Once a drink reserved for the little old abuelitos in Spain, since the turn of the last millennium, the gintónic has been revived as an aromatic taste sensation (with distinctive bulbous glassware to match). This has given rise to the appearance of more and more gin cocktails, new and old, around the globe. Let’s look at the gin scene - because it’s always gintónic time somewhere, right?!
Around the year 2000, Michelin-starred restaurants in San Sebastián in the Basque country - Spain’s gastronomic trendsetter du jour - started pairing gin with tonic on their menu. Chef Ferran Adrià followed suit in Catalonia, adding botanicals and herbs to bring out the characteristics of different gins offered. The rest, as they say, is history, with the new gintónic craze - a cocktail built with layers of nuance in a huge fishbowl glass - sweeping across the nation (and beyond). Today’s cocktail menus usually have their own gin section, with the Spanish gin of choice being the uniquely DO protected Xoriguer Ginebra from the island of Menorca (Mahón).
Xoriguer gin comes in a humble green glass bottle - light years away from its modern flashy counterparts - and it’s probably the oldest gin produced in the Mediterranean region. The recipe spans centuries back to the presence of the British sailor, around 1700. A base of well-water, juniper berries, grapes and secret botanicals give special credentials to this unpretentious gin. And this Menorcan export isn’t the only Spanish world-renowned gin - Barcelona’s gastro gin, GinRaw was also named one of the best gin brands of 2022 by Vinepair. Other notable gins from Spain include Gin Mare and Nordes.
Back in the US, mixologists from East to West are teaming gin up with Spain’s flavors. Over at Bar Pintxo in Santa Monica, California, Joe Miller has created the likes of orange-thyme and black liquorice-lime infused gintónics, while Tropezón in Miami Beach, Florida, has an entire menu dedicated to pairing Andalusian flavors with gin cocktail blends.
It’s not just Spanish gintónics that are getting airtime - try a Marianito (the original Basque Sunday brunch drink of choice) with chilled vermouth, gin, an olive, and a slice of orange. Or try ordering a Pomada - blending your favorite Spanish gin with lemon soda, a slice of lemon and mint leaves. Now that’s refreshing!