When you think of Gin and Strawberries, you often think of an English summer. Images of picnics by the Thames or Saturday cricket in one of the little hamlets surrounding the capital, come easily into your head.
In future though, Grant Collins wants you to think of a cocktail, and in particular, the Strawberry Smack that he has created for his Sydney ‘gin palace’ called Gin Lane.
“You can’t have anything more stereotypically English than gin and strawberries,” he said. “I wanted something that’s sort of evokes memories of summer.”
And the Strawberry Smack does just that. With gin, lemon curd and strawberries, you might assume that this drink will be sickly sweet but a balsamic reduction dries it out nicely and gives it some length on the palate.
“This drink really is a crazy mix. It’s like the drink that keeps giving us a buzz,” Collins continued. “It’s got so many layers in it and I think that’s why it’s so popular. We’ve had a few guys who look at it, think it’s a bit girly, and then they drink it and find it’s actually quite strong. It’s quite punchy”
Collins will be the first to tell you that the thing that truly stabilised this drink is the Balsamic Reduction.
To make it, the bar uses 350mls of balsamic vinegar, two cups water and 60 mils of maple syrup. They reduce that for 20 minutes on the low heat.
“What it does is caramelize everything in the maple syrup and that binds to the balsamic, so it takes the bitterness off it,” Collins points out. “But it’s a sweet-sour that’s really quite beautiful. Balsamic goes with the strawberries really well. And a reduction goes even better.
While Tanqueray is the bar’s house Gin, Collins believes that they would probably use the brand anyway for this drink.
“The thing about Tanqueray is that it’s so adaptable. It’s a gin that you can use as easily in a cocktail as you can in a G&T. It’s a very stand-up, traditional, great British London dry gin. And the colour of it matches the colour of the venue, coincidentally.
“There are so many amazing gins out there now and we’ve got over 175 them here. But I think Tanqueray is a good fit and it goes really well with Strawberries. We get such a wide demographic here, from 20-year-olds through to 70-year-olds. And your traditional gin drinker really likes that stand-up, heavy gin, of a traditional London dry.
The foam on the top of the drink is not only aesthetically pleasing but also extremely easy of anyone to do at home, whether they have a creamer or not.
“You can actually just put aquafaba together with whatever ingredient you like and you can actually just shake it up.,” explains Collins. “In this case, we’ve used Prosecco, Lemon Juice and Sugar Syrup.
“With no ice, you can just dry shake it and the emulsifier is so strong, it will emulsify anything. You can actually make a homemade foam of anything, just with the aquafaba and a bit of sugar. Shake it up and you’ve got a foam.“
Triple frozen ice
As always, ice is a key ingredient but Collins says that they have a trick they use for all their classic cocktails to ensure that it doesn’t dilute the drink.
“Try and get a bigger ice block tray and simply put it in so the freezer freezes as you normally do,” he explains. “As soon as it’s frozen, take it out for about 30 minutes and then repeat that process three times.
“Every time you take it out, it starts melting on itself. And every time you put it back in, the molecules get tighter. So by the third time, or if you’re super keen and got lots of time you can do it five times, the ice never melts.”
45 mils of Tanqueray London Dry
10 mils Crème de Fraise.
10 mils of Aperol
5 mils of the balsamic reduction,
30 mils of the strawberry puree
10 mils of lemon juice
Barspoon Lemon Curd
dash of aquafaba
Add all ingredients to a shaker and give it a good dry shake. Add a bit of ice and shake again, before pouring it into a highball glass over ice. Then add the foam over the top. Garnish with a strawberry and a slice of Lemon.