With Christmas parties in full swing there's plenty of drinks to be shared and enjoyed over this festive month - and Northern Ireland's love affair with gin is only getting stronger.
The tipple has seen a huge increase in popularity in recent years, with a number of local brands offering their take on the classic drink.
So as we gear up to a party season of craic and story-telling once again, Belfast's Jawbox Gin has shared tips on mastering the perfect gin this Christmas.
There are thousands of gin brands available and it can be a minefield making a selection.
First off, choose a premium brand - you might pay a little more but the quality will be worth it and the difference in taste appreciated instantly.
Spend a little time researching a brand’s provenance and heritage before you invest. Single Estate or Small Batch is a good mark of quality to look out for - it means the gin will use local grain and have a local distillery.
The Ards Peninsula is home to both The Jawbox Distillery and the fields where the grain is grown and harvested.
A large, wide glass, like a balloon glass or copa glass is ideal for gin.
Gin is a delicate, aromatic spirit and the bigger the surface area of the glass, the more likely you are to enjoy the full experience of your drink through taste, smell and sight. After all, most of what you taste comes through your nose.
It’s a case of the cooler, the better when it comes to drinking gin and a fizzy accompaniment.
Chill your glass in the fridge before you use it. When making your drink, fill your glass with totally frozen, good-quality ice all the way up to the brim - it will melt more slowly as a result.
If your drink is chilled, the carbon dioxide molecules which create the bubbles find it harder to escape, meaning your drink will stay fizzier too, and at its most aromatic for longer.
To find the garnish that works for you, it takes a bit of experimenting.
Try not to overpower the natural botanicals and aromas of the gin with something too herbal or too sweet. Your garnish should complement the gin, not mask it.
Cucumber ribbons or watermelon cubes work well and for those after something slightly more intense the citrus flavours of lime or grapefruit should do the trick. For Christmas, try seasonal berries, a little warming black pepper or honeycomb.
Northern Ireland is home to some of the most-talented bartenders in the world. We’ve a thriving cocktail culture and a real ambition to provide a memorable experience in most of the gin bars.
Next time you’re in your favourite bar, ask the bartender for some new gin suggestions to switch it up for the party season.
If you see London Dry Gin on a bottle of gin, remember it doesn’t refer to the place the gin is made. The term refers to the method by which the gin is produced, typically using all natural ingredients with no flavourings or colourings added after distillation.
Whilst distilled gin allows flavouring to be added after distillation, a London Dry Gin releases the full effect of the botanicals before, requiring intense skill and dedication.
Tonic proves to be an ever-popular accompaniment but for those who may be tiring of this predictable pairing, there are some other options.
If you’re accustomed to gin, why not give it a go on the rocks and appreciate it in a new way?
If you prefer a mixer, try topping your gin with ginger-ale and garnishing with a wedge of lime. Whatever accompaniment you choose, be sure to invest in a premium brand.
Over-stirring or indeed over-shaking can leave you with a weak, watery or cloudy cocktail. Stir gently so you don’t disrupt the delicate, gentle aromas and botanicals of your gin.