The shelves of your local supermarket may be leaving a little to the imagination right now, but that’s no reason to sip a lacklustre G&T in isolation – go beyond your typical tonic and garnish variation with a few smart and simple additions. Here, we’ve collected 10 pointers from the pros about how to DIY your favourite juniper serve…
If nothing else, having a little extra spare time allows us to flex our creative muscles a little more than usual – and as we’ve seen in our favourite bars in the world over, no cocktail recipe is more readily adaptable than the Gin and Tonic.
Usually, this might mean changing our tonic water or experimenting with a new garnish. But let’s be real for a second: half of us are struggling to buy loo roll at the minute. Now is not the time to forage the fresh produce section for exotic fruits.
Luckily, you don’t need wild Himalayan pears to level up your G&T. In fact, you don’t even need to set foot in a supermarket. Whether you’re a fan of flavoured gin or simply adore London dry, you’ll find 10 different expert-approved ways to customise your G&T below…
1) Flavour your ice
With ice being a key element of the serve, it’s an added opportunity to elevate your G&T for both visual and taste benefits, explains Laura Bonner, founder of The Muff Liquor Company. Try freezing your tonic or mixer into ice cubes with botanicals that compliment the tasting notes, such as fruit, herbs, spices, and even edible flowers. Alternatively, you could freeze fruit juice or tea into cubes, or even fresh produce like grapefruit, watermelon or cucumber.
2) Introduce a liqueur
Why not add a splash of flavour and colour with a liqueur? Bombay Sapphire has just launched Creations, a colourful gin liqueur range, specifically for this purpose. “Our four trend-based floral and fruity blends all expertly pair with the balanced juniper and citrus notes of our world-famous gin, adding a subtle pink hue from the Rose, a sweet hint of summer from the Strawberry or Raspberry or a more aromatic touch from the Hibiscus,” explains Bombay’s UK brand ambassador Renaud de Bosredon.
Alternatively, pick out the key tasting notes of your gin and experiment with any liqueurs you have at home. “Marylebone London Dry Gin has a very classic base with a great, delicate accent from the lemon balm, lindon and camomile,” says brand ambassador Chris Dennis. “I like to think these give a floral and citrus note. Small additions can go a long way in accentuating these flavours, such as 10ml St.Germain, 10ml Italicus, or 10ml Merlet Pear.
3) Add a dash of bitters
For a subtler approach, try using bitters to intensify certain flavour notes within the gin, say Andrew Kearns and Alex Palu, directors of modern Italian bar Hey Palu in Edinburgh. As a general rule of thumb, they suggest using orange or grapefruit bitters to highlight citrus notes, peach or rhubarb bitters to target fruit flavours, and celery bitters for savoury notes.
4) Pick a fruit-forward gin
Experiment with different styles of gin to enhance the experience, suggests Eddie Brook, the founder of Brookie’s Gin. “Our Brookie’s Byron Slow gin makes for an interesting take on the classic mix,” he says. “We use half tonic and half soda with a strawberry and mint leaf garnish – we call it the Take It Slow.”
Or you can explore other fruit-forward gins. Bombay Sapphire is about to introduce Bombay Bramble, a blackberry and raspberry flavoured gin inspired by the classic Bramble cocktail – “a sophisticated option for those that enjoy a touch of fruit in their G&T,” says de Bosredon.
5) Switch up your glassware
A balloon glass – or copa de balon – is a great choice for bringing out the flavour profile of a gin and tonic, especially gin with a strong citrus or floral fragrance, suggests Bonner. “The bowl shape allows the flavours to be trapped in the glass whilst the carbon in the tonic expands,” she says. “You get a hit of aroma on the nose before drinking the G&T, which gives a more rounded flavour profile experience.”
6) Spritz a mist
Liquid garnishes are all the range, didn’t you hear? You could fashion your own if you have an atomiser bottle, or buy one ready-to-go, à la gin brand Silent Pool. “Our mist garnishes work like a citrus twist garnish as they release the oils and provide that same amazing aroma, but using more unusual botanicals,” explains Silent Pool brand ambassador India Blanch. “Flavour mainly comes from aroma, so this really works to lift certain notes in your G&T.” They’ve just launched a psychedelic CBD-spiked mist. Trippy.
7) Rinse your glass
We don’t mean in the dishwasher (although, make sure you do that too). For an intense herbal aromatic layer, you could try spraying the glass with absinthe first, suggest Kearns and Palu.
8) Flavour your own tonic syrup
Sure, you could make your own tonic tincture from cinchona bark, but being admitted to A&E with accidental quinine poisoning is quite literally the last thing any of us need. However, you could buy (ready-made, safe-to-consume) tonic syrup and use it to flavour your own tincture. “You can make a simple syrup at a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water,” suggests Yusif Al Baggou, bar manager at London’s Tavla. “Once it’s made, add 50ml of the tonic tincture to 500ml of the simple syrup and you have a tonic syrup.” The great thing about making your own syrup is you can add in other flavours to infuse it further, he says, such as cloves and lemongrass. “It’s all about experimenting and finding what flavours suit your palate and gin.”
9) Add a splash of cordial
You could also try adding a small measure of cordial, like elderflower, pear or rhubarb, to sweeten and add flavour. “One of the most important things you shouldn’t do when making a G&T is lose the DNA of it,” says Dan Garnell, head bartender at Super Lyan in Amsterdam. “It’s quite a delicate drink when you think about it, as it’s just two ingredients. So you always have to make sure you are amplifying notes either in the gin or a certain spice in the tonic you would love to champion.”
10) Repurpose flat tonic water
Turn your classic G&T into a M&T (that is, a G&T Martini) by boiling flat tonic water and reducing it by half, suggests Tiago Mira, bar manager at The Goring Cocktail Bar in London. “If you want to be more creative, you can simply add aromatic herbs or perhaps some berries to the mix,” he explains. “Once reduced, let it cool, then keep in the fridge.” To make the G&T Martini, add 50ml of your favourite gin and 25ml of the tonic reduction to a mixing glass with plenty of ice. Stir and serve.