Gin and tonics are deceptively simple. With a mere handful of ingredients, there’s very little that can make this cocktail go wrong, and yet it’s challenging to find one done very right. Ideally, a gin and tonic possesses the perfect balance between gin that bears a pronounced juniper flavour, with a crisp tonic water to provide balance, bringing out the clean balance that G&Ts are so beloved for.
It’s all about the balance. Lime wedges, mulled cucumber, and other embellishments do tease out the gin’s notes, but without the perfect union between sweet and bitter, you’ve got a massive miss.
We’ve turned to the experts for answers on what makes the perfect gin and tonic, so aspiring bartenders, or just average bar punters know exactly what to look out for in a quality G&T.
Lexis Tan, Red Tail
Red Tail is Zouk’s newest and cocktail-focused successor to the old Wine Bar. Flaunting a distinctly East Asian menu, head bartender Lexis Tan recently bagged the East Imperial Gin Jubilee’s Asia’s Best Gin & Tonic for her concoction, Float Like A Butterfly.
Lifestyle Asia (LSA): What is it about a gin and tonic that makes it so popular with patrons?
Lexis Tan (LT): It is easy to drink, refreshing and it’s a classic that you can get almost anywhere. There are also so many options with the types of gin and and tonic pairings nowadays that can cater to patrons who have preference for varying flavour profiles.
LSA: In your opinion, what makes a good gin and tonic?
LT: Quality gin is key, and using tonic and garnishes that can bring out the notes of the gin. My favourite gin is Bombay Sapphire, thanks to the distinct floral and citrusy notes it has, and this lightness in flavour allows for experimentation with cocktail recipes.
LSA: You’ve recently won the award for Asia’s Best Gin and Tonic. Could you share your inspiration behind your cocktail, Float Like A Butterfly?
LT: The main idea of Float Like A Butterfly was to create a variation of the gin and tonic with an Asian touch befitting the Asian-inspired concept behind Red Tail. Most of the ingredients that I use are regionally sourced apart from the gin itself. I decided to alter the colours of the drink with blue pea flowers to enhance the floral aspect of the gin. I also chose East Imperial Burma Tonic because the lemongrass notes and manao lime in the tonic balances the dryness of Bombay Sapphire, while staying true to the Asian theme. There’s also fresh lemon foam to bring forth the citrus notes and a little homemade cinnamon syrup for a dose of spice. I guess people enjoyed how it stays true to the ease and the freshness of a gin and tonic.
Red Tail, 3C River Valley Road, S179022, +65 6738 2988.
Dario Knox, The Other Room
Dario Knox is the liquor wizard behind the clandestine speakeasy, The Other Room. His passion for spirits is so immense, he personally cask-finishes over 150 of the expressions you find at the bar, alongside house-made tonics to best complement his adaptation of the classic gin and tonic.
LSA: What makes a gin and tonic such an easy drink to enjoy?
Dario Knox (DK): It’s almost a comfort drink, not to mention it’s suitable to enjoy literally any time of the day. Its freshness and that slight kick you get makes it the most asked-for drink around.
LSA: What’s your gin of choice?
DK: The market is saturated with gins right now, but you can easily discern quality with a taste test. Right on top of my list is the Monkey 47 gin. Pair that with a great tonic at the right ratio, and you’ve got a great gin and tonic.
LSA: What’s the best way to mix a gin and tonic?
DK: An excellent gin is essential. There should be a ratio if one parts gin to three parts tonic, and a citrus element. For the citrus, please only use the essential oils present in the zest. Don’t kill your beautiful drink with a wedge or juice of a citrus fruit. That is a definite no.
The Other Room, Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, 320 Orchard Rd, S238865, +65 6100 7778, email@example.com.
Issyam As’ari, Oxwell & Co.
Nothing spells an authority in gin like Oxwell & Co. — a stately, multi-storey concept bar right at the heart of Ann Siang street. Helmed by bar manager Issyam As’ari, the bar caters to easy going gin lovers want stellar gin cocktails without the fuss. Oxwell & Co.’s the place to be for good vibes, the freshest garnishes (literally garden to bar, given that the grow all their botanicals in-house) paired with familiar gins.
LSA: Why is gin such a firm favourite amongst many drinkers?
Issyam As’ari (IA): It’s always been a classic, but the range of gins available now makes it even more appealing. Gin is a much more versatile spirit than say, vodka, because of the variety of different botanicals that can be used to flavour the spirit thanks to its innate mixability. Singapore is also a very hot and humid country, and a G&T makes for the perfect, refreshing cocktail.
LSA: The three elements of a good gin and tonic are…?
IA: Quality gin, an excellent, flavourful tonic, and the types of botanicals used to enhance the drink.
LSA: Your gin of choice is?
IA: Hendrick’s, no question! It’s got a wonderful combination of botanicals, making it one of the cleanest, most floral and refreshing gins around. It’s truly unusual and full of character.
LSA: What’s your favourite gin and tonic recipe?
IA: A good measure of Hendrick’s, topped off with East Imperial Burma tonic, some Japanese cucumber, and fresh rosemary. Lots of ice too!
Oxwell & Co., 5 Ann Siang Road, S069688, +65 6438 3984, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fadly Sujebto, Cin Cin
Cin Cin is a fairly new introduction into the local gin scene. While the bar’s offerings gear towards DIY martini options, they do have an impressive array of gins to pair with 11 different tonics just so consumers can hit the jackpot on their rendition of a perfect G&T. Sujebto is the main cocktail whiz behind the bar counter at Cin Cin, doling out his gin expertise for those less initiated into the world of the refreshing spirit.
LSA: What patterns have you noticed through gin and tonic’s popularity?
Fadly Sujebto (FS): Gin and Tonics have been around for decades. In recent years however, exclusive and artisanal gin labels such as Monkey 47, Hendricks and G’Vine were established. Coupled with the massive variety of classic tonic labels that are available for cocktail pairings, more and more bartenders within the industry are experimenting to create new and exquisite cocktails that customers are progressively buying into.
LSA: What are three things that constitute a good G&T?
FS: There is no best method in making a G&T. It is highly dependent on personal tastes and preferences. A good G&T, in my opinion, would be to have your favourite gin paired with a quality tonic. For myself, the most important element would be the presence of good company while I enjoy good old-fashioned gin.
LSA: What’s your favourite gin, and why?
FS: As an old-school kinda guy, my favourite is Koskue Gin from Kyro.
LSA: How about your go-to recipe for a gin and tonic?
FS: That would be Helsin Gin with Erasmus Bond Botanical Tonic, garnished with rosemary and dried grapefruit. It is a refreshing drink with earthy and botanical notes that is easy on the palate.
Cin Cin, #01-02, Oasia Hotel Downtown, 100 Peck Seah St., S079333, +65 6385 2604.