States of Desire – American Gin Adventures

ginpanelAs you may have seen from my review of Cardinal Gin I’ve been travelling in the USA this week.

It’s interesting that the Craft Gin movement hasn’t quite yet caught on in America in the same way that it captured the imagination in the UK, though clearly things are changing quickly.  This week The Guardian reported that British Gin exports have hit £500m – the USA is the biggest export market.

I’ve really struggled to find domestic gins to try – it seems “Hendricks, Bombay, Tanqueray and Beefeater” is the canned answer to the question “What gins do you have?”.  There’s is a massive desire here, as witnessed by the explosion in US Craft Beers, for consumers to find ‘authentic’ ‘small batch’ ‘local’ ‘craft’ products.  (To be fair this appetite extends well beyond the drinks market).

I think is a very good thing for American Gin fans – and visitors!  We just need to a little while longer for the growing demand to translate into increased choice. If Cardinal is anything to go by I’m looking forward to being offered some really exciting domestic gins on future visits.

What has been a problem with nearly all of the G&Ts I’ve tried is the really appalling tonic that comes with it.  This began on the flight with Canada Dry Tonic water which to me had a really overwhelming metalic taste, to Seagrams – again the taste completely suffocated the gin – although to be fair (please see middle right picture) the bartender made my G&T with crushed ice (WTF?).  Mostly though the tonic water has been from “the pump” – it seems this in my experience the slightly flat and bland water that has accompanies most of my gins.  This is apparently is “a generic Pepsi product”.

Last week I was very excited when I noticed a “Spiced Pumpkin Tonic” and tweeted – now deleted – how excited I was before I’d finished my drink!  By the end of the beverage my mouth felt a little bit sticky and sickly.

Of course tonic water, like gin, is a personal thing – and different gins deserve different tonics and different garnishes.  I’ve of course flirted with a myriad of different tonic waters over the years in pursuit of “The Perfect Gin and Tonic” – flavoured, plain, diet there is no right answer, but it should compliment, not overwhelm the product (particularly if you’re paying £50 for a bottle of gin!).

So …. What is the best Gin and Tonic water combination?  I don’t know – but I do feel a blind tasting coming on.