When it comes to classic gin cocktails, there is perhaps nothing more classic (or more refreshing) than a gin and tonic. Two ingredients, some ice, maybe a lemon or a lime (or a cucumber if you’re working with one of the entries below), and boom, done. Nothing more you need to do and you get a blast of herbs, botanicals, and citrus flowing through the teeth and past the gums.
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 and affordable 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.
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 a lime, so make sure you’ve stopped off at the grocery store on your way home from the liquor store.
Article originally published by Pat Evans on June 12, 2017. Last updated by Sam Slaughter on September 5, 2018, to include details of The Manual Spirit Awards 2018.
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