The Spanish Are Loving Their Gin and TonicsJanuary 22, 2013
I’ve been staying up to date with the gin boom throughout the U.S. as this has been an exciting time in craft gin distillation. And logistically it makes a ton of sense. With no requirements for a lengthy aging process but still a ton of room for creativity and craftsmanship, gin is a really wonderful spirit to be producing. But somehow, even with staying well connected to the goings-on stateside, I somehow missed something massive in the gin world. It turns out, if you want to see some passion for gin, and particularly gin and tonics, it’s time to look towards Spain.
Saturday night we were cruising through the LES after another amazing meal at Cocoron (you guys have to check this Soba spot out if you haven’t already), and we stumbled upon Cata. Cata is a highly rated and energetic tapas spot which having now seen the menu in action, is on the top of my lists to check out for food. But it was the gin and tonic menu that Nobler Mark had enjoyed previously that convinced us to stop in for a seat at the bar. This was a good call!
As you can see the gin and tonic menu is a massive list of flavors meant to act as supporting characters to the main show: quality gin and tonic. We tried a number of the options and most were really delicious. The grapefruit, while simple and straightforward made us all agree that no standard gin and tonic should be served again, without this ruby red citrus. More subtle but amazingly delicious was the kumquat and clove which gained in momentum as the flavors had a chance to mingle. Some others were less successful like the thai chili which I had really high hopes for going in. The simplicity of throwing ingredients into a gin and tonic works for stronger flavors but these dried chilis never had the opportunity to impart their spice and earthiness.
But without a doubt, my favorite on the list of options we tried was the kaffir lime. I have never actually seen a kaffir lime in person, but the bartender was kind enough to show us one of these guys which is about a 45 on the 1-10 scale of awesome. Notes of almost lemongrass combined with intense and slightly sweet lime characteristics makes the kaffir variety complex and sort of shocking. I couldn’t stop gushing over the fragrance simply coming off the drink itself. This one is a must order.
The list at Cata however was only the tipping point in my realization of what the gin and tonic means to Spain. After a bit of research, it really is amazing how the country has embraced this cocktail as one of their own, and are constantly pushing the envelope on what the perfect concoction can be. Ironically, one of my fellow blogging buddies over at Boy Drinks World, was discussing the same topic this weekend. Looks like we’re all starting to take notice! I’m just glad I now know to order a G+T the next time I’m in Spain.