Beyond the Gin and Tonic: Five Variations on a Theme

July 13, 2012 11:44 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Gin and Tonic
Beyond the gin and tonic. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Call me uninitiated, but I haven't encountered a mixed drink frattier than the gin and tonic. In fact, it's difficult to figure out why the cocktail is so popular with that demographic in the first place. Sure, it's a standard. A classic, even. But the taste is surprisingly complex for the same group of motivated youngsters that put Natty Ice on the map. In one corner, we have a liquor deriving the loudest note in its floral symphony of flavors from juniper berries. In the other corner, we have the tonic water, flavored with quinine and corn syrup. It may not be strong enough to protect you against malaria anymore, but it'll definitely help you stave off boredom if you combine it with its comrade-in-smarm.

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But let's look beyond the timeless charm of the gin and tonic. Here are a few ways to shake this cocktail up.

1. The Limey

I've been a proponent of cucumber and gin since before I could legally drink (stay in school, kids), and here's no exception. Chop up half a cucumber into thin slices, maximizing exposed surface area, and put it into a pitcher. Fill the pitcher with tonic water. Let steep overnight.

Put two shots of whatever gin you like in a glass. Finish with the cucumber-infused tonic water. Add lime and mint, if you like.

2. The Gin and Stormy

It was a dark and stormy kind of night, except you can't find your rum. Don't worry-- this variation on the G and T is here to the rescue.

Put two shots of whatever gin you like in a glass over ice. Wait thirty seconds. Finish the rest of the glass with good ginger beer. Stir. Finish off with a splash of tonic water. Garnish with lime and candied ginger.

3. Grandma's Salty Dog

Here's one dog your grandmother won't call you to complain about.

Rim a glass with grapefruit juice and coarse salt. Like the others, two shots of gin over ice. Wait. Fill halfway with tonic water. Stir. Finish with grapefruit juice. Stir. Serve.

4. The Tongue-in-Cheek

Now we're getting crazy.

Rim a glass with a salt mixture that's three-fourths salt, one-fourth fennel seed. Add your two shots of gin over ice.

In a juicer, combine apples and celery. Fill the glass halfway with this mix.

Finish off with tonic water. Serve.

5. The Studio 54

This one's crass: two shots gin over ice. Fill one-fourth of the way with tonic. Now, here's the part that'll get you dancing: if you don't have heart problems, finish the glass with red bull. Top it with cranberry juice.


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