The humble G&T has gone in and out of fashion so many times over the years, but perhaps that’s because people didn’t know how to make the perfect gin and tonic. Here are our top tips on acing your G&T – and there’s a bit more to it than just sploshing Schweppes on your Gordons!
First of all, it’s important to remember that the G&T has come a long way since its creation. It hasn’t always been so tasty.
Gin in the 1600-1800s was to officers in the British navy what rum was to the rest of the crew, but they used to just drink it neat—maybe with a little water.
It would have also been ‘navy strength’, which means its ABV would be over 57.5%.
You can read more about navy strength spirits and why they’re so strong in our story here. But essentially, it was that strong because any lower and it wouldn’t ignite.
Some think it was this strong in case the gin got mixed with the gunpowder on the ship. Others say it was the way to tell if the spirit had been watered down.
The tonic element came along when sailors discovered that quinine helps prevent malaria while they were in the tropics. The only downside was on its own, quinine doesn’t taste very nice, but then neither did the incredibly strong gin of the day.
Putting the two together though made everything more palatable.
How to make the perfect gin and tonic
Unlike the easy fix of mixing gin with quinine to avoid malaria and improve bad gin, there’s no simple answer to the perfect G&T.
Understanding the gin you’re drinking, the best type of tonic to put with it and what garnish to use all goes towards making the best cocktail.
Here are 3 perfect examples:
1. Warners Rhubarb Gin and Tonic
Hailing from the heart of the British countryside, family-owned Warner’s Distillery makes superb spirits using fresh ingredients that Tom and Tina Warner grow on their farm.
This includes the fresh rhubarb and rhubarb juice they use in their ground-breaking spirit—the one that started the craze of pink gins around the world—Warner’s Rhubarb Gin.
Warner’s Rhubarb Gin is quite bold, and its sharp citrus nature balances well with a sweeter Mediterranean style of tonic. For a garnish, to match the citrus flavours and rosy colour, a slice of blood orange is the idea garnish here.
– 60ml Warner’s Rhubarb Gin
– Splash of Mediterranean tonic
– Garnish with a slice of blood orange
2. Wild Hibiscus Co Fingerlime Gin and Tonic
This fascinating craft Aussie gin distillery is one of many that harness the delicious flavours of native Australian finger limes, but it’s the only one that grows and harvests its own fruit.
But that’s not the most amazing thing about the Wild Hibiscus Co’s Finger Lime Gin.
Ordinarily, the little citrusy balls of fruit inside each finger lime (often called ‘caviar’) sink in liquids. But Lee Etherington—founder of this distillery—has somehow managed to suspend the caviar so you’re guaranteed to get a few in every drink rather than having to wait until the end of the bottle!
What’s more, the caviar have been infused with an entirely different gin, so you’re really getting two for the price of one!
This citrus-forward gin is powerful enough to stand up to a classic Indian tonic and the finger lime caviar throughout your drink is often garnish enough, thought Lee likes a couple of sprigs of lemon thyme with his G&T.
– 60ml Wild Hibiscus Finger Lime Gin
– Splash of premium tonic
– Garnish with sprigs of lemon thyme
3. Wild Ren Gin and Tonic
This light bright gin from the Hunter Valley is a lovely punctuation amongst the wines that this little vineyard makes.
Wild Ren Gin is quite a light spirit though. There’s plenty of flavour—of lemon myrtle, anise and pepper—but they’re quite delicate. This means stronger flavoured and fuller bodied tonics will probably overpower the gin.
But just because a gin is on the lighter side doesn’t mean you can’t easily make a G&T with it. Our favourite trick is to add half tonic and half soda water. You still get the gin interaction with the tonic but you don’t miss out on the botanicals.
– 60ml Wild Ren Gin
– Half and half light tonic and soda water
– Garnish with a thin slice of lemon peel