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Gin and Tonic Recipe

By
Matthew Krimmel
Table of Contents
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How to Make a Gin and Tonic

The Gin and Tonic is a highball cocktail made by pouring gin and tonic over a large amount of ice. Few cocktail drinks are as easy to prepare as a classic Gin and Tonic. Along with the Martini and Negroni, it’s one of the most widely consumed gin cocktails worldwide.

Its recipe is simple, but there are many opportunities to get creative with tonic, citrus fruit, and gin to produce various flavors. When considering how to make a Gin and Tonic, there are many possibilities for experimentation. Now more than ever, gin brands are abundant on the market.

Juniper is always the predominant flavor, but gin producers have become creative with botanicals. Each botanical ingredient interacts differently with the bitterness of the tonic and citrus notes.

Read on to learn the history of the gin and tonic, get our Gin and Tonic recipe, and see our suggestions for the best gins and tonics on the market. You'll soon understand why it's one of the most popular cocktails worldwide.

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Gin and Tonic History

Officers of the Presidency armies–the military force of the East India Company–created the Gin and Tonic. Malaria was a constant issue for Europeans during the 1700s in the Indian subcontinent and other tropical regions.

In the 18th century, Scottish doctor George Cleghorn examined how quinine, a traditional cure for malaria, could be used to prevent the disease. The taste of tonic water quinine was bitter and unpleasant, so army officers began adding a mixture of water, sugar, lime, and gin to the quinine. This made it more enjoyable and gave birth to the Gin and Tonic cocktail.

Tonic water isn't used as an antimalarial remedy nowadays, so it contains much less quinine and has a sweeter taste. This has made it possible to remove sugar as one of the main ingredients from the Gin and Tonic recipe. It has achieved worldwide popularity and appears on bar and restaurant menus everywhere.

Gin and Tonic Recipe

The ratio of gin to tonic varies according to taste, gin alcohol by volume or ABV, and the addition of other drink mixers. Many cocktail books call for 1:1 to 1:3 with a lime slice or wedge garnish. The basic instructions for how to make a Gin and Tonic haven't changed much since its invention.

All that’s needed for a Gin and Tonic recipe is gin, tonic water, and a lime or lemon slice or wedge. Serve the cocktail in a highball or rocks glass. Here’s our Gin and Tonic recipe:

  • 1 part to 3 parts gin (to taste)
  • 3 to 4 parts tonic water

Some mixologists pour the tonic down a bar spoon to preserve its effervescence. The ice cools the gin, making the cocktail more refreshing by dulling the effect of the alcohol in the mouth.

A slice or wedge of lime provides the typical garnish. Your bartender may squeeze a bit of juice from the lime into the mixed drink before dropping it into the glass. 

However, some bar and restaurant operations substitute a lemon slice or wedge for lime. In the United Kingdom, the combination of lime and lemon is called an "Evans."

Best Gin for Gin and Tonic

1. Hendrick's Gin

Hendrick's comes from Scotland with unique cucumber and rose flavors. It's a smooth gin that's perfect for a Gin and Tonic. You can even add cucumber slices with your lime wedges as garnishes.

2. Beefeater London Pink Gin

Red and pink-hued fruit, vegetables, spices, and angostura bitters produce color and flavor in this gin category. Strawberries give Beefeater London Pink Gin its citrus flavoring and pink appearance. Its sweet, berry flavors complement the citrus and bitterness of the tonic.

3. Sipsmith London Dry Gin

Sipsmith London Dry Gin offers a fresh and lively botanical array. They produce their gin in small batches in copper pot stills. This is the way gin has traditionally been manufactured. The base spirit comes from English barley and distiller Jared Brown adds botanicals from his garden to many of Sipsmith's varieties.

4. Junipero Gin

This San Francisco brand pays homage to the founding ingredient in gin with its name. Junipero is Spanish for “juniper berry” and kickstarted the American craft gin industry in 1996. It contributes to a bold Gin and Tonic with juniper and pine notes.

