Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Friday afternoon cocktail, the perfect Gin and Tonic


We haven’t done one of these in a while, but a topic came up and it’s piqued my curiosity. Does it matter which tonic water you use as a mixer? Our friend Ryan Ojibway says his wife has to use Schwepps for the traditional Gin & Tonic. I’ve never noticed that much of a difference, but then I typically just use tonic to stave off malaria. 

Is Canada Dry unacceptable? Can you go cheap on tonic water? On the flip side, does so-called premium tonic water make a difference?

The Telegraph explained the origin of the classic cocktail:

Understated but always chic, the G&T is suitable for almost any occasion. It hits a certain spot as a lunchtime sharpener or an early evening aperitif, lifting the spirit and gladdening the soul with its cheerful clunking of ice and the jolly fizz of its bubbles. Quintessentially English, the G&T has its roots in the Raj. Quinine, discovered in Peru in the 17th century, was prescribed in powdered form to the colonial troops in 1850s India as a prophylatic against malaria. They mixed it with sugar and carbonated water to mask its bitter taste and added gin to help the medicine go down even more palatably.

They held a taste test of the following brands: Bramely & Gage’s 6 O’Clock, 1724, Fentimans, Fever-Tree Indian, Fever-Tree Mediterranean , Sainsbury’s own label and Schweppes. For the test they used the following gins: Chase Distillery’s Great British Extra Dry, Tanqueray No. Ten, and Psychopomp Woden. Hardly a representative sample, but they found Schweppes gave the G&T it’s classic flavor more than any other tonic.

The Telegraph offers the following advice on the perfect Gin & Tonic, and who am I to argue?

Though you can never make a silk purse out a sow’s ear – low-calorie tonic somehow misses the point; Britvic should be avoided at all costs – you can mess up even the best gin with your favourite tonic by failing to get the fundamentals right. There is a trend of serving gin and tonic in vast bowl-shaped glasses, but all in our panel prefer a straight hi-ball. “It helps the drink to keep its shape and stops the effervescence disappearing too quickly,” says Jack. Plenty of ice is critical, packed to the top of the glass, to keep the drink chilled and to minimize dilution as the ice melts. 35ml gin is a minimum; it can be argued that anything less than 50cl just fails to hit the right spot. Three times as much tonic as gin, no more, should create the right balance. As for the garnish, lime was all the rage a while ago but most purists tend to choose lemon. The more recherché might opt for pink grapefruit or cucumber, which especially suit gins with more floral notes, such as Hendricks or Martin Millers.

So for the purists among you, lemon, not lime, keep the 3 parts gin to 1 part tonic ratio, and don’t make the drink too big or too small.

Of course, the advice completely contradicts the advice given in The Telegraph in 2014. They consulted a “drinks scientist” Stuart Bale, who actually uses mango peel and ground pepper as a garnish for a G & T made with Gin Mare. I think I’ll stick with the classic.

Which gin is in your G&T?

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