The following is a guest post from KegWorks friend and esteemed bartender, Giselle Cruz. When she’s not mixing cocktails in LA, Cruz is teaching video bartending courses through her website bartendingschool.today. Check out her post on “How to Make a Proper Gin and Tonic” below, and then check out her website!
The gin and tonic is no great mystery. It’s a gin of your choice, over ice, topped with tonic water. It’s often garnished with a twist, wedge, or slice of lime. As I’m sitting here typing this, I actually happen to be enjoying a G&T, made with Beefeater Gin, Diet Tonic, and several drops of lime juice – no ice (we all have our preferences).
Some people are shocked when they walk into a bar in the United States, order a gin and tonic, and then for some reason, they’re given soda water instead of tonic. This is clearly not right, and it’s a surefire way to ruin a perfectly good shot of gin.
In some places, they don’t keep tonic, and instead use tonic syrups. While this is way better than soda water, or tonic poured from a soda gun, I personally don’t think it tastes the same. If you’re looking for a G&T at the bar, specify that you’d like bottled tonic or a tonic made from syrup concentrate. If they don’t have either of those, go for something else.
If you’re making a G&T at home, and you’re looking for premium tonic water, my friends here at KegWorks have plenty of awesome options.
Now, lets talk a bit about garnishes. While a lime has traditionally served as the Gin and Tonic’s trusted and faithful garnish servant, other alternatives have also been used. In the UK, for instance, they often use lemon as a garnish.
Because of the Seville Orange botanicals used in Beefeater gin, some people like to garnish with a slice or wedge of orange for the same reason Hendrick’s gin is garnished with a wheel of cucumber, to accentuate the flavor profile of the gin being used.
Onto the gin. In order to craft a perfect G&T, you should know about a few of the leading gin brands. Below, I’ll tell you a little bit about four of them – Beefeater, Tanqueray, Bombay and Hendrick’s.
Beefeater Gin was founded in London in 1820. It’s called a London Dry Gin, where “Dry” characterizes a style, meaning that no sugar was used in the final product. It is the single most popular style of gin in the world. Beefeater diffuses its botanicals for a full 24 hours before distilling the gin again. This gives it a strong perfume (scent) with an orange citrus note and a persistent finish.
Tanqueray adds its botanicals just before distillation so there is no steeping time. It has a very complex herbal flavor, and it’s the second most popular gin brand in the United States.
Bombay Gin and Bombay Sapphire Gin are reasonably modern introductions to the gin world, the former being introduced in the 1960s and the latter in 1988. Sapphire is considered a premium brand. Personally, I find the botanicals to be overwhelming, but everyone’s palate is different.
Hendrick’s Gin was only introduced to the world in 2004, and it’s considered a super-premium brand. Its unique collection of botanicals contains cucumbers and rose leaves, which is why many garnish a Hendrick’s and Tonic with a cucumber wheel.
Every gin has a unique taste. If you’ve tasted one gin you haven’t tasted them all; you’ve only tasted that one, and that’s only one of many possibilities. By and large, vodka is less distinguishable by brand, while gin is often different because the only ingredient truly fixed in gin is juniper berries.
If you’re interested in experimenting a bit with this diverse spirit, my advice is to go to your local liquor store and buy a 50 ml bottle of a few different brands. On the first night, take 25 ml of gin and mix it with tonic water. Repeat with the different brands.
The next night, use the remaining samples of gin to make some martinis. I’d guess you’ll find that you prefer one brand of gin for a gin and tonic, and another for a martini. Typically, I see people using Tanqueray No. 10, or Bombay Sapphire for martinis, and Beefeater London Dry or Tanqueray Special Dry for G&Ts.
If you want to learn more about liquors, mixers, and their importance in the bartending trade, feel free to check out my website and blog bartendingschool.today. We can teach you how to become a more popular, knowledgeable, and efficient bartender.