A new survey* of cocktail drinkers in the UK suggests that many people are afraid to experiment with new flavours and garnishes - like herbs - in their drinks. At the same time, the report also states that a large proportion - 24% - of British drinkers would like to experiment more. Well, here’s your chance!
Here at Craft Gin Club, we love to be adventurous with our gin and try lots of different garnishes to enhance the flavours in each individual gin! Gone are the days of adding a thin, sad looking slice of lemon to your G&T (although we do like a lemon wheel every now and then!). We have put together a list of 15 unusual and exciting gin garnishes to enrich your favourite tipple. Trust us - these are life changing!
So, are you ready to try something new?
Add some black peppercorns to your G&T for a savoury note, or - even better - muddle a handful of really ripe strawberries, add a good twist of freshly ground black peppercorns, stir it all into your G&T and voila! A little heat, a little spice, the sweetness of strawberries - this combination just works, we promise.
Many people think of gin and tonic as an exclusively summery drink, but we beg to differ!
For a G&T full of the flavours of Christmas, pour your usual gin and tonic into a glass, add in a few orange slices, a little sprinkle of ground nutmeg and garnish with a cinnamon stick. Perfect for curling up by the fireplace as you get ready for Santa’s arrival.
Oh, and cinnamon sticks also work very well with sloe gin (another autumn-winter favourite).
3. Fresh Chilli
Add an instant kick to your gin and tonic by adding a slice or two of fresh red chilli! Do make sure you de-seed the chilli and cut off any pith first - you only want a touch of warmth and flavour, not to set your mouth on fire! You don’t want seeds in your teeth either. Pairs well with another unusual - but equally delicious - garnish…
Another herb perhaps more commonly associated with homemade curry, the citrus flavour of coriander is nevertheless a remarkably complementary garnish for a crisp gin and tonic. Pair it with a few slices of lime and/or fresh red or green chilli for a zingy G&T, or squeeze some lime juice over your drink and add some slices of cucumber alongside a few sprays of coriander for a cooler, more citrus-y affair.
Another exotic plant that might raise a few eyebrows, but why wouldn’t a lemon-scented grass work just as well as any other citrus-flavoured gin garnish, such as lemon or lime?
Strip away the tough outer leaves and snap off a few of the tender inner stalks. For an alternative to the usual gin and tonic, muddle fresh lime, sugar syrup and fresh coriander. Add two shots of gin and top up with ginger beer over ice. Stir with a lemongrass garnish to mix!
Little sticks of rhubarb can be used, or for a prettier option, use a vegetable peeler to slice delicate thin ribbons off the fruit! It will create beautiful scarlet-pinky curls of tart loveliness to add to a pink gin and rhubarb tonic.
For an easy upgrade on that G&T idea, try this: fill a highball glass with ice. Add 60ml gin, 15ml Spritz Syrup and a dash of rhubarb bitters, then top up with soda. Mix gently. Add a sprinkle of pink peppercorns and a swirl of fresh rhubarb to garnish.
7. Mango & Peach
Mango and peach can really bring out the juniper notes in your gin. Pair with a sprig of thyme for a simple twist on a gin and tonic that tastes amazing!
Alternatively, muddle or blitz your fruit (choose nice ripe ones so they break up easily) until they turn into a smooth purée. Strain into your glass over ice, add a shot or two of gin, a few mint leaves and a slice of peach or mango to garnish. Heavenly!
You can also freeze your mango (or peach) slices and use them in place of ice cubes, for a little less dilution.
The herby, fresh smell of rosemary pairs brilliantly with juniper and adds a powerful savoury note to your gin. Pop a sprig in your drink with a slice of orange or pink grapefruit for a beautiful, robust G&T.
Don’t like tonic? Use two parts grapefruit juice to gin over ice, then top up with soda and mix in a little sugar syrup and stir to chill the drink before garnishing with a sprig of rosemary.
9. Edible Flowers
As well as looking incredibly pretty, edible flowers will add new dimensions of flavour and texture to your tipple. Nasturtiums will add a kick of spice to your gin, while rose petals and violas will add sweet, perfumed notes.
Meanwhile, nothing adds a dramatic flourish to your cocktail quite like the scarlet spikes of an unfurling hibiscus flower! However, these crimson blooms are more than mere decoration - they will add floral, slightly spicy, citrus overtones to your gin cocktail - as such, they pair well with lemon-based gins.
Bring the flavours of the Mediterranean to your glass with this gorgeous garnish. Muddle some strawberries, or some mint and cucumber; or add a few chunky slices of fresh grapefruit into your gin and tonic, then garnish with a few basil leaves for a fresh, flavoursome drink.
Alternatively, slice thin ribbons of cucumber and place in a cocktail glass. Squeeze half a lime’s juice into a cocktail shaker and add your gin, a splash of elderflower liqueur, a few leaves of basil, and a few cucumber chunks. Muddle the ingredients well, and then add ice. Shake well, then pour into your glass. Top with tonic and garnish with a few more basil leaves.
11. Cherry Tomatoes
Yes, you read that right! Don’t be scared. The sweet, juicy cherry tomato is a gorgeous addition to your G&T. They go wonderfully with herb-infused gins. The heritage cherries are significantly sweeter than your usual toms.
12. Star Anise
Haven’t tried star anise before? Well, it has a taste a little like liquorice or fennel; some say it’s almost minty. However you’d describe it, trust us: it goes really well with gin!
Pop a few into your G&T straight, or add a few slices of apple and a cinnamon stick for all the apple pie flavours of autumn in a glass. It will taste as impressive as it looks!
Pomegranate seeds don’t just add a pretty rosy hue to your gin but, if you muddle these fleshy gems before adding them to you drink, you will get a very berry nice tipple! Pair with a squeeze of lime to add a sharpness to the sweetness and you are good to go.
You can heighten the pomegranate flavour further by making a sugar syrup by very gently simmering equal parts water, sugar and pomegranate juice until it reduces and thickens into a sticky, sweet syrup!
As well as looking beautiful, lavender adds a heady perfume that really enhances the flavours in gin. Pairs beautifully with lemon and is the ideal garnish for a classic Bee’s Knees - 50ml gin, 50ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, 35ml honey syrup; shake with ice and strain into your glass. That’s it!
Apple is another fruit that provides that lovely combination of sweet and tart flavours as a garnish for your gin. A thin slice wedges easily onto your glass, or, if you’re feeling fancy, create a little fan.
To stop the apple turning brown, rub or spray it with lemon juice.
Not a fan of tonic? Make your very own Appletini by adding 50ml gin, 20ml apple juice, 20 ml apple liqueur and a dash of orange bitters to a shaker with ice, shake, strain and pour!
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