gin from one distillery (but never mind, it’s a good gin). Disappointing also that they served only one brand of tonic. But at least it made choosing a G&T straightforward.
An order was placed, the barman scuttled off to the far end of the extensive bar to prepare it. When he returned, bearing a large coup glass from which emanated copious quantities of smoke, it was abundantly plain that in the preparation he’d committed two gross and egregious errors.
First, the whole bottle of tonic had been poured into the gin; now, call me old-fashioned, but I would like to be able to nose the gin before the addition of any tonic, to get a sense of the botanicals and assess the distiller’s skills. Swamping the delicate flavours with 200ml of sugar and quinine makes this impossible. Of course I should have said when I placed the order how I would like my G&T to be served, but I was interested to see what they would do off their own bat. My own fault for not being completely specific.
Secondly, the garnish. I often add a small stem of rosemary as a garnish where appropriate, to bring out herb elements in a gin. But setting fire to it? The pall of smoke hanging over the glass was so obtrusive, there was no chance of discovering anything else in terms of bouquet. The fumes must have been quite off-putting for anyone else trying to enjoy a quiet drink, too.
Overall, a hugely disappointing end to a most interesting day. I won’t be going back to the gin bar.