Throw the best gin cocktail party ever with these top gin tasting tips and ideas.
If you’re a gin lover then the only problem with Gin Festival is that it doesn’t happen every weekend! But why not bring some of the gin fuelled fun home by throwing your own gin tasting party. It’s shockingly easy to do and a great way to spread the craft gin love with friends and family.
First things first, if you’re serving gin you’re going to need the proper gin glasses to show off what gin can do. We always use Spanish-style balloon copa (stemmed glasses) at our festivals because they’re ideal for a gin and a tonic. The stem keeps your hands away from the drink, keeping it cooler for longer; the curved bowl captures the aromas of the gin and garnish, intensifying the flavour and the large bowl has enough space for big cubes of ice which melt more slowly.
You can pick up a set of 6 copa here.
Don’t be tempted to go cheap on supermarket tonic. Depending on how strong you like it, the tonic is usually anywhere between 50% and 75% of your G&T. It’s far more likely for a bad tonic to ruin a great gin than a good gin to mask a tonic’s failings.
Our tonic of choice at Gin Festival is Fever-Tree.Their ethos is simple, they only use the finest quality, natural ingredients, no artificial sweeteners and no shortcuts. The end result is a subtle and sublime tonic that lifts and enhances any gin it comes into contact with.
Since Fever-Tree made the scene plenty of other premium tonics have followed suit, many with additional botanical flavours that are specifically designed to complement certain gins. Whichever tonic you choose though make sure it matches the quality of your gin!
For a long drink like a gin and tonic, or practically any cocktail, especially on a balmy summer evening, ice is essential! Cooling a drink reduces the power of certain flavours, particularly very sweet and very bitter aromas, which helps the more subtle botanicals shine. And let’s face it, it’s just nicer to drink a nice cold drink than a warm and sticky one.
The big trick to ice is to make big cubes. The bigger cubes, the smaller the surface area and the slower it melts. Slower melting means less dilution of your drink and more time to enjoy a pristine cocktail.
If you need to make loads of ice in a hurry skip the ice cube trays and fill some loaf and cake tins instead. Then cut them into nice big chunks. If you haven’t got the space, chuck out those old fish fingers and mixed vegetables, remember gin is important.
Garnish is an oft-neglected part of a gin and tonic but it can absolutely transform the drink. Garnish not only looks pretty it adds another flavour and aroma to the drink.
The trick to garnish is to match it to the right gin. If the garnish is already a botanical in the gin then it can enhance that flavour, for example, adding cucumber peel to hendricks, a gin made with cucumber. If the garnish isn’t in the gin it can pair excellently with a botanical that is present, such as adding pepper to West Winds The Cutlass to complement the lemon and tomato fruitiness.
People love a theme at a party. It’s a great excuse to dress up and it makes the whole affair more memorable, plus, you get much better looking photos to instagram later!
Gin lends itself to plenty of fun themes. You could host a throwback speakeasy vibe with jazz, lounge suits, flapper dresses and plenty of cocktails. Then there’s an English Garden Fete with bunting, grass and plenty of easy G&T’s. A boozy tea party is a great excuse to break out the vintage dress, and use the posh china, while serving up some sublime punches.
Modern craft gin comes in many shapes and sizes. While, legally, the predominant flavour of gin must be juniper, many modern New Western gin styles challenge this idea, balancing the juniper with other botanicals or having it play a back seat to a star ingredient like grapefruit and coconut, or strawberry. Then there are gin liqueurs and sloe gins which have a gin base but are sweeter and fruitier drinks than a classic gin.
Serving up a selection of London Dry gins, more experimental New Western gins and gin liqueurs lets you take your guests on a private tour of the history of gin, taking in the wide range of what craft gin can be. More variety also makes it more likely that everybody can find a gin they love.
Our Gin Festival at Home Collection makes a great starter set for gin lovers with 2 classic London Dry gins (Masons and Two Birds), 2 more modern takes on gin (Whitley Neill and Sir Robin of Locksley) and a gorgeous Addingham Sloe Gin.
Alternatively, you can combine ideas 5 and 6 by selecting gins on a theme and create your own gin holiday at home. Wish you were sunning yourself on the Costa del Sol? Choose 5 Spanish gins, decorate your home to a Spanish theme, serve up some tapas and instantly transport yourself to sunny Spain.
This bank holiday weekend from August 26th until midnight on Monday the 29th get £15 off all our Gin Collections.
Every party needs canapes to nibble on between sips. Gin is a hugely flexible drink when it comes to food pairings and really any party snacks you can think of will be fine so long as they aren’t too powerfully aromatic.
Lots of people think they don’t like gin, when in fact they don’t like tonic. Which is fine, a G&T might be a classic but gin can also work well with soda water, lemonade or even ginger ale (just keep it away from coke). Have a few more mixers on hand and let your guests experiment with flavour combinations.
The flavour of an individual gin might shine in a gin and tonic but, from the use of spices and fruits juices to disguise the bad flavour of “bathtub gin” during prohibition to the elegant sophistication of the Savoy Hotel Cocktail Bar, gin has always been a cocktail superstar.
We’ve collected together 5 classic gin cocktail recipes that are really easy for anyone to make with very little equipment or preparation. Give them a try and really impress your guests.
Of course the problem with making cocktails is all the time you have to spend making cocktails rather than enjoying the party yourself. Fortunately there is an easy solution, batch it! Make up a big batch of punch or lemonade that can be prepared before the party starts and then let your guests help themselves. We’ve collected 5 big batch cocktail recipes for you to try that are ideal for gin parties.
You don’t need a cocktail set to throw a cocktail party but it does help and will make you feel like a proper mixologist. The basic set of shaker, spoon and jigger is a great investment for any gin lover. A jigger (a tool for measuring spirit shots) in particular, since it will help you get the ratio of gin to tonic correct.
If you want to try more a of a formal tasting than a casual party then here is a good checklist of how to properly taste gin.
Select a glass with curved sides. The curved sides capture the aromas of the gin to let you nose it.
Pour the gin neat into the glass, ice dilutes the pure flavour.
Swirl the glass, this mixes some oxygen with the spirit and releases the aromas.
Hold the glass to your nose and appreciate the smell. Don’t give a big sniff, this draws in too much and can overpower your sense of smell entirely. The aromas most commonly associated with gin are citrus, fruit, floral, earth, spice, sweetness and wood.
Sip the gin. The first sip should be pleasant, warm and smooth. Try and pick out the same aromas you smelled before and see what else is there. Gins can have up to 50 different botanicals and many common ones include citrus, liquorice, cinnamon, aniseed, fruits, herbs like rosemary, etc. You should eb able to detect juniper but is it on the tongue or towards the back of the mouth?
Add a little plain water. This will reduce the alcohol content of the gin and release the other botanical flavours. Sip the gin again. How has the flavour changed? What other flavours can you detect now?
If you are doing a proper tasting then make sure to pack some pens and papers. Guests can make notes on the different aromas and flavours they’re picking up and then compare them with others to see where they agree. It can be really hard to remember which gins you liked at a tasting and why (especially if you’re drinking every measure rather than simply tasting) so having a record can be really useful.
What’s a party without music? Not to worry though, we’ve got you covered with our ultimate gin playlist.
Gin & Juice - Snoop dogg
Liquid Lunch - Caro Emerald
Gin Soaked Boy - Tom Waits
Love is Like a bottle of Gin - The Magnetic Fields
Gin - Tiger Lillies
To help you throw the perfect gin party this bank holiday weekend we’re knocking £15 of all our Gin Festival Collections.* Pick up a set today and get some friends round!
*whilst stocks last.
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