I’m a serious gin fan. For years I wasn’t. I thought gin smelled like those artificial pine scented air fresheners and I wouldn’t go anywhere near it. Then I had a gin and tonic. A clean, refreshing, aromatic gin and tonic with a squeeze of lime.
It was like a light switch had turned on and I immediately fell in love. I plan on writing a more detailed post about gin, but to break it down simply, gin is vodka that’s been infused with botanicals. Those botanicals include citrus like lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit, but also spices, herbs, roots and more. Gins today come in such a variation of styles and botanicals, there is something for every palate, and the gin and tonic is the perfect cocktail to highlight these subtleties and flavor profiles.
In building the perfect gin and tonic, there are 4 things you must consider.
#1 The Gin
As the base spirit in this cocktail, the gin you choose will define the entire essence of the flavor profile. London Dry styles, with their juniper forward notes and clean finishes are a perfect starting point. Hendricks is a popular choice, soft and floral, with rose and cucumbers. If cucumber is your thing, step it up to with Uncle Val’s and you’ll be in cucumber bliss. New distilleries are popping up every day, highlighting flavors like cardamom, licorice, saffron and more. And while gin is generally juniper forward, many gin producers are making the juniper a minor player in the flavor profile. I enjoy lots of different gins in a gin and tonic, but my favorite for this drink must be Tanqueray No. 10, with its citrus heavy flavors and clean finish.
#2 The Tonic
I’ve tried every tonic water brand I can find. A mix of herbal bitterness (from quinine, made from the bark of the cinchona tree) and sugar, tonic water varies almost as much brand to brand as gin. My go-to tonic water is Fever Tree, although Q Tonic makes a lovely version that is drier than others and works particularly well with softer, aromatic gins. But for my perfect Gin and Tonic, I actually prefer to use club soda and tonic syrup. This way, I control how much of that tonic flavor I get. My tonic syrup of choice is Jack Rudy’s. If you fall in love with gin and tonics like I have, Jack Rudy’s tonic syrup is definitely worth seeking out.
#3. The Proportions
I’ve seen people go from a straight 1:1 ratio for gin and tonics, all the way up to 1:4 (that would be 1 part gin to 4 parts tonic water.) Since a gin and tonic is served on ice, I prefer 1:2. My standard would be 2 oz of gin, 4 oz of tonic, over ice, then garnished.
#4 The Garnish
Now here is where you can have fun. I definitely opt for lime in my perfect gin and tonic. With the Tanqueray No. 10, lime is the perfect touch to round out the cocktail. I’d even claim that for most, if not all of the London Dry styles, lime would be my garnish of choice. I always add a little squirt in the drink as well. For other gins though, I would swap that garnish for whatever the primary botanical is you’d like to highlight. Cucumber slices for Hendricks and Uncle Val’s, Lemon Twist for Small’s, I even love crushed cardamom pods in a Corsair gin and tonic. But for my perfect G&T, its lime, all the way.
So my Perfect Gin and Tonic would be 2 oz of Tanqueray No. 10 gin, 4 oz club soda, .75 oz of Jack Rudy tonic syrup, over ice, garnished with lime. But that’s the beauty of the Gin and Tonic. My perfect might not be the same as yours. It’s up to you to experiment with your gin, your tonic, your proportions and your garnish and come up with your favorite.
So tell me – what do you consider the Perfect Gin and Tonic?