Nothing signals summer more than the classic gin and tonic. The bracing refreshment of the quinine-a bitter beacon against the sweet/tart of the always cane sugar (never high fructose corn syrup) tonic water. Why cane sugar? First of all, the high fructose stuff is cloying and sweet. Cane sugar has depth and patience, along with a haunting sweetness; one that is neither too sweet, nor too tart and definitely not out of balance. The Gin and Tonic is more than just a sum of its parts. It is a metaphor for relaxation. Here are 5 ways to make them all for yourself.
Way Down East
- 2 oz. oven roasted lemonade (slice lemons in half, sprinkle with white balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp. ‘Sugar in the Raw’ then roast for two hours at 300 degrees, cool and juice, then add cane sugar to taste)
- 3 oz. botanical gin, such as Barr Hill, created from raw honey and local Vermont grain
- 1 oz. cane sugar tonic water (of your choice, but always made with cane sugar)
- 5 drops celery bitters
- Roasted lemon rounds
Prepare the oven roasted lemonade according to the above. To a Collins glass, fill: ¾ with ice. Add the gin. Top with the oven roasted lemonade. Top that with the tonic water. Dot with the celery bitters. Garnish with a slice of roasted lemon. Serve.
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The next take on the Gin and Tonic is with a brilliant gin from Spain that is botanical — from the gathered herbs — quite refreshing and the addition of lemon zest in the glass brings this cocktail to another level entirely. As the former cocktail had lemon juice in it that was roasted first, this cocktail is based on both a lemon oil rubbed into the walls of the cocktail glass and a few threads of saffron- combined with cane sugar simple syrup, tonic bitters and good sized splash of Stiegl Grapefruit Radler, a splendid grapefruit infused beer from Germany. I don’t see it used in cocktails much and I wonder why not?
- 2 oz. Mahon gin (from Spain)
- 1 oz. Royal Rose saffron simple syrup
- 4 oz. Stiegl Grapefruit Radler
- 4-6 drops tonic bitters
- Lemon zest (no pith!)
Rub the inside of a Collins glass with the lemon zest. Add ice and set to cool. Meanwhile, in a cocktail mixing glass: fill ¾ with ice and combine the Mahon gin with the Royal Rose simple syrup. Strain over the Collins glass and ice. Dot with tonic bitters. Top with the Stiegl Grapefruit Radler. Serve. So easy!
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Another simple take on the classic uses ingredients that your supermarket has, I’m pretty sure of it.
The Optimistic Panda
- 3 oz. botanical gin, such as St. George rye gin
- 2 oz. lemongrass infused simple syrup — cane sugar only!*
- 3 oz. cane sugar tonic water
- Splash of sherry (Fino style)
*smash lemongrass with the side of your chef’s knife, add to 1:1 simple syrup (cane sugar to boiling water, stir well) in the fridge overnight
Prep: To a pair of coupe glasses, pre-chill with ice and set aside to cool. To a cocktail mixing glass: fill ¾ with ice. Add the botanical gin and the lemongrass simple syrup. Stir. Strain into the coupes. Top with tonic water. Serve with a small strip of lemongrass over the top and a bar spoon of sherry.
If you love the refreshing characteristics of a Gin and Tonic in the heat of the summer to whet your appetite or sate your thirst, this Indian influenced sip is just for you!
Chai Masala Gin And Tonic
- 1 oz. chai tea mix (reconstituted into 3 oz. of botanical gin, such as Caorunn gin from Scotland)
- Pinch of cardamom and clove powder
- 3 oz. cane sugar tonic of your choice
To a Collins glass filled ¾ with ice: Add the tea and gin mixture. Top with the cane sugar tonic water. Serve with brilliance and alacrity!
Ah, sage. My favorite kind of ingredient for the G&T is that leaf — a haunting reminder of the fall, easily translated to the experience of cocktail infamy with the addition of Fruitations cranberry syrup.
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Pro-Tip: Toast the sage by lighting it on fire over a fire-proof surface and capturing the smoke inside an inverted Boston Shaker.
Smoked Sage And Cranberry Tonic And Gin
- Sage leaf
- Boston Shaker (well chilled to capture the smoke)
- 2 oz. Fruitations cranberry soda and cocktail syrup
- 3 oz. Bulldog gin
- 3 orange zests (preserved in cane sugar for a month before using)
- 6 oz. cane sugar tonic water
Toast sage leaf with fire, capture the smoke in your Boston Shaker. Quickly invert and fill ¾ with ice. Meanwhile, rub the inside of two double old fashioned glasses with the orange zests and deposit at the bottom of the glass. Add ice to the glass. Add the Bulldog gin to the Boston Shaker filled with sage smoke and ice. Add the Fruitations syrup. Cap and shake hard for 20 seconds. Strain into the double Old-Fashioned glasses. Top with cane sugar tonic water. Garnish with a toasted sage leaf.