Photo by Tara Stevens
I have just made myself one hell of a gin and tonic.
You probably don’t find this terribly impressive because, a) let's face it, how hard can it be and b) if you happened to know I was on a January detox, you will now also know that I have failed miserably. Ho hum.
Back to the gin, or more accurately Gin Corner (C/Rocafort 19, Sant Antoni. 93 423 4313. Open Tue-Sat 5pm-11pm. Metro Poble Sec), an off-shoot shop of the gin and tonic powerhouse that is Scotsman Mike Cruickshank’s Bar Xix (www.xixbar.com). Here you will find between 85 and 90 specialist gins and the kind of personal service that gives new meaning to the sacred art of off-licensing. You could just come in and score a bottle of Beefeater, plenty of people do. But the idea is that you come for guidance.
“We ask people who the gin is for,” explains Nuria who runs the place. “Is their preference for something dry, aromatic, or sweet? How they will serve it—in cocktails, with tonic or on the rocks.” After telling her that I pretty much drunk any gin under the sun, any time after the sun goes down, she recommends 6 O’Clock Gin (€21.80). “It’s smooth but dry, good aromas and a splash of floral sweetness,” she told me, “and it’s perfect for the hour.” Two hours later at 9pm I find it to be the perfect precursor to roast fish, Catalan-style on a bed of potatoes and onions. It’s soft, gentle, soothing almost after what wasn’t the greatest of days, and didn’t kill my taste buds.
She does add a couple of helpful hints for making a perfect G&T. Add the ice first, pour the gin over the top (5-7cl is the perfect amount), top up with tonic water to taste, and finish with the garnish, ideally lime not lemon, but beyond that the world is your oyster. For Gin Mare (made locally in Vilanova i la Geltrú)—a particularly herbal brew that uses rosemary, thyme and basil among its various eight botanicals—Nuria recommends adding a small branch of rosemary as a garnish. Most important she says, is to choose a glass with a large bowl, or at least, never cram your gin into a long, tall glass—it’s aromatic—it needs air and movement to come alive.
Tasting courses are available for two or more with one week's notice. They cost €29 per person. I think that deserves a cheers.