The Perfect Gin and Tonic
Before you stock your bar and pour this cocktail haphazardly, we have a few rules on constructing the perfect gin and ton that you must follow. Follow this recipe and we promise you'll hae a perfect cocktail every time.
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- 1 lime wedge
- 3 Ounces of dry, chilled gin
- 3 Ounces of preferred branded tonic water
Eight Gin & Tonic Riffs That Prove Gin Is Always in Season
One of the most iconic drinks in bar history, G&Ts are perfect for summer, and with time outside comes inspiration to do things a little more fun. It’s affordable, it’s portable, and it can be whatever you make it. Here are eight of our favorite riffs on the classic G&T.
Is anything more refreshing than cucumber? We think not. Adding muddled cucumber to the classic G&T gives the OG cocktail an incredible lift. All you’ve got to do is slice, dice, and pour. (See us make it here!)
Navy Strength Botanical Gin & Tonic
Botanicals on botanicals (sprigs of thyme, lemon, and cracked black pepper) plus high-proof gin make this version fit for an old-time maritimer.
The Cranberry Sauce Gin and Tonic Recipe
A cranberry component makes this recipe the perfect cocktail choice during the holiday cooking season. Prepping a cranberry sauce for a turkey dish? Save some of that cran sauce for this crowd-pleasing G&T.
Winter Gin & Tonic
The cranberry cocktail isn’t the only winter selection on this list. To experiment more in spiced simple syrup, test out this festive iteration that incorporates both spices and orange juice.
Gin & Tonic Sorbet
Soon enough, sorbet will be replacing chocolate mousse on our go-to dessert list. Did you know you can easily turn sorbet into a delicious gin and tonic cocktail? It’s easy: Just add lime.
Pomegranate Gin & Tonic
Who doesn’t love pomegranate juice? To recreate that subtly sweet flavor, all you need is an ounce of grenadine.
The Spiked Coffee Tonic Recipe
Some coffee-lovers take their favorite brew with cream, and others take it with gin. This espresso-laden riff on the G&T marries the best drinking habits of the morning and evening.
Mix 40ml of VII Hills Gin with 10ml Zirbenze Pine Liqueur. This is then balanced with ice, a few generous squeezes of lemon juice and topped with tonic water.
Garnish with a lemon slice and a pine sprig. The G&T Roman Holiday is an elegant, dry and intriguing take on the classic.
Perfect gin match: VII Hills Gin is packed with Italian botanicals which work extremely well with the alpine flavour of pine.
Cocktail suggestion by: Danilo Tersigni, Founder of VII Hills Italian Dry Gin
How to Make a Gin and Tonic
For a slightly more citrus-y take on the classic G&T, swap out lime wedges for a wedge of grapefruit. Simply squeeze the grapefruit wedge to taste&mdashyou can also add a dash of grapefruit bitters for an extra kick&mdash and then prepare as you would the standard gin and tonic.
A proper Gin and Tonic comes down to the tonic water. Sure, if you're using well gin that's better suited to strip paint, then your G&T won't exactly sparkle with flavor. But if you have at least a decent bottle of gin (of which there are many, from traditional London Dry gins to newer, herbally confounding varieties), then it only makes sense to pair it with exceptionally good tonic. After all, this isn't a complex cocktail. Most of it is tonic water make sure it isn't the ultra-cheap stuff. With that in mind, look a little harder at the grocery store for tonic brands that try a little harder&mdashQ Mixers, Fever-Tree, and even Schweppes do the trick.
Then, tonic water secured, gin bottle uncapped, you can make yourself what is one of the most humble yet stalwart cocktails known to man. Sharp and sweet, the Gin and Tonic is a fizzy drink for the ages.
A Little Background
The Gin and Tonic is so British that the Queen's corgis lap it up after playing a round of polo on the abbey grounds. Or something like that. During the 1800s, it was used as a cure for malaria by officers in the British East India Trading Company stationed in India. Or rather, it was the indirect result of officers seeking a cure for malaria. As doctors had long since discovered, quinine from cinchona bark could be ingested to ward off the disease. But quinine tasted terrible, so the Brits in India used sugar and soda to make tonic water with it&mdasha tonic for their ills. It was only a matter of time before they started mixing it with their country's spirit of choice. As Winston Churchill supposedly said, "Gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen's lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the Empire." To your health!
