By Belinda Morris
Gin – the Manual
By David Broom
(£14.99, Mitchell Beazley, Octopus Publishing Group)
As it states, quite clearly, on the cover, this is a book about how to drink gin. Yes, that bit is actually printed in bold… and here’s you thinking you knew how to drink gin (I was pretty certain I’d got it licked too). But the author is ahead of you here – he probably knew what would be going through your mind, because he also highlights that above all it’s about enjoying your gin in ways you never thought possible.
Well go on then Mr Broom, surprise us.
As someone who chooses her gin based on the attractiveness of the bottle, I clearly have a lot to learn. And everything anyone could possibly want to know about the spirit is in this book. There’s its chequered and fascinating history (‘a tale of depravity and joy, low life and sophistication’), how it’s made (explaining about ‘botanicals’ and the effect they have on gin’s flavour), the difference between Dutch, London, Scottish, Spanish and American gins and how to get the most from them. And of course he throws in a handful of gin-based cocktails (how could you not?)
The best part of the book though is devoted to the author’s testing of 120 gins… in four different ways: with tonic, Sicilian lemonade, in a Negroni and in a martini. And then scored, ie Bloom (lovely bottle) is perfect with tonic but not so great with Sicilian lemonade, while Tanqueray No.Ten makes a ‘clean and fresh afternoon Negroni with a funky herbal finish’, yet becomes ‘almost soapy’ as a G&T. Good to know.