Make Better G&T’s

A Quick History Lesson

The origins of this iconic serve are rooted in the antimalarial qualities of quinine, the active ingredient found in the bark of cinchona trees. Cinchona trees, also known as Fever Trees due to their medicinal qualities, are native to South America. They were then shipped across the world and cultivated in India and Java to supply the quinine required for the British to survive in India. 

It was the time of the British in India that created the ceremony of the G&T that has evolved into the world famous Gin & Tonic that we know today. Quinine, incorporated into medicinal tonics, would be mixed with gin, water and fresh citrus to evolve the unpleasant process of taking medicine into an iconic pre-dinner ritual. This ritual was made even easier in 1870 when Schweppes bottled the first effervescent tonic water.

The Modern G&T

Today the G&T is a simple two ingredient highball cocktail. As with all simple recipes, the devil is in the details. Such as using high quality gin, good tonic water and just the right garnish to pull it all together.

Spain has given us delicious Sherry, fabulous wines, great food, but also the Spanish G&T. Loved by some, ridiculed by others, the basic idea of the Spanish G&T is that, when it comes to garnishing, more is more! A salad station, herb garden and fruit bowl all dispensed at once onto the top of your drink.

Whilst undoubtedly there are those who love this approach, to us it’s somewhat counterintuitive. Gin is a botanical and complex spirit already. Add to this the bittersweet, crisp and flavoursome character of tonic water and you already have a heady mixture of flavours in your glass. For this reason, and to allow the flavours of the gin to come through, we recommend the more subtle and classic garnish of fresh citrus in your G&T.

Simple as this is, it doesn’t mean that one fruit fits all! Citrus is a powerful flavour and aroma, and you want to take some care over the citrus you pick for your G&T. Every gin has a different recipe of botanicals, therefore it makes sense that garnishes also vary from brand to brand. Let’s look at some famous gins, how they recommend to be garnished, and why.

Tanqueray Gin

Serve with a wedge of Lime

The gin that convinced the world that a G&T should be garnished with lime. More than that, a wedge of lime that’s squeezed and added into the drink. For classic Tanqueray, we’d say they’re absolutely right.

Why? Because Tanqueray is a juniper forward, dry and earthy gin that’s not got any citrus fruit in its recipe. Therefore, a powerful hit of citrus from lime works wonders with their gin. The only problem is, between Tanqueray and Gordon’s, the world has been convinced that a squeezed wedge of lime is THE garnish for all and every G&Ts. We strongly disagree.

Beefeater Gin

Serve with Orange & Lemon Slices

Beefeater is another classic juniper forward London Dry Gin. However, unlike Tanqueray, Beefeater also includes lemon and bitter orange in its recipe. To complement, but not over power its recipe, Beefeater will tell you to use a slice of lemon and a slice of orange.

We have a stake in this one as years ago we actually helped Beefeater come to this decision. It required the sampling of a lot of G&Ts with a lot of different garnishes! Tough work, but someone had to do it! It also means we’re not making it up when we say picking the best garnish for your choice of gin is really important for your G&T. It makes a tangible difference. IT IS IMPORTANT!

Fords Gin

Serve with Triple Citrus Twist

Fords, a modern gin in the style of the great classics. What does Fords recommend for their G&T? A triple citrus twist! Why? Because as with Beefeater this emphasizes the citrus botanicals in their gin, all three of them. Lemon, orange and grapefruit.

Who are we to argue, however, that much essential oil we find a little potent. Instead we stick with their delicious idea of triple citrus, but we prefer the freshness of slices of fresh citrus instead.

Try it out and decide for yourself. The choice is yours to make. At the end of the day, you like what you like. We just recommended slices instead of twists for Fords, so who are we to tell you what to do?!

All that matters is to appreciate that the differences are real and impactful. So, before you automatically reach for a wedge of lime, have a think about what gin you’re using. Give the back label a read, there might be a suggestion on there, or at least it might list the botanicals and help you decide what citrus would work best. Most importantly of all, taste, test and practice!

Plymouth Gin

Serve with Lemon Slices or Wheel

Plymouth Gin is one of the most iconic classic gins, and implements probably the most traditional G&T garnish. Yes, that’s right, long before Tanqueray and Gordon’s persuaded the world to add a wedge of lime to your G&T, the humble slice of lemon was the de facto garnish of the G&T.

Even though they are all London Dry Gins, Plymouth is a softer and slightly sweeter style of gin that has both lemon and sweet orange peel in its botanical recipe. Therefore, the simple but delicate freshness added with a slice of lemon is the perfect complement to the Plymouth Gin & Tonic. 

It doesn’t overpower the Gin whilst adding a hint of freshness to both the nose and palate. It’s simple but attractive on the eye too, as long as a little care is taken. Use a sharp knife to cut your fruit and check out our top tips on making your garnishes look good!

If your favourite gin doesn’t appear in this selection, not to worry, all that matters is to appreciate that the differences are real and impactful. So,  before you automatically reach for a wedge of lime, have a think about what gin you’re using. 

Give the back label a read, there might be a suggestion on there, or at least it might list the botanicals and help you decide what citrus would work best. Most importantly of all, taste, test and practice! Also, if you have a combination you absolutely love, we want to hear it!! Tell us on social or email

Bitters

If you want to flex your mixing muscle just a little more, may we suggest aromatic bitters? Tonic already has the bitter flavour of quinine and gin has a little bitterness from juniper, so a little goes a long way here. However, a light dash of Angostura bitters, or your favorite aromatic bitters, can add another layer of flavour on the finish of your G&T. 

Try a dash or two as a quick and simple twist on your favourite G&T combination. If you want to go a little further, try our version with strawberry infused Angostura bitters! We actually have a G&T recipe using it, our Strawberry Pink G&T! Or, if you want bitterness from coffee instead of ‘bitters’, try our highly popular Coffee G&T recipe. You won’t be disappointed!

Ratios

Finally, probably the most basic of the choices you have to make when mixing a G&T, is how much gin and how much tonic are you going to use?

For us, if you want a strong gin drink, fix yourself a Dry Martini. However, if you want a long and refreshing highball, make sure to give it some legs!

We think 3 parts of tonic to 1 part of gin allows all the flavours to sing. The gin isn’t drowned out, but it doesn’t overpower either. Fresh citrus, however you add it, brings a refreshing edge to your drink and pulls everything into perfect balance. Feel free to disagree, that’s the beauty of such simple drinks, there’s a million ways to make it personal to you.

For the ultimate experience, serve your G&T on the side of a plate of Fish ‘n’ Chips! Lightly battered, crispy, fried fish and thick cut fries (or ‘Chips’ if you’re British / Irish). One of the simplest and best food pairings out there. See you in the sunshine!

As always, don’t forget to show us what you made by tagging us!
@Candra_Drinks  #MakeBetterDrinks  #CandraDrinks

Continue reading

Six Essential Base Spirits for Mixing Cocktails

Learn how to make better drinks with these Six Essential Base Spirits for Mixing Cocktails. Use our recipe cards, articles and more.

Read More

Cocktail 101 : The Espresso Martini

The classic Espresso Martini. Learn more about the Espresso Martini in this Cocktail 101. Picking the best vodka, history, techniques and much more

Read More

Valentine’s Day Cocktails

Valentine’s Day cocktails, Galentine’s Day, Palentine’s Day… or maybe just celebrating the start of a new week!  Whether you’re showing …

Read More

How much juice can you squeeze from a lemon?!

Download Our FREE Cocktail Ingredients Guide

Get Nerdy With Our Latest & Greatest Recipes, Stories & Tips