Libations: Capitol Bar's Kevin Hopper gives a twist to the classic Gin & Tonic
What is the taste of summer? Watermelon? Corn on the cob? Barbecue ribs? Ice cream? For me, it’s a classic and easy-to-make gin and tonic. That, along with the smell of fresh-cut grass and feet in the pool, are all telltale signs that summer is in full swing.
I recently re-tasted a cucumber and rosemary-infused gin and tonic that I wrote about last year and “poof!” it was instant summer. Once that first taste hits, it’s gin and tonics until the leaves start to fall. As much as I love the aforementioned “L’ete Verte,” I came across another version of the classic gin and tonic toward the end of last summer called “My Father’s Gin & Tonic,” of which I am currently hooked on.
Gin and tonics are decidedly an English invention. However, gin itself originated in Holland as early as the 14th century and exuded a much maltier taste than today’s popular London dry gins. And though it’s unfortunate that gin is not as well-received by people’s palates than the rather flavorless vodka, a vodka tonic can’t touch the gin and tonic in terms of brightness and complexity.
This recipe, printed in the June 2016 issue of Imbibe magazine, surprisingly uses very little lime juice and focuses more on the lime oils held in the rind. This will yield a more bitter version of the gin and tonic you might be used to, but trust that the result will be more intriguing and (at least for me) satisfying.
The name of this drink is taken from New York bartender Toby Cecchini’s father, who was a chemical engineer in the ’50s. He claimed that this technique uses the gin’s properties as a solvent when mixed with the lime oils. Since I am no chemical engineer, I’ll say he was correct. Happy summer!
Kevin Hopper’s father would never order a gin and tonic, but if he did, Kevin would make him one of these at Capitol Bar on State Street.
My Father’s Gin & Tonic
2.5 to 3 ounces London Dry Gin (Tanqueray is classic; Hendricks gilds the lily)
Rinds from 1 lime, julienned
Slice a cleaned and dried ripe lime in half and juice it — I suggest using a lime squeezer. Set aside the juice and save it for a margarita or gimlet; you won’t need it for this drink. Julienne the two rinds and add to a mixing glass. Add gin. Note: an 1/2 to 1 ounce of gin is used because the spent rinds will soak up some gin, so to get the standard 2 ounces back, you have to add in slightly more.
Muddle the lime rinds in the gin for a minute. In a old-fashioned glass, add ice and fill about 3/4 full of tonic water. Strain the muddled gin and lime mixture over a spoon into the glass so it floats on top of the tonic water. Then spoon the julienned lime pulp into the drink. Stir it all together and enjoy your summer.