Classic Gin & Tonic from Fagiani’s
The bar at the Thomas in Napa puts their own spin on the enduring cocktail
There is a classic style of gin known as “London Dry,” which is best categorized by famous household names such as Tanqueray, Gordon’s and Beefeater. The name, however, refers to the style of gin, since a London dry gin doesn’t actually have to be produced in London (ironically enough). In fact Beefeater is the last of these famous names that is actually still produced within the city limits of London (although there are some small boutique distilleries opening up). Beefeater still has the big juniper notes that characterize this style but is highly floral and aromatic with big perfumed citrus notes of lemon and orange. It makes a lovely Martini (with a twist, please) and its higher alcohol content (47%) means that it can stand up to mixers such as tonic water and it makes the best base gin for a Tom Collins or Gin Fizz (IMHO). A classic gin, beautifully made by industry legend Desmond Payne (who has been making gin for 40 years!), don’t be fooled into thinking this is a boring gin that perhaps your grandmother drank (maybe she did, God bless her) as this is one of the best gins on the market today.
Our tonic water for this particular drink is a recipe of Linden Pride and is made in-house from a mix of quinine, lemongrass, grapefruit peel, lemon peel, chamomile, rose water, orange flower water, coconut water and sugar. It’s amazing but also in limited supply on a busy night.
Linden says: “One of my favourite drinks of all time is the Gin & Tonic. On summer afternoons, there is no better way to begin your evening (or finish your afternoon) than a crisp G&T — bright, fresh, citric, long, refreshing. The only issue being, after one the amount of sugar used to balance the quinine in the tonic water is too much for your palate. We began experimenting with the different flavor profiles and components of more traditional recipes for tonic water at a time before mass production by Schweppes and other big soda companies. We found that the amount of sugar in modern tonic water was greater than Coke and Sprite — in an attempt to balance the bitterness of the quinine. Initial experiments reduced the quinine — and the sugar — where by upon further exploration we began playing with aromats and fresh herbs and adding them to a ‘flavored’ water, balanced with the sugar and quinine. Lemongrass, mint, rose, orange blossom, young coconut all contributed to create a fresh, subtle, delicious water that we brought to life with citric acid, quinine and a splash of sugar. Closer to 0.5g of sugar per ounce (as opposed to Schweppes which is closer to 2.9g per ounce). Delicious.”
To make the beautiful ice “spears,” we buy special Collins rubber moulds from Cocktail Kingdom. We fill these with water that we add a little fresh cucumber juice to so that it slowly melts and infuses its flavor slowly into the drink.
2 oz. Beefeater gin
House tonic water
Combine gin and tonic in a highball glass over ice; stir. Garnish with sliced cucumber and cucumber “spear.”
Thanks to Linden Pride and Naren Young of AvroKO and the whole crew at Fagiani’s Bar at the Thomas.