Everyone knows about the gin and tonic. It’s one of the best summer cocktails ever conceived and you’d be hard pressed to find a cocktail more refreshing on a hot day. You have the juniper and botanical flavors from the gin, the citrus flavors from the lime, and the bitter, quinine flavor of the tonic. Bliss.
So who could possibly improve on this recipe? The Spanish, that’s who. And once you’ve tried their version you won’t go back to the basic gin and tonic until at least September.
“The story goes that the drink’s resurgence originated in Barcelona at a restaurant called Bobby Gin,” says Bulldog Gin’s Christine Moll. “The chefs were looking for a post-work refresher, or something to sip while breaking down the kitchen after service.”
The kitchens were hot and the palates of the staff were discerning. They came up with a drink that pays close attention to how the flavor profile of the gin is complemented by that of the high quality tonic, adding garnishes to highlight each.
“Spanish Gin Tonics [the ampersand is omitted in Spain] are typically adorned with fresh herbs, beautiful flowers and fruits and is served in a copa, which is essentially a red wine glass or goblet,” says Moll. “Think of this as the more outgoing sibling of the English staple.”
The cocktail quickly took off and moved from back-of-house standard to front-of-house fashion statement among trend-setting patrons, the large glasses served alongside an assortment of bright and colorful garnishes. One of the cocktail’s biggest fans is famed chef Jose Andrés. He likes the drink so much that he even created YouTube videos to explain the intricacies of the cocktail to the rest of the world.
One of the coolest parts of the Spanish Gin Tonic is how it gives bartenders a platform to demonstrate not only their knowledge of a wide range of products behind the bar but also to add their own flair to what is essentially a pretty simple drink. Each gin and each tonic brings its own flavor profile and bartenders know them all inside and out. As such, they’re are able to pair a particular gin with a complementary tonic and garnish the resulting drink with a variety of herbs, berries, flowers, spices etc — the flavors playing in perfect harmony.
We asked Moll for a recipe to make your summer way cooler:
Classic Spanish Gin Tonic
1.5 oz Gin (we recommend a light, approachable gin)
One 200 ml bottle high-quality tonic water
Pour gin over ice in copa and fill as desired with tonic. Garnish with herbs, citrus, etc (we recommend an orange wheel and lavender sprig)
“Don’t skimp on the tonic,” says Moll. “And have fun playing with garnishes like citrus, fresh mint, pomegranate seeds, raspberries, even basil and rosemary work beautifully.”
There it is. You just found your new go-to summer drink.