Gin Garden – one drink, three ways

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When you’re having a dinner party and every guest except for one drinks, what do you do? It’s easy to single out your one teetotalling friend and hand them an exciting glass of …er…water (ooh! thrilling!), but it’s kind of mean. It’s much more fun to work out a cocktail that everyone else can drink that will also work fine as a mocktail – or vice versa. Happily, the Gin Garden works just as well with gin in it as without, though naturally I prefer mine with!

When I was experimenting with this recipe, I discovered three ways to serve it; it’s a pretty forgiving recipe, so don’t worry if you don’t have the quantities quite right, it will probably still taste good anyway. The original recipe comes from the book The Cocktail – 200 fabulous drinks by Jane Rocca, which features divine illustrations by the talented Kat Macleod. Served as per the original recipe (see Version One below), it’s  sweet and intriguing and tastes like what you’d drink on a summer’s day at a rooftop bar. Version Two – which is pictured above and is basically the same as the original version, but with soda – is a light, delicate drink that’s reminiscent of picnics in the shade beneath Grandma’s apple tree. Version Three – the mocktail – is admittedly less sophisticated but just as flavourful. As my drinking and non-drinking dinner guests said, “More please.”

INGREDIENTS

3 good chunks of cucumber

15ml elderflower cordial

45ml gin

45ml apple juice – store bought is fine, but look for one that’s freshly pressed, not one that’s made from apple juice concentrate. I used Spreyton Fresh and was very happy with the result

soda water, to top up

cucumber slices, to garnish

mint leaves

mint sprig, to garnish

GLASS

Martini glass (for Version One); tumbler (for Versions Two and Three)

METHOD

For Version One: muddle the cucumber with the elderflower cordial in the base of a cocktail shaker. Add the gin and apple juice and a handful of ice cubes. Shake, then strain into a chilled martini glass. You can double-strain if you really want to be rid of any little cucumber bits. Garnish with a few cucumber wheels.

For Version Two: follow the instructions for Version One, but strain (or double strain) into a tumbler that’s half-full of ice, and top up with soda. Garnish with cucumber wheels. If you’re catering for a crowd on a hot night, make up a jugful of Version One and serve it as per these instructions as each guest arrives. They will love it and you won’t have to spend your whole night mixing drinks! The easiest way to make up a jugful is to multiply the above recipe by 10. Even if you have only four people present, you’ll get through it all, trust me. And if you accidentally make way too much, it keeps in the fridge overnight.

For Version Three – the mocktail: muddle the cucumber with a few mint leaves and the elderflower cordial in the base of a cocktail shaker. Add the apple juice and a handful of ice cubes. Shake, then strain into tumbler that’s half-full of ice, and top up with soda. You can double-strain if you really want to be rid of any little green bits. Garnish with a mint sprig so it’s easy to tell which drink is the mocktail.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Who knew a three-way could be so easy?

RECIPE BY

The original recipe appears in The Cocktail – 200 fabulous drinks by Jane Rocca (Hardie Grant Books, 2005).

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