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How to make the perfect gin and tonic

Up your G&T game with our guide to garnishes and tonic waters to match each type of gin, from spiced to citrus, floral to juniper-forward

A gin and tonic may seem like the simplest of drinks but playing around with different garnishes and mixers means it’s also ripe for experimentation. Here’s how to get started with the perfect gin and tonic…

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Juniper-forward gin and tonic

Juniper-forward gins (including London dry ones) pair well with citrus fruits such as lemon, lime and grapefruit – or try pink peppercorns and even dried juniper berries for that extra hit of piney flavour. Mix with classic Indian tonic water. These gins are also delicious with dry vermouth in a martini.

Three juniper-forward gins to try

Sipsmith London Dry Gin
Porter’s Modern Classic Gin
Boatyard Double Gin


Citrus gin and tonic

Try ramping up the citrus notes in these gins by garnishing with lemon, lime or grapefruit, or mixing with lemon tonic water or bitter lemon. Alternatively, citrus often matches well with herbal flavours. Trying adding sprigs of thyme, mint or rosemary to a G&T with a herbal tonic water, like Fever Tree’s Mediterranean flavour. Gins with stronger orange notes could also match with spices such as star anise and cardamom, or with red vermouth and Campari in a negroni.

Three citrus gins to try…
Tanqueray No Ten
LoneWolf Gin
Portobello Road No 171 London Dry Gin


Floral gin and tonic

Fruit and veg such as apple, rhubarb, cucumber, strawberries and raspberries work well in floral gins, as well as flowers – try hibiscus, rose or lavender. Alternatively, add a touch of freshness with lemon or grapefruit peel, or mint. Don’t opt for a full-flavoured tonic water as this could overwhelm a delicate floral gin. Instead, try light tonic water, or elderflower and cucumber-flavoured varieties. Or, keep things really subtle by using sparkling water.

Three floral gins to try…
Hendrick’s Gin
Rock Rose Gin
Silent Pool Gin


Spiced gin and tonic

One for those who like their gins boldly flavoured, raid your storecupboard for dried, whole spices to garnish – think black and pink peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves and star anise. Fresh ginger works well, as does orange and lemon or whole chillies. Drink with Indian or lemon tonic water, or ginger ale. 

Three spiced gins to try…
Darnley’s Spiced Gin
Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin
Stranger & Sons Gin


Herbaceous gin and tonic

Herbaceous gins shine when garnished with herbs such as rosemary, thyme, bay, sage and basil. Twists of lemon peel also work well. If your gin leans more to the savoury, try garnishing with olives, cherry tomatoes or jalapeño peppers, or even samphire for a briny twang. Mix with a herbal or lemony tonic water.

Three herbaceous gins to try…
Gin Mare
Príncipe de Los Apóstoles Mate Gin
VII Hills Italian Dry Gin


Other gin and tonic pairing ideas

If you’ve got a strong navy-strength gin, opt for a robust, full-flavoured tonic water to stand up to the spirit.

Sloe gins pair well with lemonade or lemon-flavoured tonic water, while you could also try matching rhubarb gin with ginger ale. Many flavoured gins are also delicious topped up with sparkling wine.

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Check out more gins in our round ups of best British and international gins.