Prime Meats © Simon WatsonLike many people, I used to think that a gin and tonic was one of the world’s most simple and refreshing drinks, consisting of two ingredients: gin…and tonic. OK, maybe a third ingredient, too: a lime wedge. Although there’s certainly a beauty in such simplicity, I have recently learned that I was being way too closed-minded about one of my favorite drinks. In fact, by making this beverage infinitely more complicated, it can attain supreme excellence. Read more >

By Megan Krigbaum
Updated May 23, 2017
Advertisement

Prime Meats © Simon Watson

  • Like many people, I used to think that a gin and tonic was one of the world’s most simple and refreshing drinks, consisting of two ingredients: gin…and tonic. OK, maybe a third ingredient, too: a lime wedge. Although there’s certainly a beauty in such simplicity, I have recently learned that I was being way too closed-minded about one of my favorite drinks. In fact, by making this beverage infinitely more complicated, it can attain supreme excellence.
  • One summer Friday afternoon, Damon Boelte, the bartender at my one of my favorite Brooklyn, New York, spots, Prime Meats, served me his Super Gin & Tonic—the best one I’ve ever had. All of my favorite attributes of the classic drink were heightened: The citrusy notes were brightened with the addition of some grapefruit bitters, the juniper was in perfect balance with the tonic’s quinine, and the drink was served in a pint glass. “I always say that a gin and tonic should consist of more than gin and tonic,” says Boelte. Here are his instructions for how to make it:
  • “In the bottom of a pint glass, I muddle two lime wedges and a grapefruit peel.Then I add 1 1/2 ounces Tanqueray gin, 1/4 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur and a couple dashes of grapefruit bitters (preferably Bittermens); give these ingredients a quick stir. Fill the glass with ice. At this point I take a long, twisted bar spoon (like this one), hold it upright, with the spoon’s back resting on the inside wall of the glass, and pour the tonic (Fever-Tree) gently down the spoon’s shaft. This preserves the bubbles in the tonic, letting it glide down the glass past the ice cubes instead of cascading over them. Then I give it a couple of gentle stirs with my bar spoon still in the glass. I see no need in garnishing it, but I’ll typically add another grapefruit twist sometimes. I don’t use a straw because of all the aromatics involved in this particular gin and tonic.”
  • I was surprised to see Boelte use Tanqueray gin (expecting him to pick something small and local), but his reasons for doing so make a lot of sense. “Tanqueray’s botanical profile is one of the simplest around,” says Boelte. “It’s straightforward and to the point, but still flavorful, almost citrusy. I typically go for spirits that don’t subscribe to the standard 80-proof. Tanqueray is 94.6, so just by alcohol alone, it’s present and bright in cocktails and you’re able to use less of it—which is what you want. A gin and tonic should be refreshing and crisp, not boozy and flat.”