Gin and Food Issue 20

Gin Manger: Pairing gin and breakfast food

A plate of Eggs Benedict with a Basil Smash cocktail

In the first of our new series on gin and food pairings, we explore the possibilities of the most important meal of the day: breakfast

By Arugula Rocket

Gin, gin, is a marvellous thing; other than the added ingredient of fine company, how can it be improved? How about with the addition of food?

Breakfast is not only a great way to start your day, but a great way to start this new series of articles. There is a huge variety in breakfast foods – from the meagre to the hearty, the hot to the cold, the meat-laden to the vegetarian – and for each appetite, there is a gin drink to accompany it. Let’s explore some pairings.

Hot Buttered Toast

A classic breakfast, especially when on-the-go or just feeling a little lackadaisical from an enjoyable night before. Hot buttered toast worked particularly well when partnered with a combination of dry gin and freshly squeezed orange juice – specifically, 25 ml gin and the juice of one large orange, served in a well-iced glass with a stirrer. The “freshly squeezed” part of this recipe may seem a bit unnecessary and pretentious, but it makes a massive difference compared to bottled juice.

Full English / Scottish / Irish Breakfast

Whatever the regional variation, this breakfast is a hearty mix of meat, potato, and bread, with maybe the odd fried or griddled vegetable thrown in. It is a fantastic way to start the weekend, so why not enjoy a little accompanying libation? This drink has an ABV of around 10%, similar to Prosecco.

Serves 3-4

  • 100 ml tea-infused dry gin
  • 50 ml red vermouth
  • 25 ml orange liqueur

Infuse the gin for two minutes with the breakfast teabag of your choice, then remove the teabag. (Instead of infusing it yourself, you could also use a tea-flavoured gin such as Mason’s Yorkshire Tea Gin, JIN JIJI Darjeeling Dry Gin, or Jindea Single Estate Tea Gin.) Combine with the red vermouth and orange liqueur to make a fruit cup mix. To serve, add 50ml of the fruit cup mix to an ice-filled half-pint glass and top up with ginger ale or lemonade. Garnish with lemon and lime.

Tea is always a great accompaniment to breakfast and its inclusion here gives the drink both a pleasant dryness and a delightfully refreshing quality.

A tea-infused gin cocktail with a full English breakfast
A tea-infused gin cocktail with a full English breakfast

The Continental

A continental breakfast can cover a range of options, but in this case, it refers to a combination of croissant, pain au chocolat, and Danish pastries: delicious, but messy and a notable creator of crumbs. The pastries, delicious as they are, can be a tad on the dry side and so an accompanying drink needs to be lively and thirst-quenching. And regarding flavours, what goes well with things like pastry and bread? Jam! Well, in this case, marmalade. This recipe calls for a small jar of marmalade; one of those mini jars that you might have “acquired” at a hotel breakfast buffet is ideal.

The Breakfast Martini

  • 50 ml dry gin
  • 15 ml orange liqueur
  • 15 ml lemon juice
  • One small jam jar (2 tsp) of thick-cut orange marmalade

Shake all the ingredients vigorously with ice and fine strain into a cocktail glass.

Porridge / Oatmeal

This is a favourite choice of the winter months and a hearty breakfast that will keep you going for hours and hours, so a companion drink would need to have some “get up and go”, too. 

  • 25 ml aged gin
  • 10 ml honey syrup (50:50 mix of water and set honey)
  • 35 ml cold black coffee (or cold-brew coffee) 

Add all the ingredients to a tall, ice-filled glass and top up with tonic water (approximately 75 ml).

The coffee has a clean bite to it, whilst the woody gin adds a spiced complexity; the honey brings both a sweetness and floral complexity. In terms of your choice of aged gin, this works especially well with more heavily aged gins such as those from No. 209, Bluecoat, or Campfire.

Eggs Benedict

This is arguably more brunch than breakfast, but it’s still dead tasty: poached eggs with rich, creamy Hollandaise, ham, and toasted English muffins. A Basil Smash is leafy and succulent with a bright tartness that helps to cut through the richness of this dish. The drink, originally known as the Gin Pesto, was created in 2008 by Joerg Meyer in Hamburg, Germany.

  • 60 ml dry gin
  • 20 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 10 ml sugar syrup 
  • 12 fresh basil leaves

Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Alternatively, for a cooler, longer drink with a little ice-melt, strain into an ice-filled tumbler and garnish with a small sprig of basil.

A Basil Smash cocktail with Eggs Benedict
A Basil Smash cocktail with Eggs Benedict

Breakfast in America

The all-American breakfast. Whether you call them pancakes, American pancakes, Scotch pancakes, or flapjacks, they are bready, fluffy and indulgent, especially when drizzled in maple or “maple flavoured” syrup. These are available frozen or pre-prepared, but nothing beats freshly made (for recipe, see bottom of article).

For pancakes, a Bee’s Knees is a fine accompaniment; the honey matches the syrup and the lemon juice cuts through the sweetness of the pancakes and syrup. Simple, but delicious.

Bee’s Knees

  • 60 ml dry gin
  • 20 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 15 ml honey syrup

Shake vigorously with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Waffles are another popular choice for breakfast, not least because you can put little things (berries, chocolate chips) in the holes. For a more elaborate breakfast like this, a more sophisticated drink is needed.

Breakfast Bramble

  • 60 ml dry gin
  • 30 ml crème de mûre (accept no substitutes!)
  • 20 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp stone-fruit (e.g. plum, apricot) jam
  • 1 tbsp plain Greek yoghurt

Shake with ice and strain into a small tumbler filled with crushed ice.

Adding yoghurt to a drink may seem unusual, but it works well with the berry notes and adds a light fattiness that cuts through the sourness of the other ingredients.  

Buckwheat Pancakes          

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 0.25 cup sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoon (tsp) baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1.5 cup whole milk
  • 0.25 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 large egg

Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, butter, and egg. Stir the milk mixture into flour mixture until just combined. 

Let the batter stand, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Cook according to your waffle maker’s instructions.

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