Gin drinkers, for the most part, are a particular crew. We'll find a gin, perhaps the first one we try, and stake a position, like Coke and Pepsi drinkers. I was no different when I made Bombay Sapphire my house gin. There's nothing distinctive about Sapphire, but as the label declares--a cleaner, crisper, more balanced taste--the gin lends itself to a gamut of drinks, which is why you'll find it in many bars.
Often I see "Tanqueray and Tonic" in magazines and recently on a huge billboard near the Galleria. Among the drink's many enthusiasts is my sister. I suspect they are suckers for advertising.
A blind taste test might seem in order here, but that won't satisfy my question: Is Tanqueray good enough to sway me from my usual gin and tonic habits? Instead, I set up a simple head-to-head competition, using not one, but two different tonics. And for the fun of it, I tossed in Plymouth, which I recently discovered makes a delightful Pink Gin.
First, I sampled the gins straight up. Bombay Sapphire tastes of juniper, and the other botanicals make it dry and astringent. Tanqueray is stronger with the juniper, but more full-bodied and smooth. I didn't know juniper could taste that good. Plymouth is citrusy with a cardamom heat, easy on the juniper, and smooth. Plymouth is what vodka wishes it was.
Then I mixed the gin and tonics: two ounces gin, two ounces tonic, cubes of ice, with a fat wedge of lime. For each gin I used Q-Tonic, a favorite of mine, and with three separate drinks I used Fever-Tree, which was new to me.
Plymouth and Q had a washed-out taste, like a failed soda pop. Plymouth and Fever-Tree mixed more distinctly, but was too citrusy.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
With Bombay Sapphire and Q, the astringency came through, as did the quinine and a general gin flavor. This is a gin and tonic that I surmised would be hard to beat. I followed with Sapphire and Fever-Tree. The taste was less astringent, with a bitter taste, and for lack of a better term, it "jangled" my tongue.
Tanqueray and Q brought out the juniper, but the other gin botanicals and tonic ingredients interfered with each other. Sapphire had Tanq on the ropes, until I mixed the Tanqueray with Fever-Tree. It was a knockout. The juniper complemented the quinine, orange oil, and whatever else Fever-Tree puts in there. Sorry, but the ads are old now, it's "Tanqueray and Fever" for the win.