cocktails 101 – the g & t

wpid-20150113_105616.jpgAfter an extended holiday, food for fun is finally ready to kick off 2015. And what better way to ring in the new year than with a cocktail? What with my enrollment in an online bartending course (Groupon made an offer that was too good to refuse) and the insanely awesome Christmas gift of Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail, I’m planning to beef up my drink-making skills in ’15.

My commitment to this project was reflected in my willingness to spend last Saturday in school. Granted, it was Cooks of Crocus Hill culinary school and the class was Classic Cocktails & Basic Mixology so I won’t win anyย  martyr awards. There are worse ways to spend a Saturday.

Going back to basics seemed a good idea. So often I try to pinch-and-dash my way through a cocktail and while this wins points for creativity, the result is rarely everything it could be if I actually knew what I was doing. Back to basics, then. Absolutely.

Instructor Alison Perrier taught the best way to hold a bottle (by the neck) and the quantity of a standard 3-second pour (2 ounces). She made the best Gin and Tonic I’ve ever tasted and upped the ante on the Old-Fashioned by using bourbon-soaked cherries. There was more to the class, which I’ll come back to another day, but today it’s all about the G & T.

I’ve made my share of gin and tonics and have always enjoyed the outcome. But compared to Alison’s, my version is swill. Hers was smooth, sublime. Yet the recipe differed only because it used quinine concentrate and soda water rather than tonic.

Qui-what? Though I’d seen “quinine” listed as an ingredient in tonic water, I’d never given much thought to what it actually is. Still fuzzy on the details (something about it being a cure for malaria way way way back in the day), I do know that tonic water loses its fizz too quickly, making it a product with a short shelf-life once opened. Perrier gets around this by buying quinine (conveniently sold at Cooks of Crocus Hill) and mixing it with soda water in the glass.ย  Her Perfect Gin & Tonic recipe, then, goes like this:

Fill low ball or collins glass with ice. Add 2 ounces gin and 3/4 ounce quinine concentrate. Top with about 4 ounces sparkling water or soda. Stir and drink.

(There was a lime wedge in there, too, though she didn’t include it in her recipe. Whether oversight or because it’s optional, I know not, but lime seems a must, so I squeeze in a bit of juice and serve with the wedge.)

Seeing is believing.

secret ingredient

secret ingredient

wpid-gin-and-tonic.jpg.jpegCheers to you and thank you for reading. I’d love to have you along on my journey, so please come by again. Who knows, we might even try those bourbon-soaked cherries.

43 thoughts on “cocktails 101 – the g & t

  1. Welcome back, and happy new year! Wow, what fun!! So true about tonic having a short shelf life – I make gin and tonics so rarely that by the time I open my tonic it generally never has even a bubble left to it’s name. I just thought that was the nature of the gin and tonic – not fizzy. Must try this!
    I have to love that your mixology instructor’s name was Perrier — this especially while reading a post about her suggestions regarding sparkling water, lol! Funny names indeed! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Look forward to reading more!

    • yes, the Perrier thing seemed apt. Turns out she was born into a boozy sort of family. Dad owned a liquor store (which she has helped expand and now manages) and her brother brews beer. Fun lady. lol no fizz in your g&t. Try it with fizz sometime ๐Ÿ™‚

      Happy New Year to you, too, HD. Would love to hear how things go on your end.

    • lol, I’ll try to balance the booze with more wholesome posts ๐Ÿ˜‰ G & T is one of my faves, in part because it’s refreshing and in part because you make it all in one glass so fewer dishes to rinse. You must make one–too easy not to especially if you already enjoy.

  2. What fun, I would love to attend classes on mixology. I always just use tonic water, never heard of bottled tonic, very cool. Honestly, I never really knew what tonic water was, Gin and tonic used to be my drink, haven’t had one in a long time. Brings back nice memories.

    • the bottled tonic thing is new, I think. You’ll probably be seeing more of it sooner than I seeing as you’re in NY and I’m Midwest.

      Agreed, tonic water is just one of those things that’s never investigated too closely. It just is. Mark’s comment below gives an authentic medicinal use ๐Ÿ™‚

      Glad g&t bring back good memories. Perrier also made a negroni, which had me thinking of you. Cheers!

  3. HI Liz, had cocktail over the holiday at restaurant “Cranberry and Sage” it was made with gin so good!! Oh and I use to have parties that I would serve soaked cherries “Cherry Bomb’s in 151 ๐Ÿ˜›
    Oh those were the days!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • love gin in cocktails. Love bourbon too, of course, but it’s darker and deeper where gin is light and refreshing. Your Cranberry and Sage sounds amazing. As do your cherry bombs!

  4. Cooks, Crocus, Culinary, Classic Cocktail? You are an alliterative master this new year. So glad you did not go to Casserole Class. It seems crazy in is simplicity, the recipe–of course the lime demands a squeeze as well. I did not know what quinine was, though I had read the word. If it’s fizzy and bubbly, I love it. Nothing worse to me than a flat drink, which is why I never buy liter sodas. They go flat the second you open them.

    When you spoke of the smooth G&T, you reminded me of a “Booze Traveler” episode I saw two nights ago on Travel Channel. They pay the host to fly to countries and drink their booze. And after bottles of sake with sumo wrestlers, he went to a bar where the bartender made him a simple cocktail. There was a certain way to shake it and pour it, but the main ingredient was the ice. Yes, ice sculpted in a factory to be made into solid clear blocks that don’t melt quickly and make your drink diluted. He grabbed a pocket knife and a cube of ice block, Edward Scissorhanded it quickly into what appeared to be a huge glass diamond and plinked it into the drink. The host said the drink was sublime. Maybe that fancy ice + quinine would take you to another world.