5. The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin comes from an area of Scotland better known for its Scotch. The Botanist Islay Dry Gin offers 22 botanicals with a fresh and lively character. When considering how to make a Gin and Tonic, this brand will provide an infusion of botanicals to your traditional recipe.

Best Tonic for Gin and Tonic

Tonic water is a product to include with your commercial or home bar essentials. It's also a core ingredient in how to make a Gin and Tonic. It consists of soda water, sugar, and quinine. You may also want to keep a few soda water brands in stock for making cocktails.

Quinine comes from cinchona tree bark, commonly found in South America and Africa. It provides the bitter flavor that defines tonic water, similar to the taste of English bitter beer.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number and quality of tonic water brands available on the market. We have more options than ever for choosing the right brand for our Gin and Tonic. Here's our list of the best tonic water brands for your G&T:

1. Fentimans Tonic Water

Fentimans has been in business since the early 20th century and is mainly known for its ginger beer. But their tonic water is also excellent with infused botanicals like juniper, lemongrass, and makrut lime. They make this tonic water the perfect complement to any gin.

2. Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water

Fever-Tree offers a wide range of flavor options, but the classic Indian Tonic Water is one of the best available. It provides the right level of sweetness and is a perfect companion to any spirit for highball and cocktail drinks. The rest of Fever-Tree's tonic water lineup includes Classic, Light, Mediterranean, Elderflower, Lemon, Cucumber, and Aromatic.

3. Sanpellegrino Tonica Citrus

Sanpellegrino Tonica Citrus is a deliciously flavored tonic water with hints of lemon and orange peel. This premium tonic water offers a balanced complexity. Sanpellegrino Tonica Citrus is the ideal partner for a wide range of gin brands and an essential mixology component. Its orange zest enhances your Gin and Tonic, giving it a sweeter note. 

4. Q Spectacular Tonic Water

Q Tonic Water stands out from its competitors by using agave nectar for sweetness, reducing the amount of sugar per serving. Q Tonic sources quinine from Peru and offers a wide range of flavor options. It also provides plenty of carbonation to keep the bubbles around for your Gin and Tonic.

5. Schweppes

Schweppes began in 1783 as the world’s original soft drink. Founder Jacob Schweppe refined and patented his own process of producing mineral water. It has fruit and herbal aromas with a hint of cloves. Pick up some Schweppes to make refreshing summer cocktails this weekend.

Frequently Asked Questions About Gin and Tonic

What Is a Gin and Tonic Ratio?

Most Gin and Tonic recipes call for a ratio of gin to tonic between 1:1 and 1:3. Of course, you can adjust the ratio to fit your preferences for flavoring and alcohol content. Experiment with the ratio until you get the perfect balance for your taste. The standard recipe for how to make a Gin and Tonic allows flexibility with the amount of gin and tonic in the cocktail.

Can You Use Lemon with Gin and Tonic?

A classic Gin and Tonic recipe calls for a lime slice or wedge garnish. Lime helps make a Gin and Tonic refreshing and never flat on flavor. However, if you don't have lime, lemon works as a substitute. Some people prefer lemon when mastering how to make a Gin and Tonic.

What Can I Mix with Tonic Besides Gin?

Gin and vodka are the most common partners for tonics, but there are several good options for other drinks that work with tonic. Cognac, whiskey, tequila, and liqueurs all work well with tonic. Add a variety of fruit, herbs, and spices to enhance the flavoring. 

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Serve a G&T with Quality Ingredients

A Gin and Tonic is a classic cocktail that’s perfect for anyone looking for a strong but refreshing and slightly bitter drink. You don’t need a mixology certification to make a good Gin and Tonic. 

The ingredients of gin and tonic taste better together, making it one of the basic bar drinks you’ll find in establishments worldwide. For more mixed drink ideas, pick up one of the best cocktail recipe books on the market. Or check out our Martini recipe, Moscow Mule recipe, and read how to make a Whiskey Sour from the comfort of your home.

If you’re starting a bar, ensure you have quality ingredients for your Gin and Tonic cocktail. Top-notch gin and tonic water brands keep customer satisfaction high and boost bar profitability in the long run. Knowing how to make a Gin and Tonic is something that everyone can master over time.

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