Do you remember the genre of motion pictures named the Spaghetti Westerns? Do I see a glint of recognition over there? Perhaps you’ve heard of The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly? Well, you may be a bit young for Westerns, but these fantastically authentic Westerns were filmed, not in the United States, but in Spain! It’s probably a reach to imagine the actors – those faces were not American ones, but very, very European – look at their teeth for clues.
At any rate, Spain is the topic of this piece, and the way that the Spanish Style Gin and Tonic is made, brings me back to the Spaghetti Western genre. You’re always looking for a way to bring sales forward. New ideas are hard to come by when you’re slogging through that 1000th Vodka Soda with Lemon. How boring!
As a bartender/mixologist, it is your responsibility to make intelligent responses when your boss, owner, investor, friend, guest- whatever, and whoever asks for a Gin and Tonic. And how will you do this?
By watching the Spaghetti Westerns of course. To fully appreciate the flavor of a Spanish Style Gin and Tonic, you must first understand, deeply – the principal of Terroir. Quite simply, Terroir is the taste of the place. You must have this understanding to expand your mind, and that of your guests. Who will teach this to my guest? You, of course will now want to teach your guest about Terroir and fun. But how will I do this? Well, again it comes back to the Spaghetti Westerns. The territory that is Spain is not all Barcelona or Madrid. There are miles of canyons, deserts and open ranges that, for a film-maker is the perfect background for a Western movie. Especially one that has Clint Eastwood shooting up less fortunate foes. I’m a massive fan of Lee Van Cleef, the late New Jersey native who also fit into the overall scenery in an authentic fashion. Eli Wallach, the late actor who played Tuco, in the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, lived his years out, not in balmy Beverly Hills, but in New York City.
I bring you at least from a flavor perspective to a place where Gin and Tonics get a much-needed lift. Spain is the precipice from which the Gin and Tonic takes its path. The flavors are grounded in fresh herbs. Think about the landscape in the picture that I painted in your mind from the Spaghetti Westerns. The unforgiving earth, rock and dust, no rain except for floods. A harsh existence where roaming cattle eat every last leaf of anything that grows out of the ground. Flavors like the herbs that grow in the chaparral have to be pretty tough ones to survive. Let’s take those flavors and apply them to the principal of the Spanish Style Gin and Tonic. This is an entire art form that probably hasn’t hit your local watering hole yet. It may never, unless you help. You can start by renting a Spaghetti Western to get into the spirit of creating some delicious drinks. Put yourself in the mindset of the 1800’s and use herbs that come from arid environments, like Spain! Where, coincidently they are having a Gin and Tonic Renaissance.
Please pay attention to the world outside our fast-food driven country. You might make a couple more bucks along the way, by showing your excitement for flavor!
Tuco and Tonic
Really a Gin and Tonic- but you get the gist. (Author’s note: my drinks err on the strong side.)
- 2 oz. Beefeater Gin – I like this drink to speak of the herbs, not of the Gin-which is bone dry
- .25 oz. Very Dry Fino Sherry (always chilled, do I need to tell you?)
- .10 Dry Spanish Vermouth (Opens the appetite, Spanish Vermouth is very herbal)
- 4-6 oz. Fever Tree or Q-Tonic
- Freshly cut lime and the zest expressed over the top
- Peppercorns, fresh thyme and the wood
- Prepare your Collins Glass by filling it with Ice and water to chill (set aside)
- To a mixing glass, fill ¾ with ice
- Add the Gin
- Add the Vermouth
- Add the Sherry
- Mix well, rest for a minute while you prepare the glasses
- Add the peppercorns and the thyme to the chilled Collins glass
- Add ice
- Strain the chilled Sherry, Gin and Vermouth over the ice
- Top with Tonic Water
- Express the lime over the top and notch a piece over the edge of the glass
- Serve with a smile
– Named for Lee Van Cleef
- 2 oz. Hendrick’s Gin (Angel Eyes was the consummate gentleman, with a gun)
- 1 oz. Spanish Vermouth
- 1 oz. PX Sherry (float)
- 1 oz. Campari
- 4-6 oz. Fever Tree Tonic, or Q-Tonic
- A few, no more than this- needles of Rosemary- you don’t need the whole branch!
- Fresh Lime
- Chill the Hendrick’s Gin with the Vermouth and the Campari
- Pour over fresh ice in a Collins Glass
- Top with the tonic
- Float the PX Sherry over the top
- Express with the lime
The Good, The BAD and the Ugly
- 2 oz. Mahon Spanish Gin- definitely available in the NYC/CT/NJ area…
- 1 oz. Spanish Vermouth
- 1 Spanish Anchovy on a bamboo stick with an orange slice, don’t mock it, it’s delicious!
- 4-6 oz. Fever Tree, or Q-Tonic Water
- Dehydrated Orange round
- Chill your Spanish Gin with the Vermouth
- Strain into a Collins Glass with the Anchovy and the Orange slice inside with the ice
- Add the tonic
- Drop the dehydrated orange round on top and serve
- There are three excellent ideas for really fine. Uniquely Spanish. Gin and Tonics