    • no casserole class, no. Though yes, the alliteration astounds ๐Ÿ˜‰ Agreed on the liter sodas. Only works with a crowd on a budget. Am a fan of my soda maker–fizzy water always at the ready.

      Wow on the ice block–a student asked Alison about the fancy ices and she wasn’t overly impressed. Though it’s true the smaller cubes water down a drink too quickly. A friend gave me whiskey stones for my birthday a few years ago and I’ve yet to use. My bad–should give them a whirl. Would love to see Booze Traveler. What a gig. Sake with sumo wrestlers–let the alliteration continue.

  5. Glad to see you back, and with a cocktail post to boot! I look forward to more cocktail education this year, teach away! Wish we had fun classes like that here. Guess I’ll have to suffer through and drink like a commoner. I hope to have a drink,post soon as well, thanks to a new discovery over the holidays!

  6. Yes, instructor Perrier appears to have taught you well, student Liz. Did she have a bubbly personality?

    About quinine, here’s an aside for Liz-loving readers. A few months ago, I was having charlie-horse problems in my calves after a pill-prescription change. I called my doc, and he said I should hunt down quinine water and drink a few ounces before bedtime to solve my knotty muscle cramping woes. I settled for diet tonic water with quinine as its bold ingredient, and it worked from the first sample. Voila.

    It sure sounds great in concentrated form with the soda water and squeezed lime wedge. Is your soda water our club soda, I wonder? Regional dialects …

    One little problem with this whole kit-and-kaboodle. I do not like gin. Vodka is my clear liquor of preference.

    I do like that you are taking a cocktail course. Bravo to you going back to school, Liz.

    • Very cool quinine story. It’s the first quinine story I’ve ever heard! Glad if the tonic worked. I’ve used diet, too. This concentrate has about 20 calories per tablespoon, so would make a good mixer even for virgin drinks.

      Yes, soda water is sparkling water is club soda. At least to me. Would you drink a vodka tonic?

      Yep, Perrier was bubbly. Lots of fun. She gave us a handout of recipes, but also started making other drinks (“going rogue” she called it) as the spirit (bahahahaha) moved her. A lovely young lady.

      An aside: Saw Katy Vernon at Clare’s band concert tonight as her daughter was also in the band. Said she’s working on a new album.

      • Yes, I would drink a vodka tonic. Vodka anything, really. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

        Going rogue. I like bubbly Ms. Perrier even more now.

        And that’s cool news on Katy Vernon’s new album. I hope it sells, or whatever that means in today’s musical realm.

  7. A bar-tending course sounds like a FABULOUS way to ring in the new year! If this drink (umm…yum) is any indication of what’s to come, I can’t wait to sip (err…see) more! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks, Nancy–glad to have you alongside. Still forming a bit of a plan, but I hope to balance cocktails with recipes a bit more wholesome (and less intoxicating ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Please do come back! Appreciate your kind words very much.

  8. Love this post, Liz. It has everything from fun names to fun liquids. Although I’m with Mark, not a big gin fan. It taste like tar to me. Preferred vodka before all the allergies kicked in.

    I raise my glass to you! Happy new year!

  9. Sounds both interesting and entertaining! Back in culinary school, many years ago, I experimented with cocktails, but by now forgot most of them, except the more known ones. It would be great to follow your adventures in the cocktail world. ๐Ÿ™‚
    By the way, I love drinking Tonic Water as is, or with a drop of lemon. Love that bitter-sweet taste. And yes, it does wonders for muscle cramps.

    • Thanks, Ronit ๐Ÿ™‚ Hadn’t known you’d been to culinary school–I bow down to your superior knowledge!! Our instructor talked about sipping the quinine with a drop or two of bitters topped with soda water, saying it was her go-to after having too many and still wanting to sip something. Sounds good to me! This tonic concentrate has a few other flavor essences that make it that much better. Very excited to have found it. Good to know about muscle cramps. Appreciate you stopping by very much.

  10. Oh a woman of my own heart! Happy new year. Great cocktail recipe. I love your attendance at all of these schools and your fancy french club. ๐Ÿ™‚ You really are a wealth of information and you bring such a great perspective to cooking and eating. I love reading your blog.

    • Thanks, Amanda. Not sure I buy into that “wealth of information” thing, but I like to talk food and drink. You’re very kind with your words! Happy New Year to you, too. Wishing we could share more than a virtual toast ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I am so excited that you have started a bar tending course, you are going to flourish ๐Ÿ˜€
    Definitely a happy new year no?
    If you need a drinks tester for the new fancy ones you will make, I am here ๐Ÿ˜›

    Choc Chip Uru

  12. Liz, I could not agree more that a cocktail is the perfect way to kick off the year! That is really cool you are taking a class. I have always thought doing that would be awesome! Mainly because then I could make super sweet cocktails at home ๐Ÿ™‚ Love G&T’s and I guess I need to try this version now! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • good to see you Lilly Sue! Back from your travels? Am sure you’ll be taking classes again at some point, but hopefully fun and voluntary classes. You could be a cicerone? And yes, you must get yourself some quinine concentrate ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for coming by!

  13. Cocktail school on a Saturday? Thanks for taking one for the team! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Quinine certainly sounds like an old-timey medicine. That bottle alone is reason to have some on the shelf!

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  16. Welcome back & I wish you a happy, Fun & Culinary 2015 filled with tasty cocktails & recipes! This is a fun cocktail I made yesterday! My hubby Peter & I both loved it! x

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