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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. re: JMF

      Thanks

    2. 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.

              2. My personal G&T is Beefeater and Fever Tree(which just recently became regularly availible in my area) and a heavy squeeze of lime. I have always made lime heavy G&Ts, jus something about that extra sourness to balance the sugar in the tonic that works for me.

                In terms of nice addition, I love a splash of Cassis liqueur as a variation.

                14 Replies
                1. re: Czequershuus

                  Many see Beefeaters and tonic as the definitive classic G&T, although purists state that lime should not go anywhere near this drink. You only use lemon.

                  This is a rule that may have been more applicable in the days when there was no, or little, variation in gin style. Personally I experiment with both depending on the gin. Lime was always my preference but I have distinctly noticed that it can really ruin the drink when using certain types of gins. I can't specifically remember which one it was, but once the lime just made for a very sour, one dimensional drink. The gin's botanicals were completely dominated by the lime. That said, other factors could play a part and be tinkered with, e.g. ratio of gin to tonic, amount of lime, amount of ice

                  I have a bottle of Cassis so will give that a try!

                  1. re: Czequershuus

                    My favorite Gin and Tonic combo is Boodles Gin, Fever Tree Bitter Lemon, and a squeeze from a lime wedge [and then add the squeezed wedge].

                    1. re: hawkeyeui93

                      Boodles I have yet to sample. Apparently it goes well with lemon and sage

                      1. re: ASingh

                        I love Boodles. I prefer less juniper-heavy gins to more junipery gins like Tanqueray. My go-to for years was Plymouth, until it finally just became too expensive. Boodles is a great alternative. Then again, I don't care for tonic water, so I have no idea how it works in a G+T.

                        1. re: The Big Crunch

                          If you don't like tonic water, you would like Fever Tree even less. I was slow to get around to it, but it's a game changer for a G&T. I assume your primary use for gin is martini's?

                          1. re: Veggo

                            Fever Tree is definitely superior to Schweppes but as more and more premium gins are hitting the market, tonic water is catching up. People are currently raving about 1724 and 6 o clock tonic. Both are Spanish brands I believe so I will get to try them when I am there next month

                            1. re: ASingh

                              If you'll be in Barcelona you can find at least two of the American gins (Junipero and Bluecoat) at Vila Viniteca - there's also an interesting local gin called Gin Mare made with rosemary, basil, thyme and olives (good for martinis)

                              1. re: caganer

                                Caganer, thanks for the tip. I will be in Marbella and had already planned to pick up Gin Mare. They also make 1724 tonic that I mentioned.

                                So far from my experimentation, the ultimate G&T has been Tanqueray Ten with Fever Tree Tonic (1:2 ration) with a slice of lime.

                            2. re: Veggo

                              It's tough to say what the primary use is - I make a lot of cocktails and so many of them involve gin. I love the simple and refreshing nature of a Gin Rickey, especially in summer. I like gin fizzes. My GF's favorite drink is the Vieux Motte, which is gin dominant in terms of ingredients, though is really more of a showcase for St. Germain. I also love a Corpse Reviver #2, Negroni, Cooperstown, Pegu Club, etc... And yes, many a gin martini (2.5 gin, .75 Dolin dry, two dashes orange bitters, stir 35 seconds, strain, garnish lemon twist).

                              I wish I liked gin and tonics. They seem like such a timeless classic, and yet...that tonic water just doesn't work for me :(

                              1. re: The Big Crunch

                                It sounds like you are surviving life without quinine in grand style - cheers!

                            3. re: The Big Crunch

                              A Plymouth G&T is just ok for me, and since it works so much better in a Martini, I will save it for that

                              1. re: ASingh

                                Old fashioned as I am, I also prefer a gin martini. They have become an endangered species.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Sad but true. Evil, evil vodka!

                                2. re: ASingh

                                  I basically use it exclusively for martinis, trying to stretch out a bottle as long as possible. However, like I said earlier, Boodles is a pretty good substitute and makes an excellent martini.

                        2. Great topic. There is a restaurant in Philadelphia that used to have the four leading artisanal tonic waters, OK l hate the word artisanal , they had Fever tree, Q, Fentilman's and Tomr.
                          l snuck a bit of gin in one night and tried them all with a few gins, Junipero, Old Tom Ransom, and Old Raj.
                          IMHO, l preferred the Q tonic and the Junipero or Old Raj gin the best, the Ransom just overpowered all and l remain using this for drinking unadulterated. Lime wedge was used on all.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                            I was of the understanding the tonic water in the US was made to a different, sweeter formula. I am not sure how much that is true. The Bombay Sapphire East I bought in London was supposedly made specifically for the US market to complement the tonic water

                          2. It sounds a bit like the Three Chimneys pre-dinner gin and tonic menu!

                            Pick up Sipsmith at your next opportunity. I neglected to pick it up in London on my last trip and then happened upon it in the duty free store in Heathrow (which is crazy because they are a pretty low production operation).

                            Their Summer Cup is also excellent. It is similar to Pimms but in my view better. I picked it up from Gerry's when I was in London last (I was there to pick up Amer Picon which is impossible to find in the US).

                            I care for The Botanist a great deal. You may be already familiar with it. It is from Islay ... the same makers as Bruichladdich.

                            I could provide you with a number of US recommendations also if you are interested. I don't know how many are available in the UK ... I live in Seattle and very much enjoy Captive Distilling (Big Gin) and Sound Spirits Gin. Down in Oregon I like Ransom's Old Tom Gin. You might be able to get St. George spirits from California in the UK. I started off mostly interested in their absinthe but their Botanivore and Terroir gins are really solid. I find the Terroir appealing because it is made with botanicals found on Mt. Tam near the distillery. It may be too fir forward for traditionalists ...

