3 minute read

Gin Diaries

PHOTOGRAPHY BY KANIZ SHEIKH

GIN DIARIES

Payal is an interior architect and the co-founder of Zen Garden restaurant. She is also the creative director and founder of ‘KOI by Payal’. Alongside her sister she has also launched a lifestyle blog – PS Runway and produced two cookbooks – Chef At Home & The Zen Bamboo Edition.

My journey to explore the best gin and tonics that the world has to offer has only just begun. Getting to experience and photograph some pretty insane gin literally feeds my mind, heart and soul. My relationship with gin started a few years ago when I got a beautiful bottle of SipSmith Sloe Gin as a gift. After that, there was no stopping me. I must have sampled over eighty gins and made over five hundred gin cocktails for friends and family at home and at my very own gin pop up bar at Zen Garden.

So far, my love for gin has taken me across the continent. Last year, I was flown down to South Africa for the ‘Grand Journey’. This unique multi-sensory experience that pairs top level food with Bombay Sapphire cocktails was simply exquisite. I learnt a lot about gin pairing and experienced a unique 6-course meal made with different gin botanicals found in each course.

“Why gin?” is a question people often ask me. To me, gin is most definitely IN and very

much on trend. Having fitted in so well into cocktail culture, as any gin fan will know, its highly adaptable flavour makes it a perfect infusion for just about any cocktail.

Whether it is an Old Tom, a Plymouth, a Sloe Gin, a London Dry or a Genever, with so many diverse and complex recipes, gin today still delivers a very subtle and refreshing experience. Did you know there are over seven thousand gins crafted worldwide and more than five hundred tonics available? With more than two hundred garnishes available the options to my perfect serve of a gin and tonic are endless. In Kenya, the newest arrival to the fleet is Procera, an African botanical sipping gin that has been hand-distilled in small batches here in Kenya. I recently sampled this gin and instantly added it to my list of current favourites. It is refreshing on the palate and with each sip, its herbaceous notes follow through. Beautifully bottled in handblown recycled glass from Kitengela, this Kenyan gin is a must try.

MY OTHER CURRENT FAVOURITES INCLUDE:

Iverroche Verdant, infused with fynbos from the mountains in Cape Town. This floral beauty is soft and translucent with gold and green hues. Delicate aromas of elderflower and chamomile leading to summer blooms, a touch of spice and subtle juniper, waxy lemon and alluring liquorice make up the botanicals in this gin. The best part is that this incredible gin is available in Kenya.

MY PERFECT SERVE:

• Double measure gin

• Fentimans elderflower tonic

• Sprigs of thyme

• Slices of lime

• Ice cubes

Ademnus Pink Pepper tells a tale of two men, four hands, one pip, a suitcase and some spirits. An intensely aromatic and bold gin with bright and spicy notes of pink peppercorns and juniper, balanced with the warmth of honey, Tonka and vanilla. This pink gem is refined by generations of distillers and blenders in Cognac, France.

MY PERFECT SERVE:

• Double measure gin

• Fitch and Leeds Indian tonic

• Pink peppercorns

• Strawberry slices

• Splash of bitters

• Ice cubes Every batch of this beautiful craft is dedicated to family members, good friends and people who are a part of their story.

New gins to try on my list include Brockmans intensely smooth, Ferdinans and Hepple.