The Spanish Gin (and) Tonic

This my friends, is the ultimate patio drink. It is big and beautiful, light and refreshing. A showstopper that's a snap to throw together, with endless variations. I had my first run in with a Spanish G&T about two years ago while out on the town with Simon Ford of Ford's Gin in San Francisco. We had a lovely one served to us at Bellota, where I also discovered an amazing tonic water (see below). Since then it's been popping up on menus everywhere and I hope it's here to stay a while. At home, it's now my go-to summer time drink.

At Toro in NYC, the bartender pours the tonic into our delicious drinks.

At first mention, the Gin & Tonic may come to mind as a very basic, even uninspired drink for some. In Spain, however, there is very different culture and thought process around it. So different that they have apparently dropped the "&" and just say Gin Tonic; I'll keep the ampersand here so I don't sound like one of those people who "just got back from holiday in Spain..."

First of all, it's served in a glass I like to call the Fishbowl. It's basically just a giant, glorious wine goblet. Second, you typically use the whole bottle of tonic for one drink; often most of the tonic is added to the beverage upon serving, with the rest of bottle served on the side for your to add at your leisure (or not). That essentially makes it a longer, more session-able drink. Yes, it seems oversized, but there's a lot of ice and tonic and some citrus. So it's actually not that boozy. Third, bring your garnish game. Go big, or go home. Fruits, herbs, veggies, spices, you name it.

Spanish Gin Tonic Building Blocks

The Gin

Choose something aromatic and bold.

AMASS (Los Angeles, CA)  //  big citrus notes, a touch of ginger
Freeland (Portland, OR)  //  light, minty and fresh
Gin Mare (Vilanova, Spain)  //  savory with a Mediterranean flair
Ford's (Thames Dist., London)  //  London dry and a straight shooter
Dingle (Dingle, Ireland)  //  big Juniper with a hint of coriander

The Tonic

This is not the time to use up the dusty can of Schweppes. Spring for the good stuff, you have choices!
Pouring tonic down the spoon is a somewhat debated topic, but a popular presentation. I personally don't do it at home because I think it mutes the carbonation a bit.

1724 Tonic (my favorite!!)
Q Tonic
Fever Tree (several flavors, including elderflower)
Indi Tonic (this is no longer in the US, but if you find it, get some!)

The Garnish

Herbs: Mint / Rosemary / Thyme / Lemon Verbena
Fruit&Veggie: Cucumber / Celery / Strawberry / Citrus / Pomegranate Seeds
Spices: Juniper berries / peppercorns / coriander seed / cardamom pods

The Recipe

2 oz gin
1 bottle of good quality tonic**
optional: healthy splash of vermouth or sherry, or a seasonal fruit syrup like this one
wedge of lemon or lime, squeezed and dropped (I really like Meyer lemon)
garnishes of your choice

Add gin and ice to a wine glass or goblet, top with tonic and stir. Add citrus and garnishes.

**looking to cut the sugar? I often cut mine 50/50 with a bit of soda water or a La Croix


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