People often stay away from gin because of that one bad time in college when they had an entire bottle of cheap stuff that smelled like industrial floor cleaner and tasted like Pine Sol. The great thing is that not all gins smell or taste like that. With a variety of different styles, the range of flavors and aromas available in gin varies widely, practically begging people to go on a gin-venture to find their favorite combination of botanicals.
Once you’ve found your gin (or gins), the next step is to know what to mix it with. Multi-part cocktails are great, but sometimes you’ve only got the time or energy to throw one ingredient in with the spirit. Below, you’ll find the best gin mixers to have on hand for just such an occasion.
If this wasn’t the first thing your mind went to, we’re going to guess that you’ve been living under a rock. Gin and tonic is the epitome of an easy, flavorful gin drink. The catch here, though, is that you need to find a good tonic — most mass-produced tonics contain over 20 grams of sugar per serving. Opt for the tonics such as Q Drinks or Fevertree instead. You’ll also want to make sure you have one of the best gins for a gin and tonic.
While we said that tonic was probably the first thing your mind went to, that probably wasn’t the case if you are a martini drinker. If you are, well, then your mind was right here all along. Vermouth — aromatized wine — plays well with others (the “others” being the botanicals in the gin), giving you one of the cleanest classic cocktails out there. Unless you make it dirty, that is. It’s always good to have both red and white vermouth ready to go, just in case.
If you want to extend your gin drink without extending your waistline, soda is where it’s at. When plain, using soda allows the gin flavors to shine while also adding a nice amount of bubbles on the palate. The great thing about soda is that it comes in practically endless flavors these days, so you’re offered myriad options for flavor without worrying about extra calories. We usually go with La Croix Lime.
The choice between these two comes down to whether you want a sweet drink or not. If you’re looking for something simple, citrusy, and bitter, go for the lemon juice. If it’s a hot day and you’re going to be sitting on the porch with an aunt who never knows when to shut up about, well, everything, then go with the lemonade. The lemon smell and the sugar content will cover up the gin and you’ll be able to get through every tangent your aunt has on every topic from aardvarks to the inevitable heat death of the universe. We suggest going organic.
If you’ve got lemon on hand, you’re going to want lime too. Adding a little simple syrup to lime and gin yields a classic cocktail — the gimlet — but even without sugar, this combination is hard to beat. Served over ice, you get a bright bitter, citrusy, botanical wave across the tongue and down the gullet. Gin and lime just go together. It’s as simple as that. If fresh limes aren’t readily available, go with this bottle.
If it’s good enough for Snoop, it’s good enough for you. Seriously, though. The bright, sweet, tropical flavors of the pineapple juice go well with gin. Depending on the type of gin (we recommend a London Dry style, but work with what you’ve got), the citrus elements in the spirit really come to the forefront. The match was probably not created in the LBC, but it was certainly made famous there. Add a splash of soda for a nice poolside refresher. On the pineapple juice front, Dole has the market pretty much on lock.
Known as Royal Tea or the Queen’s Tea (or, I’m sure, something else entirely British-sounding), the combination of gin and Earl Grey tea is one heck of a way to start the morning. The botanicals in both play off each other nicely and, if it’s a cold day, how can you beat booze in a hot beverage? You can’t, that’s how (it’s not toddy season yet, but it’s better to stock up and not be left in the lurch on that first cold day). Twining’s makes a great Earl Grey tea.