For many people, summer begins when they start wearing white. For others, it’s when the good tomatoes and sweet summer corn show up on farmers’ market stalls. And for the vast majority, it’s when they need to crank up the AC on that first sweltering 90-degree day of the year. As for me, I know I’m ready for the heat when I start to crave a cool, crisp gin and tonic — preferably at an al fresco lunch; preferably with a platter of fritto misto. Gin recipes soon follow.
While I absolutely love the classic G&T, I still remember a “fancy” rendition my personal bartender (a.k.a. my husband) once served me: It used Malfy Con Arancia and Thomas Henry cherry blossom tonic—garnished with rosemary sprigs and some leftover dehydrated citrus wheels we happened to have on hand. I found it so delightful I’ve asked him to experiment with more tonics, syrups, garnishes, and of course, different gins and gin recipes. And we’re still working our way through on our list, including the 16 recipes below from some of the best bartenders in the industry.
Best Gin and Tonic Recipes and Gin Recipes for Summer
GTC&A (GIN, TONIC, CELERY, AND ALOE)
“One of my favorite cocktails is a gin and tonic with celery bitters. The vegetal notes of the bitters really bring out all of the herbaceousness of the gin. Perfect for spring and summer days.”
—Jessica Everett, cofounder of Esters Maui, Wailuku, HI
1.5 oz. gin
0.5 oz. dry vermouth
0.25 oz. Chareau aloe liqueur
0.5 oz. lemon juice
0.5 oz. 1:1 honey syrup
3 dashes celery bitters
3 oz. tonic
Method: Combine all ingredients with ice in a large wine glass. Garnish with 3 juniper berries, a sprig of thyme, and a lemon wheel. Enjoy.
THE BOTANIST BLACK CHERRY & TONIC
“The Botanist gin is the ideal spirit for creating unique and flavorful G&T adaptations. Made with 22 hand-foraged botanicals from the Isle of Islay, the Botanist boasts a complex, yet delicate aromatic flavor profile that perfectly balances with a high-quality tonic water. Its botanicals include herbs like mint, chamomile, thistle, and heather—as well as classic gin ingredients like juniper, coriander, and angelica root.”
—Jason Cousins, national brand ambassador of The Botanist
1.5 oz. The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
0.5 oz. black cherry syrup*
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup black cherries, de-stemmed, pitted, and halved
0.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
4 oz. premium tonic
Lemon peel and black cherry to garnish
*Black cherry syrup: Combine sugar, water, and fresh black cherries in a shallow pan and place on stovetop over low to medium heat. Heat and stir to dissolve sugar. Simmer for 10–15 minutes or until cherries start to break down. Strain mixture through a fine mesh cone or cheesecloth. Bottle syrup and store in refrigerator for up to 10 days.
Method: Combine Botanist, black cherry syrup, and lemon juice in a highball glass. Fill with ice and top with premium tonic. Gently stir to incorporate. Garnish with a lemon peel and a black cherry.
GUNPOWDER CHILLI SERVE
“I love that the foundation of the gin and tonic can—and does—remain the same: a beautiful pour of complex Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin and premium tonic. I feel that the complexity of the gin allows for so much creativity when further developing your G&T profile. With this version, you’re able to pull some of that great earthy spice found predominantly in the finish of the gin. It’s also complemented by the citrus notes and complexity that comes from the caraway seed and star anise. Personally, I love to mix up the garnishes, from pink peppercorns to green leafy herbs to candied fruits and more—just to have a new experience with the gin interacting with the tonic. I believe that playing around with the garnish and the flavor profiles can create a wholly new connection to such a classic and foundational cocktail.”
—Diana Novak, national director of craft spirits education at Palm Bay International
40 ml. Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin
140 ml. chilled premium tonic
Whole fresh red chilli pepper
Thick slice of fresh ripe mango
Method: Stir and serve ingredients over ice. Top with premium tonic water. Garnish with red chile pepper and a slice of fresh mango. Served over cubed ice.
EMPRESS & TONIC
“A match made in heaven—and it also happens to be our signature drink! Tart, refreshing, and effortlessly delicious, the Empress and Tonic is an elevated take on a classic favorite.”
—Phil Lecours, master distiller at Victoria Distillers
2 oz. Empress 1908 Gin
3 oz. premium tonic water
1 grapefruit slide
Method: Build on ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a grapefruit slice.
“Countless cocktails poured in the ’80s and ’90s have come and gone, but some are still called for from time to time. The Bramble, for example, is one of those cocktails: It’s made its way into the pantheon of classics bartenders know and riff off of. At Valerie, we have a gin-focused cocktail program with a list of house-crafted gin and tonic creations. I wanted to curate a refreshing Bramble variation while leaving the additional sugars behind—and Brockmans gin was the perfect base. Because of the berry-forward notes of the gin, there’s no reason to add any additional blackberry liqueurs. Q Spectacular tonic is my go-to tonic when I want the guest to truly be able to experience the botanicals of the gin. Carbonated at higher pressure than other tonics (with less botanicals) allows the botanicals in Brockmans to shine.”
—Marshall Minaya, beverage director at Valerie, New York, NY
1 ½ oz. Brockmans Gin
¼ oz. Giffard Crème de Cacao
¼ oz. lemon juice
Q Spectacular Tonic
Lemon wheels, garnish
Method: Add gin, cacao, and lemon to a goblet. Fill with ice. Garnish with 2 lemon wheels and 3 blackberries. Pour ingredients, stir, and serve with approximately 6 oz. of tonic.
SPANISH STYLE GIN & TONIC
“Gin and tonics seem to be growing more and more in popularity these days, so what we try to do is create something a little more towards the road less traveled. Riffing off of Spanish-style G&Ts, we’ve been able to create some truly unique flavors. For instance, by simply adding vermouth or a dry sherry, you can evolve your gin and tonic.”
—Derek Tormes, bartender at Tropezón, Miami, F
2 oz. Minke Irish Gin
0.25. oz. Spanish dry vermouth
2 dashes of grapefruit bitters
East Imperial Grapefruit Tonic
Method: Stir and serve ingredients over ice. Top with grapefruit tonic. Garnish with 5 pink peppercorns, grapefruit slice, and a sprig of rosemary.
COLOR-CHANGING GIN & TONIC
“The lustrous noir gin turns to a beautiful, romantic shade of lavender when mixed with tonic. The tonic elevates the botanical flavors of the gin, while the green apple cleanses the profile, making this cocktail highly refreshing and crisp.”
—Matthew Argenti, U.S.A brand director at Scapegrace Distilling Company
2 oz. Scapegrace Black Gin
5 oz. tonic water
Green apple, garnish
Method: Fill the glass with ice. Add Scapegoat Black Gin, top with tonic water, garnish with green apple. Note: the drink will turn from black to magenta.
PEACOCK GIN & TONIC
“Our Peacock Gin and Tonic is the most Instagrammable gin and tonic you’ve ever seen. It’s reminiscent of the colors of the peacock, many of which freely roam our little Caribbean island. Wherever you are drinking it, the first sip transports you right here to St. Croix—with its notes of floral and citrus.”
—Ashlyn Dumas, food & beverage director at The Peacock Room, St. Croix USVI
2 oz. Empress 1908 Gin
Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water
Sprig of rosemary
Dehydrated grapefruit wheel
Method: Add gin to a goblet with a big ice rock and top with Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water. To garnish, add a sprig of rosemary, dried juniper berries, and a slice of dehydrated grapefruit.
For the original report and complete list of all 16 truly amazing gin and tonic and gin recipes as reported by Forbes senior contributor Karla Alindahao, visit the Forbes website.
Photo by picjumbo.com