The Gin and Tonic is a cocktail containing just two ingredients of gin and tonic water. This simple classic cocktail has turned into a worldwide hit in recent years, following gin’s growing popularity. Described as cool, refreshing and aromatic, it's quintessential drink, perfect for a summer’s day. 


bartender gin and tonic fancy

Which gin is best for a Gin and Tonic?

Most Gin and Tonics are normally taken with London Dry Gin. This type of gin allows bartenders to finely tune the flavours together within the cocktail, so that one flavour doesn’t dominate the others. 

Plymouth Gin is another option you could explore. Once the drink of the Royal Navy, Plymouth Gin holds a close relationship with the cocktail. This gin holds a strong dry, botanical flavour, again, good for Gin and Tonics. If you want the gin to be the dominant flavour in your Gin and Tonic, choose this one. 

Have a read of our 'what is gin' blog to read up on all the types of gin!

How to serve a Gin and Tonic 

gin and tonic with lime

A Gin and Tonic cocktail is served into a highball glass with a fresh lime wedge garnish. In terms of ice, ice cubes must be used, not crushed ice.

Depending on the notes of the Gin and Tonic, you don't have to stick to the traditional lime garnish. Garnishes can be a range of different elements, like a lemon slice, botanicals, an orange slice or a cucumber slice. You can even garnish the cocktail with sprigs of fresh herbs, like rosemary or mint. 

Gin and Tonic history 

The Gin and Tonic has a long history and was originally a direct result of the British Royal Army’s efforts in combatting malaria. The British had serious problems with malaria in some parts of their Empire in the late 17th century and a solution had to be found fast.

Having figured out that Peruvian quinine-extract helped prevent malaria, the fever-reducing alkaloid was distributed to the soldiers. But since quinine tasted very bitter, the British officers added water, sugar, lime and gin to their dose of quinine, making it a sweet concoction you could actually enjoy. Instead of drinking the malaria medicine with their troops at dawn, the officers figured out how to enjoy it at cocktail hour. Here, the classic Gin and Tonic recipe was born, soon becoming the drink in which, the British Empire was built upon. 

This solution actually made sense as British soldiers in India already received a gin ration. Using this to solve the ‘bitter’ problem was ingenious and now, iconic.  

Pink gin has similar origins of history to the Gin and Tonic. Read all about it in the 'what is pink gin' blog. 

Gin and Tonic variations 

colourful gin and tonic cocktails

The best thing about a Gin and Tonic is its versatility. As a cocktail containing just two key ingredients, it allows for a bartender’s imagination to run wild with ideas. 

Changing the flavour of tonic water or fruit is a popular twist many bars offer these days. Changing regular tonic water to a tonic flavoured with berries, rose water or citrus is an easy way to reinvent the classic recipe. Equally, changing up the fruit means your Gin and Tonic takes on a new character.

Want something citrusy? Try using blood orange, lemons or grapefruit. Want something cool and refreshing? Try using mint or cucumber. 

Another popular variation is to change the type of gin. The classic Gin and Tonic uses unflavoured gin as the spirit; however, a flavoured spirit can really make the ‘G&T’ unique. Gins flavoured with Sevilla oranges, rhubarb, Sicilian lemons or even a pink gin, is another easy way to craft your own variation. It's suggested to keep the tonic water regular, here, to not overcomplicate the flavours. 

Our last variation to discuss is to completely change the spirit from gin to vodka. The ‘Vodka Tonic’ is not your classic cocktail recipe and is fairly new on the scene but still provides those great Gin and Tonic qualities. Simple, refreshing and zesty, the Vodka Tonic is the variation for you if you’re not keen on gin’s botanical notes. 

Interested in getting into bartending but don't know how? Take a look at our bartender course here.