Cocktail Classic aims to create gin converts |

Cocktail Classic aims to create gin converts

Mixologist Charlotte Voisey pours drinks at last year's Apres Ski Cocktail Classic. Voisey is co-presenting a seminar called "The Gin Renaissance" on Saturday in this year's event at the Westin Snowmass.
Alex Irvin Photography/Courtesy photo |

Gin is not the alcohol of choice for this reporter. Vodka martini, sure; whiskey, tequila, good with me, too. But gin — yuck.

However, according to mixologist Charlotte Voisey, I’m just drinking it wrong.

“I think the problem with gin and people who think they don’t like gin — because I’m convinced that nobody actually doesn’t; they just think they do — I think one of the challenges has been that the key classic way to drink gin has been gin and tonic and a gin martini,” Voisey said. “Both of those are actually quite strong in flavor and alcohol. They’re quite acquired tastes.”

So Voisey, who represents Hendrick’s Gin, approaches the spirit by finding cocktails that showcase the spirit but that are more appealing to the palate. That has been made easier by the selection of gins on the market today, Voisey said.

“This kind of gin renaissance, as we like to call it, really kicked off about 10 or 12 years ago,” Voisey said. “Up until then, most of us were familiar with three or four different bottles on the back bar. It had been the same three or four bottles for many years, and they were beautiful spirits, they were great gins, but they were of a certain style that was very pronounced in juniper.”

Then, just before the new millennium, a few brands, including Hendrick’s, hit the market and presented gin in a whole new way. Hendrick’s, for instance, infuses cucumber and rose and uses ingredients like chamomile, elderflower and lemon peel.

“Ingredients that sounded nice, but also, mostly gin cocktails up until then had been very classically driven,” Voisey said. “When Hendrick’s came along and started breaking some of the rules, it also opened up the door for more contemporary cocktails. And your gin experience is only going to be as good as the cocktail you’re drinking because it’s really the one spirit you never drink alone.”

Voisey and three other mixologists are going to showcase some of those new cocktails, and try to convert the haters, at a seminar at the Apres Ski Cocktail Classic on Saturday. The title, fittingly: “The Gin Renaissance.”

Voisey will be mixing and serving a Cucumber Southside, which is actually a Prohibition-era drink. Said to have originated from either the 21 Club in Manhattan or the South Side of Chicago, its ingredients are gin, lemon juice, a small amount of sugar and fresh mint.

“It’s a very clean, refreshing, simple cocktail that showcases whatever gin you’re using as a base because the other flavors aren’t very intrusive,” Voisey said. “This is one of those drinks that nobody can really dislike.”

All right, Charlotte — I’ll give it a try.

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