Gin & Tonic: For Beginners

I have a couple of articles that I’m in the process of writing… By “in the process of writing” what I mean is that I’ve decided the topics… I’ve started reading about them and I’ve reached out to friends and people far better informed than I to help put it together for a broader range of opinions… It’s the first time I’ve done this and I cannot wait to see who gets involved and how it all comes together in the end.

However… In the mean time I still like to have a Sunday night upload for the blog for you all to read while clearing up after the Sunday dinner and, hopefully, discuss either in the comments below or on Twitter.

In the relatively short time I’ve been drinking gin I’ve picked up some absolutely magic little tips to just elevate the drink even more than it would be as standard… I wanted to share those tips with the entire universe so I decided to make that your Sunday night reading.

We all love gin… If we didn’t we wouldn’t be here reading and writing and discussing these things… If you don’t like gin and you’re here anyway then… Hello… Anyway, I’m sure everyone has little bits and bobs that they do to the drink but they maybe don’t have a blog so, today, you’re going to be stuck reading my little tricks.

One of the first things I realised I needed to do when I started falling for gin was to establish what KIND of gin I like… As I said last week I kicked off my journey, like so many others, with gin liqueurs (Edinburgh Gin I’m looking at you), I then moved on to Gin Bothy Gunshot and then… AND THEN I found “ginny gins”… I haven’t looked back since.
I think what I like about these types of gins is that, in my opinion, they are generally smoother… Flavour-wise they appear more complex and cleaner. I think you get more from the botanicals… I also think there is more variety for experimentation in terms of the garnish as I feel they take more on from the garnish making it an EVEN more important element than it would potentially be in a more flavoured gin/spirit drink.

Speaking of garnish… The next tip I’ll give you is to have a quick read about the gin you’re about to consume and see what botanicals they’ve used to create it. Once you’ve done that you can then make a decision as to what garnish to use… Either something that’ll highlight a particular botanicals ie adding a garnish that already is a botanical… For example the distiller has used orange peel so you garnish with orange. The other option is something to compliment the botanicals used ie something that pairs well.
The next tip for garnish is to try freezing it. I cut the fruit into wedges and wheels and even freeze the peel… Although I will say that the peel can be very brittle when frozen. Herbs DO NOT freeze well in my experience but feel free to correct me incase its a technique issue and simply that I’m useless instead of it being the herbs that are at fault. Something else I’ve seen with the garnish, but never done personally, is freezing them into the ice cube… I can see why this might work in theory but I can’t help but think that potentially the ice cube would take too long to melt and so the garnish would be locked away forever* instead of hitting the gin.
One more note here is that SOME gins can take more than one garnish… Don’t be scared to experiment.

*not forever

Ice is a super important factor in a really good gin and tonic but like so much in life it can be a fine balance between too much and too little. I fire in a good handful as that prevents the ice from melting too quickly and diluting the gin too much. A little bit of dilution is a good thing as I’ll explain in a bit but you don’t want a watery gin and tonic…
So… Here’s another tip for you with ice… Fire it in and swirl it in the glass (it’s easiest with a balloon glass if that’s what you’re using)… Keep swirling until you get the condensation in the glass and it starts to feel alot colder. I’ve popped a photo below of a condensation-y glass but, admittedly, the photo didn’t come out great… It doesn’t make a huge difference but it does chill the glass which is not going to steer you wrong.
Another handy hint is that bigger ice cubes take longer to melt…

Now… Onto the main event… When pouring a gin I ALWAYS make a 50ml measure… ALWAYS. The only time I won’t is if the distiller has stated a recommended serve volume which will always be my starting point. I’ve seen recommended serves vary from 35-50ml. Always check the bottle or website for this information and if it doesn’t say otherwise I’ll fire in 50ml… Go big or go home. Also a slightly better reason for doing this is, more often than not, the recommended serve for tonic is 150ml to a 50ml serve of gin and, rather handily, tonic cans come in 150ml so it makes sense!

With tonic it’s important to understand that tonics vary as much as the gin itself… They can taste so different from brand to brand and even within a brand each additional “type” is so different and some will pair exceptionally well with your gin whilst others will destroy it. Have a read about the nuances of the tonic and, similarly to the garnish, try to match it with the gin you’re drinking. Don’t be afraid to experiment as you might find some wee gem of a drink that you would’ve otherwise never found! I add about 150ml of tonic HOWEVER with a new gin I will start with 100ml and go from there. The reason for this is some gins are very subtle in their flavouring and so too much tonic or too much of the WRONG tonic and the gin gets lost or ruined… So essentially be fearless with experimenting but with volume approach with caution and taste taste taste.


Ok so here’s what I’ve learned in terms of smashing out the greatest G&T your belly has ever experienced… We’ll go for a step by step guide…

  1. Select your preferred glassware;
  2. Pop in your garnish;
  3. Glug your gin in;
  4. Leave it to sit for approx 10 minutes;
  5. Add ice and swirl until glass cools;
  6. Add tonic;
  7. Enjoy.

This is the way I prepare my gin… It’s quite faffy but worth it as it allows the gin and the garnish to really get together and become pals. Try it and let me know if you taste a difference.

Before I get going here I want to be very very clear that this is a skill I’m still practicing and reading/learning about. At the moment the general guide for gin tasting that I’ve been using with new gins is very very very VERY simple… I pour two little taster shots of, perhaps, 10ml… Minimal like I said. First thing I do is smell it obviously and see what’s what with the smell. When it comes to the actual tasting the first taster I’ll drink completely neat and hold in my mouth a wee tiny second… Maybes give it a swirl about in there. Then I’ll swallow it and see what I can taste and what I’m getting from that.
The second taster I’ll add a little bit of water to it. This takes away any heat from the alcohol and mellows the whole thing out a little. I understand that this allows some of the flavours to come through a little more that would’ve perhaps otherwise been masked. This is the reason why I said earlier that a bit of dilution from the ice is actually ok.
Once I’ve tried it completely neat and then with a bit of water I’ll begin preparing the G&T as outlined above… So the next taste will come when the garnish has been sitting in the gin and I’ll close the tasting with trying the complete drink once the tonic has been added. I feel that this allows me to taste the gin at every stage of its preparation letting me get all the nuances of the flavours as it changes and develops.

So these are a few tips that I’ve picked up over the couple of years I’ve been enjoying a lovely gin and tonic. Some of them you may know, some you may not… Some you may try and like, some you may try and hate. Whatever you do let me know what you think of them… Or if you have tips of your own I’d love to hear them, I’m always open to new ways of making my favourite tipple even better.

As always thanks so much for reading… I’m sure its just capped off your weekend perfectly and has been published just in time for your Sunday evening G&T so you can try it and be amazed and fall in love with it… You’re welcome!

If you need a little more light in your life then follow me on my social media channels;

Nic x

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