She’s mixed drinks and run bars in cities all over the world, including Barcelona, New York and Buenos Aires, met with the best bartenders and sipped on the finest cocktails.
An award-winning mixologist and a regular on American TV, today Charlotte works as the brand ambassador for William Grant & Sons, where she gives new life to some of the world’s most iconic gin and whisky brands.
To celebrate her upcoming appearance at this year’s Top Shelf Boutique Drinks Festival at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Hall on August 8th and 9th, Charlotte has put together her top tips for drinking gin like a Boss.
Know your drink
First things first, you can’t drink gin like a Boss if you don’t know what it is. All gins are different as each is a distillation of botanicals that produce a variety of aromatic flavours.
The name gin is derived from the Dutch ‘jenever’, which means “juniper,” a predominant element in the spirit. . Gin is a colourless spirit that usually hasn’t been aged. You can think of gin as juniper-flavoured vodka with other botanicals added – the flavour of juniper is strong while also unique, and when balanced correctly, it can be enjoyed by anybody.
Know how to drink it
To drink gin like a Boss you obviously need to know which flavours to mix together! The versatility of the spirit allows for your cocktail creativity to go down different ‘flavour paths’, such as spicy, citrus, nutty, herbal, fruity and refreshing or my personal favourite, floral.
Each gin has a unique balance of flavours ranging between the juniper berry, which has a delicate spice, coriander seed with its citrus notes, angelica root which is sweet and musky, orris root which has subtle, florally violet notes, citrus peels, spicy cardamom pods, herbal and citrusy cassia bark (which has a hint of cinnamon), grains of paradise, which reinforces the forest aromas of juniper and the citrusy notes of lemon and orange, and cubeb or java berries, whose flavour is a cross between allspice and black pepper!
Knowing the aromatics of the gin you’re using will help determine which cocktails it will work best with, as you can match the syrups, juices and garnishes to compliment the flavours of the gin.
Likewise, after you decide on the type of cocktails you’ll be making, you can choose a gin that compliments your mixers and additional ingredients. If you’re feeling particularly inspired, take a look at the Spanish style gin & tonic, a beverage served in a large wine goblet that helps to intensify its aromatic powers!
Know how to garnish
Your selected garnish will define the type of Boss you are. It might seem like a miniscule touch, but a garnish adds flavour and presentation to your tipple. Popping a slice of cucumber into your gin & tonic will do wonders. Mint even!
If you’re looking for something a bit different, choose orange peel to run along the rim of the glass, or leave on the top to infuse the aromatics from the essential oils of the citrus.
The classic garnish for gin and tonic is a slice of lime or lemon, and sometimes fresh basil leaves can be added with fruit to create a more complex mix of flavours. If you’re making a martini, olives on a toothpick is the obvious option, but a grapefruit twist can also work depending on the type of flavours you’re after.
Have fun with your garnishes – remember sometimes the more unusual, the better (…as long as you think it complements the other flavours)!
Know what to buy
Many of us know what it’s like to drink too much of a low-quality product, however, hefty-priced bottles of gin don’t necessarily mean they are better.
There’s a broad spectrum of flavours when it comes to gin, and some cocktails call for a specific type, depending on the kinds of flavours you’ll be mixing with it; so having knowledge on which gins go with which flavours is essential. Research the brands that boast the distinguishing flavours you’re looking for and invest in a bottle. For example, Hendrick’s gin has a floral, fresh green flavour that works very well in fruit forward cocktails.
As well as the popular gin brands, keep a bottle of the original gin, Genever, on hand, as it’s a good base from which to identify your likes and dislikes between the other types of gin.
If you’re making a gin & tonic, keep to a small bottle of tonic to ensure good effervescence. Carefully selecting the best tonic water to compliment your premium gin choice will bring you a step closer to drinking like a Boss. Another way to make sure you’re buying the best gin for you is to start asking your bartender which brands they use in each of your favourite cocktails!
Know what to order
You never want to be at the bar and get lost in the surplus of gin cocktails available for order. Gin is not just for martinis or gin and tonics; these days the number of gin cocktails available is countless. Once you have a little knowledge of aromatics in gin, and some of the flavour combinations in cocktails, you should be better equipped to order like a Boss.
Some of my personal favourites include the historic Clover Club and the Unusual Negroni. Other popular gin cocktails include the Martinez, a variation of a Martini, as well as the Tom Collins, Gimlet and Jasmine.