                            If you can find it there try Jack Rudy small batch tonic from South Carolina. It was revolutionary to me by comparison to the big commercially available tonics.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: klsalas

                              Being in Washington State, have you tried Victoria Gin [from British Columbia] yet? My wife brought me a bottle home from Vancouver last year and it was very solid.

                              1. re: klsalas

                                It's actually an Indian restaurant in London called Gymkhana. I highly recommend it and reckon it's the best Indian in London - and that's coming from an Indian!
                                http://www.gymkhanalondon.com

                                If you ever pay a visit, you MUST try their Quinine Sour. One of the best Gi cocktails I have ever drunk.

                                I love Sipsmith, and live around 5 miles from the distillery, so planning to do one of their tasting tours. Sipsmith is one of a few gins I prefer neat. Summer Cup is 10 times better than Pimms. Make a punch on the recommended recipe on the bottle, and all your guests will ask for the recipe.

                                I am currently in Marbella on a quest to sample G&Ts here.

                                Just visited a bar, got talking to the owner and found she was from Barcelona and takes her Gin very seriously - not to mention has a very good selection.

                                So, I had a mini tasting last night with the intention to pop in every night to try different combinations. Last night I had the following

                                Gin Mare with sprig of Thyme (tasty, almost felt like after dinner drink
                                )Brockmans with pieces of raspberry and strawberry (absolutely delicious)

                                Both were served with Fever Tree tonic

                                From memory, she also carries these

                                Tanqueray Rangpur
                                Tanqueray Ten
                                Bulldog
                                No 209
                                London No 1
                                Fifty Pounds
                                Citadelle
                                Magellan
                                G'Vine

                                And a few more I have forgotten

                                1. re: klsalas

                                  Have seen Amer Picon on sale here so might pick it up if a lot cheaper than UK. A little confused between the 'Orange' and 'Biere' versions. Which do you use, and what cocktails do you recommend with either?

                                2. I understand you live in the UK, so some of the following spirits may not be available to you, but I have to say that *my* Gin-of-Choice varies upon the choice of my drink, the time of day, and my mood. The one consistent is Hendrick's -- can't stand the stuff!

                                  Sticking with Gin & Tonic -- outside of Spain -- if I'm either throwing a party, or am in a restaurant/bar that is *not* focused on craft cocktails, I go with classic Tanqueray & Tonic. I know it will be fine, reliable, trustworthy.

                                  If I *am* in a bar that has a true emphasis on cocktails, I'll generally go with whatever gin the bartender/house suggests . . . as long as it's not Hendrick's. If it is, I'll ask them to substitute it for someone more juniper-based (rather than cucumber-flavored vodka).

                                  If I'm making a "serious" G&T at home, then it's generally going to be No. 209 Gin, or one of the gins from St. George Spirits ("Botanivore"), with Fever Tree tonic.

                                  Plymouth, Bombay (regular, not Saphire), and No. 209 are more for Martinis -- with Bombay going in the driest ones, but if I'm using Caprano Formula Antiqua . . . .

                                  / / / / /

                                  I only freeze vodkas that I'm going to drink straight. In making cocktails, the "ice melt" is a crucial consideration (IMHO), and I would NOT suggest freezing the gin.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: zin1953

                                    I'm confused about the Carpano reference in your mention of martinis. They only make a red, right? I can see it being used in a Martinez, but not a Martini.

                                    1. re: The Big Crunch

                                      Actually, I was always taught that a traditional Martinez calls for the following:
                                      2 ounces gin
                                      3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
                                      1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
                                      Dash of Angostura bitters
                                      Lemon twist for garnish

                                      Now, in *my* world, when I see a recipe calling for "sweet vermouth," I think along the lines of Cinzano or Martini & Rossi RED, rather than an amber -- true, technically red -- vermouth like Antica Formula. Also, when making a martini with Antica Formula, I do not use the maraschino liqueur or the bitters -- just dry gin, Antica Formula and the lemon peel.

                                      A true Martinez tastes different to me, but then again, that's *my* palate and YMMV.

                                      As an aside, in a world that calls virtually anything a "Martini," as long as it's served up and in a martini glass, there is only one drink that I routinely call a Martini, and three variations thereof:

                                      Martini -- the classic, bone dry drink, Gin, a hint of vermouth, and two olives;
                                      Dirty Martini -- with the addition of some of the brone from the olive jar;
                                      Vodka Martini -- I've given up, and acknowledge that some people prefer vodka; and,
                                      "Venetian Martini" -- made with gin and Formula Antica, so named because the bar in which I first tried this cocktail called it so . . .

                                    2. re: zin1953

                                      Right now, nothing beats Tangueray Ten and Fever Tree for me. It's my premier choice when I'm in a party mood. For a change, and when I'm feeling more mellow I'm enjoying Gin Mare with a couple of basil leaves and stick of thyme - it doesn't really work with lemon/lime.

                                      I've heard it said that Plymouth is more of a martini gin and just makes a middle of the road G&T. Personally I love it with tonic, especially using the Frosty Plymouth Gin and Tonic recipe (google it) but using Fever Tree in place of Schweppes.

                                      To get the right temperature I'm refrigerating the gin and tonic and using 2 inch ice cubes. That seems to do the trick. That and drinking them faster!

                                    3. my perfect G&T is two jiggers of bombay sapphire in a cut crystal old fashioned glass with three ice cubes, a half jigger (splash) of schweppes tonic and a wedge of lime to squeeze on top.

                                      i haven't tried any fancy (expensive) tonics.

                                      i tried hendricks and it is too floral for me.

                                      tanqueray is fine. before sapphire, i preferred bombay gin to tanqueray.