Ginstronomy: How to Pair Gin with Food

Gin is a bold, clean and fresh choice of drink for the warm weather we're currently enjoying. Here, celebrity chef Gary Mehigan and Global Bombay Sapphire Brand Ambassador Raj Nagra, highlight the best food pairings. 

Bombay Sapphire’s Project Botanicals has brought together 10 Bombay Sapphire cocktails selected for a food pairing culinary affair with 10 dishes crafted by Gary Mehigan; highlighting one of the 10 hand selected botanicals found in Bombay Sapphire. Gary delivered with gusto, fancying some amazingly colourful and no less substantial dishes that were equal to the elegant drinks composed. Follow Gary and Raj's pairings:

1. Almond
Almond is a soft, delicate flavour; a little creamy, and perfect with fish and chicken or works well caramelised with bigger flavours such as lamb or veal. It also works brilliantly with citrus, salty and iodine characters from oysters and also with sweet and aromatic flavours. I thought something fresh, a little Middle Eastern, sweet, salty and floral would work best here.

DISH: Moonlight Flat oysters with lemon & almond cream, sapphire, rosewater granite.

The almonds that are hand selected for Bombay Sapphire come from the South East of Spain, and are bitter and very oily. They lend to a greater level of viscosity and mouth feel of our spirit. The Swizzle is a wonderfully rich cocktail served very cold and with a particular citrus appeal. Gary did well to play to these citrus notes with his dish of oysters and rose water granita which added intense textures and floral notes to the flavour experience, highlighting both the spirit and the almond notes played up in Almond Swizzle.

COCKTAIL: Almond Swizzle

2. Lemon
Who doesn’t love lemon? And let’s be honest most of my cooking has lemon zest, peel, juice and flesh of some sort in it so this one was easy. Fish is obvious, although, chicken, quail, veal, fennel, olives, waxy potatoes, goats cheese would have been just fine. Avocado, big Mediterranean herbs, something a little hot or charred hence the peppers and crunch plus tostaditas are hot to trot!

DISH: Crisp tostaditas with cured king fish, avocado, flame roasted pablanos & lemon thyme.

This was one of my favourite dishes; clean flavours, quality produce and a delightful play on Mediterranean herbs which can be found growing all throughout the region in Spain. I often use these local herbs when hosting guests who visit our farmers. It is not uncommon to see whole lemon peels hanging on lines drying in the warm Spanish sun before collection. Thyme manifests wonderful soft lemon notes, which harmonise and add complexity notes to the Lemon Thyme Collins. In turn this drink is a perfect match to the kingfish and some of the more savoury elements of the dish.

COCKTAIL: Lemon Collins

3. Juniper
First thoughts to match a long iced G&T is something delicate, a little sophisticated, definitely seafood. Crab is perfect, something creamy and sharp, like a lemon mayonnaise with a good twist of pepper. It’s subtle, toasty and citrusy. I didn’t want to repeat the flavours of juniper in the dish as it would make it too intense. Unnecessary. It can take some soft oily flavours too, avocado, nuts, some sweet but dark aromatic rye with crunch. Yum.

DISH: Blue swimmer crab toasts with pecan nut dukkah, roasted garlic & lavender.

Juniper is the most important botanical in gin, and for good reason given its properties and complexity, and of course is where gin in a round about way gets its name. Bombay Sapphire showcases some of the highest juniper notes of any gin. The juniper we use is always sourced from our consistent farmers who roam the Tuscan hills; a little more than a stones throw away from Florence. This particular juniper has very clean, high piney and green notes, and would remind you of walking through a pine forest on a warm summers day; manifests notes of pine cones, and lavender. The Bombay Sapphire & Fever Tree tonic is a deliciously simple, yet enormously complex drink – hence its fame! The delicate blue crab dressed in a mélange of complimentary surfaces does so well in working to the sparkling essences of this mighty drink!

COCKTAIL: Juniper Sublime G&T

4. Liquorice
I felt straight away that liquorice and gin could carry something bigger and meatier but still keep the dish delicate and interesting. I also wanted a little sweet and sour for balance, the liquorice should just feature but not too strongly, it can be a little harsh; a touch bitter. Ancient grains for texture, density and depth of flavour, the dried fruits for a punch of intense and complex pop of sweetness and pickles to give some sharpness, crunchiness and balance.

DISH: Grilled quail, raisins, apricots, quinoa, sweet pickles & spearmint.

This is quite a classic; unflinchingly complex and compact like its creator; head bartender Ada Coleman, American Bar, Savoy, 1925. The botanically driven medley of ingredients leveraging liquorice - which adds to front and side of mouth complexity in Bombay Sapphire - was used in a wonderfully tasteful manner in this drink. Same can be said for the food aspect, which plays gloriously to the rich fruit and spice notes and brings great stability to the pairing by way of quail and elevated fresh herbaceous notes.

COCKTAIL: Liquorice Hanky Panky

5. Coriander
This cocktail just said “Vietnamese” to me, I love rice rolls at the moment, fresh healthy, lots of texture and a perfect foil for a spicy dipping sauce. Ginger, coriander, fresh and dried, garlic and peanuts. The fresh herbs bring something special to the table, a little peppery, a little sweet.

DISH: Vietnamese rice rolls, yellowfin tuna, coriander, shisho & fragrant dipping sauce.

Coriander leaves when harvested (cilantro) are quite different to the coriander seeds used in Bombay Sapphire, which hail from Morocco. They are very large, boasting heavy lemon citrus and spicy ginger notes. It is these very notes that are dialed up in the mule, coupled with fresh leafy tones in the dish, with sweet and savoury compliments, offset effortlessly by the cocktail.

COCKTAIL: Coriander Mule

Other great pairings include these crunchy chicken sliders, or if you have more of a sweet tooth, try this white cheesecake mousse, all created by Gary Mehigan. 

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