Spirits & Liqueurs Gin

The 12 Best Gins for Gin & Tonics in 2021

From overproof to pink, budget-friendly to top shelf, and everything in between.

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There are few drinks as easy to make or as refreshing as a Gin & Tonic. But despite this classic highball's simplicity, you can easily tweak the recipe to bring specific flavor profiles to the forefront by using different kinds of tonic, citrus, and most importantly, gin.

Now, more than ever, there is a surplus of choices of gin crafted from around the world, each made with different botanicals (although juniper must be the predominant flavor). Each one interacts with the bitterness of the tonic and fresh notes of the citrus in different ways. We spoke to bar industry experts to get their recommendations of some of the best bottles of gin to reach for when making a gin and tonic.

Best Overall: Hendrick’s

Hendrick’s Gin

Courtesy of Drizly

  • Region: Scotland
  • ABV: 41.4%
  • Tasting Notes: Cucumber, Rose, Citrus

“With its distinct rose and cucumber flavors, Hendrick’s is the gin that screams ‘Pour some tonic on me!’” says Nicole Ross, head bartender at The Gansevoort Hotel’s Chester in New York City. “Hendrick’s is a right proper gin due to unique techniques of using both the Bennett (a small pot still) and Carter-Head stills to create an uncommonly smooth gin that still manages to have a well-balanced character.”

Read Next: The Best Gins

Best Budget: Gordon’s

Gordon's London Dry Gin

Courtesy of Drizly

  • Region: U.K.
  • ABV: 40%
  • Tasting Notes: Juniper, Anise, Orange

Gordon’s is a classic London dry gin that is really reasonably priced. Don’t let the plastic bottle in which you’ll often find it fool you; this bright, crisp gin has the perfect balance of juniper, citrus, and spice, making it an excellent option for a Gin & Tonic. A wheel of lemon or lime thrown in really helps to highlight the simple pleasures of this classic gin.

Best Top-Shelf: Nolet’s Silver

NOLET'S Silver Gin

Courtesy of Reserve Bar

  • Region: Holland
  • ABV: 47.6%
  • Tasting Notes: Rose, Peach, Raspberry

This gin might cost a bit more than other bottles, but it’s well worth it. “I tend to prefer the more modern styles of gin that are more fruit and floral forward, especially with tonic,” says Kat Hawkins, beverage director for Shaw's Crab House in Chicago. “For a Gin & Tonic, I like to use Nolet's Silver as I think the raspberry, peach, and rose notes compliment tonic well for a refreshing and balanced cocktail.”

Read Next: The Best Tonic Waters

Best London Dry: Tanqueray

Tanqueray London Dry Gin

Courtesy of Reserve Bar

  • Region: U.K.
  • ABV: 47.3%
  • Tasting Notes: Juniper, Coriander, Anise 

“Tanqueray (is my pick), hands down,” says Craig Schoettler, MGM Resorts executive director of beverage & corporate mixologist. “There is a reason it’s one of the leading selling gins ever. I prefer the London dry style in my gin and tonics, where the juniper stands out. If I didn’t want the juniper flavor profile, I would order a vodka tonic.”

Best Pink Gin: Beefeater London Pink Gin

Beefeater Pink London Dry Gin

Courtesy of Reserve Bar

  • Region: U.K.
  • ABV: 40%
  • Tasting Notes: Strawberry, Almond, Juniper

Pink gin is a subcategory of its own, with color and flavor added by the addition of red and pink-hued fruits and vegetables, spices, and/or bitters. In the case of Beefeater Pink Gin, strawberries are used to put a spin on this classic London dry gin. This makes it an interesting alternative to use in a Gin & Tonic, for a refreshing burst of berry and sweet flavors that complement the citrus and bitter of the tonic.

Read Next: The Best Bitters

Best Overproof: Sipsmith VJOP

Sipsmith V.J.O.P. London Dry Gin

Courtesy of Caskers

  • Region: U.K.
  • ABV: 57.7%
  • Tasting Notes: Juniper, Orange, Spice

The “VJOP” in this Sipsmith gin’s name stands for “Very Junipery Over Proof.” This means that the juniper flavor notes are amplified here, and the proof is boosted up to a hardy 115.4—a navy strength that brings more flavor as well as alcohol. Try this one in a spirit-forward Gin & Tonic, letting the strong juniper presence shine.

