The Gin & Tonic is undoubtedly one of the most popular cocktails in the world. It’s the go-to cocktail in Spain, where a particular gin’s botanicals are paired specifically with a tonic water and an array of aromatic garnishes, the resulting creation generally served in a goblet. It’s an at-home staple in the U.K., where the number of craft tonic waters on the market are virtually endless, as are craft gins which have boomed concurrently. It’s also a summer staple for many Americans, who generally just keep it simple with whatever gin and tonic water is available at the local grocery store, but where bartenders have begun to elevate the refreshing classic with higher-end tonic waters, selected to complement the gin used.
Regardless of where in the world you’re drinking one, a few factors are vital for ensuring the drink is as refreshing and delicious as possible: You’ll want to use a high-quality gin and an equally high-quality tonic water, and make sure the cocktail is as cold as possible. Chill the glass, chill the tonic water, make sure your ice is freshly made and dense, and you’re in for a guzzler of a cocktail.
These are seven variations on the popular Gin & Tonic to try at home.
If the Gin & Tonic isn’t a cocktail you typically fancy because you’ve been scarred by the overly sweet tonic waters of old, then this simple take on the classic is the perfect riff to reintroduce you to the drink. It’s a style that has come into vogue among bartenders across the world, especially in Japan and the U.S, and for good reason: The gin receives complimentary split of both soda and tonic water for a dry yet balanced and effervescent cocktail that truly highlights the botanicals of the gin. If craft tonic waters aren’t available where you are and you have a quality gin you’d like to use, give the Gin Sonic a try.
Coffee & Cigarettes
This recipe hails from Denver’s Spanish-influenced restaurant Ultreia, where the Gin & Tonic is a staple on the cocktail menu. Ultreia’s Alan Berger chose to add a coffee liqueur to Q tonic water and a Colorado gin with notes of cinnamon and cardamom to create a warming winter-friendly tipple with notes of baking spices that’s garnished with cacao nibs and coffee beans.
Pink Gin & Tonic
While tonic waters exist that are crafted with a touch of aromatic bitters, such as Fever-Tree's aromatic tonic water, this Pink Gin & Tonic, named for its parent cocktail, the Pink Gin, which calls for a few dashes of Angostura bitters added to gin, uses plain tonic water and adds a small dose of the deep red Angostura aromatic bitters to the mix to lend it a dark pink hue and amplify the bitterness of the drink. This riff also includes a bit of lime juice for acidity and freshness, adding appeal both visually and on the palate.
M Gin & Tonic
This riff provides a great example of just how far the Gin & Tonic can stray from its standard template while still retaining balanced flavors. It leans bitter with a base of barrel-aged gin, adding sweet vermouth and the herbaceous and menthol-driven Fernet-Branca before getting topped off with Fever-Tree tonic water. It’s garnished with a cinnamon stick and star anise pods, plus dehydrated lemon wheels and an expressed orange peel.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
Apple Chai G&T
This G&T spin adds an apple chai syrup to the usual formulation, giving it an apple pie note without leaning too sweet. It’s warming, spiced and the perfect Gin & Tonic variation for the seasonal transition from summer to fall.
Garden Gin & Tonic
Drawing inspiration from the garnish-heavy Spanish-style Gin & Tonic, the Garden Gin & Tonic uses gin and dry vermouth paired with a couple dashes of orange bitters and a bouquet of summery garnishes that include a strawberry, grapefruit and lemon wheels, cucumber slices and a lavender sprig, all served in a goblet.
Spanish Gin & Tonic
If you’ve never had your Gin & Tonic the Spanish way, then this recipe is a must-try. Since it’s said that 90% of what is perceived as taste is actually due to smell, the aromatic focus of this G&T style displays just how much creative garnish pairings can add to a cocktail. This version employs a London dry gin and craft tonic paired with a menagerie of garnishes including a lemon wheel, thyme and juniper berries.