When done right, gin & tonic is liquid perfection. As popular now as it ever has been, gin & tonic is thriving thanks to improved presentation and attention to detail. Gin is England’s national spirit and there are few things more English than a refreshing G&T.
And yet, despite being so popular, there are so many variations on how to serve this popular drink. Which garnish should you use? How much ice should you put in? Which glass should gin & tonic be served in?
Henry Stephenson, Managing Director of Stephensons and former Spirit Buyer for Sainsburys, says gin has flourished in recent years,
“Previously seen as an old fashioned drink, gin has become an increasingly vibrant and diverse choice in the past decade. Gin & tonic used to be thrown in a glass with ‘ice and slice’ and with very little care or creativity, the drink really suffered. The quality of gin based drinks has improved dramatically which has been largely down to presentation.
“Simple things such as serving gin & tonic in a stemmed balloon glass with a thin slice of fresh lemon and some large ice cubes can make all the difference.
“There is no universally approved way to serve gin & tonic. Traditionally G&T is served in Stemmed Balloon Glasses or Hiballs, but modern gin bars may choose to use something different like Kilner Jars or Old Fashioned Glasses if it suits the establishment. I’ve seen gin & tonic served in anything from tall glasses to handled jars. These are usually themed or chosen to express the personality of the establishment.
“However, gin & tonic undoubtedly tastes at its best in a Stemmed Balloon Glass. When we apply what we learnt about wine to gin, this glassware choice makes the most sense. We want to stop the drink from warming up too quickly and control how fast the aroma escapes. The bulbous nature of the bowl, the stem and the tapered tip create a perfect combination of aroma, taste and temperature.”
Which fruit should go in gin & tonic: lemon, lime or something else?
“Gin bars are always looking for new and innovative combinations. Traditionally, a slice of lemon is used in gin & tonic; the lemon brings out the citric flavours of the drink and adds to the aroma. Substituting lemon for cucumber, melon, raspberries, lime and other fruits has become a popular point of experimentation.
“I personally prefer adding two batons of cucumber to my gin & tonic. The cucumber adds a delicious fresh quality to the drink.”
How much ice should go in a gin & tonic?
“G&T tastes better when it is cold and ice is the best way of keeping the temperature low. Avoid small ice cubes because they melt quickly and dilute the drink. Large ice cubes will melt slowly and keep the G&T at a pleasant drinking temperature.
“I would recommend a decent quanity of large ice cubes to keep the G&T colder for longer.”
So, how does Henry Stephenson like his gin & tonic served?
“I enjoy a classic gin & tonic in a stemmed balloon glass, such as our Speakeasy Gin Glass. Start by adding some large ice cubes so the glass is almost full to the brim. I then suggest a generous serving of quality gin topped with tonic water and two cucumber batons.
“This combination brings out the flavours and aroma of the drink perfectly and is extremely refreshing.”
Here are Henry’s recommendations for when to use different glassware:
Stemmed Balloon Glasses: This is the perfect glass for gin & tonic. 80% of the flavour of gin comes through the nose and the wide opening of these glasses and the tapered rim permits the aroma to spread without escaping too quickly. Meanwhile, the bulbous bowl is large enough for ice cubes and garnishes. The stem prevents warm hands touching the bowl and altering the temperature of the drink too quickly.
Hiball and Old Fashioned Glasses: These are great for sipping gin based cocktails through a straw and offer a casual alternative to Stemmed Balloon Glasses for gin & tonic. This shape of glass is a conventional choice in most bars and can accommodate large ice cubes and garnishes.
Martini Glasses: Martinis are possibly the most well known gin based cocktail. Martini glasses have been specially designed to control the temperature of the beverage. The long stem prevents warm hands heating the drink up whilst the large surface area of the opening allows the aromas to flourish.