Striking and sophisticated, you’re a G&T for those with an adventurous edge. Think Indiana Jones after a hard day at the office. Most people haven’t heard of you, but those who have know what they’re talking about. You’re a drink of many layers and hidden depths. An enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in peppery overtones. You like to stand on your own two feet, but if there’s a good enough party on offer, well, you’ll make an exception. We introduce: your garnishes.
Forget Mary Jane. Rosemary is the only herb your G&T needs. An old favourite repurposed for new ends, rosemary goes with your gin for the same reason it goes on your Sunday roast. It’s peppery, woody, fragrant. Against a savoury backdrop, it comes through like a superhero’s sidekick – full of enthusiasm but always knowing when to hold back. In Medieval times, rosemary was thought to be a love charm. Pour a gin for the object of your affection and give it a whirl.
Cherry tomatoes need no introduction. Rich, succulent and almost literally bursting with flavour, these shining red orbs are the equivalent of throwing two freshly cocked flavour grenades into your G&T. A dash of archly delivered sweetness in a package that just makes people feel happy, dammit, cherry tomatoes may not be the most subtle of garnishes, but they’re brash, confident and ready to party, and sometimes that’s all you really want out of life.
As they say in the classics, “thyme heals all things, especially boring G&Ts”. The Egyptians used thyme to embalm corpses and the Romans always kept a sprig around to protect themselves from poison. It’s been a plague protector, a courage bestower and a signal from the fairy realm, but we think thyme’s really found its place as a winning adornment to a spicier gin. It’s piney, almost minty and smells like a dry forest. Drop a sprig in and it’s like a passageway to Narnia.
Alright, now we’re getting fancy. An Australian classic with rich golden flowers and that ever familiar, lightly honeyed scent, wattle blooms are a crowd-pleasing way of bringing some sensory pizazz to your G&T. But where this pairing really comes alive is in the wattleseeds themselves. Offering a subtly spicy, almost coffee aroma and a nutty flavour, wattleseed is the botanical de jour of Australia’s gin start-ups. Add a few to your tall glass and remember why you still call this spirit home.
The grown-up, easygoing cousin of the chilli, the humble capsicum is a delight of gentle spice and garden aroma served in three fun colours. But when it comes to your G&T, don’t even think about going yellow or red: the green capsicum is the only game in town. Plucked before it has the chance to yellow and then redden on the vine – that’s right: they’re all the same – green capsicum retains some of the crispness and acidity you associate with unripe produce, yet with enough sweetness to cut through your gin’s savoury backdrop.
Big, bold gins deserve big, bold garnishes and nothing is bigger and bolder than basil. The word basil comes from the Greek word for king – basileus for those playing at home – and its reputation precedes it: even to this day chefs call it the “king of herbs”. Cloves on the nose and and peppery sweet in the mouth, it transforms your G&T from an entreé into a main meal. In ancient times, basil used to be considered your ticket into the afterlife. Now it’s just your ticket to flavour country. Bottoms up.