I drink gin neat. And so do others I know. It just isn't part of the normal pattern at bars. And frankly, I don't really think gin (in its current form) should be promoted as a spirit to sip neat. I feel that of all of the base spirits, gin is the one that just sings to be mixed with something.......
As a producer of gin, you SHOULD feel like people aren't fully experiencing your craftsmanship when they mix a cocktail with your gin. It's your baby. It's sort of (note I am saying "sort of" here), like being a butter producer and feeling like people aren't able to truely appreciate your product if they don't taste it straight.
.............. Traditional gin has sharp and lively botonical flavors in it, while vermouth has more subdued and relaxed flavors. The two blend together quite well. Properly made, a gin martini will be one where you can't quite tell where the gin stops, and the vermouth begins. It is neither gin, nor vermouth, but a culinary balance of the two.
Bitters then plays a very crucial role. It is like salt in a soup. If a soup tastes salty, then you put too much salt in it, however if you leave the salt out entirely, something is missing. Bitters are just providing that blending agent, the slightest hint of spice which does the final binding and accentuating of the flavors in the drink.
We are just now getting a chance to return to the "culinary cocktail" as was seen in the pre-prohibition days. That is not of couse (as you point out) that all pre-prohbition cocktails that people were drinking were "art in a glass", there was a lot of dreck as well. Just as with any cuisine, at any point in history, the majority that was being served was dreck. Only those who could afford to eat the finest available, would. Today we have McDonalds, Chili's, AppleBee's, etc. serving mass food to mass markets. Similarly there are "rank and file" bars which will serve your "call" gin with bargin tonic, and gladly take your money.
Ack! See......remember how I stated above that you should hold onto real bartenders who actually think
about their ingredients like Grim Death. Now you all know why!
Very eloquently stated, and you know what? I can't argue with you. At all. Especially re: the buttermaker metaphor (where'd you come up with that
gem of a metaphor?), which had me laughing my *ss off. Yep. You're right. It does call out for mixing. Much more so than Vodka, IMHO. That doensn't mean that I'm not going to ask a bartender to try Leopold's chilled neat. I'm stubborn.
A couple of points, though.
You wrote that 'Traditional gin has sharp and lively botonical flavors in it, while vermouth has more subdued and relaxed flavors. The two blend together quite well.".
I don't make London Dry Gin.....I make American Gin. Which, as you know, means absolutely nothing, save to say that I don't use the same process, and the result is different. I distill each botanical separately......a run of juniper, a run of orris, etc. And when I make the runs, I cut like you would a whiskey wash. Juniper, as an example, gets more and more acrid as the hearts have been passed. It tastes like a pine tree. This is the very biggest reason that people are turned off to Gin, IMHO. I know because I've been asking them for years now out in the field.
Orange peel, on the other hand, gives up its glory closer to the start of the heart. I cut the Orange run much sooner.
Well, this process allows me to use more juniper, more orange, more orris....without making the Gin a big overpowering mess. And the biggest difference? Because of where I cut the juniper run, the natural sweetness of the juniper berry comes through, making the Gin rounder, and (barely) sweet....pretty much the opposite of London Dry Gin.
It makes it (wait for it) really stand out in cocktails.
Whooo. Butter, eh?
Heh. Drop me your address in the PM thingy (I'm really
good w/computers, as you can see). I need to send you a bottle of my butter.