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A Special G&T - So it was out of season . . .

MGZ Apr 3, 2009 06:25 AM

OK, by way of preface, I need to point out that although I am a dyed in the wool Gin drinker, I believe that G&T's are in a category with white trousers - Memorial Day to Labor Day only. That being said, I couldn't help myself . . .

A little over a week ago, I was in a strange liquor store nowhere near our home. I noticed that they carried Stirring's tonic water. Having never seen it before, and optomistic that it would be worth it, I ( although cringing at the $5.99 price tag) bought two four packs of the little glass bottles - "Memorial Day is not far off," I rationalized.

The next day a friend made me a gift of DH Krahn's gin. Not only had I never tasted the spirit, I was (shamefully) ignorant of its existence.

Now, I suppose you all can see where this is going. I couldn't resist. When I arrived home at the end of a long day, realizing there were limes in the house and that the temperature had at least been in the 50s, I made myself a drink. I filled a tall glass with ice, added roughly equal parts of gin and tonic, and garnished with lime. FANTASTIC!

Perhaps it was the fact that it had been months since I had tasted the combination. Perhaps it was the beautiful citrus noted of the Khran. Perhaps it was the not-too-sweet, well-balanced flavor of the Stirrings. All I know for certain is that it was delicious and I plan on stocking up for summer!

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  1. mrgrotto RE: MGZ Apr 3, 2009 01:31 PM

    You should try Q Tonic and Fever Tree Tonic. I like the Stirrings, but I find it looses its fizz a bit too much too quickly. Q is super dry and a few bucks more than the Stirrings - real quinine and sweetened with organic agave nectar. Fever Tree is, if I remember correctly, closely priced to the Stirrings and similar in taste.

    If you really wanna go for it, you can also make your own at home. Lemme know if that interests you. The trickiest part is finding quinine but there's some really good online resources for that so there's *almost* no excuse.

    7 Replies
    1. re: mrgrotto
      foodnwine RE: mrgrotto Apr 3, 2009 02:15 PM

      My favorite tonic so far is Whole Foods 365 brand.A definite stepup from Canada Dry and Scheppes and not much more expensive.I have seen Q and Stirrings,but haven't been willing to spring for the additional $$.Do you feel these brands are worth the extra cost?I am an avid G&T drinker and it is getting close to the season.

      1. re: foodnwine
        mrgrotto RE: foodnwine Apr 3, 2009 02:32 PM

        Well... That depends on your salary, I suppose.

        I started making my own at home and it's waaaay cheaper (like, pennies on the dollar) so it's a little tough to swallow the cost. But I also get paid peanuts and disposable income is an oxymoron. My issue, price-wise, is that gin and tonics are so easy drinking and so easy to prepare that when I commit to a night of them, I often drink... well... in excess. And considering the Q tonic is $2/bottle [read: $2/serving] and then you add in the cost of the gin, it turns a casual night of refreshment into a pretty pricey endeavor. However, I think they're definitely worth checking out. And if I wasn't making my own quinine, it'd be extremely tough to go back to the utterly false Schweppes "Tonic."

        The other big issue with Q Tonic, is that people are so used to Schweppes in all of its fake glory, that they find Q too light and dry and not very "Tonic-y." Fever Tree is a little more middle of the road and might be the way to go for most, both cost-wise and expectations-wise.

        I've not had the 365 but it sounds like a step in the right direction.

        1. re: foodnwine
          mrgrotto RE: foodnwine Apr 3, 2009 03:06 PM

          That's the can-do spirit! (Get it? Spirit? Gin? Right...)

          The two things you're going to have trouble tracking down are quinine and, I forgot earlier, citric acid. Citric acid can be found online but it's probably available wherever jarring/pickling supplies can be found. I get mine from Christina's in Cambridge or Cambridge Naturals in... you guessed it. I usually go here for my quinine: ktbotanicals.com. Tell them Joe sent you. Actually don't. They'll have no idea what you're talking about. Also, buy lots cause you're gonna use it and quinine will suddenly be unavailable for months at a time.

          I was originally using a Jeffrey Morgenthaler recipe like this one:

          Well. It wasn't "like" that one, it was that one. It's a fair place to start but I find that adding the juice and zest from three citrus fruits (lemon, lime and orange) as well as the lemongrass was just too muddled; there really wasn't the defined citrus note that I prefer. So I omitted the orange juice and replaced it with the juice of two limes. I've also screwed around with using fresh ginger both in addition to and in place of the allspice with much success. Adding a bit of orange flower water is also a treat.

