The Gin Journey's Student-Friendly Serves
Put down the paint-stripper vodka and value mixer! There is a better way...
Making cocktails at home doesn’t mean an extended spirit list or the trendiest shaker in town. Using kitchen utensils to balance flavours, jam jars to shake and knowing that ice moulds aren’t just for the back of your freezer (they are for life), could turn you into a top mixologist in no time!
We've asked Leon Dalloway (aka The Gin Boss) and Cocktail Kate of The Gin Journey – a sort of classy gin-centric bar crawl, if you will – for five of their best student-friendly alternatives.
First up: you'll need a basic sugar syrup recipe, which is a ratio of 2:1 sugar and boiling water. "Best to make a bottle and pop it in the fridge," suggests Kate. "Grab a bag of sugar, a measuring jug and whack the kettle on. The rule to this is to always add double sugar to that of water. For example, measure 300g sugar and add 150ml boiling water to it. Stir it 'til it goes clear, put it in the fridge, give it a shake before you want to use it and bingo: you’ve got sugar syrup for days."
Kate says: "Using jam in a cocktail instead of fresh fruit means it lasts longer, you can use less sugar, you can whack it on some toast when you need a carb fix the next day AND you can use the jar as your cocktail shaker for a hipster twist to your tool kit!"
1 tsp of blackcurrant jam (have a go with other jam flavours, too!)
25ml lemon juice (we go fresh here; none of that Jif shite)
10ml sugar syrup
Fill shaker with ice and shake until it's really, REALLY cold. Pour out into a tumbler or short glass and enjoy.
"This is a fun twist on the 80s classic, The Bramble," Kate explains. "The key with jam in a cocktail is to buy a decent jam; scrimping on this ingredient could leave your cocktail too sweet and lumpy. A good ‘Finest’ jam will do the trick."
The Cordial Collins
25ml lemon juice
12.5ml of your cordial of choice
Shake and pour everything into a tall glass, and top with soda.
"You can grab whatever cordial takes your fancy in the shops – again, the better quality the cordial the better your cocktail will be," Kate adds. "Bottle Green elderflower is the ultimate winner with this and the Belvoir ginger is outrageous! If you wanna make it a bit cheaper, just make a sugar syrup in a pan and add whatever you want to it – grate fresh ginger, orange zest or some blackberries, for instance. Just remember to sieve it before you stick it in the fridge."
12.5ml sugar syrup
6-8 mint leaves
Shake and double strain, and serve up with no ice. Garnish with a mint leaf.
"Think a real classy gin Mojito for this one," Kate says. "It’s my ultimate fave right now. For the double strain, just use a sieve or a tea strainer. The idea is to prevent those little pieces of mint sticking to your teeth, which doesn’t look good when you’re holding the room with your newfound bartending skills!"
20ml lemon juice
15ml honey water (mix one part honey with one part warm water)
Grab that jam jar again, fill it with ice, pour the liquid in, give it a shake, double strain and serve with a piece of lemon zest.
"Serve it in the poshest glass you’ve got, preferably a Martini glass or coupette," Leon advises. "Make sure you chill the glass with ice first so it’s nice and cool, just like warming the plates but the other way round."
Pimp My G&T
"So a G&T can be anything you want it to be," explains Leon. "It can be a late night blend of crap gin with chemical-flavoured tonic in a murky glass with no ice. Does the job, I suppose. But it can be elevated to a whole new level."
Here are Leon's tips on how exactly you can do that – without breaking the bank, obvs.
Fill the glass with good ice
"As Cocktail Kate mentioned before, invest in a top notch ice mould or ice tray and your drinks will keep their quality for longer than ever," Leon says. "The more ice the colder your drink stays, therefore less dilution, therefore a better drink for longer.
Use a decent glass
"You know those posh wine glasses that look too fancy for the £3.99 Jacob’s Creek rosé you’ve just bought? Well whack a G&T in it and call it Spanish style. Bueno."
Use tasty gin
"Not all delicious gin has to stitch up the student loan. My recommendations for gins that are a little cheaper but still brilliantly beautiful are: Plymouth Gin, Hayman’s London Dry, Beefeater London Dry, Portobello 171 or Tanqueray Export Strength (forget that Aldi nonsense, clickbait heaven that was.)"
The tonic is just as important as the gin
"Fever-Tree are on point and you can grab it from most supermarkets too."
"A little dash of flavoured bitters perks the G&T right up. Peach bitters are my go to to make anything tastier. You can also use liqueurs, cordials, syrups. Anything that’s lying around that will up the game."
Finally, garnish well
"We don’t use straws on the Gin Journeys as we’re all about trying to cut down the size of our carbon footprint, but garnishes are a must. Top tip is to grab some rosemary from a garden close by. It grows everywhere throughout suburbs and cities. Give it a slap and pop it in your drink sticking out so it smells insane."
Get your ratios right
Use 50ml of gin to 150ml of tonic (1:3 ratio). Drink with style and grace.