Summer is a time for cold, lighter, refreshing drinks. Classically embodied by the gin & tonic. I love gin. I think it is an ideal liquor. I really don’t understand people who don’t like it, even though some of these people are close relations of mine – such individuals may be defective.
However, these days my heart softens for the wayward. Maybe it’s the impending birth of my progeny, but I suspect it has more to do with the malaise that is humid summer heat. I also deplore oppression in all forms (except for babies, which I understand need to be swaddled and deprived of all liberties), which is why I felt great sorrow when I received the following request:
I don’t like gin but think I should drink it during the summer. What can I drink that will help me into gin?
Gin is just an infused neutral spirit. It happens to be a very good infusion. I forget where I read or heard this, but it is entirely true. If you don’t like juniper, you won’t like gin. The answer is not despair. The answer is to infuse something else.
As it happens, I’ve not been drinking too much gin this summer. I’ve been drinking herb-infused vodka – dill, basil, lavender. I’m big on the dill, which I feel provides the cutting, sharp qualities of gin while transporting hot afternoon sun into your beverage (just think how deep the green of dill is – chlorophyl!). Basil has a slightly oily quality, not bad, but it’s a bit thicker on the tongue. Lavender is soft and tends to be best with a sweeter mixer. The others go more with a bitter or just a bit floral…
My favorite herb patch to walk by in my neighborhood.
How to make herbal infusions? Get some fresh herbs, get some vodka (your choice, don’t spend much, it makes no difference for this purpose – I use Russian Standard because it has happy memories), put the herbs in the vodka (one bunch is plenty for a whole handle). Take the herbs out after about a day. Pouring through a tea strainer is good to get any little bits out, DONE!
Put your concoction on the rocks with tonic (use lemon over lime with these flavors), shake a martini using Dolin Blanc vermouth (Dolin Blanc brings in a nice floral bit), just pour over ice and top with sparkling water to make a nice long drink – trust me, it’s strong enough still. If you want to go all out and really make the ladies swoon:
1 lavender vodka
1/2 St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/5 (not even that much maybe) Dolin Blanc
on ice in a tall glass and top with sparkling water
When it’s all over – drink what makes you happy. Be free.