The Gin and Tonic may be straightforward and simple—but that doesn’t have to translate to mediocre. Not only are gin distillers creating all manner of new gins—from twists on classic styles to completely outrageous flavors—but a whole new crop of tonic waters and syrups have also emerged. All of that means great things for your G and T. But it’s not just the gin and the tonic you mix that will give your drink real oomph. The garnish you choose will make or break it.
All getting to be too much for you? Before you retreat back to your basic Beefeater and Schweppes, let us suggest a few pairings. Whether you like your Gin and Tonic bright and citrusy, light and floral or even sinus-clearingly spicy, here are the best gin, tonic and garnish combinations that will get you there—without compromising simplicity.
FOR A CITRUSY GIN AND TONIC:
Gin: St. George Dry Rye
Tonic: Bittermilk No. 5 Charred Grapefruit Tonic
Garnish: Crushed cardamom pods
Why it works: Made from a base of 100 percent rye grain, St. George’s Dry Rye gin is the perfect pick for whiskey lovers looking for herbal bliss. Its peppery notes benefit from the citrus and sea salt in Bittermilk’s No. 5 Charred Grapefruit Tonic. Garnishing with crushed cardamom pods—a delightful companion to citrus and spice—gives the drink an aromatic edge.
FOR A FIERY GIN AND TONIC:
Gin: Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin
Tonic: Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic
Garnish: Fresh ginger and kaffir lime leaves
Why it works: Though it comes in at a whopping 58.8 percent ABV, this Australian gin is supremely easy on the palate. It’s packed with flavors of coriander, finger lime, ginger and star anise. When partnered with the mildly bitter Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic, the spices shine through. Try muddling a couple of slices of fresh ginger in the glass before building your Gin and Tonic to bring out even more of the gin’s spicy notes, and garnish with kaffir lime leaves to complement the spirit’s notes of citrus and baking spice.
FOR A FLORAL GIN AND TONIC:
Gin: Portobello Road Gin
Tonic: Fentimans Tonic
Garnish: Dried hibiscus flowers
Why it works: Infused with a mix of nutmeg, orange peel, coriander and cassia bark, Portobello Road’s round, earthy London Dry Gin begs to be mixed with zesty Fentimans tonic, which gets its kick from quinine bark and lemongrass, as well as a hint of cane sugar. That bitter and slightly sweet touch, as well as the citrus and spices in the gin, benefit from the addition of a few dried hibiscus flowers. The hibiscus imparts a lovely rose hue and gives the drink a bitter, floral flavor that channels the refreshing Mexican drink, agua de jamaica.
FOR A SPICY GIN AND TONIC:
Gin: Plymouth Gin
Tonic: Drink More Good Spring Tonic Syrup
Garnish: Pink peppercorns
Why it works: Plymouth Gin has long been lauded by cocktail lovers for its great mixing potential. It’s rich and earthy, but less juniper-forward than many London Dry Gins, qualities that make it remarkably friendly and versatile. Drink More Good’s tonic syrup is super fresh with flavors of lemon verbena and hyssop. Its producers also use gentian root as a bittering agent instead of the traditional quinine. This rich combination pairs very well with pink peppercorns, which impart a spiciness that brightens up the drink’s flavor and aroma.