There are endless ways to personalize this classic.
From Manhattan and Madrid to Los Angeles and London, the gin and tonic is an international phenomenon. For one thing, it’s real easy to make. To mix a classic version of the drink, all you need is some gin, some tonic, ice, and a lime. And then, there are limitless ways to riff on the classic, like subbing in other types of citrus—grapefruit, anyone?—or adapting the drink for winter by adding in crushed cedar.
If you don't already know the history of this storied cocktail, it got its start in British-occupied India. British soldiers were drinking powdered quinine to prevent malaria, but it was so bitter that they mixed it with tonic water and sugar. Eventually, they started mixing gin into their tonics (as you do) and the rest is history.
Winston Churchill once said, “The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives, and minds, than all of the doctors in the Empire.”
Love for this drink has only increased since Churchill’s time. Today, there are bars and menus wholly devoted to the cocktail, and a bunch of establishments add a unique twist with housemade tonics. There's even a gin & tonic marmalade, because we obviously need to eat our booze on toast, too.
To celebrate this versatile drink — as well as National Gin and Tonic Day — here are seven G&T variations to try at home:
According to veteran mixologist and sommelier Todd Thrasher, the two most important aspects of a gin and tonic are high-quality tonic and large ice cubes — so that the drink doesn’t get watered down. Try these lime ice cubes for an added bit of citrus.
Along with Michael Reynolds of the New York City bar Black Crescent, Mads Refslund developed this grapefruit rendition of a G&T.
José Andrés' ideal gin and tonic is composed foremostly of his favorite gin: Rives Special Premium Tridestilada from Andalusia or Xoriguer Gin de Mahón from Menorca. He likes to enhance the gin’s botanicals with fresh herbs, like rosemary or lavender, citrus peels, edible flowers, or whole spices. As for tonic, Andrés prefers those made with natural sugars, as opposed to high-fructose corn syrup, like Q, Fever-Tree or Fentimans. And when it comes to presentation, Andrés recommends big ice cubes and a goblet.
Pete Wells came back from the Yucatán with an enhanced version of the classic G&T. This Mexican take throws lime juice into the mix, infusing the tart flavor within the drink, not only on top as a garnish.
Enhance your G&T with homemade tonic syrup. This one is made with cinchona bark powder, which contains quinine, otherwise known as the main ingredient in tonic water.
For when you want a drink but you also want dessert, this lime zest G&T sorbet is the perfect compromise. And if you want to get really creative, plop a scoop into a cup to use in place of ice!
Check out these recipes for more gin cocktail ideas.