My Gin and Tonic Summer

I always find that each season, each year, has its theme: like a song that you hear and you think: YEAH, that was from the summer of 1996 when each day was hotter than the next and my zucchini grew like insanity. To me, food and drink  does the same thing. For instance, last year–or was it the year before–was really my summer of Pimms, or faux Pimms, as we had a cheap knock off of Pimms which was really quite delicious nonetheless. I think it was called Austin, and I spent the summer gathered around that bottle and all the fresh fruit and mint i could gather from the garden, and don’t forget the cucumbers–anyhow, you can read about it in my blog archives.

This year, though, I had already started thinking Gin, Gin and Tonic, quite early on, while the weather was still cold and I couldn’t imagine how it would even feel to be warm: but closing my eyes, deep in imagination, I was thinking summer, sweltering, and ohhhhhh how refreshing a G & T would be.

The weather IS warm now, very warm. My zucchini is growing once again insanely, my cucumbers are happily threatening to take over this little corner of the forest. I was ready for my G & T.

But to be honest, I’m not the worlds biggest drinker and i need a bit of a push into the delightful world of refreshing alchohol. Usually this is accomplished by a lot of other people and a party. And you know, I live in a forest, I have no friends anywhere near, and it was unlikely that there would be a party, gin and tonic or not. So I figured, like with so many other things, something would happen. I’d get my gin and tonic,  I’d go to a cocktail party, I’d go somewhere, there would be a Gin and Tonic. But I didn’t think I’d spend my summer sipping, each evening, the most refreshing of drinks. And that is exactly what has happened.

It started like this. My friend, Jordan, had invited me to a swank cocktail (and canape!) party up in London. I tried to go, really I did, but you know, the train and all, and my forest, is far away.

So a few days later,  the doorbell rang. And there was a box. And inside: Gin. and tonic. and citrus fruit. I got ready for cocktail hour.

The tonic was lovely, my fave Fevertree; the citrus fruit were ready to be chopped into wedges and stuffed into the glasses. Oh and there was a glass just for ice and a fabulous ice…..spoon? shovel? what are those things called? (I should know as I LOVE ice). It was a very classy gift for someone who missed your party! And the gin: hmmmmmm Beefeaters, yes, but a very different one from my usual. Very fancy embossed bottle, and the number 24, what did this mean?

I had been thinking about what goes into gin, in general, before the box arrived, so I went online for info.  Beefeater 24: distilled in London like the rest of the Beefeater gins, within steps of the Cricket Pitch, The Oval. But what sets 24 aside is that it is infused with tea and added botanicals and citrus. Apparently Master Distiller Desmond Payne had long been fascinated by the idea of tea in gin, then discovered that the founding father of Beefeater Gin was a tea merchant to the Royal Household. He felt this was a good omen.

It took him 2 years.  To the classic Beefeater taste profile– juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root and seed, Seville orange peel, lemon peel, orris and almond–he added liquorice, grapefruit, and teas: Chinese green and Japanese Sencha. This was perfect: I started the summer thinking: gin would be nice. But I wanted a gin that was fragrant and refreshing with aromatics. One that would blend with beautiful artisanal tonic water like a dream, like a ballet, with the intertwining of fragrance, the bitter and the aromatic, all weaving a lovely pattern in my mouth, as I sipped. That is what I wanted from this summer, and Hey!  Universe!  Thank you for bringing it to me.

So, I’m not going to wait for a party, because I’ve discovered this: a G and T in the afternoon, when the heat of the day has kinda frizzled my world and I just want to kick back and ease my body and brain: really: its all the party I need.

So my summer of gin and tonic is segue-ing to a summer of gin cocktails. Even catching up on social media is better with a g & t alongside.  But this afternoon, when I sat down as my laptop, g and t in hand, I realized: there is a culinary world out there to be made with g and t.

I am thinking:  you know……..a G and T sorbet would be lovely.  And a G and T gelee, a lovely jellied dessert, a grown up jelly/Jello with that fragrant bitter edge of tonic, the aroma of gin…..yes!

4 hours later: the gelee is chilled, and it is delicious: refreshing and herbal, slightly bitter from the tonic, and not too sweet though you can adjust the sugar level however you like. I recommend you eat it with the fresh raspberries–their sweetness, tanginess and aromatic berriness is perfect with the gelee.

Gin and Tonic Gelee with Raspberries

Serves 2 in a dessert portion, up to 4 in a refreshing tasting portion

1 envelope powdered unflavoured gelatin (USA), i’m not sure of uk powdered gelatin, this recipe is going to evolve into gelatin leaves……

2 tablespoons hot boiling water

1 1/2 cups/350 ml water

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice, freshly squeezed

1/2 cup/150ml tonic water

2-3 tablespoons gin

Fresh ripe raspberries, as is, unless sour: then sugar than lightly

In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the boiling water; let it soften.

Meanwhile, combine the water with the sugar and bring to a boil and stir so that the sugar dissolves.

Pour into the melted gelatin, stir in the lemon juice, and tonic water. Let cool.

Stir in the gin, combine well, cover and chill.

Serve with raspberries.

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