The beauty of a Gin and Tonic is its extreme simplicity: two ingredients, maybe a slice of lemon or lime as garnish, and no shaker, strainer or muddler standing in your way. But, thanks in part to the ease with which it can be thrown together, the Gin and Tonic is also the perfect blank canvas for experimentation. Throw in a little flavored syrup or layer another spirit on top, and you’ve got an entirely new (but equally delicious) drink. To understand all the ways the good ol’ G&T can be manipulated, we asked three bartenders from New York, Portland and Chicago to share their upgrades on the two-ingredient classic.
3 New Ways to Make the Gin and Tonic
Known for its fresh approach to tiki cocktails, Brooklyn’s Fort Defiance doesn’t disappoint with its G&T twist. In true tiki fashion, the cocktail employs pineapple, cardamom and lime to channel the tropics, and add lovely balanced depth to a base of navy strength gin and a tonic topper.
navy strength gin
fresh pineapple juice
Ginger doesn’t often find its way into gin drinks, but the two are a natural fit—and not just because they sound alike. Ginger highlights the spice and zest that’s present in most gins. This cocktail from Bit House Saloon in Portland takes advantage of that dynamic duo and throws in some homemade lavender cordial as well, which coaxes out gin’s natural floral notes. Add a bit of lemon before topping with a light and spritzy mix of soda and tonic water, and you’ll never look at the Gin and Tonic the same ever again.
Cognac makes a rare cameo in this Gin and Tonic from Chicago’s Scofflaw. It might seem odd, but the French brandy brings warmth to the classically refreshing cocktail. Alongside a base of gin and bitter Boomsma Cloosterbitter liqueur, the Cognac gets some autumnal help from falernum and orange saffron bitters.