By the time Britain's imperialistic quest was done, the G&T was a British favorite in the motherland. It still is the most popular drink there.
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If You Like This, Try These
There are plenty of fizzy gin drinks to go around. A Gin Rickey swaps tonic for club soda. A Tom Collins favors lemon over lime. A Sloe Gin Fizz requires a very specific (and very red) kind of British gin-based liqueur. And of course, there are the non-fizzy gin cocktail classics, like the Gin Martini and the Gimlet.
Featured Recipe: A Tonic with Gin
Make sure to pop down to Nejaime’s Wine Cellars, just a quick stroll from our Inn, to pick up everything you need to enjoy this famous cocktail, including delicious gourmet snacks!
- 1/16 tsp. Raw Quinine Powder
- 1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
- 1.5 oz. Cane Sugar Simple Syrup
- 1.5 oz. Tanqueray No. Ten Gin
- .5 oz. Sparkling Water
- Garnish: Lime Wedge with Stir Stick
- Place all ingredients except sparkling water in a mixing tin.
- Dry shake vigorously without ice to emulsify powder in alcohol.
- Fill a high ball glass with ice. Pour contents on mixing tin into glass and top off with sparkling water.
- Tumble, roll back and forth 1 time, garnish and serve.
Add Your Tonic Water
Next, it’s time to add your Tonic Water.
But what’s the best Tonic Water to use? Again, that all depends on what you like the best.
Here are a few great brands of Tonic Water that are fantastic for a G&T:
What is the Perfect Gin and Tonic Ratio?
The most important part about making the perfect Gin and Tonic is getting the mix right. But what is the perfect Gin to Tonic Water ratio?
We’re going to sound like a broken record here, but it depends on your taste.
Some people prefer a 1:1 ratio, meaning that you split the Gin and tonic water 50/50. So if you use 50ml /1.6oz of Gin, you use 50ml / 1.6oz of Tonic Water.
This goes up all the way to a 1:4 ratio (for your 50ml / 1.6oz of Gin, you would use 200ml / 6.7oz of Tonic Water).
However, the most common recommendation (and our personal preference) is a 1:3 ratio. We use 50ml / 1.6oz of Gin and 150ml / 5oz of Tonic Water.
The Perfect Gin & Tonic: Which Gin, Which Tonic, Which Recipe, Which Secrets
Yes, Champagne’s a great way to start any evening’s gastronomic activities. But I, on a warm summer’s night, in the gathering twilight, on the verandah, wearing my crisply pressed white dinner jacket, chatting with Noel Coward about cricket, reach far more often for a gin & tonic, surely one of the most refreshing, palate-opening cocktails ever invented.
Problem is, the state of gin-and-tonic-making is at perilously low levels. Whenever I order one (well, usually without a white dinner jacket, and usually discussing the Mets with some guys from Queens), some combination of the following problems crops up:
*too much gin
*not enough gin
*gin that’s too strong
*tonic that’s flavorless
*tonic that’s flat
*too much ice
*too little ice
*too little lime
So I got to work, attempting once and for all to standardize all that I love about G&T-ness. Here are the secrets:
1) The drink works best with a gin that’s light, low in alcohol—otherwise the drink is bitter and hot. I recently compared the alcohol levels of gins on the market, and was amazed to find a range from 41.2% alcohol up to almost 50% alcohol! The one that was 41.2% is Plymouth Gin, one of the lightest, loveliest gins you can buy, bursting with flavor (its recipe using juniper berries, coriander seeds, citrus peel and angelica root was first made in 1793), and certainly my favorite for the gin & tonic. It was a favorite of such luminaries as Ian Fleming (did Bond drink G&Ts?), Winston Churchill and FDR. The latter consumed it at Campobello because it used to be available in the American market, but has been off for decades—until its re-introduction this year. That’s big news! I say grab it now, by all means, for the best G&T you’ve ever had.
