Here it is: all the info you need to get you drinking gin with tonics that suit the style of gin you are drinking.
The perfect G&T is served in a glass full of ice, a generous tot of gin, complementary garnish and premium tonic water. But how do you know what tonic water works well with what type of gin? Just read our tips below and you will be sorted.
Before I start telling you what you pair with your gin, you need to have some idea of what type of gin you have! Traditionally there are 6 main categories: Contemporary, Traditional, Fruity, Floral, Savoury and Spicy. All of these varieties are unique and worth exploring. This all gets a bit confusing because in South Africa we have a few more varieties that seem to be popping up where distillers are utilizing Cape Fynbos botanicals or bushveld botanicals to make gin and this is definitely producing some interesting gins. For now, let’s categorise our SA fynbos gins as Contemporary or Herbaceous gins.
There are a few different types of traditional gins:
Cold Compressed – those that are infused rather than distilled. Bathtub gins that are macerated or infused in the botanicals – usually not a clear colour spirit as the botanicals colour the gin.
London Dry Gin – We all know this one – traditional gin flavour, juniper forward, dry, with a hint of citrus. Can be made anywhere in the world as long as it is at least 37.5% ABV, does not have flavours or colourings added after the distillation process and does not contain any artificial ingredients.
Navy Strength – Long ago navy officers would test their gin ration to see if it was full strength by pouring a drop on gunpowder – if it still lit then the gin was at least 57% ABV. No fooling our sailors! So if a gin has a high ABV it’s now known as Navy Strength.
CONTEMPORARY or HERBACEOUS GIN
These are softer, full of citrus, berries, fynbos, moving away from the traditional juniper flavours. Most of our SA craft gins fall into this category since we are using nontraditional gin botanicals to make gin. Definitely all our SA Cape Fynbos gins fall into this category; although I would like to add that we might be able to add a Herbaceous category as a sector all by itself in SA.
Fruity options can be both gin and gin liqueurs, sweeter than a contemporary or traditional style and contain strong fruit flavours.
These are light and clean, there may be a touch of lavender or roses but never an overwhelming amount.
A savoury gin is full of herbs or vegetables for a slightly salty different flavour.
A spicy gin is usually contains hints of cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, or nutmeg.
TONICS AND MIXER GUIDE
DRY GIN works well with a classic Indian Tonic Water
Some ideas for great Indian Tonic Water you can find in South Africa are Barker & Quin Finest Indian Tonic Water, Fitch & Leedes Indian Tonic Water, Goldberg Indian Tonic Water, Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water, Lamb & Watt Original Tonic water, Mosquito Premium Tonic Water or Little Wolf Cape Dry Tonic.
FLORAL GIN works well with a more aromatic tonic
Try Barker & Quin Hibiscus Tonic or Lamb & Watt Hibiscus Tonic Water, Fitch & Leedes Rose and Cucumber Tonic or Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic Water.
CITRUS GIN is great with these dry tonic water
We love it with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water, Fentimans Grapefruit Tonic Water or Little Wolf Cape Dry Tonic. Or in fact any of the Indian Tonic Waters mentioned above.
SPICY GIN works beautifully with bold mixers
Opt for the aromatic Goldberg Yuzu Tonic Water, the Fitch & Leedes Ginger Ale or Barker & Quin Light at Heart if you’re after something more neutral.
SAVOURY GIN are great with mixers that are low in sugar
Choose Mediterranean type tonic waters or Light tonic waters that are not that sweet. Otherwise Indian if you want the sweet/savoury style.
HERBACEOUS GIN (Fynbos flavoured gins) pair well with classic style tonic water
Go with a good Indian style tonic water so that the particular predominant botanical can be isolated and celebrated.
There are no rules with G&T so try lots of tonic waters. The important thing is that you experiment and have fun with different mixers!