There is no gin-based drink more refreshing than a gin and tonic. With so few ingredients, you get a variety of flavors and sensations. There are the sometimes floral, sometimes citrusy notes of gin, the sharp tang of tonic, and the bright lively citrus flavors from that freshly-cut lemon or lime.
The question then — as it is with choosing any spirit for any cocktail (other than, say, a Jack & Coke, which should be pretty obvious) — is what gin to choose? There are a number of different styles, including gin with juniper-forward nose and body, ones where citrus leads the charge, even some with meaty, aged quality.
Below, we’ve gone through and picked out some of our favorite gins when you’re looking for approachable gins to mix into a gin and tonic.
Since 1863, Beefeater has provided one of the classic examples of London Dry Gin, and to leave the iconic bottle off a “best gin for a gin and tonic” roundup would be tough. The recipe uses nine types of botanicals, including, of course, juniper, but also lemon peel, coriander seed, almond, Seville orange peel, orris root, licorice root, angelica root, and angelica seed. Available almost everywhere and certainly budget-friendly, Beefeater is the classic fallback.
If too much juniper strikes fear in a palate, try its cousin from down south in England. Plymouth Gin pulls back the juniper a bit and lets the other six botanicals in the mix shine. Navy Strength also allows you to bump up the alcoholic intensity of your gin and tonic, moving from 41 percent ABV to 57 percent.
St. George Spirits Gins
Not one, but three types of gins come from St. George in California. Terroir Gin, Botanivore Gin, and Dry Rye Gin are all excellent options for your home bar. Terroir leads with Douglas fir, Dry Rye spices things up with rye grains and juniper, and Botanivore brings 19 botanicals to the palate party.
This gin will put hair on chests with a load of juniper and the same high ABV of the Plymouth Navy Strength. The abbreviation in the name even tells the very same story: Very Junipery Over Proof. Need we say more? (No, no we don’t.)
Moving further away from in-your-face juniper, Hendrick’s pushes flavors like rose and cucumber, which are infused into the spirit. Distilled in relatively small batches in Scotland, Hendrick’s offers a taste of the Highlands without the peaty tones of Scotch. Hendrick’s is best served with a slice of cucumber instead of lime, so make sure you’ve stopped off at the grocery store on your way home from the liquor store.
Dorothy Parker Gin
The winner of the Best American Gin category in The Manual Spirit Awards 2018, Dorothy Parker Gin is a gin that works in a variety of drinks, but especially shines in simple long drinks like a gin and tonic thanks to the layered botanicals that help create multiple flavors over the course of a drink. You can read more about it here.
Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin
If you like Hendrick’s, then you’re going to like Uncle Val’s for many of the same reasons. Cucumber, sage, and lavender all play roles, giving Uncle Val’s a garden-y flavor that goes well with tonic. If you’re something a little more verdant, there are two other iterations of Uncle Val’s: Restorative, and Peppered.
Looking for a bit of luxury in your gin and tonic? Monkey 47, from the Black Forest region of Germany, contains 47 different botanicals. A third of these ingredients, including the brand’s “pièce de résistance,” lingonberries, are harvested from the Black Forest itself. Juniper-forward, you’ll find sweet citrus and crisp floral notes with a little bit of spice throughout
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin
Made with Chinese gunpowder tea, other Asian botanicals (twelve in total, including the tea), and “Irish curiosity” are the hallmarks of this gin. Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin (aside from having a fun-to-say-name) is rich in anise and citrus flavors that meld just about perfectly with the juniper and other berry flavors.
Made using Rangpur limes – a hybrid of citron and mandarin oranges, and sometimes called lemandarin – Tanqueray Rangpur is a highly-citrusy gin that livens up any tonic. If you’re a fan of Tanqueray’s standard offering, this will remind you of that, but zestier.
Article originally published by Pat Evans on June 12, 2017. Last updated by Sam Slaughter on February 5, 2019.
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