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The Perfect G&T

Very recently I visited a bar that listed a range of Gin and Tonic options. This was the selection:

Tanqueray 10 Gin & Fever Tree Tonic with grapefruit
No 3 London Dry Gin with Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic
Beefeater Gin & Schweppes Tonic with a slice of lemon
Hendricks Gin, Slimline Tonic with cucumber
Sipsmith Gin, Fentiman’s Tonic with orange
Bombay Sapphire & 6 O’clock Tonic with lime / elderflower atomizer

I picked No 3 London Dry after reading rave reviews but was ultimately disappointed. I put this down to the tonic and It got me thinking about crafting the (my) perfect G&T.

Already I am building up a gin collection, actually in my quest for the perfect Negroni (a subject for another post!). So far I have Tanqueray 10, Plymouth (80 proof), Aldi London Dry and Bombay Sapphire East. I am looking to further add Tanqueray Rangpur and Malacca, and Monkey 47.

I would be interested in recommendations of any complementary combinations and advice on further improving the drink including-

Ratios
Amount of Ice
Lemon/Lime/Other
Freezing gin?
Additions - bitters. fruits, etc

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  1. I'd skip the T. Rangpur. All it tastes like are Rangpur.

    1 Reply
    1. I depends on how Juniper forward you like your G&T's. Your current selection is on the lighter side.

      If you like regular Tanqueray I would try Junipero and Bluecoat Gins. I definitely prefer lime to lemon though I have thought of putting in the zest/juice of a preserved lemon just to see how it affects the drink.

      The biggest change you can make is to put together your own tonic. You can make the drink as bitter or a sweet as you like. Once you make a batch it should last a while. The hardest part is filtering.

      1 Reply
      1. re: quazi

        I should have mentioned that I am in the UK so those gins or not so readily available. Are there any similar gins to them?

        Lime is something I always added but started to notice that it does not work so well with all gins, like it's clashing or almost overpowering the gin.

        Never thought of making my own tonic but something I will definitely look at. Thanks.

        Overall I am open to experiment with different gins be they juniper heavy, more citrusy, Old Tom style, etc. I am just looking to find G&T combinations that work.

      2. I think it's odd they'd garnish a Hendrick's G&T with a cucumber, given that cucumber is such a prominent component of the gin's flavor. Kind of like garnishing a Lemon Drop with a lemon slice.

        We don't get particularly fancy around our house, and though we've tried a few of the so-called artisanal tonics we haven't found anything we prefer to Schweppe's. That and Hendrick's and a squeezed lime wedge is our preferred version, or any decent London Dry if we're making too many to use $30 worth of gin on! We have some nice Lexan 8 oz tumblers and some 4-cube silicone ice molds from IKEA that make 2 3/4" cubes. Squeeze the lime wedge and drop it in, press the big cube down hard on it, pour in the gin not quite to the top of the cube and top with tonic. If it's just us (or if nobody's looking) I'll give the cubes a brief rotation with my finger and hand the drinks out.

        We do keep Gilbey's or the like in the freezer, as we do any vodka, primarily for making Instant Martinis, but the Hendricks lives on the bar. Oh, and I had some nice Dutch genever that made very good drinks, and that stayed out too. I'd like to find more of that - it was Bokma, which I was sad to learn is no longer sold in the US.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Will Owen

          Actually many cocktail and drink garnishes use one of the flavors that are present in the drink. The proper garnish for a Lemon Drop cocktail is a lemon peel.

          1. re: Will Owen

            Re Hendricks with Cucumber, it's a fair point but a drink that still works. More importantly it was a brilliant marketing ploy. The makers were saying, we are not just presenting you with a new Gin but a new Gin and Tonic. There was a time when bars in London only seemed to be selling that combo. I know people who still only drink a Hendricks G&T - with a cucumber of course. Caorunn Gin are trying a similar trick by suggesting it works better with a slice of red Apple.

            Genever is something I have never tried but as the genesis of the modern drink, I guess I need to sample it.

          2. Try Brokers for a great G&T gin and if you can get a copy of the key lime bitters from "Bitters", make it and will be even better.

