The humble gin and tonic is generally one of the easiest mixed drinks to make in the world. It's literally two ingredients: tonic water and gin. But with thousands of artisanal gins and so many new craft tonics on the market nowadays, there are countless ways to elevate the foolproof drink.
Let's start at the beginning. The gin and tonic's origins can be traced back to early 19th-century India where the army of the British East India Company was using quinine in tonics to treat malaria. This concoction was bitter and unpleasant on its own so the soldiers would use their gin rations and add a little water, sugar, lime, and gin to make the antimalarial beverage more palatable and a lot more refreshing. Enter: gin and tonic.
"Nothing I find is more refreshing than a perfect serve of a gin and tonic," says Benoit Provost, the head barman at The Stafford London's American Bar. Provost has been at the iconic spot for over 27 years. "[A gin and tonic] is quite often how I finish my evening when I am looking for a last delicious palate-cleansing tipple."
Here's how he recommends putting together the perfect gin and tonic.
Pick a Gin to Suit Your Tastes
"Since the Sipsmith Distillery in Chiswick, West London, managed to obtain a distillery license back in 2009 (the first traditional copper-pot distillery to open in London for nearly 200 years), the gin variety category has expanded dramatically with more than 6,000 gins in production worldwide," explains Provost.
While lots of companies are producing flavored gins at the moment, Provost likes his gin to be London Dry in style and very juniper led.
To be classified as London Dry gin, the base spirit must be distilled to a completely neutral spirit of 96% ABV, with the flavors from the botanicals coming during the distillation process. Nothing but water can be added after distillation.
While you should not be scared of experimenting with other types of gin, Provost recommends classic London Dry style gins such as Beefeater for a spicy and fruity gin and tonic, Sipsmith for dry and zesty, Bombay Sapphire for something light and floral, and Tanqueray for a smooth taste.
Next, it's all about the ratio. "I enjoy my G&T’s quite strong, so I would recommend one part of gin to 2 parts of tonic," says Provost. Like yours a little lighter? "Make it 3 parts of tonic for a lighter one but no more than that."
When it comes to glassware, you'll often find gin and tonics served in highballs filled with ice to keep the gin cool and the tonic fizzing but the Spanish have spread the use of a big balloon glass, or Copa de Balon, to drink their G&T. "It works very well by helping to release all the aromas of the botanicals," explains Provost.
So, now just fill your glass with good quality ice, pour one large measure of your favorite gin and top up with 2 parts of premium Indian tonic water like Fever-Tree. Garnish with a wedge of lime and there you have it, the perfectly simple gin and tonic.
Keep things fun and delicious by playing around other types of flavored gins like a Gin Mare which comes packed with Mediterranean flavors like rosemary, thyme, olive, and basil or switch up the wedge of lime for garnishes like cucumbers, grapefruits, sprigs of rosemary, basil, orange peels, strawberries, or juniper berries. There's no wrong accompaniment, really.