Best American: Barr Hill

Barr Hill Gin

Courtesy of Caskers

  • Region: Vermont
  • ABV: 45%
  • Tasting Notes: Honey, Juniper, Lemon

Gabriel Figueroa, assistant restaurant director at Vestry in NYC, recommends Vermont’s Barr Hill Gin to use in a Gin & Tonic. “Unlike most gins that can have 8 to 13 botanicals,” he says, “Barr Hill uses just two—juniper and raw honey which is made up of countless botanicals collected by bees. When nature does such an amazing job, there’s no need to manipulate the ingredients too much. Just let the natural flavors shine.”

Read Next: The Best Gifts for Gin Lovers

Best Craft: Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin

Uncle Val's Gin Botanical Gin

Courtesy of Drizly

  • Region: California
  • ABV: 45%
  • Tasting Notes: Cucumber, Sage, Lemon

“A new gin for me that I recently discovered is Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin,” says Tyson Torres, food & beverage manager at Belmond El Encanto in Santa Barbara, Calif. The mix of floral and citrus notes make this a great Gin & Tonic spirit. “Coupled with sage and cucumber, it really gives a true sense of California on the palate,” he says. “These key botanical ingredients are completely representative of what we have in our lush gardens here.”

Best Irish: Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin

Courtesy of The Whisky Exchange

  • Region: Ireland
  • ABV: 43%
  • Tasting Notes: Grapefruit, Green Tea, Juniper

One of the best gins I have been introduced to in the past year is Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin,” says Kevin Reilly, beverage director at Taub Family Outpost in Sonoma, Calif. “It’s made with traditional botanicals of juniper, coriander and angelica, in addition to gunpowder green tea, lemon, lime and red grapefruit. This makes an exceptional Gin & Tonic, especially with East Imperial Yuzu Tonic and a ruby red grapefruit twist for garnish.”

Best Scottish: The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

Courtesy of Reserve Bar

  • Region: Scotland
  • ABV: 46%
  • Tasting Notes: Licorice, Cinnamon, Juniper

If you are looking for a very floral and herbal gin for your Gin & Tonic, check out The Botanist made on Islay in Scotland. "This is my go-to gin for mixing because it has a fresh bouquet and mellowness to it,” says Hristo Zisovski, beverage director of Altamarea Group. “It’s not over-powering in any way.”

James Bolt, the owner of The Gin Joint in Charleston, S.C., agrees. “When looking for the best gin to pair with tonic I always reach for The Botanist Islay Dry Gin,” he says. “Its 22 hand-foraged botanicals add a nice complexity to cold tonic and a fresh squeeze of lime.”

Best Juniper-Forward: Bombay Sapphire

Bombay Sapphire Gin

Image Source / ReserveBar

  • Region: UK
  • ABV: 47%
  • Tasting Notes: Juniper, Coriander, Lemon

Bombay Sapphire has long been a favorite gin for making a martini, but it also works very well in a Gin & Tonic. This is definitely a juniper-forward gin and a perfect example of the London dry style. This predominant botanical is balanced by others like lemon peel, grains of paradise, cubeb berries and almond. This botanical blend, led by the distinctive juniper notes, complements the fresh citrus of a Gin & Tonic perfectly.

Best Japanese: Roku Japanese Gin

Roku Gin

Image Source / ReserveBar

  • Region: Japan
  • ABV: 43%
  • Tasting Notes: Yuzu, Pepper, Sakura

Roku comes from Japanese whisky giant Suntory, better known for its Yamazaki, Hakushu and Hibiki brands. The gin is truly representative of the flavors of Japan, using six regional botanicals to form the foundation of its flavor—sakura flower, sakura leaf, yuzu peel, sencha tea (green tea), gyokuro tea (refined green tea) and sanshō pepper. These, along with more traditional botanicals, make this an interesting and flavorful foundation for a Gin & Tonic.

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Jonah Flicker is an experienced writer who has been covering spirits and traveling the world visiting distilleries for many years. His work has appeared in many different national outlets covering trends, new releases, and the stories and innovators behind the spirits. His first love remains whiskey, but he is partial to tequila, rum, gin, cognac and all things distilled.

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