With Gin & Tonic on my mind today, regarding some edible experiments for Monday’s article, I started thinking about variations on the Gin & Tonic: something beyond “One part gin, two parts tonic and a wedge of lemon”. So, with a little online searching and some inspiration, I tried the following recipes.
The gin of the day was Mayfair Gin, which is made by Mayfair Brands who also make a rather good vodka and have a couple more products in the pipeline. The idea behind the brand is to create a drinks brand that folks can trust when they are looking for a quality alcoholic beverage.
Mayfair Gin is made at Thames Distillers in London and contains 5 botanicals:
Brazilian Gin & Tonic
Inspired by Caprihana, thanks to foodgawker for the recipe.
“In a highball glass, muddle together 2 slices of lime and a teaspoon of sugar. Add ice cubes, then 35ml gin. Fill glass with 80ml tonic. Stir lightly. Garnish with lime slice or lime peel.”
With the added sugar, I was expecting this to be too sweet; I normally wouldn’t consider adding sugar to a Gin & Tonic, but, that said, given the high level of lime juice, I think the sugar does even out what would otherwise be a very tart drink. The lime makes the drink very refreshing and there is a very long finish of bitterness and tartness. The gin seems to work very well and the juniper and earthy botanicals are clearly there, but not overpowering.
Pink Gin & Tonic
This was a no-brainer, as it was a favourite of mine to enjoy after returning from a busy day at John Lewis; it’s a Gin & Tonic with a splash of Angostura Bitters. If you want to know James Bond’s take on the Pink Gin, click here.
Refreshing, like a Gin & Tonic, but there is a little, sweet, herbal spiciness that may fool you into thinking that someone has splashed a bit of ginger ale into your drink. It’s been a while since I have had one of these, but I now recall why I liked them so much. Cool and refreshing like a Gin & Tonic, but with that added depth of flavour. I might not drink these all night, but as the first G&T of the evening it’s a pretty good bet.
This is one from Nigella: gin & tonic with added cassis. In theory, you could take this recipe and extend it to creme de menthe, Galliano, creme de violette, etc., but I can see the attraction to cassis as it is quite tart.
For just a splash, the cassis has quite a pronounced presence, adding a sloe-gin like jamminess to the drink. It worked quite well and is pleasant enough, but for me those jammy, berry flavours are associated with winter and so it wasn’t one of my favourites. Mrs. B disagreed, as she quite liked it.
Essentially a gin & tonic with a dash of creme de violette added at the end; the latter will tend to settle at the bottom, leaving a dark purple sunrise rising up the glass.
This drink was still quite dry from the tonic and gin, but I got a very definite sweet, floral note form the violette. Given that the violette is inclined to sink to the bottom of the glass, you can either give it a stir or enjoy the subtle changes in the drink’s flavour as you gradually make you way to the bottom. This isn’t for everyone, but was certainly a nice twist. Garnishing with a lemon wedge both offset some of the sweetness and, from an aesthetics point of view, the yellow nice offset the purple.
James Bond Gin & Tonic
A recipe suggested by Ian Fleming and used by James Bond in the book Dr. No. 007 drinks these whilst he relaxes after a long flight to Jamaica.
“Bond ordered a double gin and tonic and one whole green lime. When the drink came he cut the lime in half, dropped the two squeezed halves into the long glass, almost filled the glass with ice cubes and then poured in the tonic.
The high proportion of lime juice (equivalent to half the amount of gin) appears on the flavour profile of this drink before the familiar flavours of gin and tonic, making it deliciously tart and refreshing. When I first tried this, I thought that the lime juice would overpower the drink, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well-balanced the drink is; Ian Fleming certainly knew his stuff.
Mexican Gin & Tonic
[Add 50ml gin and 1 tablespoon of lime juice to a highball glass, fill with ice and add 120ml of tonic water ganrish with a lime slice and give it a quick stir]
This comes from Pete Wells who discovered, whilst travelling in the Yucatan, that Mexican bartenders, when making a Gin & Tonic, use lime as an ingredient, not just a garnish.
I quite like the addition of lime juice to a gin & tonic in addition to the garnish; like anything tart, it is thirst-quenching and good for a hot day. I think this drink works well with a relatively clean tonic, such as Fevertree Regular, rather than a more flavourful one (whilst good in their own right) such as Fentiman’s or one of the Mediterranean tonics. This variation opens up a door of similar innovation using lemon, grapefruit, orange etc. as a substitute for the lime, but that’s for another day.
EVANS Gin & Tonic
[Fill a tumbler with large ice cubes, add a measure of gin, add two measures of tonic water, garnish with a wedge of lime and one of lemon]
Invented by the world-famous British Gentleman, Robert Evans**, this is the closest to a classic G&T that we’ll get to today. This drink uses a standard 2:1 tonic to gin ratio, using Waitrose tonic and garnished with both lemon & lime. This easily answers the debate of lemon vs. lime as a garnish: be decadent, use both! Another essentially element to an essential Evans is for it to be ice cold, so plenty of ice is needed.
Usually, I would be more restrained and use only one wedge of lemon and one of lime, but, as I was using up the last of the fruit, I thought that I would go the whole hog and use two wedges of each.
The result is an invigorating drink: the citrus is sharp and bright and makes it delightfully refreshing; there is also a nice contrast between the bright yellow, green and the silvery white of the ice cubes in the glass. If you want a full-bodied gin & tonic, this may well be the choice for you!
So there we have just seven ideas of gin & tonic variations and, hopefully, there are some ideas in there for you to experiment with yourself (please feel free to share any new creations in a comment). With variations there is always a temptation to fall into drinks snobbery, but, really, if it tastes great, what does it matter?
*For those of you familiar with the UK consumer money-saving magazine, a Witch? cocktail would probably be a rather bargainous G&T somewhat akin to this.
** Recent star of the Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” in the USA.
Gin Tasting Notes
Soft with a full mouth feel, almost like a marshmallow. strong juniper and some earthiness like orris. A little burn and a medium finish but pretty good.
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