Can a pre-made gin and tonic ever hold up to the classic? Well, the folks at Cape Byron Distillery on the Far North Coast of NSW are giving it a crack with the ready-to-go Brookie’s G&T featuring native finger lime. And ooh boy, do I know all about native finger limes and the pain they can cause.
Ok, my backyard is nowhere near the “lush rainforests of the Byron Bay hinterland” where Cape Byron Distillery is based, but it goes alright. It’s basically my own Harris Farm store with the number of fruit trees I’ve amassed. And that collection includes several different lime trees, particularly two varieties of native finger limes — the spikiest trees on earth. I like to “inspect the crops” (aka as wander around my backyard) with a bevy in-hand at the end of the day.
Usually, I’m not a fan of pre-made cocktails. They always seem a bit cheap-yet-overpriced to me. Plus the flavour is rarely as good as the freshly-mixed version. But Brookie’s G&T holds up pretty good, plus it’s lower in sugar — Cape Byron Distillery say they use 50% less sugar in the process than other brands, with 2.4gm for 100mL. It has a nice balance and the lime flavour is quite subtle.
Keep in mind that finger limes are generally not as sweet as your standard Tahitian lime. The fruit is small, narrow and long (like a finger), and the pulp inside looks like caviar.
Being native plants, the trees are very low maintenance — except for the VERY sharp thorns. If you want to try growing them yourself, I’d recommend keeping them in a large pot — if you plant them in the ground they can grow to four metres high or more, and good luck negotiating the thorns on a fruit tree that size. The fruit is also really good with fish and seafood dishes.
Anyway, back to the Brookie’s G&T. Maybe it’s because of the lower sugar count (who knew tonic water had so much sugar in it?!), but the ready-to-go drink was the perfect refresher after a couple of hours of weeding my non-Byron Bay backyard. I didn’t even bother with a glass, just straight down.
If you’re having a backyard party or barbecue, these pre-mixed G&Ts would be great for anyone who doesn’t like beer or overly sweet ciders.
Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin & Tonic is available in bottle shops and online. A 4-pack will set you back $27.99 (that’s $7 a pop).