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Published March 16th 2016
Choose your Gin of choice, then consider your garnishes
A hipster friend recently told me that 'Gin is the new vodka' so I set off on a quest to see what the fuss was about.
My friend suggested that The Howling Owl, in Frome Street, might be a good place to start my research. It's beneath The Rhino Room (comedy venue) and right next to another animal called Urban Cow (artisan studio/gallery). There are cheerful mosaic tables on the pavement outside and owls of all shapes and sizes inside, so it's easy to recognise.
I met the friendly and informative bartender, Ryan who was more than happy to enlighten me about Gin and quite eager for me to try his favourite Gin, KIS, from Kangaroo Island. It was only 11am but I felt it might be churlish of me to refuse, and besides, I was doing research, so I sipped and learnt.
The 'Gin Den' Ryan explained, began about three years ago after Mike (the boss) visited the Kangaroo Island Spirits (KIS) distillery and developed a taste for its small batch, botanical gin. KIS is still a house favourite but there are now around 75 different types of Gin available here and 25 or so are distilled in Australia. In fact a number of them are made right here in South Australia. Ryan explained that they prefer to stick to small batch varieties although they do stock two of the big names: Tanqueray 10 and Hendrick's.
Apparently Gin has a short 'turnaround' time, only a week or so distilling time, and this may be why it's gaining popularity. If you are a thirsty Gin maker you don't have to wait too long to drink it.
Flippancy aside, there are serious considerations involved in drinking Gin. First of all you need the correct mixer to match your choice of Gin. Ryan recommends FeverTree tonic which comes in 'Mediterranean' and 'Indian' styles. Then you need to consider the most suitable garnish and there's quite a few possibilities to choose from, including star anise, ginger, apple, strawberry, cucumber, mandarine, liquorice root, mint and rosemary. And, of course, juniper berries.
Don't be concerned, there is help available to guide you through the decision making. Ryan is particularly helpful and there are also tasting notes and garnish suggestions in the drinks menu. And there's the opportunity to practise your Gin drinking and garnishing by way of a Gin Tasting Board. You get 4 different types of Gin, two different types of tonic and a handful of garnishes to mix and mingle until you get it right.
There's a Happy Hour from 7- 8pm Monday to Saturday and different types of Gin are featured along with local beers in case you are not in the mood for Gin.