Perhaps the best thing about the changing of the seasons is the seasonal cocktails. Sure, you can enjoy a gin and tonic any time of the year, but there’s no better time for them than the summer. This perfect combination of gin, tonic, and lime offers refreshing, clean, and crisp relief on a hot, sunny, summer day. But as simple and fresh as this drink is, it’s also easy to ruin with the wrong ingredients.
“If you’re going to enjoy a gin and tonic you’re probably looking to enjoy those distinct herbal and botanical characteristics gins are known for,” says Piero Procida, bartender at The London West Hollywood in Los Angeles. “You’re looking for a gin with character. You probably want to stick with an English gin, because let’s face it, the English have the gin recipe down.”
While we agree that the English know how to make a great gin, we aren’t going to forget about the expressions made elsewhere around the globe. There are amazing, herbaceous, floral gins from distilleries from Scotland to Japan and all points in between. To find the best ones to mix into your seasonal G&Ts, we asked a handful of bartenders to tell us their favorite bottles.
Bluecoat American Dry Gin
Jared Ridgeway, bartender at R&D in Philadelphia
Bluecoat American Dry is my favorite. Deliciously refreshing and bright with beautiful floral notes. We’re lucky to have such a great gin representing Philly. FYI, during these difficult times, they make it easy to purchase at the distillery and even deliver to your door.
St. George Terroir Gin
Hay Culham, beverage manager at Bonsai at Hilton Pensacola Beach in Pensacola, Florida
My go-to for gin cocktail is a gin & tonic made with St. George gin. It has enough flavor and citrus to help you wind down after a long day or just sit on the beach and take in the view.
Vance Henderson, ambassador at Hendrick’s Gin
For me, a gin & tonic is light, crisp, flavorful, and rounded. Hendrick’s is my favorite because its combination of botanicals and peculiar inclusion of rose & cucumber essence yields a smooth balanced gin with a unique flavor profile that I dare say makes a Gin & Tonic more unusually-delicious and oddly-interesting.
Natasha Bahrami, owner of The Gin Room in St. Louis
There is something about Right Gin that spices up a gin tonic just right. Cardamom, lemon, and Bergamont, these warm spice notes work in every season. Try an upgraded tonic pairing such as Fentimans Tonic or East Imperial Burma Tonic with a slice of orange or clementine wheel for garnish.
Gray Whale Gin
Jessie Smyth, bar director at Genever in Los Angeles
I love the versatility that Gray Whale offers to a gin and tonic. Depending on the tonic and garnish that you use, you can draw out the different botanicals and go from floral and citrusy (try using Q Elderflower tonic and a twist of lime) to more piney and bitter (using Q Indian Tonic and rosemary sprigs) to even tasting the notes of salt and ocean (Q Tonic and olives).
Silent Pool Gin
Piero Procida, bartender at The London West Hollywood in Los Angeles
As an English themed hotel, we have experimented with plenty of gins, so this time I was looking for something beyond the “same old’s” you see everywhere. I was looking for something modern, yet still traditional, flavorful yet not overly botanical and then, Silent Pool Gin showed up. I found that Silent Pool was not just incredibly delicious but very versatile for a variety of cocktails. It is very smooth yet strong enough not to let its array of flavors be drowned out by the tonic in a gin & tonic. In fact, the tonic complements these flavors even more. The balance of the botanicals is what makes this gin so special, there is not a pronounced flavor of just one botanical, like Juniper which is so typical in gins, rather it is more subdued here to allow for other flavors to come through. It has the highest reviews and it is not all that expensive. To add, the bottle is just gorgeous.
Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami
Fords is a versatile gin, especially for a gin and tonic. It has a great botanical blend on its own but not so much to overpower your smaller batch tonics that can really play well with a crisp spirit.
Tanqueray No. 10 Gin
If you’re making a classic gin & tonic, you have to use a high-quality gin. Even though the drink is made with tonic and a twist of lime, gin is the star of the show. That’s why I love Tanqueray No. 10 with its flavors of fresh citrus zest and it’s juniper-forward botanicals.