G&T Garnish Guide: How to Match your Gin & Tonics

Gin and tonic. Was there ever a more iconic duo so widely recognised by spirits lovers across the globe?  The phrase “You’re the gin to my tonic” speaks to many about the seemingly perfect combination of these two ingredients mixed together.

Who discovered the Gin & Tonic?

The discovery of this classic cocktail is steeped in British colonial history. Originally used as a medicinal tonic by British soldiers stationed in India, daily doses of quinine to ward off malaria were mixed with their rations of gin to make the medicine more palatable. And the not-so-humble G&T was born!

Despite having been around since the 18th century this drink never goes out of style.

How to make the perfect G&T?

A cocktail that remains true to its origins, for some the perfect gin and tonic is simply garnished with a slice of lemon or lime. However, with the explosion of new distilleries on the scene and handcrafted artisanal gins available in cool bars around the world, the time has come to explore a little further afield and perhaps try a new selection of garnish ideas that create entirely new taste experiences.

For those inexperienced G&T drinkers among us, let me reassure you - there is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing a garnish. Whichever gin, tonic or botanical takes your fancy, choosing quality ingredients and following a few simple rules shared by many mixologists is essential to discovering your favourite G&T.

Which glass should I use?

Although the drink might be a simple one to make, there are a lot of variations depending on the style of gin, your choice of tonic and personal preferences. Let’s start with the glass.

Going back in history, this ever popular cocktail was classically served in a Collins glass or tall glass. At Bass & Flinders we choose to use a shorter styled glass for our single serve Gin & Tonics, with our doubles being served in a tall glass to highlight the pleasantly refreshing taste.

Add ice...and lots of it!

Next up is the ice. Aromatic botanicals awaken the senses, but a G&T is most refreshing when served over ice. Here at Bass & Flinders we choose to use solid cubed ice...and lots of them. This not only creates that perfect serve we strive for every time, but the ice also takes longer to melt so it doesn’t dilute your drink. You're able to enjoy the same balance of fresh flavours and aromas in your gin & tonic right from start to finish.

Choose the right tonic for your gin.

And now the tonic. For all the drinks, once you’ve added copious amounts of ice we generally recommend starting with a 30ml serve of a Bass & Flinders craft gin, then top with 100ml of matching tonic. Put simply, a ratio of approximately 1:3 that creates the perfect blend of fragrant gin aromas with tonic bitterness.

For the extra gin lover – a double serve of 60ml mixed with 120ml tonic – ratio of 1:2 will really hit the spot with those beautiful botanical aromas and flavours at the forefront of your Gin & Tonic creation.

Which botanicals are the best match for a Gin & Tonic?

When you begin to experiment, a good starting point is to find out (usually on the back label of your favourite gin) which botanicals have been used in the making of the GIN-tastic tipple. You can be guided by this list when deciding which matching tonic to mix with the gin and which garnish you’d prefer as the finishing touch. In general, aside from looking good, adding a matching tonic or chosen garnish serves two main purposes; to complement and accentuate a flavour that’s already in the gin or to balance the gin by adding contrast.

Here are some basic tips that we often follow here at Bass & Flinders:

Classic Dry style:

For a classic dry style of gin, these are often complemented with garnishes such as lemon, lime, grapefruit orange, juniper berries or lavender. Why not try a Classic Soft & Smooth G&T with a twist of fresh lime and Fever Tree Premium Indian tonic. Keeping it simple to bring out the best in this single-vineyard hand crafted gin.

Savoury/herbal style:

If looking to garnish a more savoury or herbal style of gin, these are often complemented with common botanicals such as bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, citrus, sage and olives. Bass & Flinders’ Maritime Iconic and Tonic G&T is garnished with a blend of dried saltbush & lemon & if you’re feeling creative – try a lemon myrtle infused salt on the rim to drive home that salty lick of the sea to match the kelp and samphire botanicals in this gin.

Floral Gin:

For a refreshing hit of aromatics when garnishing a floral gin, try botanicals such as Juniper, lavender, rosebuds, rosemary and citrus and more. Try our favourite floral gin in a Cerise G&T mixed with Fever Tree Elderflower tonic and garnish with a combination of rose petals, raspberries or ruby red grapefruit.

Spicy Gin:

If you love a spicy gin, try adding a garnish such as black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, lime, rosemary or pink pepper. Our Orient Gin is bursting with outstanding flavours of sweet mandarin, native strawberry gum and kaffir lime leaf while Sichuan pepper adds dramatic depth of flavour. We suggest serving up an Orient G&T with Fever Tree Premium Indian tonic garnished with mandarin & kaffir lime leaves. For something different try Fever Tree Spiced Orange Ginger Ale with orange and goji berries.

Citrus gin styles:

And last but definitely not least is a zesty and refreshing citrus style of gin. What to choose here? Often garnished with lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, lemon balm, ginger, mint or basil, we believe our Bass & Flinders Angry Ant G&T is best served simply in a short glass with a fresh and zesty lemon twist over a large cube of ice with 60ml of Fever Tree Premium Indian tonic water.

So what are you waiting for? Get on board and start having some fun with your favourite gin! Think about what, where and when you are drinking your gin but ultimately…choose what you love and you can’t go wrong.