Gin Cocktails: The Summer Drink of The Social Season
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Gin Cocktails: The Summer Drink of The Social Season

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Vintage Cellars
January 23, 2018
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Summer is a time for entertaining outdoors – and indulging in some classic cocktails. We’ll take inspiration from a traditional British ‘Season’ and translate it to a modern-day Australian garden party.

The Season was the customary period when English aristocrats would descend on London for all manner of sophisticated outdoor events – think the age of Sense and Sensibility – which wouldn’t be complete without the gin cocktails, historically beloved by British aristocracy.

Here’s how to update this tradition for an Australian summer.

The Traditional British ‘Season’

The British Social Season, a time for people who lived across Britain, Ireland and Scotland to unite and attend lavish events together, dates back to the 17th Century. Running through summer, the warmer weather meant many events of The Season were held outside. Sporting events like The Derby, The Royal Ascot and Wimbledon attracted crowds in droves, and garden cocktail parties were plentiful.

Although drink trends changed over the Seasons, the prevalence of gin in Britain has been consistently popular. In fact, the British love of gin is so pronounced, the first half of the 18th Century is occassionally referred to as the ‘Gin Craze’ due to the rapid consumption of the spirit. During the 18th and 19th Centuries, gin was mostly served at ‘gin palaces’ (which operated a bit like espresso bars; one shot and off you went) and was used medicinally, like when sailors mixed together Gimlets to stave off sea sickness.

Today, gin remains a staple of modern garden parties and a refreshing base for a summer cocktail. But how might you give these British classics a new twist?

A Modern Context

Although it’s an incredibly versatile spirit, that’s not to say that gin isn’t complex in its own right. The flavour profile of gin is determined by the aromatic botanicals used in the distilling process, with the most common ingredients being juniper (a seed that tastes of pine), coriander and citrus peel. But gin distillers have become increasingly eccentric with their mix of botanicals, providing exciting new flavour profiles in traditional cocktails.

In Australia in particular, locally produced gins such as Archie Rose, Four Pillars, Poor Toms and Hobart No. 4 are challenging traditional flavour profiles and inserting some experimentation into the industry. The popularity of these boutique distilleries proves that the experiment is working – over the last few years gin consumption in Australia has risen nearly 50% across all age groups. This ‘gin boom’ (it’s estimated that there are now 70 gin producers in Australia) has also involved many distilleries integrating native ingredients in their spirits, with enthusiasts increasingly eager to discover where their botanicals are coming from.

Internationally, we’ve seen more and more variations on coloured gin – which have been marked as a growing trend. Pink gin – such as Edgerton Original Pink Gin, which has a pomegranate pinky hue – and purple Ink Gin which actually changes colour in the glass, prove that gin lovers are looking for new twists on the classic spirit.

Refreshing traditional cocktails

Australia’s climate – and renowned seasonal gardens – makes outdoor entertaining an obvious choice for summer. Take some inspiration from The Season to host your own garden party.

To recreate some of the elegance of traditional garden parties of The Season, the correct food and drink is necessary. In the 18th and 19th Centuries, the British upper crust favoured French food. A spread of French delicacies such as thyme and garlic baked brie with a crusty baguette, roast tomato and asparagus tart and Normandy pear cake, are simple dishes that make use of Australia’s fresh summer produce and can be easily served outdoors.

Here are some traditional gin cocktails (with a modern twist) to try this summer:

Pink Collins

The Tom Collins is a well-known gin cocktail and a garden party favourite. By using Edgerton Original Pink Gin, not only will you add interesting notes of orris (a blend of spices with a raspberry-like taste) and ‘grains of paradise’ (a peppery seed named by Medieval spice traders) to the cocktail, but thanks to the inclusion of pomegranate, it will also have an unusual rosy hue.

Ice cubes, to serve
30ml Edgerton Pink gin
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 thin half lemon slices
1 orange slice
Chilled mineral water, to serve
100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) water

1. To make the sugar syrup, place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer, without stirring, for 5 minutes or until the syrup thickens. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Set aside to cool.
2. Fill a serving glass with ice cubes. Pour over the gin, lemon juice and 1-2 tablespoons of sugar syrup. Add the lemon slices and cherry, and stir until well combined.
3. Top with mineral water. Stir and serve immediately.

Gin and Tea

Australia’s boutique distilleries are producing adventurous and incredibly flavoursome gin. Update a gin and tea cocktail by using Hobart No. 4 Batch Distilled Gin, an unusual gin that is enriched with Australian native botanicals such as lemon myrtle, anise myrtle, wattle seed and Tasmanian pepperberry. This may taste different to the traditional London dry gin, but it’s an interesting take on an old favourite.

2 parts Hobart No. 4 Batch Distilled Gin
2 parts brewed and chilled Earl Grey Tea
Squeeze of lemon juice
Teaspoon of sugar
1 slice of lime

1. Pour the ingredients into a glass with ice.
2. Stir well.
3. Garnish with lime slice.


Some cocktails are classics for a reason – as are some gins. Although it’s unlike the traditional classic London Dry style, Archie Rose Signature contains a number of unique Australian native ingredients including blood limes, river mint and Dorrigo pepper leaf. This small batch gin is an excellent – and unusual – choice for your garden party table.

50ml Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin
25ml fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons caster sugar
Ice cubes
Lime wedge

1. Add all ingredients to a shaker or jar with a lid.
2. Shake with ice and strain into a glass over fresh ice.
3. Garnish with lime wedge.