The classic G & T is a summer mainstay for alcohol drinkers but gin is a great ingredient for other summery drinks as well. We talk to Niki Brown, Dancing Sands Mixologist, for four easy and delicious gin-based drinks recipes to try this summer.
Q: For people who are intimidated by gin, as a stand-alone drink or as an ingredient, why is it so good to work with when creating drinks?
Niki: Gin by design is meant to be mixed, whereas other spirits are made to standalone. You can drink tequila and mescal as shots, and vodka is served chilled with food (zakuski) in its native land. Bourbon, rye and whiskey drinkers might add some ice or a splash of water. Gin is meant to be mixed, as the botanicals (herbs, spices etc.) come to life in cocktails and add complexity to the drink. This is why so many classic cocktails call for gin. The increasing popularity of gin has allowed for there to be more creative flavours available. Dancing Sands’ Sauvignon Blanc and Sun-Kissed Gins are perfect examples of the diversity of gin flavours now available.
Q: What are some good summer flavour combinations for a gin-based cocktail?
Niki: For ingredient inspiration, I always head out to my garden to see what needs to be harvested and go from there. Herbs and fresh fruits tend to go well together: mint & lime, rosemary & lemon, berries, all these things that grow in abundance over the summer months make for beautiful cocktails. To start experimenting with gin flavour, I’d suggest trying different gin and tonic pairings to develop your palate.
Q: What food, in your opinion, pairs well with it?
Niki: Dancing Sands’ Sun-Kissed Gin is perfectly paired with an afternoon platter of cheeses, cured meats, olives, pickles and so on. The sweetness of Sun-Kissed Gin balanced with its spicy undertones make for the perfect palate cleanser for rich and fragrant foods.
Q: A ridiculous but festive question: is there a Christmassy cocktail you can make with gin?
Niki: There’s always a cocktail you can make from gin! For a warm Kiwi Christmas, I’d recommend a Sun-Kissed Spritz (see below for recipe); they’re only a couple of ingredients, are super easy to make, and look very festive.
What’s an easy way someone can spruce up a classic G&T?
Niki: Number one tip is lots of good and fresh ice. We don’t want the party ice leftover from a birthday party three months ago – old ice will pick up other scents and tastes from around your freezer and this will come through in your G&T. Aside from ice, the other way to level up your G&T is by experimenting with garnishes; we love using dehydrated citrus from our neighbours Tangmere Grove, rosemary sprigs, mint sprigs and edible flowers, feel free to get creative!
Easy summer cocktail recipes
Sun & Soda
– 30ml Sun-Kissed Gin
– 60ml Soda water
Grab your favourite wine glass, add ice, 30ml of Sun-Kissed Gin, mix with soda water, and add Little Beauties Raspberries to garnish.
– 30ml Sun-Kissed Gin
– 60ml Tohu Rewa Blanc de Blanc (feel free to sub in prosecco)
Pour 30ml of Sun-Kissed Gin into a champagne flute or coupe glass, top with 60ml of bubbles and add Little Beauties Raspberries to garnish.
– 30ml Sun-Kissed gin
– 20ml Barkers Ginger
– 10ml Aperol
– 15ml Fresh lime juice
Charge all ingredients except Sun-Kissed Gin in a soda siphon. Pour 30ml of Sun-Kissed Gin into a cocktail glass over ice. Top with mix from soda siphon, and garnish with fresh lime wedge.
– 30ml Sunkissed Gin
– 10ml St Germaine Liqueur
– 10ml Lillet Blanc vermouth
– 25ml fresh lemon juice
– 2 dashes orange bitters
Stir in gin goblet glass over ice. Top with soda. Garnish with edible flowers.