HYDERABAD : Earlier last week, we celebrated #WorldGinDay and much to my surprise. Gin has become extremely popular, so much so that the entire world is experiencing a ‘ginnaissance’ as we speak. The closest I got to understanding gin was when the late Sean Connery would order a dry gin martini, “shaken not stirred” which has become synonymous with the famous spy movies.
Fast forward to 2013, The Great Gatsby, set in the prohibition era, shows the iconic poster of Leonardo DiCaprio holding a glass of gin martini. The spirit was the author Scott Fitzgerald’s tipple of choice, and so naturally he made it his most famous protagonist’s go-to drink.
Over the past few years, gin has been celebrated as something of a revival. Pop into any of the bars and there is no denying that it has become the most sought-after drink. From being associated as a bedraggled drink in its early days to now as a glistening and punctilious one, the spirit has had a rather colourful history.
As a self-confessed novice on the topic, I was more keen than ever to take a trip down the artisanal gin rabbit hole. There’s a huge world of expertise, craftsmanship and appreciation out there, and that armed with a little knowledge, there’s a wonderland to be explored.
But what exactly is gin? It’s rather a dry alcohol which is flavoured with the berries of the juniper. It is reckoned that the name comes from the Dutch word ‘genever’ which means juniper. While juniper is one ingredient that all gins have in common, the botanicals and the distilling process is what gives birth to so many brands across the world.
Much like a chef, every distiller likes to flavour their gin differently. They all have their own unique recipe of botanicals and spices that they like to use to help bring their spirits to life. Depending on the flavour they’re trying to achieve, whether it’s more citrusy or floral, some of the most commonly used botanicals include nutmeg, coriander, citrus peel, cardamom, cinnamon and almond. A fine gin is reckoned to contain six to ten botanicals.
Hyderabad’s craze for gin is showing no signs of slowing down either. Walk into any of the brunches in town and you’d notice a trend of Gin & Tonic replace the traditional sangria pitchers. The city’s mixologists have embraced the trend in full force. Finding Frenny at SodaBottleOpenerWala is one of my absolute favourites.
The cocktail is an invigorating gin and tonic spritzer with subtle nuances of sliced mandarin and cucumber that make it the perfect summer drink. Aman Dua, a popular beverage programmer and celebrity bartender at Proxy Bar & Café, has been creating gin-based cocktails with local flavours. Taking a leaf out of Hyderabad’s heritage, he created Nukkad Chai where the deeper-toned gin melds beautifully with the earthy notes of tea.
Want to have more conversations around gin? You’d find me with a glass of ‘Stop Whining’ at the city’s only speakeasy bar that takes you back in the jazz age. You could take an educated guess if this concoction is what’s inside Leonardo DiCaprio’s never-empty martini glass in Baz Luhrmann’s screen adaption.
(Vishal Fernandes is a profound business traveller and a widely recognised luxury lifestyle blogger)
Haute Dining Vishal Fernandes