Now I like my Gin, and I guess as you have kindly taken the time to visit my fledgling blog musings, you like Gin too. Whilst I was thinking a little while ago about the whole “is it or is it not gin?” discussion, I got thinking what makes a good G&T?I don’t mean which gin, which tonic, glass or the garnish that might be in use. I was thinking at a more basic level…. How much gin to how much tonic.
To me drowning a lovely quality Gin in tonic or any other variety of mixer, appears to be a complete waste of good alcohol and spoils the enjoyment of dissecting the flavours within it. But as I have said elsewhere on this site, in my eyes there appears to be a trend for doing exactly that. the facts as I see it are as follows:
The Copa glass appears to be the weapon of choice at present, and these typically hold 500ml Now let’s assume that it is never going to be filled to the brim, the capacity is then 400ml.
A typical bottle of tonic in a bar is 200ml (some are 125ml but most are 200ml) and a single measure of gin is 25ml. Now I know what you are going to say, you order a single gin they fill the Copa with ice and you are at liberty to add as much tonic as you like. This is true, but I have to admit to visiting standard pubs including Wetherspoons and I have seen the majority pouring the tonic into the Copa glass in full and leaving the empty bottle on the bar. So even if you ignore the ice that is melting this is a 1:8 ration gin to tonic
I can hear the screams of derision, so lets assume that the 500ml Copa glass is filled with 200ml of ice and only half the tonic is used. If they drink it quickly and no ice melts that is a 1:4 ratio of Gin to Tonic but this is unlikely in a warm pub, where the glasses are not chilled and my guess is that the initial G&T may be 1:4 but it would quickly become 1:5 and 1:6. I still think that the norm is to make the drink last longer and to use all of the tonic – especially seeing as the tonic is included in the G&T cost in a Wetherspoons.
So this got me thinking…. at what point do you stop being able to determine that there is Gin in the glass to any discernible level?
The Blind Dilution Taste Off
I decided that I would set about testing different dilutions as part of a controlled experiment. One set of taste-buds were not going to be enough, and so I formed a small panel. The make up of the panel was:
2 x Reasonably gin proficient adult 50+yrs2 x Non-gin drinkers 22-25yrs
I will admit that this was more luck than judgement (it was who was in the house at the time), but I thought it would work well, this was based on the idea that something you don’t like can be easier to determine that something you do.
I produced a paper ‘tray liner’ so that all the samples would be in the same positions and worked out on a spreadsheet the proportions of Gin to tonic required to make a batch of 200ml of each of the following dilutions:1:1 – equivalent to 25ml tonic to 25ml gin1:2 – equivalent to 50ml tonic to 25ml gin1:3 – equivalent to 75ml tonic to 25ml gin1:4 – equivalent to 100ml tonic to 25ml gin1:5 – equivalent to 125ml tonic to 25ml gin1:6 – equivalent to 150ml tonic to 25ml gin1:7 – equivalent to 175ml tonic to 25ml gin1:8 – equivalent to 200ml tonic to 25ml gin
As you can imagine making up a 200ml batch for each dilution did involve some maths and careful measuring – and for this I used a syringe. the batch size had to be kept to 200ml so that each person got exactly 50ml with the correct proportions.
The gin I used was Tanqueray Export – and this had been chilled along with the tonic which was standard Schweppes Indian tonic.
Setting up the trays took 30 mins from start to finish
Also on the tray was 25 ml of neat gin and 100 ml of tonic (both to help reset the taste-buds when the going got tough)
The set up looked like this:
Each person was given a scoring sheet where they were asked for 2 pieces of information:
1 – Can you taste more gin or more tonic (bearing in mind I didn’t tell anyone the ratios, I figured it might be an interesting question especially for the non-Gin drinkers)
2 – Ranking all of the drinks in order of Gin strength
Before the tasting started, I asked my wife to rearrange my glasses and note which letter was where – so that it was a blind tasting for me too. The positions of the glasses were the same for the other three, but they were not laid out in strength order.
The tasting took about 20 minutes with much tutting, smacking of lips, re-sampling, frowning and even some “eurghhhhs”.
The ResultsWell everyone pretty much got the right order for 1:1 1:2 and 1:3 but this is where it all started to unravel as far as getting the right order 1 person was able to determine 1:4 but then after that the degree of accuracy became nearly random, with one of the non-gin drinkers getting closer with a few more than the gin drinkers.
(the completed sheets)My Conclusion:Well it is obviously a very small subset but for me it demonstrated that beyond 1:3 Gin to tonic, it was difficult to fully taste the gin with the tonic being fizzy, quinine and citric acid laden. So if I was to drink a single G&T I would never add more than 75ml of tonic so less than half a bottle of 200ml tonic. and the reality would be that I would go for 50ml of tonic as its likely that there would be at least 25ml of ice melting during the drinking.
Which leads to an interesting quandary for bars. They have invested in Copa glasses and people like to feel they are getting their money’s worth, and having a good experience with a full glass decorated with a nice garnish. This experience could be severely affected by presenting a Copa glass capable of holding 400ml of liquid, but actually containing 75ml of liquid with 300ml of ice.
100ml of liquid in a 500ml Copa I guess this is the reason why often the majority if not all of the tonic is added (unless you are in a craft gin bar (where the majority might order a double) in order to get a longer drinking experience to avoid buying many more drinks.
In any case I had fun doing this.
My thoughts are to now take it the other way and increase the ration of Gin to Tonic 1.5:1; 2:1; 2.5:1 etc to find my personal optimum Gin and Tonic