A Gin and tonic has long been considered a traditional British cocktail and has made a huge comeback in recent years – dubbed the ‘ginaissance’ – becoming innovative and exciting to even the occasional consumer. Within the last decade the industry has boomed making way for regional companies, such as Lyme Bay Winery producing our Devon gin, to compete with long-standing brands. Gin is a versatile drink and you can really have fun with it, not just with the flavour but with the garnishes and tonics you choose to pair it with.
A garnish is primarily used as a decoration, but it should also add taste and flavour to your gin, working to enhance or complement the botanicals. You’ll be surprised the difference just adding a slice of lemon can make, and you shouldn’t be afraid of trying out different garnish options when mixing yourself a gin and tonic at home. There are “guidelines” on what garnishes work best with what gin and tonic, such as classic dry gins matching well with citrus garnishes like lemon slices and orange peel, but these are not mandatory rules – experiment as you like!
Experiment with Your Garnishes
Cinnamon is a flavour synonymous with autumn, winter and festive drinks. Adding a cinnamon stick, ground nutmeg and orange slice to your glass of dry gin and tonic creates a simple winter tipple and the perfect way to round off the day.
Another way to spice up your gin is with fresh chilli, either putting it in whole or cut into long slices – make sure to de-seed first. The chilli should add warmth and flavour but not overpower your drink. Using black peppercorns to garnish adds a savoury note and mixing them with strawberries creates a combination of heat and sweetness that surprisingly works!
When you want your gin and tonic to look as good as it tastes, use garnishes like edible flowers to float on top, peel ribbons off rhubarb or add single sprigs of lavender. These garnishes will enhance the flavour in subtle ways and the colours will make the drink attractive.
Choosing the right tonic for your gin is important, as it takes up two-thirds of the cocktail and it’s possible you have previously been put off a delicious G&T because of a bad pairing. Alongside the rise in gin, there have been improvements in tonic water too. Tonic water is made from carbonated water and quinine powder, which comes from the bark of cinchona trees and is the source of the bitter taste. The bitterness is the perfect match for the juniper flavoured spirit and there is now an extensive variety of gins and tonics to pair together.
A general rule of thumb when it comes to tonic is that you don’t want it to overpower the spirit. A standard or Mediterranean tonic is a good place to start, as it gives you a clean, refreshing cocktail with the flavour of gin coming through to balance the bitterness of the tonic.
We can’t talk about gin and tonic without a mention of the glassware. Traditionally, a G&T is served in a highball or Collins glass, but recently, the Spanish ‘Copa de Balon’ glass has become the popular choice. The balloon shape may feel unnecessarily large, but it helps to capture the effects of the garnish and accentuate the flavours of the gin and tonic even more.
Our Devon Gins
When pairing our Devon gins with garnishes, we have suggestions on what we think works best!
Profile: Our Lyme Bay Dry gin has a fresh and invigorating taste, bursting with juniper flavours along with floral and citrus notes
Garnish: The perfect garnish is a slice of lemon or twist of orange.
Tonic Pairing: Coupling it with a standard or Mediterranean tonic water – such as Fever Tree – would be our choice.
Elderflower and Cucumber
Profile: The Elderflower and Cucumber gin is a mouth-watering spirit, with heady aromas of elderflower and cucumber, structured around juniper, coriander and angelica botanicals to create a floral character.
Garnish: The best garnishes for floral gins such as this are ribbons or slices of cucumber, and you can add edible flowers for extra flair and fragrance.
Tonic Pairing: We would recommend a light tonic, or if elderflower is really your thing, an elderflower tonic adds a delicately sweet flavour to the drink.
Profile: Pink gins are incredibly popular, and our Pink Grapefruit gin is brimming with flavours of pink grapefruit, citrus hints of orange peel and lime alongside the delicate juniper and elderflower botanicals.
Garnish: Bring out the grapefruit flavour even more with a twist of the fruit to garnish.
Tonic Pairing: Our choice would be a light tonic which allows the flavours of pink grapefruit to burst through.
Orange & Thyme
Profile: Gin is a spirit that lends itself be flavoured in ways other spirits aren’t, and our Orange and Thyme gin is a favourite. The bittersweet citrus flavour of blood orange combines with the gentle notes of thyme, with depths of juniper, coriander and angelica to create a spectacular and classy gin.
Garnish: To garnish, add a wedge of orange and sprig of thyme, as citrus gins do pair well with herb garnishes.
Tonic Pairing: A Mediterranean tonic compliments this gin fantastically, as it allows the subtle flavours to shine through.
Profile: Our Winter gin is grounded in earthy tones, with lingering notes of black pepper and nutmeg combined with blackberry and elderberry and a hint of burnt orange.
Garnish: Sipping on this gin on a winter evening can be helped with added a twist of orange peel and cinnamon stick to garnish.
Tonic Pairing: Our choice would be a premium tonic, which will enhance the flavours while not overpowering the palate.