About six months ago, a friend was asking me about what to get another girl for her birthday. She wanted to get this other someone a bottle of liquor, so she asked me what the other girl liked. I told her gin. She always has a bottle of Bombay Sapphire on hand, and she loves gin and tonics. Hell, she has four kids under 6 and two of the one-year-olds are twins. Would drive anyone to a diet of gin and tonics, right? My other friend remarked, "Oh, cool, I'll get her a bottle of Hendrick's."
My reply, "Wha?"
She looked at me out of the corner or her eye and said, "You should try it."
Well, I love gin. It is my favorite mixer. I love everything with gin, from Martinis to Collinses to Sours. I love the idea of gin (a neutral spirit distilled with flavor), and I love mixing it with everything I can get my hands on. Tanqueray and Ivanobitch were probably my favorites at the time. Tanqueray is flavorful and makes a masterful martini. Ivanobitch is nearly a vodka with its subtle hints of other flavors. Its dirty martinis are delicious, and its cocktails only hint of gin.
And then I bought a bottle of Hendrick's. Hendrick's Gin is perhaps one of the most interesting spirits out there. It is a very flavorful gin that has a nose of cucumber and rose. It's no coincidence because they use cucumber and rose in their distillation process! And it's good. I tried it for the first time with some friends about a week ago. We had it plain, at room temperature. My friend said, "Ooh, I like it." I queried whether it would taste good in a martini, and my friend replied, "It already tastes like a martini."
He's right. By itself, it has so much flavor that it deserves to be drunk like any other fine spirit: plain. By itself, perhaps on the rocks. Even liquorsnob is converted to a gin drinker by drinking some Hendrick's.
But can it be mixed. Change your garnish, and it surely can. Like I said before, quoting Fred Noe, if you mix the best bourbon with Coke, you get the best bourbon and Coke on the market. Mix Hendrick's with anything and it's freakin' good.
I've tried the gin and tonic. Oh, it works. Make it with a cucumber slice, and it's heavenly.
I've tried the standard martini. Eliminate the olive, and it works.
But I wanted something more. When I taste Hendrick's, I taste cucumber, juniper, rose, lime, and mint. Somehow, they all combine. So I wanted to get them all together. What about this combination:
3 oz gin
1/2 oz Lillet
It works. The Lillet is just enough to not overpower the mint, and the drink has enough fruity stuff that make it eminently palatable.
Then I used the same mixing glass, with the same mint and lime oil in it to chill two oz of Hendrick's. Dropped an olive in it, and it is fine.
Oh, Hendrick's, your versatility moves me. I want more of you. But your 88 proof just kicks me to the curb.
Alas, Scottish gin, I will drink your unusuality in moderation.