The Gin & Tonic is the most ubiquitous of Highballs, found everywhere from dive bars to dance clubs to swanky cocktail lounges. It’s almost impossible to screw one up. The ingredients, after all, are in the name.
But that simple base can inspire some creative variations—drinks that are unique but unmistakably a Gin & Tonic. You can find these nine creative G&Ts at bars across the U.S.
Can't make it to any of the bars serving these great G&Ts? Try making the M Gin & Tonic from this list at home.
Ted Kilgore, the beverage director and proprietor of Planter’s House in St. Louis, made the Snap to It! to capture the flavor of a summer garden. Bulldog gin, with its gentle botanicals, pairs well with the bell pepper and sweet pea syrup, which is topped with Fever-Tree Indian tonic water. Garnished with a sugar snap pea, it’s like a garden harvest in a glass.
Bar manager China Morbosa’s Gin & Tonic at Eveleigh in West Hollywood, Calif., plays with proportions. The Imperial East Side uses Amaro Angelino as its main spirit, but that doesn’t mean it’s less potent than your average G&T. There’s still an ounce of 110-proof Old Raj gin, which includes saffron as one of its botanicals. Lime juice and a little East Imperial tonic water make this a concentrated, bright, crisp drink.
Jon Lewis, the bar manager at Rue in Portland, Ore., makes drinks that are inventive and botanical, and the Rox Tonic Juice Magic is no exception. It’s a playful mix of Tanqueray gin and Fever-Tree Indian tonic water with the addition of Bonal and Avèze, bittersweet liqueurs with gentian and quinine. It’s balanced out and given depth with calvados apple brandy for a silky, herbaceous take on the drink.
According to head bartender Chaim Dauermann of NYC’s Up & Up, the Insanely Good Gin & Tonic “takes everything that one loves about the Gin & Tonic and dials it up a notch.” Brooklyn gin and Q tonic water make the base and get a splash of Suze liqueur and a dash of Angostura bitters to lend some additional herbaceousness. Instead of lime juice, the IGG&T gets a house-made lime cordial, made with Peruvian pisco and lime peels, which lends a complex backbone. The result is everything you’d expect in a G&T but turned up to 11.
Chicago’s RPM Steak rolled out three G&Ts for its summer menu—an “R,” a “P” and an “M,” appropriately. The M is an especially distinct take on the drink. It’s made with Blaum Bros. Oak Reserve gin and Fever-Tree Indian tonic water, giving it a robust base, as well as Fernet-Branca liqueur and Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth. Star anise, cinnamon sticks and dehydrated lemon wheels make up the garnish. The result is a darker, more lush version of the usually bright and zippy drink.
L.Aa’s new “globally inspired steakhouse” SOCA offers a rotating selection of Spanish Gin & Tonics demonstrating how variable the Highball is. Just playing with different gins, tonics and garnishes can create a totally different drink—for instance, the No. 6, made with Malfy, a citrus-forward Italian gin, and Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic water. The drink is garnished with a shiso leaf, fresh strawberries slices and pink peppercorns, enhancing the peppery, fruity gin.
Years ago, the idea of a hotel bar chain producing an exemplary drink would be laughable. But times have changed, and AC Hotels, a Spanish boutique hotel line from Marriott, serves great Gin & Tonics at each of its locations. Though specials vary from place to place, you can always find the ACGT, made with Bombay Sapphire East gin and a custom AC tonic blend from Bittercube. The tonic has lavender, black tea and hints of bergamot, making for a crisp, refreshing drink.
From head barman Jeffrey Moll comes the Randolfi’s G&T at the namesake Italian joint in St. Louis. Moll uses a blend of Hendrick’s and St. George Botanivore gins, creating a complex base. With that goes a house-made tonic syrup, fresh lime juice, Contratto bianco vermouth, Bittermens Hellfire habanero shrub bitters and water. Each drink is carbonated to order, giving it a zesty fizz along with a kick from the habañero bitters.
Though primarily known as a whiskey bar, Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago boasts an array of Gin & Tonic variations, each named for the gin used. Oppidan American botanical gin is flavored with hibiscus, ginger, chamomile, cinnamon and elderflower and gets enhanced with a hibiscus-cinnamon syrup and a dash of allspice dram, as well as fennel fronds and orange zest as the garnish. Topped with Fentimans tonic water, the result is floral citrus on the nose, with a warm allspice and anise on the palette.
Think you know the booze?
Let’s start with some basics.