A classic gin and tonic might sound like a simple request but getting it right isn’t quite so straightforward. In fact, the quintessential British sundowner is easily ruined with the wrong balance of gin to tonic, a sloppy garnish, or dare we say, poor-quality ingredients. That’s why we’ve put together our expert guide so that mediocrity can be banished forever! Here’s how to get started with the perfect gin and tonic.
What is Gin and Tonic?
Also known as ‘G&T’, this delicious pre dinner drink is traditionally presented as a classic highball cocktail with plenty of ice. Gin, the base spirit for a gin and tonic, is made from juniper berries and other botanical ingredients. The other component, tonic water, is a carbonated mixer, known for its bitter flavour which derives from quinine. Mixing gin, tonic and a slice of something citrus is the most popular formula for making up a gin and tonic. But does the type or brand of gin make a difference to its flavour?
London Dry Gin
Creating a sublimely flavoured gin and tonic which delivers the right balance of crispness and delicate bitterness often comes down to the quality of ingredients used. There’s no doubt that using a premium London Dry Gin, like the exquisite blends made by Gin In A Tin will give you an advantage on the flavour stakes. The first thing to clear up however is that ‘London Dry’ doesn’t necessarily mean that it comes from London. This type of gin can be made anywhere.
‘London Dry’ refers to the method of distillation which produces a high strength neutral base spirit that must be distilled to at least 96% ABV. To ensure its exceptional purity, none of the botanicals added can be synthetic or artificial and they must be added during the distillation process. ‘London Dry’ doesn’t have any added sugar. In fact, nothing else is added post distillation except for water and a very small amount of sweetener.
How to make a Gin and Tonic
Whether you’re at Raffles or in Redditch, it’s difficult to resist the timeless charm of a G&T. So, how do you re-create the perfect version in your own kitchen? Luckily, by following a couple of simple rules, perfection is entirely attainable.
The quality of the gin base is of paramount importance because it really does impact the overall taste of the cocktail. Gin connoisseur and Joint Founder of Gin In A Tin, Martin Agius, created a bespoke collection of gins, after many years of being a gin lover and collecting gin from around the world.
To make the classic G&T, fill a a highball with large ice cubes (at least 4 of them ideally). Combine ⅓ dry gin to ⅔ premium tonic and give it four good stirs. Add a slice of lime for the zesty aroma but don’t squeeze it, otherwise the citrusy sharpness could overpower the more delicate notes of the gin blend.
Making a Seasonal Gin and Tonic
Spring Gin and Tonic
Martin uses seasonal ingredients for his sublime gin blends so there’s always a perfect gin and tonic to be made and drunk, no matter what time of year it is.
No 6 Blend takes its inspiration from the traditional harvest of rhubarb that occurs as spring emerges. Whilst the sharpness of rhubarb sits at the forefront of this distinctive gin, flavours of juniper, earthy cinnamon then warming ginger soon emerge in this flavoursome blend.
In short, imagine a gin that encompasses everyone’s favourite springtime dessert, rhubarb crumble! The ultimate way to serve this delightfully refreshing spring G and T is to pair it with Fentimans tonic finished with a fresh garnish of orange zest.
Summer Gin and Tonic
When the weather’s hot, there’s nothing better than to drink an exceptionally clean G&T whilst you watch the sun go down. We recommend using the fuss-free No 2 blend to make the perfect summertime G and T.
This classic gin is infused with lemon peel, coriander and cardamom, impeccably blended seasonal ingredients to provide an exceptionally smooth, refreshing taste. All it needs is a straightforward unflavoured tonic to bring out the juniper, citrus and subtle cardamon notes. For the garnish, a slice of pink grapefruit works best for this blend. Cheers!
Autumn Gin and Tonic
As the sun heads southward and the nights begin to draw in, thoughts turn to cosy evenings by the log fire. A gin and tonic made using No 13 blend, a thoroughly warming ginger blend with a subtle lemon finish makes the perfect accompaniment to nights like these.
To perfect this balanced, late autumnal/early winter warmer, mix as a classic G and T with lighter tonics such as Franklin & Sons, or Fever Tree light and garnish in the traditional way, with a slice of lemon peel.
Winter Gin and Tonic
No 14 Blend, which has distinctive notes of Packham pear, cinnamon and orange peel, works wonderfully well in a classic winter or Christmas G&T.
This blend is best paired with an old school tonic like Schweppes original tonic water because Blend No 14 cuts through the citric acid, sugars, and preservatives for an exceptional clean citrusy taste with ongoing warmth from orange, ginger, and cinnamon. To complete your No 14 gin and tonic, add a slice of organic orange peel to bring out the characteristics of this gorgeous blend. For more seasonal blends, check out the full range of Gin In A Tin blends, because there’s something sure to suit your palate and with a gin base this exceptional, you can’t go wrong.
How to Serve a Gin and Tonic
It’s often said that the colder the gin, the better! Chill the gin in the fridge or freezer first and if you can, pop your gin glass into the freezer for a few minutes too.
Whether you go traditional and use a highball glass or add a modern twist by opting for a balloon glass, make sure that you fill it almost completely with ice, and as far as ice cubes go, the bigger, the better.
The quantity of gin to tonic is also important to a degree although personal preference is a factor so do check with the recipient ahead of making the drink. Generally, you can’t go wrong if you mix one part gin to two parts tonic, always with a good amount of ice.
Pour your gin in first and gently stir it around the edge before topping up with tonic water. Give another gentle stir and you’re almost there.
How to Garnish Gin
It’s a common debate but we’re firm believers that a fancy garnish isn’t necessary when aiming for the perfect gin and tonic.
The role of the garnish is to draw out the subtle underlying flavours so whilst you don’t need to go overboard, you do need to choose the right one. For instance, a slice of lemon or grapefruit cuts through the clean, no-nonsense flavour in a gin blend like No 7 Blend or No 2 Blend.
For a more warming blend like No 1 Blend or No 3 Blend, a slice of orange peel further enhances the heat and spiciness, whilst a sliver of ginger draws on the hints of pine and cardamom in No 18 Blend.
In some cases, other non-citrus fruit can be used as the garnish, like pomegranate seeds in the case of the deliciously sweet, fruity blend No 10 Blend. The best advice we can give is to read the tasting and garnish notes that come with each gin blend. Using the recommended garnish ensures that the underlying flavours of the gin will be drawn out further.
The combination of gin, tonic and the right garnish makes for a sumptuous aperitif, one that’s hard to resist. Now that you’ve got all the components to make the perfect G&T, just be sure to have ample gin and tonic water in stock and of course, enough ice made up. After all, you wouldn’t want to run dry!