2) The drink works best with the right tonic water—which is to say water that’s very lively/bubbly, and water that has much of the traditional quinine flavor. There are a number of tonic waters widely available but, for my money, the out-and-out leader in the field—the only one I’ll use—is Schweppes. I like to buy it in small bottles so that it remains unopened and fresh if you’re buying large bottles, make sure you can use most of it right after you open it.
3) Lastly, the biggest secret of all: take your Schweppes water and pour it into an ice cube tray! A few hours later, your Tonic Ice Cubes will provide you with the tightest tasting, most integrated G&T you can imagine—with no watery meltdown as your conversation with Noel gets heated.
The Frosty Plymouth Gin & Tonic
makes one gin & tonic
four Schweppes Tonic Water Ice Cubes (see NOTE)
3 ounces Plymouth Gin
4 ounces Schweppes Tonic Water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
lime wedge for garnish
1. Place the ice cubes in a tall, narrow, chilled glass (the cubes should come near the top.) Add the gin, then the tonic water, then the lime juice, stirring well. Garnish with lime wedge, and serve immediately. White dinner jacket is optional.
NOTE: To make the ice cubes, simply fill an empty ice cube tray with Schweppes Tonic Water, and let the cubes freeze. It takes just a few hours. Covered well, the cubes will remain fresh tasting in the freezer for at least a few weeks.
How to make a gin and tonic with lime and mint
Here’s what you’ll need: gin, tonic, lime wedges, fresh mint, and ice cubes. For the glasses, I recommend a rocks glass or high ball glass.
For the perfect gin and tonic, start with fresh mint leaves. Add a couple of clean leaves to a glass and muddle them in the bottom.
Then toss in two or three standard-sized ice cubes or one over-sized ice cube. Extra large ice cubes work great in this drink, because they cool quickly & melt slowly. That way your cocktail won’t get diluted before you finish it.
Pour in a tonic that’s sweetened with sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. There are lots of options on the market.
Finally, finish off the drink with two wedges of lime. Squeeze both of them into the drink. Then give the rim a swipe with the fruit of the lime. That way with the first sip, you get an extra hit of lime.
(Need another use for that bottle of gin? Make an orange creamsicle drink!)
How to Make the Perfect Gin & Tonic
There are a lot of opinions out there about what makes the perfect gin and tonic, but I think everyone can agree that you need to begin with a quality gin and a quality tonic water or tonic syrup. Like any cocktail, it will only be as good as the sum of its parts, and poor quality ingredients can ruin the entire experience.
Cheap tonic waters made with corn syrup are often overly sweet, which not only kills the crisp + refreshing vibe, but can throw the cocktail off balance, making it just not taste very good. A gin & tonic is a great example of a cocktail that balances the flavor of the spirit with bitter, sweet, and sour flavors. To create harmony, it’s important to not have any one taste category dominating the drink. Think of the last time you had a poorly made drink at a bar. What was so bad about it? Most likely it was either too strong or too sweet.
When building our gin and tonic, we want to first avoid these two issues by making sure we have a good-tasting gin, a well-made tonic water and a balanced ratio of these two primary ingredients. I like to use 2 oz of gin to about 5-6 oz tonic water (1:3 ratio). Next, and also super important is citrus! I love a classic gin and tonic with lime, and I make sure to choose ripe, fresh limes every time. A good lime should feel heavy in your hand, have fairly smooth skin, and give a little when you squeeze it. If it’s hard as rock or has very lumpy or patchy skin, it’s not going to give you the best tasting (or very much) juice. I choose an average sized lime and squeeze half of its juice into my gin and tonics, but you can use less if you prefer.
The next component of a perfect G&T is ice. As always, ice is critical to a good cocktail experience. Good quality ice (made with good-tasting water) is key, and use a copious amount of it! I like to fill my glass completely, and then build the cocktail over the ice, sometimes adding even more ice so that it’s super-chilled.
The final factor is glassware. I think it goes without saying that I have a thing for glassware, but it really does make a difference. Different folks prefer different styles of glassware for their gin & tonics, but I’m partial to balloon-shaped glasses or wide, rounded tumblers or stemless wine glasses because they allow you to take in the aroma of the gin and fully experience it while sipping. My husband is partial to a nice tall Collins glass, and I know some people who prefer a simple rocks glass. There’s no right or wrong answer here – it’s just worth considering, and trying a few different styles of glass to see what you like best, and what makes for the best experience for YOU. There’s a lot of elitist info out there regarding cocktail recipes, formulas, and rules, but ultimately, we all have different tastes, and the only thing that matters is that it’s YOUR perfect gin & tonic. I hope these pointers will help you to hone in on what that means for you!
