If you need a reason to drink (we do not), here’s one: International Gin and Tonic Day is today. But under the guise of making ourselves seem busy, we asked four local bartenders for their G&T recipes and explore where the iconic drink stands today.
It’s a serve that anyone can do at home: a measure of gin, lengthened with tonic, over ice. Garnish is optional, but some sort of citrus, herb, or spice adds a layer of complexity. And it’s this simplicity that makes the gin and tonic ripe for reinterpretation.
“Every bartender can put their very own twist to it,” says Lidiyanah K, the assistant head bartender at Atlas, one of Singapore’s leading gin bars. “You can play around with the genuinely infinite combinations. It is very much like the eternal chase for the holy grail.”
In local bars that base their entire concept around the juniper spirit, gin and tonic plays a leading role. Atlas lets you scale their tower to choose a bottle from over 1,300 labels, then customises a G&T from it. Cin Cin divides their 200 gins according to styles and offers 12 tonics to pair them with. Gin Parlour serves their G&T Spanish style with bulbous glasses called copa de balón and garnishes that play up the drink’s aromas.
But the bars are facing numerous challenges. For the consumer, drinking a G&T at home has never been easier. Craft gins and tonics are readily available. Covid-19 is also scary. To convince tipplers to come out, establishments are banking on trends from serving styles to social responsibilities.
“Consumers are always on the search for something new: new taste, new texture, new stories, new ways of drinking,” says Andrew Pang of Beam Suntory Southeast Asia, who represents brands like Roku Gin. For him, tonics could be a profound influence. He points to the bourgeoning category, which is poised to hit US$2.45 billion by 2025 and would open up a lot more mixing possibilities. “With tonic water variants, bars have a whole new arena of flavours to experiment with.”
Other bars are thinking about the drink’s impact on the planet. “A G&T produces a certain amount of waste, and we see a lot of re-purposing of ingredients or packaging,” says Lidiyanah, who predicts distillers and bars would soon sell ready-to-drink gin and tonics. Cin Cin head bartender Fadly Sujebto sees G&Ts on draft like beers on tap. For Gin Parlour, they source organic garnishes from The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, which has an in-house farm that supplies their restaurants and bars.
Ice could be another frontier. Sujebto muses about freezing flavoured gin and serving them as ice cubes with tonic. “With the current pandemic situation, it is especially important to come up with fresh ways to entice guests to visit the bar,” he says.
Four ways to hack your G&T
Note: a typical pour of gin can range from 30ml to 45ml, but we used parts here so you to easily adjust your drink. For a 30ml pour, 1 part gin to 3 parts tonic would be 30ml to 90ml, while a 45ml pour would need 135ml of tonic. Feel free to play around with measurements to achieve your desired flavour.
Daniel Anthony, Gin Parlour
“My go-to gin and tonic at home is to pair a simple dry gin with Earl Grey tea and honey tincture. A fuss-free concoction made with ingredients readily available in most households.”
1 Part Dry gin
3 Parts Tonic
4 Dashes Earl Grey tea and honey tincture*
In a highball glass with ice, add gin followed by tonic. Top with four dashes of tincture. Stir gently.
* Mix equal parts of honey and brewed Earl Grey tea together.
Fadly Sujebto, Cin Cin
“My favourite G&T would be Kyrö gin with Double Dutch Indian tonic in a tall glass filled with big ice cubes and topped off with rosemary and fresh cranberry. It brings me back to the forest in Finland, which I miss the most.”
1 Part Kyrö Gin
3 Parts Double Dutch Indian Tonic Water
Fresh rosemary sprig and cranberry
In a highball glass with big ice cubes, combine gin and tonic together and stir gently. Garnish with rosemary and cranberry.
Andrew Pang, Beam Suntory Southeast Asia
“I like to chill my gin and tonic water so it’s more refreshing. It is as easy, if not easier, to serve than beer, with less calories too!”
1 Part Roku Gin, chilled
4 Parts London Essence Tonic Water, chilled
6 Ginger slices
In a highball glass, add gin followed by ice. Till the glass and add tonic water down the side. Stir once and garnish with ginger.
Lidiyanah K, Atlas
“A gin and tonic I love making at home is a higher ABV gin paired with a yuzu tonic and a dash of my favourite secret ingredient – absinthe. The absinthe helps to bring out a more aromatic drinking experience.”
1 Part Navy strength gin
3 Parts Yuzu tonic
1 Dash absinthe
In a highball glass over ice, add gin then tonic. Gently stir and top with a dash of absinthe.