While reading a Business Week article on coding, my eyes started glazing over as I realized I know nothing of the computer world. The codes that run our lives are completely foreign to me.
When things get too complex I always tend to go the other way — I go simple! What is more of a simple pleasure than a good gin and tonic?
Gin and tonic is the quintessential summer drink. It is simple to make, extremely refreshing and touches on both the nostalgic and the modern sides of sensibility. Gin is, at its base, a distilled neutral grain spirit, similar to vodka, but you could say gin was the original flavored vodka.
Gin was probably first made in Holland in the mid-17th century. The junipers ever-present in the countryside were the first ingredients added to the distilled product to create a palatable drink. There may even be medicinal properties. But I will talk only of the pleasure a good gin gives your taste buds.
To make the proper gin and tonic, you need a tall Collins glass. Fill it with ice, 2 ounces of gin and fill with tonic water. Garnish with a lime and you have the perfect summer cocktail. Sounds simple and it is — but you can make a myriad of choices in gin and tonic that can give you amazing flavor choices and experiences.
One of my favorite everyday gins is Beefeater, a classic London dry gin. London dry is the traditional style of gin. It is full of ripe juniper and citrus flavors.
Tanqueray is its main competitor and probably outsells Beefeater on an international basis. Tanqueray original dry gin differs from Beefeater in its flavor profile because of a smoother, less juniper flavor. But my favorite iteration of Tanqueray is the rangpur. Rangpur is the same gin, however they add the delicate exotic flavors of the Indian rangpur lime to the botanical list. The lime undertones add the perfect twist to any cocktail.
Bombay Sapphire is also a customer favorite. It is a little lighter on the juniper and has a unique variety of 10 botanicals in its mix. Coriander, grains of paradise and cassia jump out at you when you taste the Sapphire.
All of the above gins are English in origin. However, here in Minnesota we are going through a renaissance of great innovation and flavor trials. There are at least 10 different micro distillers in Minnesota who are making some great liquor.
This burgeoning industry stems from the so-called Surly law of 2013, which allowed craft brewers to sell growlers directly at their breweries. Tucked in the small print of the law was a provision lowering the license fees to open a distillery from $30,000 to about $1200!
Far North Spirits in Hallock is making a great gin. When they named it, they meant really far north. It is closer to Winnipeg than Minneapolis!
Solveig Gin is an amazing flavor bomb. It is unique and is different from any other gin I have had. It has hints of lemon and lavender. I love it straight in a glass of ice with a twist of lemon. That’s it! Simple, but oh, so good.
Vikre Distillery in Duluth is making three different types of gins. They use all Minnesota materials: pristine Lake Superior water, handcrafted Minnesota barrels, local grains. Their Boreal series of gins is amazing in its diversity, but also quality.
The Boreal Juniper, Boreal Spruce and the Boreal Cedar gin all have great flavors derived from local flavors of the North Woods. The Cedar is my favorite — a little smoky with citrus undertones. It makes an amazing martini.
Whether you go traditional English Gin, or the new wave of Minnesota gins, try one for your summer cocktails. You will discover a new flavor that will tantalize and entice you. Enjoy and stay cool — cheers!