Letting the simple flavours of gin shine through

Photo: Christine O'Connor
Photo: Christine O'Connor

Gin is one of Otago Polytechnic hospitality lecturer Fiona McLaren’s favourite spirits to work with.

Fiona McLaren
Fiona McLaren

However, she says it can be challenging to work with as you do not want to swamp or mask its delicate flavour.

“Sometimes keeping it simple is best.”

Craft gin making and gin drinking itself is on the rise worldwide, and New Zealand is following suit. Sixty-eight New Zealand gins are being made and one of those, the Scapegrace Gold, won the London Dry Gin Trophy 2018 International Wine and Spirits Competition.

Happily, McLaren has been introduced to some products that are relatively new to the market — including new non-alcoholic spirits, which provide an alternative for those who like the “spirit”experience but not the alcohol.

“With gin it is important to be gentle, so as not to bruise the gin [it’s a real thing] —  so you do not blend, muddle or shake drinks with gin.”

Non-Alcoholic  “spirits”

Starting with Seedlip, a new an innovative non-alcoholic distilled “spirit”, I found these herb- and spice-infused beverages to offer a tingle on the tongue and an aromatic warmth that resonated with a gin or “flavoured” white spirit, yet were gentle and subtle in the aftertaste so I was drawn to mixing them with teas for a refreshing yet toasty end note.

Seedlip Spice

I paired 45ml with 100ml green tea infused with ginger and lemon. Garnish with cooling cucumber strips and a squeeze of fresh lime.


Seedlip Garden

I mixed 45ml with 100ml of white rose tea served over frozen black and green grapes.


Smooth and Heady

Cardrona Spirits offer a delicious, smooth and heady gin, crafted beautifully and packing more “gin” in every silky sip.
This is probably the most robust gin I have tasted, so I chose to pair it with fabulously punchy flavours.
45ml Cardrona Gin
90ml (45ml each) fresh pineapple and lemonade blended
Stirred and garnished with a tall rosemary sprig

Asian twist. Photo: Christine O'Connor
Asian twist. Photo: Christine O'Connor

Pretty in Pink

Blush Gin offered its small batch rhubarb-infused gin. Rhubarb always pairs well with apple, so I created a light sweet and fragrant drink.

45ml Blush Rhubarb
30ml Sourz Apple
90ml sparkling guava drink (Bundaberg)
Poured over crushed ice
Finished with 15ml of Monin apple syrup

Note: The Sourz and syrup mingle then sink through the pink, offering a pretty visual grading of colour

Asian twist

Roku Gin is a new-to-market product, in a beautifully presented bottle.

Looking at the bottle alone drew me to classic Japanese combinations and I thought of pearls and fresh oysters, so I created a twist on an oyster shooter and made a pearlesent gin and lime sorbet.

To create a drink, I went no further than inspiration from the classic Pink Gin cocktail.

45ml Roku Gin
Fresh lemon
Orange zest (shaved and squeezed)
topped with tonic
finished with a bitters swirl

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