International G & T Day (April 9th) has come and gone, but why not celebrate this classic elixir the whole month of April as we transition from spring to summer. Even though the G & T has lost some of it's luster over the past decade, it still remains iconic, especially for traditionalists. New age bars and bartenders have begun to modernize it by serving it many different ways without losing the distinct G & T taste. The classic G & T is experiencing a renaissance. A world of new gin styles and a rising interest in artisan and homemade tonic waters and syrups mean the classic gin and tonic is undergoing a change. This former staple of a drink—light, basic, satisfying—has blossomed into something complex and celebratory. The classic gin and tonic is beautiful on its own, but adding a little color doesn't hurt. Try dressing it up with citrus wheels, rosemary, juniper berries, lemon verbena leaf, dill, and edible flowers.
A little history lesson here to establish it's travel through time -
The classic G & T was introduced to the world in the 18th century by the army of the British East India Company in India as they added gin to their daily intake of quinine-based tonic water to make the elixir more palatable. In India and other tropical regions, malaria was a persistent problem. In the 1700s, it was discovered that quinine could be used to treat the disease, although the bitter taste was considered unpleasant. British officers in India took to adding a mixture of water, sugar, lime and gin to the quinine in order to make the drink more palatable. Since it is no longer used to treat malaria, tonic water today contains much less quinine, is usually sweetened, and is consequently much less bitter.
Due to its historical connection with warm climates, G & T is a popular cocktail during the warmer months. However, the gin and tonic is considered a classic cocktail and enjoyed and respected year-round. Gin, tonic, lime, ice. Sounds simple enough, right? But those four words present a plethora of flavor possibilities. The G&T is a democratic drink. It doesn't force itself on you. It doesn't make you come to it. Instead, it comes to you and offers itself up to your flavor fancies. Each of those four things (gin, tonic, lime, and ice) has its own distinct variables. The combinations and permutations ensure that you'll find something that knocks on the door of your taste buds.
To make a classic G & T -
Place ice in a highball glass. Pour 1.5 oz of premium gin, fill with a high quality tonic water, like Fever Tree, and a splash of lime juice. Stir well with a long-necked spoon. Garnish with lime wedge, and serve immediately.
Remember you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to adding fruit, veggies, herbs, spices, syrups, bitters, and cordials to the mix either muddled (intense flavors or garnishes). The nuances of the fruit, herbs, veggies, spices will impart unique flavors to the gin. Change up glassware by using coupes, highballs, collins, rocks, and cocktail glasses. Transform your regular G & T into a complex cocktail. Have fun with it!
Here are some G & T Variations –
Cucumber Rose G & T
- 1.5 oz Hendrick's Gin
- handful of scented rose petals (you can easily sub in rosemary and/or dill instead of flowers depending on taste preference)
- sliced English hothouse or Lebanese cucumbers
- Tonic water
Prep - Muddle rose petals and cucumbers in a highball glass with a little water. Add ice and gin. Top with tonic water and gently stir. Garnish with a cuke slice and rose petal and serve.
Grapefruit Tarragon G & T
- 2 sprigs fresh tarragon, plus extra for garnish
- 1 tbp turbinado sugar
- 2 oz ruby red grapefruit, strained
- 2 oz Aviation Gin
- Tonic water
- Sliver of grapefruit
Prep - In a cocktail shaker, muddle the tarragon and the sugar. Add a handful of ice cubes, grapefruit juice, and gin. Shake it up. Fill a tall glass halfway with ice cubes. Add a sprig of tarragon and sliver of grapefruit. Pour contents of shaker into glass. Top off with tonic water.
Strawberry Peppery G & T
- 3 hulled strawberries
- 1⁄8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1.5 oz Navy-strength gin (like Plymouth)
- Tonic water
Prep - Muddle 2 strawberries and ⅛ tsp. freshly ground black pepper in a shaker; pour into an ice-filled goblet. Stir in 1½ oz. navy-strength gin. Top with tonic; garnish with a strawberry.
Pear-Sage G & T
- 1.5 oz Bulldog Gin
- 2 sage leaves
- 1⁄2 oz Crème de Poire (pear liqueur) or Pear Liqueur
- 1⁄2 oz fresh lime juice
- 1⁄4 oz allspice dram (like St. Elizabeth)
- Tonic water (preferably Fever Tree Indian Tonic)
- Pear slice and sage leaf, for garnish
Prep - Add all ingredients except tonic in a collins glass over ice and stir briefly. Top with tonic and garnish with an orange wedge. If you're feeling adventurous, add a few sage leaves by muddling in glass beforehand. Sage pairs well with pear.
Triple Citrus G & T
- 1.5 oz Prairie Organic Gin
- Tonic water
- Lemon, grapefruit, and orange slices (use all or some muddled and/or garnished)
Prep - Lightly muddle or gently squeeze fruit slices into a large wine goblet. Add small cubed ice and gin. Top with tonic and enjoy.
Blood Orange G & T
- 1.5 oz Bluecoat Gin
- 2 oz fresh blood orange juice
- 2-3 dashes of orange bitters
- Tonic water
Prep - Fill a highball glass with ice. Add gin, blood orange juice, and orange bitters. Top with tonic water and gently stir. Garnish with a blood orange slice and serve.
Next up - "Earth Day"