            2 Replies
            1. re: DrinkinLife

              I have heard about Brokers but not tried. Reviews are very positive and apparently also works very well in a Negroni:)

              I have Orange bitters and was going to get some Grapefruit bitters. Never seen Lime bitters for sale so will seek that one out

              1. re: ASingh

                I like the Reegan's Orange bitters in my G&T when the tonic isn't as good (Schweppes, Canadra Dry, etc.).

            2. I think you have the makings of a hobby here, and perhaps the seed of an interesting blog.

              Over time you could try various combinations (there will be many) and keep notes. You could also do blind tastings of both gin and tonic separately. For example, you could have a friend pour very small amounts of different gins into different tasting glasses, then put the bottles in a bag so you can't see which gin it is. Taste each gin (gently) and keep notes.

              You could do the same with various tonics.

              Finally, you could do the same with the various combinations of G&Ts. If you conduct your tastings blind, you should eliminate any unconscious bias toward one brand or another.

              Over time you could become an international authority on the venerable G&T, and have quite a nice time along the way.

              Just a thought...

              3 Replies
              1. re: BrookBoy

                You make a very interesting point and it's a theme that I was thinking about recently after reading the following blog posts

                http://oldparn.com/2012/02/the-best-g...
                http://oldparn.com/2012/11/best-tonic...

                What struck me is how easily a discerning consumer was so surprised about the results of blind tasting. Even as connoisseurs, how much more are we influenced by marketing hype than our own taste buds. If the Aldi supermarket gin had not won Silver at the International Spirits Challenge, I never would have bought it.

                I wish I had time to write such a blog. There is definitely an opportunity to create a platform to debate the the perfect classic Gin cocktails - incl Martini, Negroni, Tom Collins, Aviation, Corpse Reviver #2 - readers contributing with their own results.

                1. re: ASingh

                  Agree very much with your point about how consumers are influenced by marketing hype. That's why I suggested a blind taste test.

                  Here's another striking example for you to consider:

                  In 2005, the Dining Section of the New York Times, conducted a blind taste test of 21 different vodkas, most (but not all) of which were high-end vodkas that command premium prices. The tasting panel included Eric Asimov, Florence Fabricant, Willliam L. Hamilton (all three of the NY Times), and Eben Klemm, who, at the time, was director of cocktail development for B. R. Guest.

                  The article says that the tasting coordinator playfully added a bottle of Smirnoff just for the hell of it. Guess which won? As Mr. Asimov stated in the article, "After the 21 vodkas were sipped and the results compiled, the Smirnoff was our hands-down favorite." This to their surprise and shock.

                  Here are the top ten vodkas as they rated them (in descending order), which I copied from the NY Times website, to which I subscribe:

                  BEST VALUE: Smirnoff United States Grain
                  80 proof
                  $13
                  ***
                  Pure, clean and ultrasmooth, with pleasing texture and classic vodka aroma.

                  Wyborowa Poland Single Estate Rye
                  80 proof 1 liter
                  $30
                  ***
                  Elegant and intriguing, with mild flavors and great persistence.

                  Belvedere Poland Rye
                  80 proof 1 liter
                  $34
                  ***
                  Great smoothness and purity, with good texture and body.

                  Absolut Sweden Level Grain
                  80 proof
                  $24
                  ** 1/2
                  Smooth and substantial, with flavors of flowers, lemon grass or nuts.

                  Hangar 1 United States Straight Wheat and Grain
                  80 proof
                  $30
                  ** 1/2
                  Pleasing, with complex flavors and a suggestion of sweetness.

                  Vox Netherlands Wheat
                  80 proof
                  $23
                  ** 1/2
                  Smooth and neutral, with savory flavors and a touch of alcoholic heat.

                  Olifant Netherlands Grain
                  80 proof 1 liter
                  $17
                  **
                  Subtle, yet rich and complex.

                  42 Below New Zealand Wheat
                  84 proof
                  $24
                  **
                  Straightforward, pure and smooth.

                  Skyy United States Grain
                  80 proof 1 liter
                  $16
                  **
                  Unusual flavors of mint and lime.

                  Teton Glacier United States Potato
                  80 proof 1 liter
                  $20
                  **
                  Clean and light on the palate; odorless and tasteless.

                  I think this really proves your point.

                  Good luck with whatever you decide to do. As long as it entails trying G&Ts, you ought to enjoy it...

                  1. re: BrookBoy

                    I am not surprised by this though vodka is all much of a muchness for me.