Rain, hail or shine, it’s always a lazy summer afternoon with you. Close your eyes and you can pretty much smell the cucumber sandwiches. When it comes to G&Ts, you’re the byword for indulgence, the kind of drink you’d knock back while reclining under a palm tree as someone gives you a foot rub. You look to your left and there’s the Obamas, holding up a frosted glass, not a care in the world. They deserve this holiday and so do you. Now make it even better with one of these garnishes.
Make way for the OG. Grapefruit was the original kale: a niche, not always pleasant food that once promised a cure for all our earthly ills. The days of the grapefruit breakfast are long gone, but you still remember that exquisite line between pleasure and pain, juice flooding your palate with so much tartness and flavour it edged on the unbearable. But you know what would take the edge off? Balance that grapefruit burn just right? Of course you do.
We all remember the first time we saw someone place a stick of cucumber in a Hendricks and tonic. It was like a veil lifting from our eyes, a realisation that the old rules no longer applied. Perhaps it seems a little passé these days, but the humble cucumber still has a lot to offer. Fresh, refined and with the gentlest hint of melon, it’s pure summer in a glass. Just thank your stars we’re more enlightened than the 17th century, when nutritionists deemed cucumbers potentially poisonous and fit only for cows. Hence the original name: cowcumber. Yes, this is an actual fact.
What’s not to love about a mandarin? One of the four original citrus fruits – alongside citron, pomelo and papeda – mandarins are sweeter, more refined and tangier than their oafish offspring, the orange. In Chinese culture they’re a symbol of good fortune and hopes for the new year, and in G&Ts they’re a playful way of boosting sweetness, without sacrificing any of your gin’s floral character. Toss a couple of wedges in the glass, wander over to the roulette table and let Lady Luck be your guide.
Anyone can chuck a wedge of lemon into a G&T, but it takes an artiste to adorn it with flourishes of citrus peel. Pomelo, lime, mandarin, orange, citron itself – the possibilities are vast and kaleidoscopic. Combine the rinds of two fruits and watch people lose their minds. And if you’re feeling any doubt about the matter, consider this: the skin of citrus fruits is where most of the nutrients hang out. You pretty much have to have another G&T after hearing that.
You can’t argue with a classic. There’s still plenty of purists who’ll argue that the only fit addition to a G&T is a freshly cut wedge of lemon. The sheer sharpness of it demands your respect. Mixed with a sweeter gin, the result is a surprisingly gentle affair that effortlessly balances acidity with smoothness, offering the palate…Ah, heck, we don’t have to convince you. You’ve been putting lemon in your G&T since high school.
It’s nice to think that in a more enlightened age Jane Austen would have enjoyed lavender in her G&T. It’s the owner of a uniquely dry, herbal perfume that speaks of well-kept country houses and things covered in lace. Standing proudly above the rim of your glass, a sprig of lavender is an olfactory reminder of gins long gone, and gins soon to be drunk. So, inhale deeply, drink slowly and indulge your inner Mr Darcy. Why, Ms Bennett, you do look ravishing. Gin?