The Perfect Gin & Tonic
It all started with saving British soldiers from Malaria in India. Quinine infused tonic water remained unpalatable for most and hence gin with a twist of lime was added. Gin and Tonic or G&T, since then has evolved into becoming a cult cocktail from its humble medicinal beginning. If you are planning to have one after reading this, now is the time to keep some tonic for chilling.
It is a cocktail which is fresh, subtle and complex all at the same time. The recipe for a Gin and Tonic can’t get any simpler – double measure of your favorite gin in a chilled glass filled with ice, a squirt of lime and topped up with tonic water and a citrus peel for garnish.
But as the saying goes, perfecting simplicity is one of the toughest things. Same goes for this cocktail. A lot has to do with the gin used and the amount of tonic water poured. Different gins have different characteristics, some have more Juniper based notes like Beefeater or Gordon’s, also the reason they are great for making gin based cocktails. Others like Tanqueray No 10 with its peppery notes and Hendrick’s infused with cucumber and rose, use more botanicals or herbs for a more complex profile. Our all time favorite gin, Monkey 47, as the name suggests has that many botanicals in it.
India only has Schweppes as a worthwhile tonic water which is slightly on the sweeter side. There is also Fever Tree, but supply into India is erratic. A few other local brands taste horrible. The sweetness can overpower Bombay Sapphire but is perfect for Beefeater. For us, 60 ml pour of gin with 180 ml of tonic water is the perfect balance. The tonic water has to be chilled and poured over ice, this will ensure you have long lasting bubbles in your G&T.
Chilled tonic is key. The cooler the tonic, the longer bubbles in it will remain!
Last year, Mediterranean gin brand Gin Mare asked mixologist Stuart Bale to find out the ideal gin to tonic ratio. Bale made almost 120 combinations to zero in on the perfect ratios for different gins. In an article for The Telegraph in UK he broke down the exact measurement of tonic water required for different gin brands to decimal points.
Lime has preference over any other citrus, but orange rind and grapefruit slices are also pretty common. Some gin and tonics also use mint sprigs, raspberries, blueberries, even herbs like thyme, as garnishes. The garnish will either complement or create a contrast in the gin’s botanical flavor profile.
Use of lime again depends on the gin, for Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray a lime wedge or slice as a garnish is more than enough, adding lime juice to the mix will overwhelm the gin and you won’t be able to taste of it. For Gordon’s and Beefeater which have a stronger flavor makeup including licorice, coriander, you can easily squeeze some fresh lime juice along with the lime wedge. If you’re drinking Hendrick’s it always has to be a slice of cucumber as it pushes forth the same notes in the gin at the same time balancing the rose flavor.
We love our G&Ts with a dash of bitters, it adds a surprise element and definitely more complexity to the drink. We will strongly recommend you give it a try.
Try Gin and Tonic with a dash of bitters.
We can’t harp enough on how important it is to have the right glassware for drinks. G&T is traditionally served in high ball or tall glass, ditch it! Gin unlike vodka has more diversity which deserves true appreciation. Opt for a wine or balloon glass over a tall glass for G&T. This is a trend that started in Spain and its gin bars and we wholeheartedly approve; we would never drink G&Ts any other way.
How to Save Blue Riband
It is a pity that there is no real and quality Indian gin available. One that is, Blue Riband, leaves a lot to be desired from – no amount of lime and tonic water can save it. But it is the most easily available gin in the market, so we experimented to make it more palatable. Since juniper berries are non existent in the market, we looked at other herbs. Our pick was bay leaves. The key here is that these herbs should be subtle and dried bay leaves fit the bill. If you want, you can add some fennel seeds as well.
For 750 ml bottle of Blue Riband, dry roast 5-6 bay leaves in a pan to activate the essential oils. Let them cool down a bit and then carefully add them in the gin bottle. Close the bottle tightly, shake it a bit and keep in a cool dry place. Three days should be more than enough to infuse flavors; shake the bottle once or twice day to let the flavors dissolve properly. Mix it with tonic water and enjoy.