8 Ways To Upgrade Your Plain Gin And Tonic

By: Shireen Jamooji

gin and tonic upgrades

Gin and tonics are one of the most popular drinks of the year and for a good reason. While they may have started out life as a medication doled out by the British army to help prevent malaria (thanks to the quinine in the original form of tonic), they have since become one of the trendiest and most loved cocktails around. This could be due to their simplicity, after all, it only requires 2 ingredients to make, but it could also be down to the fact that they provide the perfect backdrop for experimentation. There are many ways to give your regular G&T a stunning makeover, and here are a few you should try. 

gin and tonic

Infuse Your Ice

Who says flavour has to come from what you mix into your drink, maybe it could melt into it instead? Elevate the role of ice in your gin and tonic by infusing it with lime juice or adding paper-thin cucumber slices to the ice cube mould. As these cubes melt, they release subtle flavours into the cocktail, enhancing its complexity. Or…

Skip The Ice, Add Some Fruit

Instead of loading your drink up with ice that may dilute the subtle flavours of your G&T, instead freeze fruits that will not only keep your drink cool but add to its flavour. Whether it's chunky strawberries, delicate raspberries, or tart cranberries, the vibrant colours and slow release of berry flavours will evolve as you enjoy your drink. As a bonus, they look gorgeous too!

gin and tonic

Add Fresh Herbs

Gin and herbs are naturally a match made in heaven. With gin’s innate juniper notes and the slight floral profile it has, there’s no downside of elevating your G&T with some fresh herbs. The spirits pair best with herbs like mint, rosemary, thyme and basil which each have a distinct identity of their own. Gently bruise the herbs to help them release their oils and bring a vibrant, verdant flavour to your drink.

Explore Citrus Possibilities

Lime and lemon are the go-to garnishes and flavours for a G&T but you can have equally interesting results with almost any citrus fruit. Grapefruit, with its vibrant and slightly bitter edge works well with a botanical forward gin like Tanqueray No. 10. Blood oranges add a visually striking addition with its deep red hues. And mandarins add an innate sweetness that can be wonderful in the drink or even as a garnish. 

gin and tonic

Load Up On Bitters

Traditionally, bitters are a staple part of the bar kit but avoided in G&Ts because they’re already naturally bitter. But nowadays you can get bitters in a wide range of flavours that range from floral to sweet to savoury and everything in between. A few drops of a bespoke bitter can elevate the complexity of your cocktail or add a hidden fruit kick.  

Infuse Your Alcohol

An interesting way to build flavour from the base up in a G&T is by infusing the alcohol itself. This can be done with any number of fruits or spices, and after a few weeks of resting in a cool dark place, you have your own flavoured gin. Alternatively, you can make a simple syrup and infuse that with herbs or spices for a more handy tool to add flavour.  

Spice Things Up

Though G&Ts are typically more fruity, they can also benefit from a more savoury kick. Using chilli is a great way to experiment with more non-traditional flavours in your cocktail. You can muddle jalapenos into the drink or use them as a garnish for a milder heat, or you can rim your glass with some hot honey for a mixture of sweet and spicy warmth.

gin and tonic

Go Festive

Holiday drinks don’t always have to be mulled wines and toddies. Give your G&T a festive touch by incorporating warm spices like cinnamon, star anise and nutmeg into the mix. The spices play well with gin’s natural botanicals and can add a delicious layer of complexity to your holiday celebrations. 

Char Your Fruits

For a sophisticated touch, char fruits such as lemons, limes, pineapples, or grapefruits on a grill or using a crème brulée torch. Charring enhances the fruit's natural flavours, adding depth and visual interest to your cocktail. The caramelisation process releases oils from the rinds, heightening the aromatic experience as you enjoy your drink.