It’s Always Gin O’Clock
“The idea of gin always calls the same aromas to mind, but when you get down to it, it’s actually a very lively, challenging liquid. To know how to serve gin perfectly, we have to know the entire production process and the ingredients it’s made of, as well as the guest we’re going to serve it to,” explains Lukić, who also happens to be one of Croatia’s top bartenders.
Guests at Valamar Collection hotels can choose from around twenty internationally renowned brands of gin. The obligatory favourites are available, as are today’s top brands such as Monkey 47, Martin Miller’s, Mare, and Tanqueray No. 10. However, we certainly recommend you try Croatian gin, as well as our bartenders’ signature gin & tonics with Mediterranean notes.
“Valamar’s bars currently offer Nostromo Wine Gin from Istria, Luftbremzer from Zagreb, and Curzola 1298, which is distilled in Germany using Croatian ingredients. The local gins stand shoulder-to-shoulder with foreign competition. Croatian producers have proven their quality with gold medals at international competitions. We aim to expand our selection of Croatian producers which means we’ll soon have an even wider selection of the best Croatian gins,” says Lukić.
The word ‘gin’ comes to mind intuitively at the very mention of tonic. When creating their various gin & tonics at Valamar, the bar staff have plenty of room for a creative approach. “We use local, natural ingredients available to us near our hotels. For example, our new Double O G&T centres around our organically grown, pesticide-free bitter orange from Dubrovnik. Darijo Milanović, executive chef at Valamar Argosy Hotel, has made them into a spectacular jam, giving us something exceptional just for our guests,” adds Lukić.
Let’s get back to the fact that you can enjoy a gin & tonic at any time of day. For example, in London, gin & tonics are served with brunch. “Valamar guests can start enjoying G&Ts around noon, when they head to the pool to enjoy the sun. The freshness and aroma of our G&Ts opens up a new dimension of holiday relaxation. The evening hours and cocktails go hand in hand, which means a gin & tonic is great both with dinner and afterwards as you relax on your hotel terrace. What matters is that they are always chilled and with plenty of ice. However, this winter, our guests will also have the opportunity to try hot gin cocktails at Valamar’s lobby bars,” says Lukić.
Lukić recommends that Valamar Collection guests make sure to try a few different types of G&T, like the Basil Smash for fans of lowball cocktails, the Double O G&T with bitter orange, and the Fresh Negroni, a classic with a special twist. The Pharmacy Fizz with home-made rosemary honey syrup and jasmine tea, designed as a tribute to the first pharmacy in Dubrovnik (and one of the oldest in the world), is already looking to be a best-seller at Valamar’s bars.
But which gin & tonic do the bartenders themselves prefer? “It’s my job to create new flavours and cocktails, so I don’t get especially tied to any version in particular as that would kill my creativity. I love classics like the Basil Smash and the Negroni with a twist, but still with the form of the original. They’re my evening favourite. For a daytime option, I go with the Fizz,” he says with a smirk.
TOP GIN & TONIC TIPS
1. always serve with plenty of ice.
2. chill tonic well and pour it slowly to preserve its carbonation.
3. depending on the brand of gin, citrus peel can be used to emphasise aromas.
4. Garnish with rosemary, cucumber, or flower petals, as well as with an entire range of dried spices used as aromatics in gin.
5. serve without a straw so that the aromatics come to their fullest expression on the surface of the drink.
One of the most popular cocktails in the world, with a little twist from Valamar’s bartenders. The freshness of lemon and aromatic basil melds perfectly with a syrup made from local honey and rosemary. it’s a simple recipe that requires a lot of care to ensure the perfect balance. Gin and freshly squeezed lemon juice is poured into the shaker, but we replace the simple syrup from the original recipe with rosemary honey syrup and basil leaves. After shaking, the drink is poured over ice and decorated with basil leaves.
A cocktail with jasmine tea made in honour of the first pharmacy in dubrovnik. Gin and lemon give the cocktail freshness, while the homemade rosemary honey syrup rounds it off with sweet notes. Gin, freshly squeezed lemon, and syrup are shaken together before being strained over ice into a highball glass. We then add tea that has been carbonated in a soda syphon. it is garnished with a sprig of rosemary and lemon peel.
The classic negroni is always a great choice available on most standard cocktail menus. For this summer, our bartenders have prepared a twist that best describes the freshness and aroma of the mediterranean. The cocktail is made in a glass filled with ice, into which goes gin, amaro nonino, ramazzotti aperitivo rosato and a combination of red and white vermouth, and a garnish of orange peel and mint or basil leaves.