Skip to content

SEE: A few tips to host your own fun gin tasting event at home

Cocktail hour is more than just the time of day when you order or mix your favourite drink. It is the ritual of letting go, releasing your cares and worries for a moment, and giving yourself over to the pleasures of a well-mixed intoxicant (or a mocktail, if that is your preference).

And with the festive season fast approaching, it is a perfect time to explore new tastes and new pairings by throwing a gin-tasting party.

It is a great way to break the ice with new acquaintances or add a cool activity to your next catch-up with your family or friends.

How do you go about it? Glyn French of Flowstone Gin suggests focusing on finding the perfect serve at your party.

French says a great gin tasting aims to create the perfect pairing of a particular gin with some beautiful and carefully matched garnishes. Here’s how:

First things first, which gin?

If you can’t assemble enough different garnishes, a truly unique gin like Flowstone’s Bushwillow may be sufficient. It combines woody, earthy notes with a rich, nutty warmth and you’ll have more than enough fun finding complementary options to serve with it.

But for maximum party pleasure, three gins will allow your guests to contrast the interaction of each garnish with the different gin types. A good bet is a classic London Dry gin, a local champion, and something unique.

The nose

Pour half a teaspoonful into a small glass. (she recommends one with incurving edges.) “With the glass just below your nose and your lips slightly apart, breathe in slowly and gently.

A long slow in-breath is the secret to unlocking the aromas. See if you also experience the gin flavours gently at the back of your mouth. You will only be able to do a few sniffs before your nose becomes overwhelmed. Rest awhile, sniff a few coffee beans, and off you go again,” says French.

The taste

At formal gin tastings, the gins might be served neat or with just a splash of water, but that’s an acquired taste, she says, adding that it can actually be difficult to discern nuances in this format.

“Rather dilute the gin 50:50 with water or place a small piece of ice in the neat spirit and swirl it to let the ice melt a little. Now, take the tiniest sip and let it move through the different areas of your mouth. With a good gin, you’ll experience different tastes in different parts of your mouth. See what the tastes make you think of and have fun trying to put names to the flavours. Have a glass of water for each guest so they can clear their mouths between sips and between different gins.”

Time for the tonic

The flavour profiles of most gins were developed to work well with tonic and there are many lovely tonics around. French advises you to serve a selection and see how their flavours, and colours, work with the different gins and see if a citrus flavoured tonic goes better with a complementary citrus gin or with a contrasting herb flavoured tonic, or try an Indian tonic to hero the gin. Then try the other tonics.

“Remember the magic formula is 1:4. So it’s usually a whole tonic with a double tot gin (50 ml). But for a single shot (25 ml) try just half a tonic, otherwise you swamp the delicious gin.

You can also try your gins with freshly squeezed orange juice, as well as still and sparkling waters,” she says.

Salad days

Garnishes should be the crowning glory of a ‘perfect serve’. To choose the perfect partners, go back to the flavours you experienced when tasting the gin and think of what would complement those. Say you tasted a hint of cinnamon; well, cinnamon and apple are best buddies, so a thin slice of apple in that gin would probably be wonderful. Mulberries are fantastic with any gin that has notes of freshness and hints of fruitiness. Spread out a smorgasbord of possible garnishes and include unusual options like celery, toasted nuts, bay leaves, coriander, thin curls of carrot, edible flowers (check on Google first!), fresh lemon leaves from the tree in your garden, nasturtium leaves, and let your friends mix and match,” says French.

Her final tip for the perfect serve is to aim for visual contrasts: say, a slice, a curl, and a segment.

“Add sprigs of fresh herbs for height, use contrasting colours, or go a themed palette – try all pinks with just a highlight of green for contrast. You’re looking for that beautifully served and garnished G&T - a drink that mesmerises the eyes and gets the taste buds dancing,” she adds.

Original article appeared on IOL

Share this article: