11 Creative Ways to Make a Gin & Tonic From the World’s Best Bars

Megan Murphy
·12 min read

Aromatic, bittersweet and effervescent, few cocktails are as refreshing as the Gin & Tonic. One of the most popular libations in the world, this easy-drinking summer staple is historically made with just three ingredients: gin, tonic water and a simple squeeze of lime.

However, the recent boom of craft and boutique gin distilleries, coupled with the availability of higher-quality tonics, has inspired a wave of elevated variations of the classic. Since the drink’s uncomplicated blueprint is highly adaptable, there’s no limit to innovation and creativity behind the bar. Nowadays, there are endless fresh and exciting ways to get your G&T fix.

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Since bellying up to your favorite bar may not be an option right now (and some of the greatest watering holes remain temporarily closed due to pandemic restrictions), we’re here to help you kick your G&T-making skills into high gear. We tapped 11 of the most outstanding bars across the country and the world—each with a strong gin focus—to share interesting and exceptionally delicious riffs of the cocktail to recreate at home.

Atlas Bar, Singapore

Vendome Spritz
Vendome Spritz

Crowned the Best Bar in Asia (and No. 4 on the World’s 50 Best Bars List) for 2020, Atlas is a showstopper in Singapore boasting the world’s largest gin collection—currently, the selection stands at a whopping 1,387 bottles that have been carefully curated from around the globe. “This Vendome Spritz was inspired by the Place Vendome outside of the Ritz in Paris,” says Jesse Vida, head bartender at Atlas. “Something light, crisp, bright and easy to sip on outside on a nice day. Using dry vermouth as the base with gin as the modifier, lastly the citrus and tonic all come together nicely in this elevated G&T variation.”

Vendome Spritz

  • Pinch of salt

  • 0.5 oz. (10 ml) lime juice

  • 0.5 oz. (10 ml) rich simple syrup (two parts sugar to one part water)

  • 0.5 oz. (15 ml) grapefruit juice

  • 1.5 oz. (45 ml) Cinzano 1757 dry vermouth

  • 0.5 oz. (15 ml) Nikka Gin

  • 1.5 oz. (40 ml) London Essence Grapefruit & Rosemary Tonic

Combine all ingredients (except tonic) into a cocktail shaker with ice; give it a short shake. Strain into a tall glass over ice and top with tonic.

Genever, Los Angeles

Filipino Gin & Tonic
Filipino Gin & Tonic

Located in Historic Filipinotown, Genever is one of Los Angeles’s finest watering holes (often touted as the city’s best gin bar), proudly owned and operated by three Filipina entrepreneurs. This standout Gin & Tonic (developed by former bar director Jessie Smyth) features ingredients prominent in Filipino cuisine and is one of Genever’s most requested cocktails. Kelso Norris, current bar director, adds “This G&T riff hits every taste bud with a perfect balance of sweet, tangy and savory—and disappears way too fast!”

Filipino Gin & Tonic

  • 2 oz. gin

  • 0.5 oz. calamansi juice

  • 0.25 oz. Datu Puti Spiced Vinegar*

  • ‘Q’ Tonic

  • Garnish: sliced ginger, fresh bay leaves, black pepper, chilies

Pour ingredients over ice in a tall Collins glass or large wine glass; stir. Garnish with sliced ginger, bay leaves, black pepper and chilies.

*A Filipino vinegar made from coconut sap and flavored with chiles, black pepper and ginger. It’s commonly found in Asian markets and also available on Amazon.

Bramble Bar & Lounge, Edinburgh

gin and tonic Bramble Bar & Lounge, Edinburgh
gin and tonic Bramble Bar & Lounge, Edinburgh

This upscale cocktail lounge on Queen Street serves an impressive menu of classics and innovative concoctions. Bramble stocks a concise and well-curated range of high-quality gins, with a focus on Scottish products. This specialty Gin & Tonic features Sweetdram Escubac—a spicy, citrusy botanical spirit—and was created by Jon Hughes, Bramble’s operations manager who has been with the acclaimed Edinburgh establishment since 2013.

Starlit City

  • 2 oz. (50 ml) London Dry Gin*

  • 0.5 oz. (10 ml) Sweetdram Escubac**

  • Juice from squeezing two lime wedges

  • Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic

  • Garnish: lime wedge and rosemary sprig

Fill a highball glass with cubed ice. Add ingredients in the order listed above, topping with the tonic. Garnish with a lime wedge and sprig of rosemary.

*Bramble uses their own ‘Lucky Gin’ in this cocktail, but any traditional London Dry-Style Gin will work well. **Escubac is a botanical spirit made only a few miles from Bramble in Edinburgh (it can be purchased online).

The Gin Joint, Charleston

peach and tonic
peach and tonic

This 1920s-era craft cocktail haunt in the Holy City spotlights seasonal flavors and its namesake spirit. “Despite Georgia’s association with peaches, South Carolina produces almost twice as much of the stone fruit annually. So as peach season approaches, I wanted to create an incredibly refreshing sipper that lets them shine,” says Christian Favier, bar manager of The Gin Joint. “While the P&T is very simple, the star is fresh, local peaches—flash frozen and shaved over the top (a technique Favier borrows from acclaimed Japanese bartender, Hiroyasu Kayama). The result is essentially the best shaved ice you’ve ever tasted, followed by a deliciously refreshing Gin & Tonic.”

