ARE you sweet-with-strawberries or botanical and bold?

Maybe you prefer dry and aromatic, or feisty with fresh fruit?

However you take your gin, you are in good company.

This Saturday (June 8) is World Gin Day. Recent figures from the Wine and Spirits Trade Association revealed there were 66 million bottles of gin sold in the UK over the last 12 months – a 41 percent rise from the year before.

Once considered an old-fashioned choice, it is now the trendiest tipple in town.

Marc Jones, general manager of La Bonne Auberge in the city centre, has recently revamped and extended the French/Scottish bar and restaurant’s gin menu.

“It’s a very versatile drink, light but packed with flavour,” he explains.

“Every gin is a different experience – some are fiery, some fruity, some dry, some sweet. We use a range of flavoured Fever-tree tonics but you can add whatever mixers and flavours you like, from ginger beer and lime juice to Angostura bitters.

“Garnishes range from twists of lemon and fresh coriander to celery, mint and whatever berries are in season.”

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Marc says the restaurant team has spotted a rise in customers drinking gin with food.

“We are noticing people are more discerning about what they drink, and know more about what is on offer,” he adds. “So rather than sit all night with one bottle of wine, they are more inclined to try a couple of different drinks, whether that’s gin, craft beers or the new kid on the block, rum.”

“Gin is light enough to have with food – it’s perfect for fish dishes, smoked salmon and goat’s cheese, for example – because it’s not too overpowering. You could also have a spicier gin with duck or beef – the flavour combinations work well together.”

Sisters-in-law and gin fans Michelle Young and Carolyn Wallace, who are from East Kilbride, helped to taste-test some of the new gin menu at La Bonne Auberge, with expert guidance from Marc and restaurant manager Peter Stulrajter.

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First up is a Brockmans with a light tonic and strawberries and a lemon wheel to garnish.

“You can smell the fruit straight out of the bottle,” says Michelle. “It’s a lovely aroma and a traditional, refreshing gin.”

Next up is The Botanist, crafted on Islay with 22 foraged botanicals, paired with elderflower tonic and with lemon and mint to garnish.

“This is much drier, a little citrussy and very pleasant,” says Carolyn.

The Caorunn Gin, paired with elderflower tonic and garnished with slices of apple, is also a hit.

“It reminds me of the seashore,” smiles Carolyn. “It’s crisp and aromatic – a bit different.”

More traditional combinations, such as the age old ‘gin and bitter lemon’, or ‘gin and tonic’ have been updated too – think gin with Sicilian lemon tonic, for example, or try a pink gin, infused with the natural sweetness of raspberries and strawberries and the tang of redcurrant, paired with aromatic tonic.

Peter Stulrajter explains: “It’s all about balancing the flavours – you perhaps wouldn’t add a strawberry tonic to a pink gin for example, as it would be incredibly sweet, like a dessert in a glass.

“Citrussy limes and lemons are better paired with the drier gins, while fiery gins, like rhubarb and ginger, can be balanced with lighter tonics.”

Peter adds, smiling: “But at the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you how you like your gin.

“We now have specialist Scottish gins on the menu, monthly guest gins from around the world, all featuring a range of wonderful botanicals, from hibiscus and raspberries to rose petals and sea buckthorn - really something for everyone.”

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