Many of us have enjoyed the simple pleasures of a gin and tonic, as it is one of the most popular drinks in bars and on patios across the world.
Its status as a classic beverage is due mainly to its unassuming and balanced profile; the botanical nature of gin plays off the bitter/sweet quality of tonic water, while the bright citrus flavor of lime (or lemon) adds a sour touch which ties everything together.
While this drink may seem simple, there are many different techniques and touches which elevate a good gin and tonic to a great one.
Here, we’ll explore everything from making a simple, but well-made gin and tonic, all the way to creating a drink which will have you completely rethinking this celebrated highball.
Choose High Quality Ingredients For Your Cocktails
A standard gin and tonic is easy enough to create, but if a little care is taken while you are making it, rather than simply throwing all the ingredients into a glass, this drink can be so much more.
A good first step would be to recognize the quality of the ingredients you’re using.
The Gin & The Tonic
A high quality gin is always a good starting point, as the difference will be immediately apparent in such a simple ingredients list.
However, using higher-end tonics will also have a massive impact, as small batch brands such as Fever Tree often use better quality botanicals, a greater percentage of actual quinine (the main flavoring ingredient in traditional tonic water), and ingredients such as cane sugar as a sweetener, as opposed to high fructose corn syrup.
This premise is simple enough, better ingredients equal a better drink overall, but this is not the only step which can improve your basic gin and tonic.
The Mixing Process
The process you choose to follow significantly impacts the finished product as well.
Pouring gin in the glass first, before the ice, will help to keep the delicate botanical flavors of the spirit intact by decreasing dilution. It is also advisable to cut your citrus garnish before you start pouring, as this will also reduce the amount of time the gin sits in the ice.
As for the garnish itself, sometimes a lighter touch makes a bigger difference in creating a balanced palette. While cutting citrus into wedges may allow you to add a significant amount of juice to your drink, citrus wheels allow for a more subtle hint of citrus that will complement the flavors of the other ingredients, rather than overwhelming the entire beverage.
Once your garnish is cut and your gin is poured, add ice to your glass, place your garnish wheel on top of the ice, and pour the tonic over the citrus. The carbonated nature of the tonic will release a subtle yet distinct citrus element, further aided by the larger surface area of a wheel cut compared to a standard wedge.
Finally, rather than simply serving your drink with all the ingredients layered on top of one another, give it a quick stir with a barspoon to combine all the ingredients and make every sip perfectly balanced.
To up your gin and tonic game a bit further, investigate what botanicals make up the flavoring of the particular gin you are using. This will help you incorporate new ingredients beyond the standard tonic/citrus flavoring and take the botanicals of the gin to new levels.
Take Aviation American gin for instance; while juniper berry, the standard flavoring agent of most London dry gins, is used in its overall profile, it concentrates more on other elements, such as lavender, cardamom and sarsaparilla. Taking this into account, think about ingredients which will add to your drink; a bit of fresh lavender, a few cracked cardamom pods, or contrasting elements such as black peppercorns.
This step goes a long way in heightening the overall flavors and taking your gin and tonic to another level.
To push your gin and tonic even further, and reach new heights of tastiness, combine the two principles discussed above with a few more added touches.
Tonic syrups, such as those offered by Porter’s tonics, will give you an even wider variety of flavors to compliment the palette of your preferred gin. It will also allow you to control the amount of tonic flavoring in the drink, as you can add as much or as little syrup as you like, to which you simply add plain soda water.
Moving beyond simple citrus, add fruits such as figs, berries or apples to help highlight any number of delightful undertones, or create agreeable contrasts in the profile.
This is also true of fresh herbs; things like fresh rosemary or thyme straight from the garden not only add interesting flavors to the drink, but greatly increase the overall aromatics, helping to enhance the entire drinking experience.
Even choosing the right glassware can be very beneficial. While using a simple rocks glass is the standard for most gin and tonics, switching to a large, stemless wine glass greatly improves the delivery of the aromatic profile to the nose, as these glasses are designed to distribute smells in a much more efficient and focused manner.
However, it is important to always remain aware of the flavor profiles of your base ingredients (the gin and the tonic), as simply introducing whatever herbs or fruits you have on hand may have adverse effects if you’re not careful.
By following these steps, you can create a gin and tonic which is on a much higher level than where you started, but procuring all these ingredients can be difficult.
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A gin and tonic may seem like a simple, classic summertime beverage, but there are many things that you can do to make yours the talk and envy of all your friends.
Let us help you get to that next level by showing you how the gin and tonic can be anything but traditional, and try one of our curated cocktail boxes today.