Another glass of gin and tonic please. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Another gin and tonic, please. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

We are now in the full throes of summer, and there is no better cocktail to conclude a summer’s day than a gin and tonic. It is simplicity itself. It can be made extra-special if you use an excellent gin and, more importantly, an excellent tonic. But an inexpensive gin and some diet Schweppes will do the trick if that and a lime is all you have or want.

This is a seasonal drink. The bitter and bubbles refresh, the gin eases, and the citrus brightens. I like to use both lime and lemon, because lemon makes just about anything better and the bright color makes the glass more inviting.

If you want to simply enjoy a cooling cocktail at the end of a hot day, then I encourage economy over quality. But if you want to serve a really good gin and tonic, I believe it’s the tonic that stands out, accented by the gin. A tweet that came too late recommended Fever-Tree tonic, which my local grocer carries, but I went with the Fentimans because I like their ginger beer (used in the Moscow Mule).

I tried Broker’s gin on the advice of many tweeters as being a good but economical choice. I may well be a cretin, but I didn’t taste a difference between it and the even less expensive Seagram’s. For a high-end G&T, I’d choose the very piney Tanqueray, which has an aromatic punch equal to the tonic. Plymouth or Hendrick’s, I fear, would be steamrolled by a good tonic. If you want to feature the gin, use a light tonic, and a 1:1 or 1:1.5 ratio rather than the standard to-taste ratio.

After shooting the photo, Donna said, “I feel like it’s just now summer, but it’s already almost August.” Busy schedules, work, travel—and suddenly, yes, it is gone. Pay attention to the air. It’s so good now where we are. Take some time to enjoy your summer. And stay cool with a gin and tonic that fits your style.

Gin and Tonic

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 4 ounces tonic (or to taste)
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
  • lime wedge
  1. Pour the ingredients in a glass with ice cubes.
  2. Stir well.
  3. Garnish with the lime wedge.

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© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.



13 Wonderful responses to “Friday Cocktail Hour: One More Gin and Tonic”

  • Allen

    Funny thing, I took a good long whiff of the air this morning, savoring it with a bit of sadness. These precious moments don’t last long enough.
    That led me to a winterey straight shot of Islay scotch, out of season, but it says a big fuck you to the short time we have to enjoy the ride. Makes it last a little longer, with an edge.

    I salute Donna for the nice photo, she should just relax and repost the red plastic cup photo from the original. Put your feet up and enjoy a gin and tonic.

    The original post has a lot of references to homemade tonic. Cheep gin and good tonic, just like you say.

    I just made my first white vermouth. Homemade things are so much better.
    Cheers, happy Friday all!

  • Michael Villar

    a squeeze of citrus makes a big difference in a G&T. I usually eyeball it to about the same ratios of 1-2 Gin-Tonic as well. A great way to enjoy the summer.

  • joeinvegas

    Hmm, might sit out tonight and have one in the hot sunset. I like the lime and lemon idea – will try it. We have a lot of summer to go.

  • tilthouse

    Fever Tree is my favorite too, but any of the “craft” tonic water, if you will, are good. Q Tonic is not to my taste, but others might enjoy it more than I do — it’s high quality, it just veers quite far from the basic flavor profile, to the point where if I want a G&T, it’s not gonna hit the right buttons. The Fevertree stuff is traditional but not as sweet and very high quality.

    Gin: I’ve come to prefer something like Plymouth over the bigger selling “premium” gin. And while I love Hendricks, it makes rather a different drink. I’d love to try a Whintey Neill G&T, but I can’t source it in southern California.

  • Tony

    I appreciate your analysis of the different options for gin. Hard to find…any gin websites out there that someone can suggest?

  • Guy Incognito

    I’ve been enjoying a pre-made gin and tonic made with Jack Rudy tonic (which is really more a quinine syrup). Mix it all up in the gin bottle and keep it in the fridge and top with soda water to taste. It is pretty amazing.

  • Victoria

    I like Fever Tree too, but I can’t usually find it at Fairway, so I go with Q. I’m going to try Fentimans based on your advice since I can get that at Fairway or at Eli’s.

    I don’t disagree with you often, but I think Plymouth makes the BEST G & T’s. In fact, it was an article on G & T’s made with Plymouth and ice cubes made from the tonic (sounds fey, but it really works well, and would be even better with those huge ice cubes) in a David Rosengarten newsletter that turned me on to Plymouth to begin with. For inexpensive G & T’s, I say go with Gordon’s Gin (a real deal) and Schweppes.

  • Jennifer

    Love this and your site. A friend of ours and local food celeb Jason Dady
    turned us on to your site and to fever tree for Gin & Tonics. I was just commenting about how it wa in the 90’s today instead of the 100’s and that we should celebrate with a gin & tonic. What a great way to end the day in the San Antonio area!!

  • Mark Pruett

    I’m pretty impressed by Leopold Bros. Navy Strength Gin for my G&T, using either Jack Rudy tonic & soda water, or one of the Fever Tree tonics.

  • Drew

    I’ve been using really inexpensive New Amsterdam gin at home (though I’ve got a bottle of Plymouth for special occasions) with soda and Liber & Co spiced tonic syrup. The result is an entirely different creature than the clear quinine sulfate based tonics, deep red and aromatic spicy. But it’s amazing.

  • Michael

    Just fell in love with G&T–such a classic and refreshing drink. My first I used Fever Tree and a small boutique gin from the Oregon coast (Cannon Beach Distillery)–a little spendy but great herbal, pine and spice notes. I hope I can find a more affordable and tasty combination.

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