The perfect gin and tonic – Cocktail of the Month

29 January 2010
The perfect gin and tonic – Cocktail of the Month

While the Gin and Tonic is not a cocktail as such, it should be seen as a attainable benchmark in the delivery of fine mixed drinks in any discerning establishment.

Wouldn't it be just fabulous if every bar, restaurant, theatre in the land, cross-country train journey and flight was able to deliver this beacon toast of the best of Britain?

The G&T came about circa the 18th century, a by-product of the consumption of tonic water that contained quinine, drunk to help prevent malaria. Gin, with its botanical characteristics, was deemed the perfect complement to the bitterness of quinine in a similar way to which vermouth complements a classic Martini.

Over the years the G&T has become an intrinsic part of our national DNA. But to get a well-made G&T has become a rarity.

In my book this should be seen as the entry-level standard to great bartending. First, take a highball glass and fill it with cubes of ice. Add a sliced-to-order wedge of lemon or lime, depending on preference, and add tonic. The tonic should be partly poured by the bartender and finished off at the table in front of the guest. If possible, please refrain from using tonic from a gun - nine times out of 10, a bad G&T is down to the quality of the quinine water. Schweppes is my tonic of choice, but Fever Tree is a credible boutique alternative.

The key to the taste of the drink is the perfect balance between the bitterness of the tonic and the juniper and other flavours in the gin. Botanicals have a lot to do with this, so the style and profile of the gin is important. I prefer stalwart, reliable brands such as Tanqueray, Plymouth and Beefeater.

Chic-gin brands such as Sipsmiths, Hendricks and Whitney Neil also have a place and command specific rituals, which serve to reinforce the brand characteristics and personality. Hendricks owns the cucumber garnish whilst Tanqueray No. Ten is perfect with a grapefruit twist. You can even accessorise the perfect G&T with the addition of your own customised bitters as brought to life at the fabulous Bar at The Dorchester.


  • 60ml gin
  • 120ml tonic water
  • 1tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Lime wedge to garnish


Pour the gin over ice, add a slice of lemon or lime and part-pour over the tonic, adding the rest at the table.

Robbie Bargh, director,Gorgeous Group020 7091 7492

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