While the Gin & Tonic is often considered more of a warm weather drink, this approach from Canyon Shayer of Philadelphia Distilling incorporates fall flavors with an apple chai syrup. With the inclusion of the caffeinated tea, it takes the G&T from its iconic late-night status to a brunch-friendly highball.
With apple cider vinegar and a slightly spicy chai tea, the apple chai syrup proves not too sweet, with nuances light enough that you don’t want a strong spirit to overpower them. Since Shayer works with Philadelphia Distilling he naturally goes for the company’s gin, Bluecoat American dry gin, for the cocktail’s base. With gentle botanicals it serves well in the drink, but it’s not widely available outside of Pennsylvania. Those who want something similar can find it with other American dry gins like Aviation American gin or Copper & King’s American dry gin. A London dry gin like Tanqueray or Plymouth will work fine as the drink’s base, but the aromatics and botanicals won’t be the same.
When it comes to selecting a tonic, the drier the better. Normally, Gin & Tonics aren’t made with simple syrup or other sweeteners, so the 3/4 ounce of apple chai syrup will noticeably raise the sweetness level. Q tonic is relatively austere, making it a good choice, and Fever Tree is always reliable. If your Apple Chai G&Ts are still coming out too sweet, you can always pull back on the syrup.
A benefit of the Apple Chai G&T is that if you’ve had your fill of the highball but still have leftover apple chai syrup, you can use it in other drinks. Perhaps the most obvious use for it would be switching the simple syrup in an Old Fashioned for the apple chai syrup; apple and chai spices pair well with dark spirits like brandy, bourbon and aged rum, and will give the drink an autumnal touch. Use it in drinks like the Ruby Chai Appletini for even deeper apple and chai flavors, or sweeten your favorite Hot Toddy recipe with it for extra fall flavors.
- 1 1/2 ounces Bluecoat American dry gin
- 3/4 ounce apple chai syrup*
- Tonic, to top
- Garnish: star anise pod
Fill a Collins glass with ice and add the gin and apple chai syrup.
Top with the tonic and stir gently to combine.
Garnish with a star anise pod.
*Apple chai syrup: Simmer 1 cup apple cider with 2 tablespoons loose chai for 3 minutes, then remove from heat. Strain out tea. Mix in 1 cup demerara sugar until dissolved.