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Distilling the Best That ‘The Spirit of Gin’ Has to Offer


I love gin. So, I really wanted to love “The Spirit of Gin: A Stirring Miscellany of the New Gin Revival” (Cider Mill Press, $24.95) by Matt Teacher.

spiritI’ll admit I was fascinated by a good deal of the lore included in this handsome volume, but too much of Teacher’s information is presented in a scattershot manner. The prose is also underwhelming, often offering more details about the author than about his subject or the people he’s interviewing. (Richard Barrett’s “The Book of Gin” was a far more enlightening examination of the history of this elixir and the story of distillation, though it lacked the photographs and illustrations that mark Teacher’s work.)

That said, if you exercise some patience and skip around a lot, you’ll find some good recipes and some helpful hints in “The Spirit of Gin,” so you, too, can enjoy the drink that drove England mad.

In the meantime, here’s Teacher’s sound advice on how to host your own home gin tasting:

Home Gin Tasting

Materials Needed: Lot of different gins, glassware (rocks glasses work well), ice cubs in a bucket with serving tongs, a dump bucket to discard unwanted samples, a rinsing receptacle to clean glasses between tastings, notecards, pens and friends.

Suggestions: Try first tasting each gin straight, at room temperature, followed by a sip chilled by adding an ice cube and stirring. Note how the gins’ viscosity changes when cooled.

Try a tasting comparing all gins from a specific category, such as all London drys, all new Americans or all aged gins.

Bring together a group of tasters with different palates and see if opinions differ. Hand out notecards and pens and have everyone log their initial reactions before discussion.

From “The Spirit of Gin: A Stirring Miscellany of the New Gin Revival” by Matt Teacher

Then shake up this colorful cocktail, Envy, which includes a recipe for your own homemade grenadine. The drink tastes great, though it is on the sweet side, but I do have to wonder why it’s called Envy when it’s red instead of green.

envy2 cocktail

Envy

Envy

1/2 ounce Bluecoat Gin
1/2 ounce Leopold maraschino cherry liqueur
1/2 ounce grenadine (see note)
1 orange twist, for garnish

Note: To make your own grenadine, mix 50 percent freshly squeezed pomegranate juice with 50 percent simple syrup.

Shake gin, cherry liqueur and grenadine with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Add an orange twist garnish.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Church & State/”The Spirit of Gin: A Stirring Miscellany of the New Gin Revival” by Matt Teacher

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