You might be thinking to yourself that something as simple as a Gin & Tonic doesn’t need a lot of explanation. And rightly so. It is, after all, just Gin, Tonic Water, ice and a wedge of Lime (or Lemon or Ruby Grapefruit, depending on your bent).
Honestly, with no shaking, no straining and the ingredient list already stated in the name, how hard could it really be? But if you’re like us, you’ve probably had your fair share of bad G&T’s made by friends or less-than-quality bars, and if that’s the case, read on my friend … read on.
Sometimes the simplest drinks are the easiest ones to muck up. So yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to make a G&T. There’s the right quality of spirits and other ingredients, the right measurements and possibly most importantly, the right temperature.
Here are some keys points to always consider when making the perfect Gin and Tonic.
The real point of Tonic or any Soda is to intensify the perception of flavour. Therefore having a good Gin to impart, or bring out that flavour, is paramount. With just two components, there’s nowhere for a bad Gin to hide. Traditionally, any solid London Dry Gin has been seen as being ideal, particularly those that are a little higher proof and a strong Juniper flavour.
But now, with such an enormous range of boutique Gins and esoteric flavour profiles available, it’s well worth exploring what different elements your Gin can bring to your drink.
This isn’t too much about math, but instead, it’s about balance, as the ratio of Gin to Tonic is important. This is where most G&T’s go awry.
Too much Gin and you get a drink that is way too strong. Too little, and you might as well be drinking straight Tonic.
To our tastes, the sweet spot is about 2 ounces of Gin to around 4-5 ounces of Tonic. Keep in mind the size of the glass and the amount of ice will affect the volume of the drink as well. Really, a 10-12 oz Collins glass or even a Highball glass is ideal, but work with what you have.
While tall Collins or Highball glasses have traditionally been the way to go (it takes longer for the ice to melt), there is now a new trend of ‘balloon glasses’ being used. A favourite vessel for G&T connoisseurs, the trend took off across Spain, as it was believed that the shape was better at spreading the aroma.
‘Balloon glasses’ originate from the Basque region in northern Spain and are called the ‘Copa de Balon’. Similar in shape to a red wine glass, the Copa de Balon has a bulbous structure which sits on a stem.
The Tonic is not just a large part of the drink, it really is a large part of the flavour. Therefore we can’t stress enough that you should do yourself a favour and go and buy a decent Tonic Water or Tonic Syrup.
While cheaper brands might do at a pinch, there is a huge difference in the quality of Tonic now available, so explore some of the smaller, more boutique brands. Many of these are making Tonics that are particularly suited for some of the new boutique Gins.
The other trick with Tonic comes down to carbonation. Where possible always use a newly opened bottle and keep in mind that those large bottles go flat quickly, so avoid them unless you’ll be making a lot at once. The smaller packs of four or six may be a little pricier, but they are ultimately worth it.
This is one of those drinks, like a Martini, where really everything needs to be cold. The glass, the tonic, and even the gin could do with a few minutes in the freezer. The Tonic at least should be kept in the fridge until needed – a room-temperature Tonic will destroy even the best-made G&T.
Especially the glass needs to be chilled before you begin, so make sure you fill it with ice and swirl the cubes around the glass (remembering to drain off any excess water that has melted while you did that).
Whether you are using Limes, Ruby Grapefruit, Oranges, Lemons, Thyme or any other herb, make sure your produce is fresh. Especially with fruit garnishes, make sure they are bright and not too hard, with a good amount of juice in them. Even if you are just using the peel, a good, hearty citrus will have wonderful oils that you can express to add to the aromatic nature of the drink.
If using Lime, it is recommended that you integrate the Lime into the drink. So after you have added the Gin, squeeze a Lime wedge, then add it, and do the same again, once you have added the Tonic.
The Recipe for The Perfect G&T
- 2 oz Gin
- 4-5 oz Tonic
- 2 lime wedges
In a frozen Collins glass, add the gin.
Fill the glass with ice (the larger the cubes, the better).
Squeeze in one of the lime wedges.
Add the tonic (if you run it down the stem of a bar spoon, it will help retain the effervescence).
Squeeze in the second lime wedge and briefly stir.
Now put your feet up, and enjoy.