Gin and Tonic balloon Glass

Gin and Tonic - Things you should know about this Highball

By Timo Torner / Last updated on March 24, 2022 
No Highball can beat a Gin and Tonic when it's done right. It's refreshing, versatile and well-balanced. But what makes the perfect G&T?

You can make a Gin Tonic in your sleep, can't you? Possibly. But there are some things you should pay attention to when mixing a G&T if you want to achieve the perfect drink for a hot summer day.
This two-ingredient drink, a member of the Highball family, needs the correct ratio of ice and carbonation, a suitable garnish, botanicals, the matching tonic water, and ultimately also the perfect Gin. So let's see how we can get there.

History of Gin and Tonic

The Dutch distilled the first version of Gin and named it after the main ingredient, juniper. Juniper translates to "jenever" in Dutch, or with a bit of influence from their French neighbors, to "genevre." William III of England, also called William of Orange, exported the spirit to England and then renamed it into Gin.
During one of the Anglo-French-Wars, in the 1700s, importing French products wasn't well-liked. The result was a major spirit shortage in England, leading the British Parliament to enact the Distilling Act in 1690. Through this, the British were allowed to make their own Gin. And that's how it became more and more popular.

With another change of laws, the Tonnage Act of 1694, leading to customs clearance of beer, Gin got another big push. After this, especially the working class switched to the new spirit, starting the so-called "Gin Craze." Consumption peaked in the 18th century. Many people, even children, got addicted, forcing the government to restrict production and consumption. The Gin Acts were passed in 1729. After that, illegal distilleries got prosecuted, and selling Gin was only allowed under a license.

In 1832 the quality of the spirit increased dramatically. That was possible due to the development of the column still. It made it possible to distill pure alcohol. At the same time, British navy soldiers were fighting Malaria. To relieve symptoms, they had to take a bitter medicine called "Quinine." For this powdered Quinine, extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree, was dissolved in water. While it certainly helped, it did taste awful. To improve the situation, soldiers mixed it with sugar and later also with soda water. And that's when Tonic water was born.

As this medicine still didn't taste too great, the British further "improved" it by adding Gin. In hindsight, it's crazy that a drink that is so popular today was a workaround to make medicine taste less awful. But here it was, the Gin and Tonic.

Gin&Tonic - carbonation

Carbonation probably is the part of the Gin&Tonic that is the most under-appreciated. While everyone is talking about the best tonic water, the latest gin creation, the suitable botanicals, and the best garnish, no one speaks about the bubbles. Without them, Gin&Tonic becomes almost inedible.

In case you wonder how to avoid this, I have two recommendations. First, use high-quality tonic water. Not all tonic waters are the same. Some have higher pressure and more carbonation. Those are usually the pricy ones. If you want to learn more about that, skip to the section about tonic water.

Secondly, make sure every ingredient is decently chilled. Why? The carbonation gets lost a lot quicker in warm drinks. Keep your drink cool as long as possible, or you'll end up with a bitter-sweet Gin water mixture. For this, put the Gin in the freezer, the tonic in the fridge, and chill the glass properly. Also, use large, clear ice cubes.

If you follow these recommendations, you can enjoy your Gin and Tonic before it loses its bubbles. If it still gets flat, you can use a smaller glass, or you need to drink faster. 😉 -Also, if you need help with picking the right vessel for your purpose, check out our article about the best Gin and Tonic glasses.

How to make the perfect Gin and Tonic

Making a perfect Gin and Tonic is art. From picking a quality Gin, selecting the matching tonic water, adding botanicals that complement and enhance flavors to serving everything the right way.
Pouring the Gin first is a common way to prepare a Gin and Tonic, but I have another recommendation. Fill your glass with ice first, then add a bit of tonic water. Now pour in the Gin and fill it up with the rest of the tonic water. That is an easy way to mix this drink without actually stirring it.

The right ratio

A ratio of 1 part Gin to 3 parts tonic water is preferable. But there is no perfect ratio that works for everyone and every Gin and Tonic. Some prefer to let the Gin shine, while others are looking for a drink with a lower alcohol level. Everything between 1:1 up to 1:4 is practicable and can produce excellent results.

Alcohol Content

The alcohol content of a Gin and Tonic depends on the ratios and on how strong the Gin is. I calculate with a 1:3 mix, using 1.5oz of Gin with 40%. Such a drink would contain 10 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) and reflects an average G&T pretty well.

Calories

To calculate calories, I again assume a ratio of 1:3. If you drink 1.5oz of Gin, you're consuming 112 calories. The tonic (Indian tonic) adds another 46 calories. So an average serving contains only 158 calories. If you're on a diet, you can reduce this to 132 calories by using light tonic water.

Adding Ice and Botanicals to your Gin and Tonic

To serve a perfect Gin & Tonic, you also need ice and some garnish. Regarding the ice, large and clear ice cubes are a must. Not only because they look better but especially because quality ice is melting slower. Garnish is depending highly on the Gin. I can't recommend the best garnish for every Gin, but check out the garnish section for recommendations on finding a suitable garnish.

