Introducing Emma Stokes, Drinks Distilled Gin Guide
This week we caught up with Emma, AKA Gin Monkey, a widely respected expert on the subject of white spirits.
Her books The Periodic Table of Cocktails and Have Yourself A Merry Little Cocktail have received rave reviews, and her Gin Rummy deck of cards is surely the only way to play Gin Rummy!
Emma is also the prime mover behind World Gin Day, uniting gin lovers across the world in their love of the juniper-flavoured spirit.
With an impressive social media presence and a regular judge in spirits competitions such as IWSC and The World Gin Awards, Gin Monkey loves to work the occasional bar shift in between keeping all the other plates spinning. She has recently been named Icons of Gin Communicator of the Year 2022.
Tell us a bit about your selections?
Monkey 47 is a great option to have on your shelf for cocktails. Juniper, gin’s core botanical, is more integrated into the mix in this New Western Dry Gin compared to a London Dry style of gin, where it's front and centre. Whilst it makes a lovely longer cocktail, it’s in the shorter, booze-led cocktails like the Martini where this complex gin really shines, thanks to the careful balancing of its 47 botanicals, which come together to create a flavour sensation.
Hidden Curiosities Aranami Strength is a Navy Strength gin, so you’re going to benefit from a higher ABV. This means it can stand up to strong flavours and bitterness from the likes of Campari in a Negroni, where it cuts through and shines on the juniper and gin side of the mix.
It also brings a gorgeous line up of Japanese botanicals to the mix. Expect to get layers of citrus from Japanese Yuzu, lemony yet spicy sansho pepper, followed by marmalade notes from kabosu and kumquat that will make your mouth water as soon as you take a sip - the perfect aperitif.
What makes the perfect gin for a Negroni?
Choosing a gin to go up alongside the strong bitter flavours of Campari means you’re going to want something punchy, either in your desired flavour profile or ABV. Steer clear of delicately flavoured gins, or those with a huge number of botanicals, they’ll get lost in the mix. If you don’t have any higher strength gin to hand (look for the term navy strength on the bottle) try a classic London Dry.
What are your top tips for picking a New Western Dry Gin?
Look for other markers on the bottle - distilled gin will guarantee that it has been distilled, London Dry Gin means that nothing else has been added (though given the juniper isn’t dominant it’s a bit cheeky to put this on there for New Western Dry styles).
Pay attention to the other botanicals, used in the gin as they’re often just as prominent as the juniper. If there’s something you’re not a particular fan of it’s probably best to steer clear as it will be more evident on the palate than in a classic style of gin.
What’s your top home bartending tip?
LOTS OF ICE! Though some people worry that this will dilute your drink, the more ice you have, the colder your drink stays and the longer your ice stays in its solid form, so it actually means less dilution.
The biggest difference between cocktails at home and cocktails in a bar is often the fact that in a bar they have an endless supply of good quality ice, so if you’re really going to go for it at home then dedicate a little more freezer space (and buy in bigger cubes if possible) for ice!