What to drink ... gin
A gin and tonic was one of Ernest Hemingway's preferred tipples. Photo: istock
UP TO $35
Gordon's London Dry Gin, $35
IN EVERY gin joint, bar or pub there is a bottle of Gordon's on the shelf - it's the world's most popular. Being ubiquitous means some aficionados pooh-pooh it, but it's inexpensive and reliably good. Sure, taken neat it isn't the most complex or smoothest but it has some juniper punch without being overpowering. As a base for cocktails, Gordon's blends brilliantly. It was Ernest Hemingway's favourite gin, and while his tonic of choice was Schweppes, I prefer the imported Fever-Tree or locally made Capi. All gins here were tasted neat, then mixed with Capi for a G&T hit.
Hendrick's and cucumber are a perfect match.
UP TO $45
Coates & Co. Plymouth Gin, $45
ESTABLISHED in 1793, Coates & Co is made at the world's oldest working gin distillery, Black Friars in south-west England. And it's known as Plymouth gin because it originates from a geographical area, which is rare for this spirit. It is an excellent gin; pure and smooth yet with plenty of spice, pepper and bite. The juniper flavour lingers on the palate, as does some lemon and orange zest. Makes an outstanding G&T and, interestingly, the Capi tonic water, with its bitter quinine finish, accentuated a fragrant cardamom character in the gin. From Dan Murphy's.
UP TO $65
Hendrick's Gin, $62
HENDRICK'S is a Scottish gin distilled in small batches and sold in replica medicinal bottles, a nod to the fact gin was originally used to treat various medical complaints, ailments and aches. These days it makes the perfect drink - a G&T, of course - with Hendrick's one of the finest of this spirit on offer. It's super fragrant with loads of coriander seed on the nose, infused with rose and cucumber. It's silky smooth and subtle, yet has a slight peppery lift. A very classy gin that makes a fabulous G&T. From Vintage Cellars.
UP TO $85
Blue Ribbon London Dry Gin, $79
BLUE Ribbon is a newcomer to the gin scene, released in 2005 and made in France. It's one of my favourite gins and of the four featured here, it is the most distinctive, thanks to its mix of botanicals including thyme, iris root and Jamaican pepper. It is incredibly aromatic and enticing, with the Jamaican pepper giving off an almost Szechuan pepper fragrance, herbaceous thanks to the addition of thyme and coriander. It's refreshing. The phrase ''London dry gin'' refers to distilling whereby the botanicals are added during that process rather than later. Available at spiritsoffrance.com.au