Better Know a Classic: Gin and Tonic

Kumquat Gin and Tonic

2 oz of your favorite gin
3/4 oz Liber & Co. Spiced Tonic Syrup
1/4 oz Lime juice
1/4 oz Kumquat juice
Few dashes Barrel Aged Citrus bitters [Fancy Tony’s]. Any citrus bitters will work, or they can be omitted.
Combine ingredients, shake with ice. Strain into an ice filled Collins glass. Top with ~3 oz club soda. Garnish with kumquat slices.

Classic Gin and Tonic

2 oz of your favorite gin
3/4 oz Jack Rudy Tonic Classic Tonic Syrup
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Combine ingredients, shake with ice. Strain into an ice filled Collins glass. Top with ~3 oz club soda. Garnish with lime wheel.

Admittedly, I’m not going to blow any minds here.  The Gin and Tonic is so ubiquitous, it would probably be the number one answer to “Name a drink with gin” on Family Feud.  I’m sure there are plenty of people who don’t even consider it a cocktail, even as the recipe is right there in the name.  Gin, tonic, and maybe some lime juice if you’re feeling crazy.  But there are new developments in the land of G&T, and they are taking things to the next level.

The emergence of the gin and tonic is pretty well known.  Like many cocktail histories, the British are involved.  English soldiers and officials in India and other tropical reaches of the Empire had a small malaria problem to address.  Lucky for them, Dr. George Cleghorn discovered that quinine could prevent and treat the disease.  It was administered via tonic water, which apparently was not very drinkable.  Being upstanding Brits, the men in these countries took their ration of gin, combined it with the tonic water, some lime juice and a bit of sugar – boom, the G & T was born.

Unfortunately for us modern day tipplers, most tonics are very different from their medicinal cousins.   Your Canada Drys and Schwepps and what not all use less quinine and more sugar which takes the bite away and flattens the flavor profile.  Eventually some small batch producers stepped up to rectify this insult to British medicine, and a wave of tonic syrups started hitting the shelves.

Syrups like Jack Rudy Classic Tonic pack a much bigger quinine punch, as well as various botanicals to create a rich, floral, bitter flavor profile.   I first learned about tonic syrups while listening to an Alton Brown Podcast where he interviewed Brook Reitz, the founder of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.  He talked about how he was sick of drinking boring G&T’s, and set out to capture the true flavor of this venerable cocktail. Given this mission, the syrup is basically a quinine concentrate, with a few additional botanicals to round out the flavor profile.  Combined with some club soda, lime juice and your favorite gin, it’s like drinking a Gin and Tonic for the first time.



Naturally, other producers took this idea and ran with it.  Liber & Co.’s whole mission is to create cocktail syrups that match the quality of all the small batch and craft spirits popping up.  They have a spiced tonic syrup which combines the traditional quinine with a host of South Asian spices to give things a more exotic bent.  The taste is both familiar and ethereal at the same time, with lots of unique spices coming through balanced by the traditional quinine bitterness.

The great thing about the Gin and Tonic is it’s customizability.  Look around and see what’s in season, and incorporate that into the drink.  As I read about the South Asian flair in the Liber and Co syrup, I realized I had some kumquats in the fridge.  This sounded like a delicious tweak, and as an added bonus Kumquats come from the same part of the world as the spices in the syrup.  I squeezed a bit of kumquat juice in with the traditional lime, and the resulting Gin and Tonic was tropical with a completely different citrus profile.  Plenty of bitterness came through, but it rode a nice wave of botanicals.  A few dashes of Fancy Tony’s Barrel Aged Citrus bitters didn’t hurt either. And while I was at it, I mixed up a classic G & T with the Jack Rudy Syrup to remind myslef of why this drink is a classic to begin with.

Tonic syrups make great host/hostess gifts when heading over a friend’s house for dinner.  Pair it with a bottle of gin for serious class points.  There are plenty of producers out there, each with their own spin.  Don’t be afraid to think outside the box either, and try these syrups in other cocktails.  Think of the tonic part as just a suggestion.

2 thoughts on “Better Know a Classic: Gin and Tonic

  1. Arnie Cohen March 30, 2017 / 4:35 pm

    Sounds delicious!
    Can’t wait to have one at your place in a week!


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