Six ways to spice up your Gin and Tonic
The Gin and Tonic is one of the oldest cocktails in the world, beginning its story not as a drink to be enjoyed at parties and in bars, but as a mix to be taken for antimalarial purposes by British soldiers stationed in hot, humid countries across the Empire.
The gin and tonic was the quintessential “Sundowner”, the perfect mix of practical and refreshing. High levels of quinine in the tonic helped combat against malaria, and the gin helped the “medicine” go down easier, as tonic water was incredibly bitter and difficult to drink on its own.
The gin and tonic refused to cast itself aside as simply a medicinal drink however, and it stands today as one of the most popular drinks served globally.
All gins, whether regular, distilled or London Dry, begin with the distillation of Juniper berries at their base, which creates an exquisite flavour that divides drinkers down the middle: to some, it is ghastly, to others gold. With more of a subtlety than the more famous cocktails, it’s hard to adapt a classic cocktail with just four ingredients at its base.
Those four ingredients, gin, tonic, lime and ice (with ice always considered an “ingredient” in itself by mixologists) can be tweaked, however.
Our resident mixologists like a challenge so here are six of their top twists on how the regal gin and tonic can be given a modern inception.
Gin Basil Smash
Gin Basil Smash
With its origins in Louisiana this cocktail brings a new dimension to the complexity of gin by the addition of fresh basil leaves. Basil adds a fragrance you would not expect, that at the same time surprises you with its depth and almost pungent after-scent. For people who really like gin with a twist, this is one to go for.
For an exciting twist on an old variation, try mixing up mint julep with gin instead of good old cognac or rum and you’ll end up with a seriously refreshing drink. The mint complements the gin perfectly and adds a level of sophistication.
To spice up a gin sometimes all it takes is to use a little more quality. One of the most expensive and complicated gins in the market is Monkey 47. As its name suggests it’s blended with 47 different ingredients throughout the distillation process. From woody to herby, this complex gin should be taken on its own with tonic water.
Want something completely out there? Try sloe gin. Made with gin and the sloe drupe, also known as the blackthorne, this drink can sometimes be mistaken for a completely different gin because of its distinctive and entirely different taste to the old classic.
If you are up for something simple and fruity, a gin with William Chase gin at its heart will be perfect. William Chase gin is distilled with juniper, apple and elderflower and this natural combination ensures a fragrant and fruity mouth feel with airy and light flavours. Garnish with a slice of apple and you’re good to go. No fuss, no hassle, pure refinement.
Pink Gin (Gin Pahit)
Pink Gin (Gin Pahit)
This cocktail was invented in Malaysia itself so we couldn’t forgive ourselves for not including it here. Gin Pahit, or Gin and Bitter, is just Plymouth Gin served in a tall glass that’s been marbled down the sides with Angostura Bitters. The gin turns the Angostura Bitters a lovely pink colour, hence the name.
And there you have it; our mixologists weighing in on the tricky subject of gin. Juniper berries are an acquired taste, and we know not everyone is a fan. But, to those who can appreciate its complex nature, gin’s heritage, flavour and opportunity to develop delicate flavours at its base can be one of the most rewarding spirits in your mix.