          A few important notes:
          1.) When compiling a shopping list based on the above recipe, be sure to include the agave nectar! It's not listed in the ingredients and isn't mentioned until much later in the recipe and is easily overlooked. I say this because I might not be the only person who sucks at reading recipes and always, in the excitement of the moment, gets ahead of themselves.

          2.) The allspice is CRUCIAL! Crucial, I say! Don't skimp and definitely don't consider it superfluous.

          3.) Definitely don't feel constrained by the recipe. Improvise with what you have on hand and with a culinary eye, screw around. A seasonal tonic with a touch of desert spices around the holidays? A perfect excuse to G&T it up prior to summertime!

          4.) Depending on the type of quinine you get (red seems to be the only one available of late), the syrup you prepare will be red. You shouldn't be alarmed and neither should your guests.

          5.) Filtering sucks. Most of the quinine you're going to find is a fine powder. If you find a less pulverized version, please let me know. Straining through cheese cloth is not enough. Coffee filters take FOREVER and just got clogged up and are, in my experience, useless. What I do is poor the pre-sweetened liquid into the tallest, most narrow vessel you have (a few pint glasses is good), let the sediment settle for a few hours, and with a turkey baster, gently siphon off the precious goods. Or if you don't give a hoot about some particulate, don't filter at all (just be sure you shake the bottle well each time you use it or the last use will be a sludge of spent quinine mud). The business about the pint glasses? Whenever I've used a wider--mouthed resting place, there's always a few ounces of liquid that I can't siphon off without upsetting the quinine sludge. The wider the radius of the vessel, the more liquid becomes irretrievable. A more narrow one only leaves behind a bit. Clever, no? Make a difference? Not really.

          6.) Don't sweeten with table sugar. Boring, one dimensional waste of time. I've not experimented but I imagine demerara or something else would work but the agave nectar is good enough to not be tempted to stray. Except that one time when I forgot to buy agave nectar and the bag of Domino sugar was calling my name seductively. Results were less than seductive.

          7.) A soda syphon becomes useful. Even more useful is one of these bad Larrys (Larries?):

          Once you've prepared your syrup, you're ready to go. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice: 1 pt. syrup plush a dash and 2 pt. assertive dry gin (Plymouth works grandly), shake. Pour into a rocks glass, and then splash in a few ounces of soda water to taste. Stir. Garnish with lime peel. Smile.

          [Somehow this ended up as a reply to myself as opposed to a reply to MGZ. Sorry!]

          1. re: mrgrotto
            quazi RE: mrgrotto Apr 3, 2009 05:49 PM

            will grinding up cinchona bark work for the quinine powder. I just happened to spy some in my local hispanic market the other day

            1. re: quazi
              mrgrotto RE: quazi Apr 4, 2009 12:00 PM

              I haven't been able to find the bark online. Do you know who there supplier is?

              There's a good number of Brazilian markets nearby. I'll have to poke around.

            2. re: mrgrotto
              lulubelle RE: mrgrotto Apr 5, 2009 03:58 AM

              couldn't you use one of those grave separating pitchers to strain out the quinine? You pour your liquid in, let it sit and the yucky stuff settles to the bottom and can be strained out by the spout attached to the bottom. Seems like it would work.

              1. re: lulubelle
                mrgrotto RE: lulubelle Apr 6, 2009 05:12 AM

                Thought of that. Unfortunately, the quinine sludge is too dense to pour freely.

        2. MGZ RE: MGZ Apr 3, 2009 01:39 PM

          I have never been able to find either Q or Fever Tree locally. When I stumbled upon the Stirrings, it was an Indiana Jones moment for me.

          As for making my own - that sounds AWESOME!

          1 Reply
          1. re: MGZ
            ted RE: MGZ Apr 4, 2009 09:55 AM

            Ditto here. We get the Whole Foods tonic. Have had/enjoyed Q brought back from a trip to NYC, but I don't know if I'd buy regularly based on price. It's slightly annoying that Colicchio's relatively new Craft outpost in ATL has the Fever Tree in their bar, but I don't think there's anywhere you can get it retail here.

            Haven't embarked on DIY. Maybe one of these days.

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