A classic gin and tonic is such an easy drink to make that it’s almost impossible to mess it up. Take a glass full of ice and add two ounces of good gin, four ounces of tonic water. Stir and garnish with a lime. For those who prefer a stronger, less sweet drink, use more gin and vice versa. Is it basic? Yeah. But a well-made drink is as refreshing and balanced as a hot drink ever.
Gin and tonic is also a wonderfully dynamic cocktail that begs to be experienced. As well as varying the type of gin you use (“Tonic is a blender flavored enough that you can use even the weirdest and most innovative modern gins,” world-renowned spirits expert David Wondrich told us. ), you can also vary the type of tonic (we like the high quality options of the fever tree or the Brand Q Mixers) and garnish (peppercorns, herbs, cucumber, and even the seemingly sacrilegious lemon wedge are all in the mix). Each addition brings new layers and depth to the drink.
Of course, there are countless other ways to bring gin and tonic to life. For those looking for a little inspiration, we asked six bartenders to share with us their favorite gin and tonic recipes of the moment. From a simple riff that emphasizes summer produce to an edgy appetizer-style recipe to a complex take involving aloe liqueur, pear brandy and juice of celery (yes, you read that right), here are the recipes to try.
1. The Garden Gin and Tonic
“Gin and tonics are perfect for warmer spring and summer temperatures because of their light, crisp, and refreshing characteristics,” says Devin Burns, vice president of rooms and catering at Omni Hotels & Resorts. Burns prefers his gin and tonic in a tall wine glass with lots of ice and a slice of cucumber or two. But he also likes to add summer produce and says strawberry is another must-try flavor, which is why he suggests using both in this simple riff.
1.75 ounces Botanist Islay Gin
4 oz Q Spectacular Tonic Water
2-3 slices of strawberries and cucumber
Mash fresh strawberries and cucumbers in the bottom of a glass before building up your drink in a glass with ice.
2. Gin-tonic and dill
“People should make this drink because it shows how similar food and drink pairings can be, as well as the tastier side of cocktails, especially gin and tonics, which are traditionally considered light and citrusy,” says David Maness, beverage manager. director 1751 Sea & Bar, Houston, Texas. That’s why his take uses fresh dill, cucumber tonic and dry Japanese gin.
1.5oz 135 East Hyogo Dry Japanese Gin
Fever Tree Cucumber Tonic 4 oz
Build in a glass, add ice and garnish with a ribbon of cucumber and a sprig of fresh dill
3. The G&T Italiano
The Italian cocktail bar Aperitivo Brother Wolf in Knoxville celebrate all things bitter. So it’s no surprise, according to owner Jessica “Rabbit” King, that their version of the gin and tonic focuses on this flavor profile. Their take includes equal parts Italian gin and Cocchi Americano, a flavored wine, combined with aromatic tonic water, citrus fruits and fresh herbs.
1.5 ounces Malfy Original Gin
1.5 oz Cocchi Americano Bianco
Fever Tree Aromatic Tonic Water 3 oz
Combine ingredients in a red wine glass over ice. Stir gently and garnish with seasonal herbs and citrus.
4. Deke Dunne’s gin and tonic
Deke Dunne, the head bartender and beverage director of Allegory at the Eaton in Washington, DC, loves gin and tonic. But he doesn’t like it when they’re too busy because, as he says, “the gin and tonic is the star of the show.” For his take, he opted to go with a slightly lower ABV by cutting the Citrus Roku Gin with Vermouth Martini & Rossi Ambrato. “The Japanese citrus from the Roku plays beautifully with the chamomile and honey from the Ambrato,” he says, calling it “a light, bright, gin and tonic perfect for spring and summer.”
Take a chilled Collins and add a spear of clear ice. Add the tonic then add the gin and vermouth. Stir gently to help incorporate and garnish with a fresh bay leaf.
5. Old Duff & Rocky’s Gin and Tonic Liqueur
Brendan Bartley, Head Bartender and Prohibition-inspired Speakeasy Beverage Manager Gin tub in New York, calls its version of the gin and tonic “a classic love affair between the old world and the new”. It sees Old Duff juniper and Rockys herbal liqueur combined with tonic lemon, fresh pineapple and lime. “I love the pairing because it breaks the usual gin and tonic mold and has juniper, the birthplace of gin, in a way that anyone can enjoy,” Bartley says. “It’s interesting enough to be original for gin lovers, delicious enough for everyone to enjoy. The perfect romance.
Add all spirits to a chilled Brandy balloon glass and add tonic. Top with ice cream, toss lightly and gently add toppings on top.
6. The BCN Gin and Tonic
BCN Gin originates from Barcelona and is distilled with white grapes, Catalan figs and eucalyptus. Brian Evans, Bar Manager for Sunday in Brooklyn, likes to pair the spirit with St. George Pear Brandy, Chareau Aloe Liqueur, Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic and a splash of celery juice. A little laborious? Sure. But he promises it’s worth it. “It has this cooling, refreshing effect, with a hint of orchard flavor and the perfect amount of saltiness from celery juice,” he says. If you’re up for a single take, Evans likes to top this with sliced pears, celery ribbons cut in a fruit peeler, and star anise.
Build the first three ingredients in a Spanish-style balloon glass over ice cubes. Gently place 2 thin slices of Anjou pears, 2-3 ribbons of celery leaves and two star anise in the glass and cover with Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic. Float the celery juice on top and add a few squeezes of lemon or lime if you prefer.