Ask most good bartenders across the world and they’ll tell you how much they enjoy playing around with gin, and there’s nothing quite as classic as the OG gin and tonic—a drink that has its origin in India and has been around since the 1850s. One of the simplest cocktails on the planet, a gin and tonic were never quite meant to be one, it was a way to get the British soldiers in India to take their quinine (that’s the tonic) to battle malaria. But the Brits loved it and soon it was their favourite cocktail.
Some ice, gin, tonic water, a wedge of lime and you’re sorted. Want something extra, a couple of drops of the Angostura bitters (also called the GTA) work like a charm. Want something more? Add a couple of olives. The options are limitless.
Now World Gin Day only came to be in 2009. A collaborative effort between the UK-based website Gin Monkey’s Emma Stokes and gin expert Neil Houston. The two got together and began an event at a bar in Birmingham to get people to drink more gin. Then they took it to a bar in London. And what began as a way to popularise this juniper-based spirit today is celebrated across 30 countries, which only goes to prove how popular the gin truly is across the world.
Needless to say, the gin and tonic (abbreviated as G&T) has always been around in India, from the clubs to pubs - the G&T never quite lost its charm. What happened however is that over the years, it evolved. Someone added a little spice, another added a little herb and new versions of gin and tonic drinks were cropping up everywhere.
Mumbai-based restaurant, Noon’s bar manager Nikhil Sood says that he’s always enjoyed the G&T and despite the usual misconception that it’s a woman’s drink, men like it as much as well. “There is so much you can do with a G&T and given that it’s the simplest cocktail to put together, most bartenders love making it. You can add a little spice to enhance the flavour, throw some herbs in, and you’re good to go,” he adds. However, he also says it’s best to go minimalistic when it comes to gin and tonic. “Don’t add too many things to your G&T cocktail. Let the flavour of the gin and the tonic remain the heroes. You can add a dash of orange juice or lime juice and a wedge of orange into your G&T. Or add orange and rosemary, but that’s it,” he explains.
The past couple of years has been good for the gin trade in India with some brilliant spirits being launched in India, gin that’s as Indian as it can get - From Stranger and Sons and Hapusa to Greater Than and Jin Jiji. And some of these are not just regular gins either. Infused gins are taking over slowly, making way for some terrific cocktails.
Slink & Bardot’s Santosh Kumar further adds, “There was a time when you could get only four to five brands of gins in India, and today you get more than 25 brands of gins from Goa itself. From the regular dry gin to flavoured gins - you can take your pick in India today. Personally, I love making cocktails with gin.” To make a G&T at home, one does not have to go too far. All you need is gin and tonic and ice. And you can even customise it a little, Kumar says. “Citrus goes well with gin. Add a slice of orange and see how good it tastes.”
Here are 2 gin and tonic cocktail recipes you could experiment with at home:
- 60 ml turmeric-infused gin
- 22.5 ml Ginger Honey
- 22.5 ml Fresh lime juice
- 30 ml Fresh orange juice
- Small pinch of black pepper
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake all the ingredients.
- Double strain and pour into a tall glass.
- Top it up with tonic.
- Garnish with burnt thyme
Recipe courtesy: Slink and Bardot, Mumbai
2. Saffron Kahwa G&T
- 60 ml saffron-infused gin
- 40 ml Kahwa tea with honey
- Saffron-infused tonic- to top-up
- Pour all the ingredients over ice in a G&T glass and top up with tonic water.
- Garnish with 1-2 saffron strands.
To make the kahwa reduction
- Take cardamom, cloves, cinnamon sticks in a saucepan and muddle well.
- Add vanilla pod (slit into half and scrapped), saffron, honey and water to it and let it simmer for 1-2 hours. This should become slightly thick in consistency now.
- Leave it for cooling overnight.
Take the bottle of gin and drop in 5-6 saffron strands and keep it in the freezer overnight. You can use lesser quantity of the gin too.
Do the same as the gin for the tonic too just not in the freezer. Try putting in some sort of enclosure to the bottle of tonic otherwise it’ll turn flat.
Recipe courtesy: Noon, Mumbai