The typically two-ingredient cocktail gets a makeover with brines, shrubs and cordials, while staying true to its perfectly simple, simply perfect roots.
World Gin Day (June 10) and the beginning of summer just happen to fall in the same month. Coincidence? We think not. Whether you prefer it simple, with a generous pour of traditional juniper-y London Dry Gin, a just-opened bottle of artisanal tonic and a juicy lime wedge, or a little bit elevated, where a modern spirit and accompanying garnishes are served Spanish-style in a wine goblet, the Gin & Tonic is the way to celebrate the many iterations of the botanical spirit.
Insanely Good Gin & Tonic
Recipe courtesy of Chaim Dauermann, Up & Up
This update represents the results of combining the ease and consistency of a bottled tonic with the aesthetics and flavor of a housemade one, Dauermann says, and dials the drink up a notch. “We've taken the distinctive and citrus-forward Brooklyn Gin and married it with Q Tonic,” he says. The additions of Suze (a French gentian liqueur), Angostura Bitters and our house lime cordial give this drink a backbone that has won it many ardent fans.”
- 1 ½ oz. Brooklyn Gin
- ½ oz. Suze
- ¼ oz. Lime cordial (see Note, can substitute lime juice)
- Dash Angostura Bitters
- Q Tonic
- Lime wheel, for garnish
Add gin, Suze, lime cordial or juice and bitters to a chilled Collins glass. Top with ice and Q Tonic, and garnish with the lime wheel.
For the lime cordial:
Combine 1 cup unaged Peruvian pisco with the peels of 8 limes and cover tightly. In a separate container, combine 1 cup sugar with the rest of the lime peels. Cover tightly, and shake the mixture until the peels are coated and the sugar is evenly distributed all around them. Let the two mixtures set for 24 hours at room temperature. Combine the pisco mixture with the sugar mixture. Add 1 ½ cups lime juice, remove most of the peels, and add the rest of the sugar. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved (should take around 10 minutes). Pour it through a fine strainer or cheesecloth to remove remaining peels and other solids. Yields one quart, and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
Recipe courtesy of Taha Ismail, beverage director, Arroz
The menu at this new restaurant in Washington, DC, is all about the flavors of southern Spain and Morocco – especially Ismail’s beverage program. When he came across Gin Mare – an herbal Spanish spirit gin made with Turkish rosemary, Greek thyme and Italian basil – he immediately thought it would work in a Dirty Martini.
“The herbaceous character of the gin, the added salinity from the brine, and the high-quality sharp tonic meld together for a balanced Gin and Tonic that keeps you wanting more.”
- 1 ½ oz. Gin Mare
- ¼ oz. Olive brine
- 3 oz. Tonic (preferably Indi Botanical Tonic)
- Thyme and rosemary wrapped in an opal basil leaf and inserted into a pitted Castelvetrano olive, for garnish
Add first three ingredients to a goblet, top with ice, and stir. Garnish with the herb and olive.
Strawberry Rhubarb G&T
Recipe courtesy of Q Tonic
Sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb combine in a syrup that makes the drink taste as good as it looks. Select a modern-style gin with floral or citrus notes, which will work best with the fruity syrup.
- 1 ½ oz. Gin
- 3 oz. Q Tonic
- 1 ½ oz. Strawberry rhubarb simple syrup (see Note)
- Fresh strawberries and basil, for garnish
Add gin and syrup to a glass and add ice. Top with Q Tonic and garnish with fresh strawberries and basil.
For the strawberry rhubarb simple syrup:
Add 1 cup each of chopped fresh rhubarb and strawberries, ¾ cup raw cane sugar, and 1 cup water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes until the fruit breaks down. Strain through a chinois and chill. Store syrup in the refrigerator.
Summer Fruits G&T
Recipe courtesy of Caorunn Gin
This premium gin from Scotland is produced with five locally foraged botanicals and six traditional ones, including Coul Blush apple, bog myrtle, and caorunn (also called rowan berry), a Celtic piquant red berry. Apples are a traditional garnish for cocktails that use it; here, a handful of ripe summer blueberries are also tossed into the glass.
- 2 oz. Caorunn Gin
- 4 oz. Premium tonic water
- Braeburn apple slice, for garnish
- Mint leaves, for garnish
- Blueberries, for garnish
Add the gin and tonic water to a glass filled with ice. Stir, and garnish with the apple slice, mint leaves and blueberries.
Perfect Gin & Tonic
Recipe courtesy of Ricardo Murcia, Director of Beverage, MGM National Harbor
Elegant in its simplicity, this G&T at the crafty Lobby Bar at MGM’s new resort near Washington, DC, uses the traditional garnish for a Hendricks G&T – a cucumber slice – along with an exotic, heady makrut lime leaf.
“We wanted to elevate a classic cocktail with quality products, unique garnishes and ice to create a memorable experience for guests,” Murcia says. “Fizzy drinks are great during the summer, and the fresh, clean flavors of cucumber make it a perfectly refreshing cocktail.”
- 1 ½ oz. Hendrick’s Gin
- 3 oz. Fever Tree Tonic Water
- 1 Makrut lime leaf
- 1 Cucumber slice
Place ice in white wine glass, and top with gin, lime leaf and cucumber. Add tonic water and stir gently to combine.
Stop the Fox
Recipe courtesy of Skyfall Lounge, The Delano
Skyfall Lounge general manager Sebastien Vallet calls this libation – which adds two California craft gins to the shaker – a unique way to modify the classic Gimlet into a summer-style cocktail.
“Tropical fruits are staples of summer cocktails, [and] the pineapple, lime and gin combination is meant to evoke the feeling of a tiki cocktail without the rum.”
- 1 ½ oz. Aviation Gin
- ½ oz. St. George Botanivore Gin
- ½ oz. Lime juice
- ½ oz. Pineapple gomme syrup (see Note)
- ¼ oz. Honey syrup (equal parts honey and warm water, stirred to combine)
- Chilled tonic water, for topping
- Lime wedge, for garnish
Add the gins, lime juice and pineapple gomme syrup to a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass, top with the tonic water, and garnish with the lime wedge.
For the pineapple gomme syrup:
Combine 4 tablespoons gum arabic (purchase on Amazon), 2 cups sugar and 3 cups unsweetened pineapple juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the mixture down until it reduces to a syrup. Remove from the heat, let cool, and store in the refrigerator.
Recipe courtesy of The Rose and Backward Distilling
This sip, a cross between a G&T and a Mule, uses an herbaceous and citrus-y craft gin from Wyoming.
- 2 oz. Backward Distilling Contortionist Gin
- ½ oz. Ginger syrup
- ¼ oz. Simple syrup
- ¾ oz. Lime juice
- 10 Mint leaves
- 1 ½ oz. Tonic water
- Dash Angostura Bitters, for garnish
- Mint sprig, for garnish
Add the gin, syrups, lime juice and mint leaves to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Double strain into a Collins glass filled with ice and the tonic water and stir gently. Top with a dash of bitters and a mint sprig.
Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.