If you order a Gin & Tonic at a bar, your drink will most likely come garnished with a lime or lemon wedge. There’s nothing wrong with that classic option, as it can be squeezed into the cocktail for a citrusy kick or dropped in for a more subtle effect per the drinker’s preference. However, the G&T’s accompaniment doesn’t have to stop at basic citrus fruits.
All throughout Spain, and particularly in Basque Country, it’s common to see Gin & Tonics garnished with all manner of ingredients and combinations. The key is considering every component of the drink to ensure they work in harmony.
London dry gins are very juniper-forward, and they vary significantly from modern-style gins, especially those featuring more citrusy and floral flavor profiles. When choosing your garnish, you can elect to highlight the flavors already in the gin, or add flavors that are absent from the gin. The same rule applies to the tonic water. Not every tonic is the same, as the quinine-and-botanical-laced beverage varies in sweetness, bitterness and herbal notes. So, your garnish should also work in concert with your tonic.
This recipe features juniper berries, a lemon wheel and thyme, but you can experiment with seasonal fruits and herbs to find the best combination for your own tastes. Other good garnish options include lime wheels, rosemary, lavender, a vanilla bean pod, sliced peaches, berries and even saffron—all ingredients that you’re likely to see when drinking in Spain.
The Spanish G&T can be served in a rocks glass or highball glass, but it’s traditionally served in a copa de balon, also known as a balloon glass. The wide-mouthed wine glass not only looks good—it allows you to pack in more garnishes, and it highlights the drink’s aromatics with each sip.
Remember to use a good bottle of freshly opened tonic whenever possible. A soda gun can work in a pinch, especially if you’re at a bar and that’s the only game in town. But it’s more likely that the tonic will be overly sweet or lacking carbonation when it comes from a gun. Good bottled tonics like Fever-Tree, Q Tonic and East Imperial source quality ingredients and offer a variety of options featuring different flavor profiles, which helps to ensure that your Spanish Gin & Tonic journey is a successful one.
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2 ounces London dry gin
4 ounces tonic water, chilled
Garnish: juniper berries
Garnish: lemon wheel
Pour the gin into a wine glass filled 3/4 full with ice.
Top with the tonic and stir gently and briefly to combine.
Garnish with juniper berries, a lemon wheel and a thyme sprig.