Cocktail-inspired cookies are my new obsession – so expect to see some more of these recipes as the holidays approach. I show my love through baked goods, what can I say? I worked on this cookie recipe for a while to arrive at a flavor and consistency I liked best. These are quite junipery, which I love, but if you prefer a more subtle flavor, omit the juniper powder from the cookies and just go with the juniper-infused cream glaze. Now, on to the recipes!
What are you doing to celebrate today? Tag me @moodymixologist in your G&T day photos!
In a highball glass filled with ice cubes, pour the gin, then top with tonic.
Gently stir to combine, but not so much so that you lose carbonation.
Garnish with a lime wedge. Serve and enjoy.
- A lime wedge is almost always served with the gin and tonic, and it's a fantastic way to add a hint of citrus. Get the most out of it by running the wedge around the rim of the glass, squeeze the juice into the drink, then drop the wedge in.
- To add even more lime flavor, squeeze in the juice from a second wedge or add a splash of lime cordial before topping it with tonic.
- There is a fantastic array of gins to choose from today. Your gin and tonic can become an entirely new experience with each gin you pour. For a traditional G&T, a London dry gin like Beefeater or Tanqueray is a good choice. You can also opt for the cucumber of Hendrick's, the florals of Aviation, or the soft sweetness of Hayman's Old Tom Gin.
- For the best experience, use freshly opened bottles of well-chilled tonic.
The gin and tonic may be simple, but it's also a great foundation for experimentation. With a few changes here and there, you can create an entirely new drink.
- If you are not a fan of gin, there is always the vodka tonic.
- Whiskey drinkers will enjoy the leprechaun with Irish whiskey.
- A splash of fruit juice, such as apple, cranberry, or orange, adds a hint of flavor and sweetness to this typically dry drink.
- Use a lemon wedge in place of or in addition to lime garnish.
- Another option is to add 1/2 ounce or so of your favorite liqueur or flavored syrup. Amaretto makes a semisweet gin and tonic, or enjoy a garden-fresh strawberry tonic with homemade syrup (it works for other fruits, too). You can even turn to that trusted bottle of grenadine. raspberries, mango, or other fresh fruits in the glass before building the drink.
- Infuse extra flavor into the gin or vodka. The autumn spiced tonic recipe uses apple, pear, and cinnamon for vodka, and there are many gin infusions that are an excellent base for tonic as well.
How Strong Is a Gin and Tonic?
The gin and tonic can be as light or as strong as you want to make it. The strength is controlled by the amount of tonic you pour. With the average 5-ounce pour of tonic and an 80-proof gin, the drink weighs in around 10 percent ABV (20 proof). It's a very casual drink, which is why it's a favorite to serve at dinner.
Is Tonic Water Healthy?
Nutritionally, tonic water does not provide much value. Though not as much as other soft drinks, it typically includes sugar or some other sweetener. The amount varies by brand and will affect the calorie count.
Is It Safe to Drink Tonic Water Every Day?
It is generally harmless for most people to drink tonic water daily in moderation. Quinine is the ingredient in tonic water that is responsible for its semi-bitter and dry taste. The alkaloid is derived from cinchona bark and can lead to quinine toxicity (cinchonism) in high doses. This is most often a concern in medication form or for people with certain medical conditions, and it can interact with some medications. To ensure the tonic water sold in the U.S. is safe, the FDA limits how much quinine can be present in tonic water.
Can I Make Tonic Water at Home?
Many types of soda are fun to make at home. However, tonic water is one that should always be purchased from a reputable manufacturer. Due to the serious side effects of cinchonism, it can be harmful to make your own tonic syrup from cinchona bark because it is impossible to control the amount of quinine. It is generally safe to purchase a premade tonic syrup if you follow the company's recommended dilution to make tonic water. As an alternative, you can make quinine-free tonic syrup at home.