As I drifted past a posh deli in the very posh town of Petworth, my eye was understandably caught by this in the window. A packet of “Gin & Tonic” flavoured popcorn. Obviously I couldn’t resist nipping in to inspect.
The packaging claims that the product contains 5% actual gin and 5% tonic, though the list of ingredients also includes “natural gin flavour”. Juniper? The manufacturers, Joe and Seph, offer a wide and ambitious range of popcorns, including such flavours as blue cheese with walnut and celery, strawberries and cream, madras curry with black onion seeds and lime, and toffee apple and cinnamon. In addition to G&T the range includes three cocktails—Mojito, Margarita and Cosmopolitan.
The G&T popcorn is air-popped corn coated with caramel—which seems to be the base of most if not all of the products in the range—with further flavourings added. Open the packet and you immediately get an aroma of butter and caramel and a mealy grain smell. But there does seem to be a higher note too, perhaps something fruity. Bite into a piece and, lo and behold, there does seem to be a fruity aromatic flavour pretty reminiscent of juniper (I wouldn’t say that I could detect any other gin botanicals). The first thing that strikes me is surprise that juniper sits so comfortably with caramel.* (Oddly, the conjunction of the two flavours suggests banana to me as well.)
And tonic? Well… if you try hard you can convince yourself that there is a lemon note and a little bitterness, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t notice any such thing if I tasted it blind.
Most importantly, of course, these are tasty and rather moreish snacks. Do they go with G&T? Certainly—particularly with a fruity gin there is quite a synergy, though you may well find that ordinary caramel popcorn also goes with G&T just as well.
I am now curious to try the other products in the “cocktail range”…
* There are, I discovered, plenty of “Caramel Martini” recipes out there, but most are based around vodka or schnapps. I found hardly any that actually combine caramel with gin.