How To Improve Your Gin And Tonic Immediately (5 Tips From An Expert)

The gin and tonic. The classic. What better drink to stay refreshed on a summer’s day?

It’s such simple drink to make - but that’s no excuse to fall into the trap of making a lazy gin and tonic. A random glass you’ve found in your kitchen, a few cubes of ice, a splash of Gordon’s and then some Schweppes thrown in just doesn't do this serve justice.

At least that’s the view of James Sutherland. Owner of 56 North in Edinburgh (host of the largest gin collection in the city) he’s made enough gin and tonics to know a thing or two about how to make the truly perfect serve.

We’ve quizzed him on some simple but crucial things you need to be doing to turn your gin and tonic from amateur to bar-quality awesome - and one that really ‘wows’ your friends.

1. Use the right type of glass

Many do not think about it - but the type of glass you use makes a massive difference to your gin and tonic.

I recommend using a Copa de Balon glass. It’s basically a large balloon shaped glass that sits on a tall stem, much like a wine glass.

There’s several benefits to using a glass like this.

Did you know that between 75% and 95% of what we think of as taste actually comes from the sense of smell?

The large bowl shape of the Copa de Balon glass traps all the wonderful aromas of the gin and allows you to enjoy them fully as the distiller intended.

Equally importantly, the shape of this glass allows lots of ice to be added to the glass, keeping your serve as chilled as possible.

Holding the glass from the long stem also means the heat from your hands is not accidentally warming your glass up, melting the ice and diluting your G&T.

Featured: Try Me... Naked! Gin

2. Only use premium tonic water (seriously)

This can’t be emphasised enough.

There is absolutely zero point in buying a premium quality bottle of gin, only to mix it with a cheap and sub-standard tonic water.

Of course, there’s a vast array of different tonic waters on the market to suit all kinds of tastes, but    one thing’s for sure: A high quality quality tonic water is essential to bring out and compliment all the flavours of your gin.

Cheaper tonic waters tend to drown out your gin’s flavours with lots of sugar.

Fever-Tree and Fentimans are both really good and compliment most gins exceptionally well. Bon Accord’s tonic water is also excellent - it’s more gentle in flavour and less bitter than most tonics.

All of these brands offer mini bottles (around 200-300ml), too. These are awesome as you never have to use a large pre-opened bottle of tonic water that’s lost half of it’s fizz.

3. Experiment with different and unusual garnishes

When choosing how to garnish your G&T, lots of people will stick with the traditional duo of lemon or lime. But there’s so many more garnishes to explore, and depending on what gin you’re drinking, others might compliment the spirit much better than those classic two.

The best way to choose a garnish is to work with the botanicals that are in your gin. For example, we recommend garnishing FIRKIN’s Try Me… Naked! Gin with orange as it compliments the spirit’s existing citrus flavours perfectly.

Another example is, of course, Hendrick’s, who recommend garnishing their gin with cucumber.

Other delicious G&T variations we make include things like blueberries, grapefruit, mint, rosemary, pomegranate and even chillies.

Featured: Emmy Smith

4. Explore all different kinds of gins

We have over 200 gins at 56 North in Edinburgh, and every one is different in its own way.

Lots of people feel overwhelmed by the amount of gins out there. They really don’t know where to be-gin (couldn’t resist). But sometimes people really will just stick to their favourites for years on end.

The best thing to do really is just to head out to bars that have a large selection of gins and try as many as you can (perhaps not all in one day, though). Ask the bar staff for their recommendations, what they have that’s unusual, and what’s new.

You’ll soon find exciting new flavours and new favourites.

If you’re in Edinburgh, we offer gin masterclasses at 56 North, which allow you to explore all different kinds of gins with one of our expert mixologists.

All gins, of course, have to have juniper. But other than that, the opportunity for variation really is endless. For example, FIRKIN’s selection of gins have lots of citrus-y notes.

And given how much gin popularity has exploded over recent years, distillers are constantly experimenting with loads of different tastes to give customers something different to try all the time.

5. Keep everything as chilled as possible

Many gin drinkers overlook this, and lots of people think that a handful of ice in a glass straight from the cupboard is enough.

But doing this can really damage your G&T.

The first thing you need to do is to get your glass as cold as possible. Ideally, pop your glass in the freezer for fifteen minutes or so, or keep one in the fridge if you know you’re making a G&T later.

A cold glass ensures the ice melts more slowly, and doesn’t dilute your drink too much and make it watery.

Now - the ice. Larger ice cubes are generally better, but the most important thing is to add lots of it to your glass. As we've said, since your glass it already nice and cold, you don’t need to worry about it all melting.

Perhaps the best part of having everything really cold is that you can add more gin, too.

Having the contents of your glass colder means you can have more gin and less tonic in your glass without it tasting too harshly alcoholic. This allows you to enjoy more of the wonderful tastes of your gin.

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