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Gin cocktails for summer

Ah, gin: as if you needed an excuse. But now’s the perfect season for experimenting with crisp, refreshing gin cocktails to enjoy at home on warm sunny evenings and lazy weekends.

Gin has been riding high for almost two decades now, and little wonder. Given the diversity of products and the complexity of the spirit, with its multitude of botanical ingredients available to play with, gin has captured the hearts and minds of drinks connoisseurs worldwide.

The levelling up of the Gin & Tonic has had a part to play, too. It is rare these days to be faced with one of those long, watery G&Ts with a couple of small, rapidly dissipating ice cubes clinking together sadly in the glass. Rather, copa glasses or highballs are filled with ice and the drink is then garnished with all manner of exotic ingredients. They are crisp, sparkling, moreish.

The gin cocktails category is arguably the most varied and exciting of all to get into. From dark, bitter Negronis through to the light, frothy Clover Club, gin’s cocktail canon runs the gamut of flavours, moods and textures.

So which gin should be used for making cocktails? The world is your oyster. However, don’t feel that it has to be a premium product that blows your budget. The leading household names have gained their place and reputation for a reason – they produce classically flavoured, juniper-forward all-rounders that work in a multitude of drinks. At least, their flagship products do. Do stay away from any flavoured gins or other strange innovations.

The likes of Beefeater, Gordon’s, Plymouth and Tanqueray will all provide a strong foundation around which to build your drinks.

In fact, I recently participated in a blind gin tasting with a group of industry experts on behalf of a consumer testing company, and at the reveal it was heartening to see these classic names sitting high at the top.

The following drinks have been chosen for their fresh, bright flavours, perfect for sinking on a hot summer’s day. Charge those glasses and enjoy the season!

Grab a glass…

A note about glassware: having the right glass for the right drink can be incredibly important, more so for one that requires a dash of soft drink to the top. Putting the Silver Fizz in a normal highball glass, for example, and adding too much soda water will result in a washed-out mess. A fizz glass is a smaller, narrower version of a highball, and the final drink is supposed to be a quick, invigorating charge, rather than a long, slow sipper.

Tokyo Collins

Credit: Miles Willis Photography

This refreshing twist on the Tom Collins is a bestselling cocktail on the menu of world-leading bar Happiness Forgets on London’s Hoxton Square. Its popularity is so great that it has been a permanent fixture on the cocktail menu ever since the drink was created 10 years ago. Yuzushu is a Japanese liqueur, made with either a base of sake, the spirit shochu or a combination of the two and sugar, in which yuzu fruit is usually steeped. It is tangy and delicious, and adds a brightness to drinks that other citrus fruits don’t quite manage.

25ml gin
25ml yuzushu
25ml pink grapefruit juice
15ml lemon juice
15ml sugar syrup (1:1)*
50ml soda water

Glass: Highball
Garnish: Grapefruit slice
Method: Build ingredients over ice, top with soda and gently stir, then garnish.

*To make the sugar syrup, combine 1 part sugar with 1 part boiling water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Keep in a bottle in the fridge for up to a month.

Summer Gimlet

Credit: Miles Willis Photography

A classic Gimlet is a combination of equal parts gin and Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial – a sharp, refreshing concoction. In recent years it’s seen a bit of a renaissance, with proportions between the cordial and the gin being altered, and even some fresh lime juice being added to proceedings. For those who love to experiment, the Gimlet is a great option, because most cordials can be swapped in for the lime. This fruity, summery cordial from M&S (£2.75/50cl) is a juicy touch of summer, and creates the perfect cocktail for a mid-afternoon refresher. For other fabulous cordials to explore, look to Somerset hotel The Newt’s range.

50ml gin
50ml Marks & Spencer Raspberry, Rhubarb and Lovely Hibiscus Cordial

Glass: Coupe
Garnish: None
Method: Shake ingredients together with ice and strain into glass.

Silver Fizz

Credit: Miles Willis Photography

Originating in the 19th century, the Gin Fizz mixes gin, lemon juice, sugar and soda water to create a thirst-quenching summer sipper. Add an egg white, however, and you have a silky, frothy dream of a drink known as a Silver Fizz. For those not keen on the addition of egg white, simply follow the first stage of the recipe and strain the ingredients into a glass without ice rather than the second shaker, before topping with soda water.

50ml gin
25ml lemon juice
20ml sugar syrup
1 egg white
soda water to top

Glass: Fizz
Garnish: Lemon slice
Method: Add all ingredients except the egg white and soda water to the shaker. Shake together with ice, strain into another shaker, add the egg white and shake again without ice. Pour into glass, top with chilled soda water and garnish.

Bee’s Knees

Credit: Miles Willis Photography

Hailing from the Prohibition era, this drink apparently came to pass because nefarious drinkers were using honey and lemon to mask the terrible flavour of the rough-and-ready bathtub gin that was being illegally made at the time. A short and sweet drink that’s the perfect showcase of the produce of the bees buzzing around our gardens at this time of year.

60ml gin
22.5ml lemon juice
22.5ml honey syrup**

Glass: Coupe
Garnish: None
Method: Shake all ingredients together over ice and strain into glass.

**To make your own honey syrup, mix three parts honey and one part hot water, and stir until well combined. Keep in the fridge for up to five days.

Clover Club

Credit: Miles Willis Photography

Pink, frothy and fun, the Clover Club cocktail dates back to sometime between the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century. Supposedly named after a club of Philadelphia journalists that was founded in 1896, the first known reference to the drink was in 1901. Essentially a fruity Martini with added body from the egg white, this is the perfect celebration of summer’s abundance of raspberries.

40ml gin
20ml raspberry syrup***
15ml lemon juice
15ml Martini Extra Dry
15g egg white

Glass: Coupe
Garnish: Fresh raspberry
Method: Shake all the ingredients together over ice, strain the liquid into another shaker and shake the mixture again without ice. This is known as a dry shake, and will give your drink a light, frothy quality. Strain into glass then garnish.

***To make your own raspberry syrup, add 160g sugar and 200ml water to a pan, bring to the boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add 160g of raspberries to the liquid, press the fruit with a potato masher and leave to steep in the fridge overnight. Line a sieve with a muslin and fine strain the mixture. Add a splash of vodka and keep in the fridge for up to a month.

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