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In my opinion, the best gin and tonic is a stiff gin and tonic. But with this easy, classic highball cocktail, you get to control the pour. Here’s how to make the perfect G&T.
Why we love this recipe
Along with a dirty martini, the gin and tonic was my first love of a classic cocktail. My parents used to drink them on the back patio once in a while when the weather was nice. The ritual may have hooked me first, but the bracing, herbal qualities of a good gin, the generous squeeze of lime, and the slight, sweet fizz of tonic are what sold me in the end.
A stiff G&T is:
- Well-balanced. A little bit herbal // a little bit bitter // a little bit sweet // a little bit sour // a little bit fizzy
- Breezy and summery at its core, yet classic enough to be welcome all year round
- SO easy to make. This highball cocktail is neither shaken nor stirred.
- As refreshing or bracing as you like. We give our suggestions here, but you get to control the pour.
What you’ll need
A classic G&T only has three ingredients. With so few elements, quality and character matter. Go with good quality London dry gin and tonic water, to be sure, but also choose brands you really like. It’s a good excuse to have a tasting party!
- Gin. As you can tell, I’m a fan of Bombay Sapphire in this cocktail. It’s a smooth, balanced, London dry style gin that doesn’t hide its character. For those less sold on gin, Hendrick’s would be a good choice. It’s lighter and less juniper-forward. Tanqueray is always a classic option. I’m also an enduring fan of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin.
- Tonic. There are a ton of fancy, craft tonic waters on the market these days. It’s kinda fun and also a little overwhelming. Their flavor profiles vary pretty dramatically, so taste and find your favorites. The good news is that many people still prefer good old Schweppes tonic water in a G&T for its clean, balanced taste.
- Lime. As far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as too much fresh lime in a G&T.
How to make it
Here’s how to make the best gin and tonic recipe.
- Place plenty of ice cubes into a nice glass.
- Pour in one part tonic water.
- Chase it with one part gin.
- Add plenty of lime. I like to squeeze in a few lime wedges and also sometimes add additional fresh lime juice. It’s up to you!
Expert tips and FAQs
There’s no wrong way to serve a G&T, but here are some protips for the best experience.
This cocktail is an outdoorswoman. There’s no better way to enjoy a G&T than sitting outside on an early summer evening. (Okay, it’s also a highball, which is a category of cocktails served over ice where the ratio of spirit to mixer is less than 1:1. My stiff G&T, with equal measures of gin and tonic, is not technically a highball, but you get the idea.)
Flavor-wise, the two ingredients share some chemical properties that make them greater than the sum of their parts. (Learn more here.)
Historically speaking, the British army used quinine for its anti-malarial properties. Quinine by itself is harshly bitter, and they quickly discovered that a spoonful of gin and sugar helped the medicine go down.
On the one hand, the beauty of a G&T is its simplicity. On the other hand, sometimes it’s fun to ruffle a few feathers.
One fun serving idea is to create a gin & tonic bar. Using the variations below, along with a few different selections of gin and tonic water, set out the ingredients and some hand-lettered recipes on a serving table and let people make their own drinks.
Variations on a theme
Even the best gin and tonic recipe likes to mix it up every once in a while. Here are a few of our favorite variations:
- Rhubarb has some of the same brightness as lime and some of the same vegetal quality as gin. This makes rhubarb juice or rhubarb syrup a great addition to a G&T, with or without the lime. (I like to keep the lime.) Plus, you can’t beat that gorgeous pink color.
- A cucumber slice makes a nice garnish, especially with Hendrick’s gin. You can also add a couple of juniper berries. When using alternate garnishes, squeeze extra lime juice directly into the drink.
- Blood orange is gorgeous in this cocktail. Slide a thin slice into the ice-filled glass before adding the gin. Add a splash of blood orange juice if you like.
- Grapefruit and thyme. Add an ounce of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and garnish with a sprig of thyme.
More of our favorite classic gin cocktails
I should probably write a dissertation on this topic at some point, but I’ll give you a bulleted list instead.
- 3 ounces gin
- 3 ounces tonic water
- Lots of freshly squeezed lime (to taste)
- Fill a small glass halfway with ice.
- Pour in gin and tonic water, squeeze in lime juice, give it a quick stir, and sip away.
- I like Bombay Sapphire in a G&T. Hendricks is a great choice for those less sold on gin. But the most important thing is to sample, sample, sample until you find your favorite.
- The same thing goes for tonic water. Taste and find what you like best. There are lots of fancy tonic waters these days, but many people still prefer good old Schweppes in a G&T.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 249