Jan 29, 2018

Hong Kong’s Fantastic Gin COMEBACK

 

 

Gin like any other liquor is a distilled beverage, infused predominantly with juniper berry flavor. Although the origin of this clear liquor is debatable, it is claimed to be consumed from way back in the fifteenth century during the Eighty Years’ war and has been a drink of choice for statesmen, soldiers and even the working class.

 

 

Gin goes well with a feast of red meat. Gin lovers celebrate the juniper berry drink with meaty beef patties, horseradish cream, pink pickled onions, chick pea noodles, Brazilian beef grill and Caribbean BBQ.

 

 

 

It is a common ingredient and a favorite mixer for many cocktails around the world. This includes the martini, one of the best known mixed alcoholic beverages. While all gins carry the juniper berry flavor, the other botanicals used may include a wide variety of herbs, vegetables, flowers, fruits and spices. Gin makers majorly use the steeping and vapour infusion methods for manufacturing gin commercially. Steeped gin is produced by boiling an agriculturally originated spirit with selected botanicals and juniper berries, while the latter sees vaporized spirit passed over the botanicals and juniper berries to pick up the flavors.

 

Juniper berries are the only spice derived from conifers, and give gin its distinctive flavour. They can be used both fresh and dried, but their flavour is the strongest immediately after harvest and decline slowly as the berries age during drying and storage. In the seventeenth century, this re-distillation of malt-spirit with juniper, anise, carawan, coriander, etc., became vastly popular and the ensuing concoctions were sold in pharmacies to treat medical problems like kidney ailments, gallstone, gout and lumbago. Gin drinking then emerged in England and rose significantly where the government allowed its unlicensed production. This created a larger market and gin shops sprang up throughout England, a period known as the Gin Craze.

 

 

 

 

Gin in Asian countries is making a comeback, predominantly produced by the vapour infusion method. There are a wide range of infused gins that have evolved over time. The most common types in Thailand and Japan are London Dry, Plymouth, Old Tom and Genever. Any Gin starts its life as a neutral spirit, often grain-based. It is essentially pure ethyl alcohol. Flavours are infused through a process called re-distillation, using a still. In this process, the botanicals never come into direct contact with the neutral base spirit. Instead, they are placed in baskets in the still, well above the base spirit, which vaporizes, rises up and passes through the basket of botanicals, resulting in the flavours infusing into the spirit. The infused vapour then condenses into a liquid. Finally, water is added to reduce the alcohol to its consuming strength of about 40% or 42%.

The ‘botanicals’ are the plant matter and spices that are used to flavor the gin. In addition to juniper berries, different manufacturers use different secret ingredients which includes coriander seeds, cubeb berries, grains of paradise, cassia bark, powdered liquorice root, angelica root, lemon peel, orris root powder, black pepper corns, and lemongrass.

Gin is loaded with health benefits when consumed in moderation. It contains anti-oxidants and aids in regeneration of cells, which in turn produces a plush anti-ageing effect and keeps your skin young. The main ingredient, the juniper berry, combats renal insufficiency, bad coughs and lung congestion, and can even jumpstart a late period. Gin can increase the digestive enzymes helping in the breakdown of food quickly and improve regular metabolism.

It is a tonic that can help prevent malaria as well. Gin cocktails were used in the days of the British Empire to protect against catching the dread disease, which was ravaging colonies and colonizers.

 

 

A selection of Hong Kong’s gin-focused bars
serving a wide range of GIN cocktails and tonic

 

Tiffany’s New York Bar,  70 Mody Road, TST East

A contemporary bar with live music and a cozy speak-easy atmosphere, the prices at Tiffany’s are nominal. The bar boasts a crisp menu of fantastic gin cocktails. Gin Re-fashioned and Elderflower, a refreshing blend of gin, tonic, elderflower and lime, enhances the gin-drinking experience for a novice drinker.

 

Dr. FERN’s gin parlor,  Shop B31A, First Basement Floor, Landmark Atrium, Central

Doctor Fern, an eccentric physician has dedicated his life to studying botanicals. His love for nature has led him to open a Gin Parlour where he treats his patients' ailments, and stress related symptoms with his own concoctions of fresh, local herbs and botanicals - paired with gins from around the world.  He sources local and organic ingredients from organic farms across the city in order to bring a fresh experience to his Gin Parlour.

 

Ori-Gin, G/F, 48 Wyndham Street, Central

They have an extensive menu covering a wide range of both classic and original mix gin cocktails. Super Lemon is a must-try cocktail with a blend of slow-cooked lemon Tanqueray gin and lemon sorbet, topped with soda.

 

ON Dining Kitchen & Lounge, 29/Floor, 18 On Lan St, Central

A place that will revive your taste buds with the infused flavours blended well with gin and tonic. The Mancino Rickey, served like a Manhattan and made of Big Gin, fresh lime, Yuzu and fresh shiso leaves, will take you for a ride!

 

Ping Pong 129, 129 Second St, Sai Ying Pun

This is a hidden gem and a favourite bar for gin lovers. There is a good collection of gin cocktails, special beer and tapas. The cucumber and ginger gin cocktail is most liked.

 

With such a wide range of charming hideaways in which to sip this rejuvenating drink and watch the world pass you by, why not give gin a chance? Let us know how your first gin-drinking experience goes!

 

 

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