What's the fuss about the garnish?
Pink grapefruit segments, lime wedges, cucumber slices, orange peel swirls and lemon wheels. These are all garnishes currently used in the gin industry and are advertised as being a vital part of your serve - especially signature gin and tonics. But what is all the fuss about and why do they matter?
The Gin & Tonic, invented in India during the British Raj, has long been the classic way of consuming gin, every company does it. But this means that gins must set themselves apart from the herd and strive to be different. And many have turned to the garnish to signpost that difference.
If you have had Darnley's before then you know that we recommend having a lemon wheel with our classic G&T serve. This was not a shot in the dark, or random guess, but a calculated decision from a lengthy process. See the thing with a garnish is it can dramatically alter your drinking experience and enjoyment.
Think about eating something - before you can taste it, you can smell it. Therefore, it is vitally important that a garnish both complements our gin in terms of taste, but also gives your nose some warning of what is coming: one of the best G&Ts you've ever tasted of course...
For our Darnley's Original G&T, we came to the conclusion that a lemon wheel is best suited to provide the stage for this gin itself to perform. Lemon balm is one of the botanicals used to produce the Original gin so naturally a lemon garnish would compliment that foundation. We chose a wheel because this exposes the most surface area and juice to the drink allowing them to combine to a greater concentration. With more pulp exposure to the drink, you get a lemon scent on the nose, and a lemon twang as you sip.
Our Darnley's Spiced however, using ginger beer for the core serve rather than tonic, uses a wedge of orange. As a naturally tangy-er gin with cinnamon and ginger at the fore, this serve doesn't want anything to overpower or contradict that taste. Therefore, the orange wedge is perfect as it brings out the soft sweetness of the other botanicals in the serve, and the slice element means this is the perfect, lower concentration.
The Navy Strength and Tonic is similar in the way we also recommend a wedge but this time of pink grapefruit. Grapefruit has a natural bitter acidity to it so pairs marvellously with the slightly punchier Navy Strength gin. And, in a similar fashion, being a stronger version of the Spiced gin above, not having too much of the grapefruit juice in the drink is a benefit.
Other companies have tried to go a bit wild, and in Hendrick's case succeeded, by recommending cucumber slices as a garnish to complement their cucumber-y spirit. We also experimented with slightly more whacky garnishes like frozen grapes or toasted rosemary, but we arrived at our conclusions for a few reasons.
The main reason, of course, is that we truly believe these garnishes compliment our core serves better than any other. However, we also took into account consistency - not every bar will have frozen grapes or peppercorns or toasted rosemary - so we wanted to create a serve that is accessible everywhere and doable by everyone. This also adds to our other objective - sustainability. By using fruits that most, if not all bars will stock we can make sure we are not contributing to more food waste without sacrificing your enjoyment of the serve!