Whatever the season, our go to cocktail is consistently the Gin and Tonic, or G&T for short. We enjoy our G&Ts served with a lemon as opposed to the more traditional garnish of lime that you usually get when you order one at a bar or restaurant here in the U.S. We discovered the lemon after a friend of ours who had spent several years living in the United Kingdom told us that was how G&Ts were always served over there. And when we tried it for the first time for ourselves, it was a game changer, and it has remained our preference ever since.
Lately, it seems that more and more distilleries are entering the gin market so we are always seeking out new brands to try, especially when we are traveling. In fact, we discovered a couple of our all-time favorite gins this way. A couple of trips in particular stand out.
Everything’s up to date for Thanksgiving Gin in Kansas City
A few years ago, we decided to skip town for Thanksgiving and drive up to Kansas City, Missouri for the weekend. We booked a hotel in the Country Club Plaza, a great location for shopping and dining, which is also well-known for its Thanksgiving evening lighting ceremony, where it seems the entire city gathers in the streets to watch the shopping district explode with lights all around them to officially kick off the holiday shopping season. If you’re ever in town on Thanksgiving, it’s highly recommended. One tip: wear comfortable shoes and be sure to use the restroom before you go.
Houston and I arrived at the hotel on Wednesday evening, and with a quick google search we found a liquor store within walking distance. Since the weather was surprisingly warm for November, we ventured out on foot. Once we arrived at Plaza Liquor, we realized why they had an almost perfect rating on google. The store was extremely clean and the overall selection was great. Looking around, we decided to try a new gin that we had never seen before: Citadelle, from France. However, there was the regular Citadelle and also the Citadelle Reserve. In addition to being about $10 higher than the original, the somewhat fancier Reserve bottle also claimed to have been matured for 6 months in old oak casks. Justifying the higher price on account of the holiday weekend, we took it back to our room while also picking up some tonic water and a couple of fresh lemons.
All of that to say, Citadelle Reserve was one of the best gins we had ever tried. And, in in the true spirit of American gluttony that comes with the Thanksgiving holiday, we thoroughly enjoyed the whole bottle before we were back at the liquor store on Saturday to get an extra bottle to take home to Tulsa with us. We have since seen the regular bottles of Citadelle at a couple of local stores and in other cities we have traveled to, but to this day we have yet to find another bottle of Citadel Reserve. If anyone has any suggestions of how to get our hands on a bottle, please let us know. Otherwise, I think it’s a great excuse to take a shopping trip to the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City.
Hells Kitchen tavern drinking in the Big Apple
We discovered our new favorite gin last summer when we were visiting New York City. While we were there we met up with an old friend of mine, Justin, who took us to one of his favorite local places, an intimate Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood bar called Deacon Brodie’s Tavern.
Justin and I were roommates while studying performing arts at the University of Oklahoma. After graduation, we both moved to New York, and while I only lasted a couple of years of living in the Big Apple trying to make it there or anywhere, Justin stayed and continued to have a career as a professional actor. He had recently scored a new apartment at the coveted Manhattan Plaza complex, where the majority of residents all work in the performing arts. Justin’s apartment was just a few blocks from the bar so we met him there to check out his new place first, and then he led the way north on 9th Avenue amidst the hustle and bustle of rush hour traffic.
Of course, Houston and I ordered Gin and Tonics from the bartender who knew Justin by name and simply asked, “the usual?” The bartender poured our G&T’s and served Justin his customary shot of whiskey accompanied by a Miller Lite Beer. When I asked what kind of gin he had served us, the bartender brought over the blue bottle of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin for us to see.
This particular gin had a very interesting blend of botanicals, which included several items of Asian origin. To me, the most distinct and original flavor was the gunpowder tea from China, which is where this gin apparently gets its name.
Once we got back to Tulsa, we were pleased to find that one of our favorite local liquor stores, Ranch Acres, carries this gin and it is our new favorite for G&Ts all year round. The citrus botanicals of grapefruit, lemon, and lime are perfect for a light and refreshing drink during the warmer months, while the gunpowder tea resonates especially well during the fall and winter.
We usually serve it over ice with tonic water and a splash of La Croix sparkling lemon water to help cut the sweetness of the tonic, along with a lemon wedge.
Most days, we just opt for the grocery store variety of tonic water. However, we have also discovered a whole New variety of tonic waters that don’t contain high fructose corn syrup like Q Tonic Water or Fever Tree which definitely takes things up a notch.
But, if you are looking to really improve your tonic game, I would recommend using a Soda Stream to make your own sparkling water and then add a variety of tonic syrups to a provide for a whole new taste profile. We have tried a few varieties that we ordered from Amazon and one of our favorites so far has been Tomr's Handcrafted Tonic Syrup Concentrate which I highly recommend, especially if you are looking for a more robust flavor profile for your G&T. Making your own tonic water from syrups like this can cost a little more, but it adds a whole level of opportunity for finding unique pairings of different brands of gin and tonic. The possibilities are endless!