Monday, 5 January 2015
The chemistry of gin (and mango)
5 December 2014, 2 pm
Mr Davies tweets a link to an article about gin. This article says you should forget drinking gin and tonic with lemon or lime; you must drink it with mango.
It is not easy to source tropical fruits in the Wess Curntry, but I am assuming a manglewurzel is pretty much the same as a mango and so will happily give it a whirl once I’ve dug one up and brushed the soil off.
I am, however, a little suspicious about the accuracy of the article. Actually if you are a ginoisseuse like me you will know that the type of fruit that matches a gin depends on the botanicals in the gin, and every gin is different. Some contain elderflower and orange peel; some contain cucumber; some contain things you’d find lodged under an elephant’s toenails. And some of the cheaper ones, particularly the ones sold at airports, contain essence of diesel oil. So, because I am a chemist and know about these things, and also a bit of a pedant especially after a gin or four, I would question whether mango is right for every gin. For an airport gin, for example, wouldn’t a spoonful of engine sludge be a better accompaniment?
The article goes on to say that you must serve your gin with lots of ice. Correct. Then it says you should serve it in a balloon glass so as to allow the aromas to escape and reach your nose, “as they would with a fine wine”. Again, excuse me, but if you cool something down with lots of ice, the last thing the aromas are going to do is escape. They are going to huddle together at the bottom of the glass, like we have to at 95 Chancery Lane these days because the heating is so rubbish.
Finally, the author says that the mango-gin combination creates “a chemical reaction that basically causes a flavour explosion in your mouth.” Well. As a chemist, I do like a good reaction, especially one that basically causes an explosion. But is it nitpicking to want to see the equation for this reaction?