You have the gin, you have the tonic and now you need to know how to garnish your gin and tonic! Because guess what, gin is versatile and gin is fun so let’s have some fun!
Garnish is used as a decoration but the idea is that it adds to the taste or flavour of your gin. The garnish needs to enhance or complement the signature botanicals in your gin. But generally garnish makes your Gin & Tonic look amazing.
There are documented rules or guidelines for garnish based on the type of gin you are drinking which I have included below but it is important to note that this is just a guideline. We, at The Gin Box recommend you experiment with different garnish options – try new things and use what you have in your fridge or at home. You never know, you may discover a new perfect serve!
London Dry Gins – generally work well with fresh or dehydrated lime, lemons, grapefruit, orange.
Citrus Gins – usually work well with fresh Coriander, fresh Basil, fresh thyme, fresh Rosemary, lime
Floral Gins – generally work well with cucumber, edible flowers, citrus peel and all berries
Spicy Gins – tend to taste really good with cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, orange, peppercorns, red and yellow bell peppers
Fynbos Gins – work with rosemary, rocket, apple, basil, strawberries, grapes
Savoury Gins – usually suit olives, thyme, rosemary, tomato slices, basil
Lemon/Lime – Since all gin is made with citrus and juniper, you are always safe with a citrus which not only looks fresh and colourful but also works well with most gins. Lime is stronger and a bolder flavour and I always love the fresh green look of a lime slice. But then lemon is a more delicate taste and is the more traditional G&T garnish.
Naarties or Oranges – I love orange in my G&T. It just seems to complement the bitterness of the gin with the sweetness of the orange. Generally works well with a dry gin.
Grapefruit – Again, it is more contemporary and works with your dry gin. Ruby grapefruit looks so pretty with the red colour coming through the glass. And I love the bitterness of the grapefruit with a London Dry style gin.
Hendricks definitely set the trend for using cucumber wheels as a garnish, adding refreshing and perfectly mellow tones to your G&T. Try cucumber ribbons which looks beautiful too. Cucumber is a strong taste so watch it doesn’t totally overpower a flavoured gin.
Strawberries/Blueberries/Gooseberries/Raspberries – A strawberry sliced down the middle and popped into a floral gin or a spicy gin, yummy! The alcohol takes the colour of the strawberry after a few minutes of infusion which is so pretty. Also try blueberries, gooseberries and raspberries in a floral or herbaceous/fynbos gin. I love fresh berries in my G&T. Also try dehydrated strawberries.
Rosemary – nothing like a fresh stick of rosemary – careful though – it’s a strong taste so looks amazing but can overpower your G&T. I find Rosemary works well if you trying to mask a bad gin!
Thyme – this works really well with a citrus gin or a fynbos gin. Looks fresh and lovely too. Must be fresh thyme.
Many people are starting to use Juniper Berries as garnish in a G&T – I find the berries are small and seem to get in the way of my gin consumption BUT it is a common garnish option in the UK.
Pomegranate seeds – WOW! This is a must on your garnish tray. Especially since you can now buy little tubs of pomegranate seeds in Woolies. Subtle taste so can almost work with every gin.
Apples- make sure it’s red apples and leave the skin on. Slice through and make sure you eat the gin soaked apple! Works well with fynbos gins and herbaceous gins. Just don’t leave out too long on your garnish tray as it does tend to go brown.
Fresh Peaches – Looks amazing in a G&T and seems to work well with a floral or spicy gin.
Star Anise – works well with both savoury and sweet gins. Love the star shaped look in my glass. Great with spicy gins and can keep so a good one to have in your gin bar. Strong flavour so watch out for those who are not Star Anise fans.
Cinnamon Sticks – these are a must! Spicy or sweet gins but also quite overpowering so not everyone’s ideal garnish.
Tomatoes – Yes tomatoes! Can you believe it? Great in a savoury Mediterranean gin.
Lavender – Lavender works with a floral, aromatic G&T. Nice for winter and it adds warmth.
Grapes – tend to not add too much flavour so can usually get added to most gins.
Passion Fruit Pulp – works with a spicy gin and great in a cocktail.
Kiwi slices – works with a citrus gin and adds colour
The Gin Box suggests you taste your gin neat to identify the signature botanicals that make up the gin you taste. What do you taste and what would work well with that particular taste? Is it a lively and full of citrus gin, or is it a delicate and floral gin or a herby and savoury or bitter and dry? Would you like to enhance that flavour or add a contrast? So basically have fun and experiment with your G&T!
So there you have it – we hope this guide helps make your gin and tonic life a bit easier!