The Gin and Tonic is a timeless drink that is easy to mix and even easier to drink. But there’s so much more to gin cocktails than the G&T - although we won’t deny that it’s hard to mix gin with anything other than tonic, when this is such a winning combination!
Gin has been around for centuries, but it seems that there was little creativity until the recent gin craze when it came to mixing drinks with gin. In this article, we’re going to delve into a brief history of gin cocktails before demonstrating the wonderful array of opportunities there are to mix gin with everything but tonic.
From gin and ginger to gin and vermouth, here are the best ways to make gin mixed drinks!
A brief history of gin cocktails
- Gin is a surprisingly simple spirit, being distilled from a mixture of juniper berries and hard alcohol. It can be mixed with other botanicals and floral elements (such as orange peel or lemon zest) to produce undeniably popular and uniquely flavored gins.
- Gin was first distilled by Belgian monks almost 1000 years ago, and for many centuries it was primarily used as a medicinal drink. This medicinal use is even where the classic Gin and Tonic originated.
- Europeans in hot, tropical countries would regularly take quinine to keep malaria at bay. Quinine (a major ingredient in tonic water) was mixed with gin to make it easier to drink. Tonic water today contains small quantities of quinine, although it’s not such a pronounced ingredient.
- The humble G&T, then, was not only one of the world’s first popular gin drinks but could be one of the world’s first-ever cocktails. From here, it was only upwards for gin, and in recent years, the popularity of gin (particularly artisanal and botanical gin) has skyrocketed!
What to mix with gin?
Gin is most certainly an excellent alcoholic base for cocktails, even if they are as simple as mixing two ingredients to make the
Gin and Tonic. In fact, some of the best easy gin cocktails are as simple as combining gin and a mixer of your choice.
Gin isn’t often drunk neat or on the rocks, as it has a powerful flavor. This is why it works well in cocktails, where the strength of the gin can be complimented or balanced by sweet or bitter mixers.
If you’re just learning how to drink gin, then never forget the ice or the garnish. These two elements turn a simple drink into a cocktail masterpiece. Citrus fruits work best, namely lemon and lime, but orange and grapefruit are popular too. Try using an ice ball maker for the best ice; you’ll find that your drinks are far superior if you do.
The following mixers work especially well with gin. They work as a base for more complicated cocktail mixing, or they are simply delicious on their own strengths.
- Gin and Tonic
- Gin and Soda
- Gin and Ginger
- Gin and Lime
- Gin and Grapefruit
- Gin and Pink Lemonade
- Gin and Pineapple
- Gin and Cucumber
- Gin and Cranberry
- Gin and Vermouth
To mix these gin drinks, we suggest pouring a measure of 50ml of gin, then top the glass with your mixer. Add ice, then garnish with a slice of lemon or lime. You can mix in a cocktail shaker if you really want to combine the flavors together.
Classic gin cocktail recipes
As you can see, gin cocktails really don’t need to be complicated, yet they still exude an air of class about them. If you want to, though, it’s still very possible to make more nuanced gin cocktails that make use of a wider range of ingredients too.
For some gin-drinking inspiration, here’s how you can make classic gin cocktails at home.
Classic Gin and Tonic
Okay, so the classic Gin and Tonic is super easy to prepare and far from complicated, but there’s always a little snobbery when it comes to pouring a G&T the ‘correct’ way. After all, there’s an age-old argument to consider when it comes to garnishing - lemon, lime, or cucumber?
We’ll leave the garnish up to you, but to get started, you simply pour out equal measures of gin and tonic over a glass of ice. That’s it. Add your garnish, and you’ve got yourself a classic Gin and Tonic.
The Bee’s Knees is a decadently sweet gin cocktail that makes perfect use of honey and lemon. This winning combination seriously takes the edge off the gin, and it’s great for anyone that finds the classic Gin and Tonic far too bitter for their liking.
To make a Bee’s Knees, you need to mix 1 part gin with 1 part lemon juice and 1 part honey syrup. Shake the ingredients together with crushed ice in a cocktail shaker before pouring into a cocktail glass.
The Bee’s Knees dates back to the prohibition-era USA, where it was a favorite in the speakeasies.
Gin, Campari, and vermouth all go into making the Negroni, a super-strong cocktail that’s both bitter and sweet. The Negroni is garnished with orange peel and served on ice.
To make this classic Italian aperitif, you’ll need to pour 1 part gin into a tumbler with 1 part Campari and 1 part vermouth. Don’t forget the ice, and remember to stir this cocktail in the glass rather than mixing it together in a cocktail shaker.
The Singapore Sling was developed at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, and it’s well and truly become a classic. There are many variants of this gin-based cocktail, and it can be served slightly differently everywhere.
A basic recipe for a Singapore Sling needs a gin base with cherry brandy, soda, and some form of citrus fruit. It needs to be red in color, or it’s not really a Singapore Sling. It’s usually served with a cherry for garnish.
Gin and ginger are a great combination, and they can be served in a gin-based variation of the Moscow Mule. The gin version of this cocktail is, unsurprisingly, known as the Gin-Gin Mule - and we absolutely adore it!
It’s simple to prepare. Muddle mint leaves in a cocktail shaker, then mix with crushed ice, gin, lime juice, and ginger beer!
It’s time for a few gin cocktails!
Now that we’ve explored the best gin mixers, alongside classic gin cocktails like the Singapore Sling and the Negroni, we’d say it’s time for a drink!
Gin really is so much more than the Gin and Tonic, but we’d be lying if we said this wasn’t a combination that we loved. Whatever your favored tipple, though, there are gin drink recipes to suit your tastes.
Why not bookmark our guide to gin cocktails, so you can start mixing the perfect drinks?