Gin and the sacrosanct connection with Vermouth

Gin cocktails through the ages

Gin is rarely drunk neat. Although there are some exciting "sipping gins" nowadays, at least one Tonic Water is almost always allowed. Gin cocktails became really exciting when American Barkeeper discovered vermouth in the second half of the 19th century.

Gin was considered one of the frequently used basic spirits in the 19th century, along with brandy, whiskey and rum. Jerry Thomas' "Bar Tenders Guide" mentions gin as a possible spirit for a gin cocktail that would be called "Gin Old Fashioned " today. Besides sugar syrup, bitters and gin, the recipe calls for about 2 dashes of "curaçoa" [sic!]

As with most recipes from this period, one should bear in mind that dry gin became popular relatively late, at least in the USA. Accordingly, cocktails with gin were prepared there before the 1890s with the sweeter Old Tom Gin and especially with Holland Gin (Genever).

At the latest since the first sacrosanct combination of gin with vermouth, the juniper spirit hardly had to worry about its once bad reputation. Gin played the leading role in Martini, Martinez, Bronx Cocktail and Bijou Cocktail, which emerged during this period. Even Prohibition in the USA, which began on 16 January 1920, could not deal gin its death blow.

As a very easy-to-produce spirit (cue Bathtub Gin), it was also drunk when it was actually forbidden. Shortly before and during Prohibition, drinks like French 75, White Lady, Negroni or Hanky Panky were created - although many drinks of that time were not invented in speakeasys in Chicago, New Orleans and New York, but rather in England, France or Italy.

Competition from the East

Even after Prohibition, gin was popular, but after a few decades it was increasingly squeezed by vodka (Vodka Martini anyone?). Today, gin is back in fashion - whether with tonic or as a cocktail ingredient.

A cocktail that can already be called a classic (even though it was only invented 12 years ago) is the Gin Basil Smash. The freshness of the basil together with the aromas of the gin are in perfect balance with acidity and sweetness. A stroke of genius by Hamburg bartender Joerg Meyer.

The gin range is currently growing particularly strongly due to so-called flavoured gins.

It is not uncommon for gin to be enjoyed neat - which is not surprising given today's qualities (and prices). Gins from here and all over the world are currently reaching us, containing ever more bizarre botanicals (keyword: elephant dung, oyster shells, black garlic).

The gin range is currently growing particularly strongly due to so-called flavoured gins. In some cases, the focus is also on the basic distillate (calvados, grappa, pear/beer brandy, etc.) or the colour (pink, gold/barrel-aged, blue, changing).

The wide range of gins on offer has also revived the classic gin cocktails. Twenty years ago, if you ordered a gin & tonic in a Swiss bar, you got Gordon's, Bombay if you were lucky, mixed with Schweppes. Two different drinks and that was it. Today there are more combinations than bars in Switzerland. It's a similar story with the Negroni, which can have completely different flavours depending on the brand of gin.

This article appeared in
Issue 1-2020

BAR NEWS magazine as single issue

Product added to shopping cart.
0 Articles - CHF 0.00