For many of us, staying indoors has become the norm. It may be mundane, perhaps a little boring at times, but it’s important to look on the bright side; being at home - with access to booze - means you can have a helluva lot of fun playing mixologist.
Crack out the old cocktail books, reach to the back of the cupboard for those half bottles of stuff you haven’t used in years - the forgotten liqueurs, the untouched Spirits, the dusty old bottles of things with the labels peeling off. Have a play around and get creative!
Need a bit of inspiration to get you going? Well here are five Gin cocktails you can make at home with store cupboard ingredients.
Disclaimer: This isn’t about having the best equipment, fourteen different types of garnish, or fancy ice. It’s easy to create cocktails that taste good, without a lot of fuss or a big grocery list. Where citrus is mentioned, work with what you have; fresh fruit, dried peels, whatever.
Prep in advance: All of the below require chilled ingredients; use ice and a beaker to stir down your drinks, or shake over ice in a cocktail shaker. Freeze your glassware in advance, if you can. Some of these drinks call for simple syrup. It’s easy to make your own simple or flavored syrups, and they’ll last for up to three days in the fridge.
Make your own simple syrup: Mix equal parts caster sugar and hot water, stirring until the sugar has disappeared. Leave to cool. Try adding spices for flavored syrups - bash a few cardamom pods to break the skin and leave to infuse overnight. Or try adding a cinnamon stick. Remove spices before using.
1. Tom Collins
Ingredients:Gin, soda or sparkling water, simple syrup or honey, fresh lemon.
Combine a double measure of Gin with a single measure of fresh lemon juice and a teaspoon of simple syrup or honey in a shaker or beaker filled with ice and stir/shake for 30 seconds until well mixed and cold. Pour into a Highball glass with ice and top with soda.
*Substitutes: Don’t have any soda or sparkling water? Try a Bees Knees (below). No lemon? Try this with any citrus fruit for a new take on this old favorite. Grapefruit works surprisingly well. Or swap the lemon juice and honey for four wedges of lime and you’ve got a Gin Rickey.
2. GimletIn 19th century Britain, vitamin C found in citrus fruit was known to ward off scurvy - an often deadly disease contracted by sailors who didn’t have access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Lauchlan Rose, a ship retailer from Scotland, discovered that lime juice could be preserved for longer when mixed with sugar. He patented it, and we still drink Rose’s Lime Cordial today.
Ingredients:Gin, lime cordial.
Add a double measure of Gin to a mixing glass with ice, add half a measure of lime cordial, and stir down until cold. Strain into a chilled Martini glass and Gimlet is ready.
*Substitutes: Don’t have any Rose’s Lime Cordial? Use fresh lime juice and half a teaspoon of honey.
3. Bees Knees
Ingredients:Gin, lemon, honey.
Add two measures of Gin, a large measure of fresh lemon juice, and half a measure of honey into a shaker with ice. Shake until cool and strain into a chilled coupe.
*Substitutes: No lemons? Try freshly squeezed orange juice instead. Want a longer drink? Half the amounts and add to a Champagne flute and top with sparkling Wine.
4. Pink Gin CocktailThis Pink Gin cocktail is as old as they come - dating back to the British Navy, where it was invented in the 1800s. Bitters were said to cure seasickness, and a healthy measure of Gin certainly makes the medicine go down. The name? That’s because of the pinky-orange hue the Bitters impart.
Gin, Angostura Bitters.
Instructions:Add a double measure of Gin and three dashes of Angostura Bitters to a beaker and stir down with ice for 30 seconds until ice-cold. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lemon peel (optional).
*Substitutes: It’s tricky to substitute this one. If you don’t have bitters but you have Vermouth, make a Martini!
5. A Twist on a G&TWant to spice up your regular Gin and Tonic? Say no more. Turn your Gin into a spiced version by adding a touch of cardamom syrup. Garnish with orange or cardamom pods.
Want something herbal instead? No problem. Make rosemary syrup with two rosemary sprigs for every 100ml syrup, and garnish with cucumber. Get creative and try various flavors of syrups. The key is to use light tonic water - the reduced sugar content means the addition of a touch of syrup won’t be cloying.
Ingredients:Gin, light tonic, a herbal or spiced syrup.
Add a double measure of Gin to your preferred glass, filled with ice. Add half a measure of your chosen syrup and stir. Top with light tonic and garnish with whatever you have - fresh rose petals or herbs, fresh or dried citrus peels, juniper berries, peppercorns, etc.
*Substitutes: Don’t have any tonic? Swap it for soda for a lighter drink.
Have your drinking habits changed over the past couple of weeks? Let us know in the comments what you’ve been creating.