How to Drink Gin – an Expert’s Guide

Love gin but keen to graduate from the usual gin-based cocktails? We quizzed one of Melbourne’s most respected barmen, Felix Allsop, from Fitzroy’s The Everleigh about some of his favourite, deliciously different ways to imbibe this versatile spirit.

Gin, Campari, dry vermouth. Stirred and served up, with a lemon twist.

Somewhere between a martini and a Negroni (though it allows the gin to take centre stage in a way that the Negroni tragically does not). Bitter and medium dry. Great for aperitif to liven the palate, along with a bite of something salty. Definitely not a beginner's drink. Learn to love the Negroni first and then work your way up to this guy. This drink was on the menu at one of the first bars I ever worked at back in London and, at the time, I couldn't understand why. Fast-forward a handful of years and it's become one of my all-time favourites.

Tritter Rickey
Gin, mint, lime, sugar, soda and a dash of absinthe. Shaken and served tall with ice.

A classic Gin Rickey with the addition of mint and absinthe. The Rickey rose to prominence towards the end of the 19th Century, originating in Washington DC. This version takes its name from a Mr Tritter, who frequented our sister bar, Milk & Honey (NYC) in its early days. He would order a Southside Rickey (Gin Rickey with mint) and ask for an absinthe rinse. Absinthe and mint is one of the cocktail world's unbeatable flavour pairings. This drink is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to the wonders of absinthe without overdoing it. Tall and refreshing, it deserves to be the new mojito.

Blueberry Gimlet
Gin, lime, fresh blueberries, sugar. Shaken and served up.

The Gimlet is a great vehicle for showcasing seasonal berries. We make ours after the American fashion – with fresh lime and sugar – rather than the traditional English recipe which calls simply for gin with Rose's lime cordial. Any berry will do well here, but blueberries have a subtle earthiness that appeals to lushes like us who don't want too much salad getting between them and their gin. A dash of orange bitters works wonders here too if you're looking to ramp up the fruit flavours.

Summer's Day
Gin, lemon, sugar, egg white, soda. Shaken with 2 orange slices in the tin and served tall, no ice.

Fizzes are a curious category. They're essentially like classic the ‘sour’ cocktails (think Whiskey Sour, Amaretto Sour etc.) with the addition of soda. This cocktail is a deceptively simple twist on the Gin Fizz (also known as the Silver Fizz). By adding a couple of orange slices to the shaker, you not only get a lengthening splash of juice, but some bittersweet oils from the orange peel too – which add a fantastic depth to the drink. Traditionally they were served without ice or straws and were designed to be knocked back in one or two big gulps to set one up for the day ahead. This drink was created by one of The Everleigh's dearest friends, Michael McIlroy, formerly a bartender at Milk & Honey and now co-owner of Attaboy in NYC.

Words: Felix Allsop