Gin and Tonic Recipe

Gin Tonic recipe

Gin and Tonic

A refreshing Highball made with Gin and tonic water
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Keyword: Gin
Servings: 1
Calories: 162kcal
Cost: $2

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • 4.5 oz Tonic water
  • 1 slice Lemon
  • 1 sprig Rosemary

Instructions

  • Fill your glass with ice cubes.
  • Add a bit of tonic water, approx. 1 - 1.5 oz.
  • Gently pur in the Gin followed by the rest of the tonic water.
  • Press some lemon juice in the drink and add the slice of lemon as well as a sprig of rosemary.

Nutrition

Serving: 6oz | Calories: 162kcal | Carbohydrates: 40.5g | Sodium: 57mg | Sugar: 40.5g | Calcium: 4.5mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

How Gin and Tonic gets called around the world

Most English-speaking countries like the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, commonly name it Gin and Tonic. In other countries of the world, there's a slight variation in the name. Countries in Western Europe skip the "and" and simply call it Gin Tonic. Japan also does this by naming it ジン・トニック - speaking "jin tonikku."

Garnish for a Gin and Tonic

The classic garnish in Gin Tonic is a slice of lemon or lime. In the US, lemon is the most common garnish, while the British prefer a slice of lime with their drink. No matter which one is your favorite, it has to be fresh. A juicy fruit will add a perfect pinch of freshness to your drink - and flowers can also be a great choice.

Put different Botanicals in your Gin and Tonic

Once Gin&Tonic became more popular, crafty bartenders started to experiment with new ways to garnish the drink. And they found out that alternatively, you can also add botanicals. But which botanicals make sense, and how can you choose right? A good idea is to smell your Gin and think about what could complement or enhance it. If nothing comes into your mind, check the list of botanicals used in the Gin and look for something unusual. Peppercorn, Pineapple, Mango, Cucumber, you name it. Try adding a piece of this botanical to your G&T.

You don't have to stop after the first botanical and can experiment with multiple garnishes. A perfect example of this is the tropical Iron Balls Gin. The perfect serve is a slice of Pineapple combined with Basil leaves. That works particularly well because the base of the Gin is Pineapple and Coconut.

Which Tonic Water to use in a Gin and Tonic

Finding the suitable tonic water is an art only a few have mastered. These days more and more tonics are flooding the market. There are so many options that it is impossible to cover them all. But I put them into 6 different categories.

Tonic water for Gin Tonic

Dry Tonic Water

Dry tonic waters are pretty new on the market and have a slightly bitter note. Less sweetness from sugar, more freshness from carbonic acid is the secret of this kind of tonic. An aromatic Gin is a perfect match as it can dominate and unfold its full aroma.

Herbal Tonic Water

Herbal tonic waters are special. Their spiciness makes them slightly bitter with almost no citrusy notes. They work well with Gins having a pronounced, spicy, and herbal flavor. These tonics support spicy and herbaceous gins and give them enough room to unfold instead of overpowering their aroma. Try out Ungava Gin with Fentimans herbal tonic to see how such a combination tastes.

Mediterranean Tonic Water

Mediterranean tonic water is my favorite. The delicate sweet herbaceous tonic works exceptionally well with tropical and fruity Gins. Make sure to try this tonic water if your Gin contains Mango, Pineapple, Figs, or similar.

Fruity Tonic Water

Tonic water with fruity notes is trending right now. Lemon, Grapefruit, Blood orange, and Yuzu are just examples of the many options you have. As they are often pretty sweet and tend to dominate in a Gin and Tonic, a strong counterpart is needed. The ingredients of the Gin should be complimented well by the fruit in the tonic water. If you're not about this, I recommend using another tonic water.

Indian Tonic

Indian tonic waters tend to contain more Quinine and sugar. That makes quite a sweet tonic water that can almost taste like lemonade. Due to their pronounced and dominant taste, they're a good fit for traditional Dry Gins with strong notes of Juniper like Elephant Gin.

Tonic syrups

A tonic syrup is a concentrated tonic that needs the addition of soda water for proper carbonation. It is how the British soldiers created their G&T's back in the days. The biggest advantage of this solution is that you can balance the sweetness of your tonic perfectly. You can easily use less syrup or add more soda water to get the balance right.

Glassware

Gin and Tonic Glassware

By now, ice, Gin, tonic water, and even the garnish are covered. But there's still something important missing for the perfect Gin and Tonic. The Glassware! The drink is a Highball, and you can serve it in a classic Highball glass. While this is perfectly fine and not uncommon, there are also some other options to consider.

I have two favorites. First, the heavy crystal glassware you can find at Nachtmann. I possess some long drink glasses of the Imperial line, but other designs are also quite classy. The second option is bellied coppa glasses. While they are being used for a long time in Spain already, they're pretty new in the rest of the world. Their most important advantage is that even large Gin and Tonics with plenty of ice fit in without the glass looking cluttered. For having a Gin and Tonic on a hot summer day, these glasses are my choice.

Why Gin and Tonic is glowing under black light

Now that you know how to create the perfect G&T, there's only this one question left. If you ever ordered a Gin and Tonic in a club, you might have noticed it glows when exposed to blacklight. That is no marketing trick or a cool but useless feature. The reason for this is in the tonic water. The high quinine content causes the so-called blue fluorescence when exposed to blacklight. Quinine absorbs the blacklight and emits it at a different frequency. That, in return, creates a beautiful blue sheen that almost seems artificial. If you want to learn more about this or even want to experiment with it, here's an article that will explain the glow-in-the-dark effect.

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