Gin has escaped our coverage of fine spirits, but thanks to Martin Miller, that is about to change. The fine folks who make and promote Martin Miller's Gin were kind enough to send me a sample and it is delicious. Granted I am not yet a "gin efficianado" and still more of a whiskey and beer drinker, but at my heart I am an explorer.
It is always wonderful to try new things and make new friends while doing so. To help us better understand the man behind the spirit, I was able to chat with Mr. Miller about his spirit of choice and some of the places he loves to travel.
Simple. I like to think of myself as a man of taste, in both senses of the word. Gin for me is the most seductive of spirits, it has taste, it has complex aromas – it’s a grown up spirit.
I never ‘got’ that whole vodka/Cosmo thing. Where’s the romance in vodka? Vodka’s a medicine not a drink, a triumph of science over the heart. Useful if applied externally in the morning, but not in a cocktail.
What are some of your favorite places to travel?
Mainly the United States. I have many good friends in Washington, in fact that’s where I met my third wife, so I have many happy memories of that city. I’m not one for ‘roughing it’, so trekking the Himalayas or the Inca trail are my idea of hell. Basically I don’t like being much more than an arm’s length from a decent Gin and Tonic.
Can you tell me about your favorite mancation or guys weekend?
Oh Dear! That’s going to be tricky! A ‘mancation’ to me would be a contradiction in terms. Is that a vacation away from women?
When out enjoying a night with the guys, what is your favorite drink?
I have had very few nights out with guys, but I have had many nights out with some fairly ‘laddish’ women friends. Extremely dangerous, as most of them can drink me under the table!
When out, I start with Vespers, I love them, plus the name gives a vague feeling of being at prayer – I love to say ‘I’m just going out for Vespers’. I think I must buy myself a monk’s habit!
What is one place that you haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit but dream of doing so?
Well, I have been very lucky, in that my businesses in hotels, publishing and gin have given me plenty of opportunity to travel and indulge my other passion, aside from gin, of collecting antiques.
Although ‘places in my dreams’ opens up some tantalizing prospects! Perhaps better not to go there, I’m a married man!
Gin seems to be almost lost in the shuffle compared to vodka, whiskies, and tequilas. Why is this do you think?
Lost in the shuffle? Not where I drink. I would say the reverse is nearer the mark. Whether in New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco better bars are, at long last, rediscovering the lost culture of the gin cocktail.
Heck, this is something where you guys once led the world, who else was it that invented the ‘three martini lunch’? And they weren’t talking about that abomination the vodka martini. Tequila puzzles me too. What’s the point of a drink that you neck as quickly as possible, then pull faces and grimace in a most alarming way. I don’t get it. Try doing that in civilized bars and see what happens.
Certainly, gin and tonics and martinis are the iconic “gin drinks” but what are some other recipes our readers might enjoy?
For those misguided guys who think a cocktail starts with vodka there are so many I could choose. In fact I, and many of my mixologist friends, try this trick. First I ask a friend what vodka cocktail they would like. Then I get the barman to make that same cocktail with gin instead of vodka. Invariably this results in my ‘guinea pig’ friend remarking, ‘wow, this is the best Collins, Bloody Mary, (or whatever) I have tasted.’ I then tell them it’s made with gin. It’s great when I hear them saying “but I don’t like gin!” Another great cocktail that springs to mind is the Southside. It dates back to the 1920’s, and is basically a ‘Mojito’ where the rum is replaced by gin. To my taste the dryness of the gin gives the drink a much better sweet and sour balance. In fact there are many cocktails out there that were originally made with gin where the gin has been replaced by vodka in recent times – not just the Martini. I call them ‘Stolen Cocktails!’