Peach & Tonic

  • 1.75 oz. Plymouth Gin

  • 0.5 oz. peach liqueur (such as Massenez Crème de Pêche)

  • 0.25 oz. clarified lime acid or fresh lime juice

  • 3 oz. tonic (such as Fever-Tree Indian Tonic)

  • Grated frozen peach

In a Collins glass, combine gin, peach liqueur and lime acid or juice; add ice (or a Collins spear, if you have it!). Top with tonic water. Take a whole frozen peach and shave a generous amount over the top of the glass with a microplane or zester.

Tiger, Paris

Comfort G&T
Comfort G&T

Arguably the best gin bar in Paris is serious about Gin & Tonics. Tiger has even developed its own tonic water, along with flavored gins infused with ingredients such as kumquats, black olives, sesame seeds and charcoal. “This is one of the first drinks I created when I arrived in Paris,” says Fernando Vilas-Boas, bar director at Tiger. “I had a meal that stayed in my mind forever with this beautiful, tasty purée of chestnuts and apple. It had great acidity and the nutty flavor was warming and rich; a true delight. I imagined that flavor with a touch of floral notes from gin, and came up with this recipe.” For this comforting G&T, the spirit of choice is Christian Drouin Gin—a well-balanced gin made from more than 30 types of apples.

Comfort G&T

  • 2 oz. (50 ml) Christian Drouin Gin

  • 1 oz. (25 ml) chestnut and apple purée*

  • 0.25 oz. (5 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters

  • Fever-Tree Tonic

  • Garnish: a few apple slices

Pour all ingredients (except tonic) into a Collins glass filled with plenty of ice. Give it an energetic stir while gently topping off with the tonic. Garnish with apple slices.

*This purée can be bought in the supermarket or easily made at home; just make sure it’s not too concentrated.

Dante West Village, New York City

Mediterranean Tonic
Mediterranean Tonic

The stylish West Village outpost of Dante (named the World’s Best Bar in 2019 and the Best Bar in North America in 2020) puts a Mediterranean twist on their version. “In our take on the Gin & Tonic, we wanted to create the feeling of strolling down the Spanish coastline, incorporating the flavors of the region like Manzanilla sherry, lemon and olive. The dash of saline adds a subtle element of brininess and the rosemary and olive garnishes complete the cocktail for a refreshing and effervescent drink,” says Linden Pride, co-owner of Dante and Dante West Village.

Mediterranean Tonic

  • 1.5 oz. Fords Gin

  • 0.5 oz. Manzanilla sherry

  • 1 dash saline

  • 1 dash olive bitters

  • 1 dash lemon bitters

  • London Essence Elderflower Tonic

  • Garnish: rosemary sprig, green and black Cerignola olives

Build the cocktail by adding all ingredients into a highball glass (or preferred glass tumbler) over ice; stir gently. Garnish with a rosemary sprig, as well as one green and one black Cerignola olive.

Bobby Gin, Barcelona

The Herbalist’s G&T
The Herbalist’s G&T

This ingenious Barcelona bar is an absolute haven for gin fans, boasting an epic menu of G&Ts in four different categories: Classics (made with your choice of several dozen gins), Limited Edition (an exclusive selection of rare gins), Auteur (13 copyrighted G&Ts honoring the distillers) and Ginfonk (featuring aged, infused, smoked, steeped or flavored gins). This herbaceous riff was created by world-class head bartender Alberto Pizarro, who has garnered countless cocktail awards—including Best G&T in Spain in 2009.

The Herbalist’s G&T

  • 1.75 oz. (5 cl) Modernessia Gin*

  • 0.5 oz. (1.5 cl) Green Chartreuse

  • 2 drops celery bitters

  • 6.5 oz. (20 cl) Schweppes Indian Tonic Water

  • Garnish: dehydrated lime wheel

Build the cocktail by adding all ingredients into a Spritz glass (or large wine glass) over ice; stir gently. Garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel.

*Modernessia Gin is a Mediterranean-style gin similar to Gin Mare

Noble Experiment, San Diego

Noble Experiment, San Diego
Noble Experiment, San Diego

This swanky speakeasy, hidden inside a popular downtown eatery, helped ignite San Diego’s craft cocktail renaissance. Noble Experiment’s robust gin program offers something for everyone, whether you prefer London dry style, have a sweeter palate, or like heavily botanical gins. Bar lead Tony Roehr uses Sipsmith VJOP—a slightly over proof gin with a huge juniper kick—for the house G&T. “We’re pretty proud of our G&T, which was inspired by the botanicals surrounding Southeast Asia like pandan, Thai basil and ginger,” says Roehr. “Essentially, we made our own tonic syrup that included those botanicals, along with citrus peels, juniper berries, star anise and cinchona bark.”

House Gin & Tonic

  • 1.5 oz. Sipsmith VJOP gin (or another gin of choice)

  • 1 oz. tonic syrup (see below)*

  • Seltzer topper

Pour gin and tonic syrup into a glass over ice; stir gently to mix. Top with seltzer.

*Tonic Syrup Recipe

  • 16 oz. water

  • Peel from 1 whole lemon

  • Peel from 1 whole orange

  • 0.25 tsp cinchona bark

  • 1 tsp. (5 g) star anise

  • 1 tsp. (5 g) juniper berries

  • 1 tsp. (5 g) Thai basil leaves

  • 1 Tbsp. (15 g) pandan leaves

  • 2 tsp. (10 g) fresh ginger

  • 1 oz. citric acid

  • 0.5 oz. malic acid

  • 16 oz. sugar

Make the tonic syrup by simmering all ingredients (except sugar) in a saucepan on low for 30 minutes; strain. Mix sugar with the remaining liquid (approx. 12 oz.). Let cool.

Origin, Hong Kong

Shiso Gin & Tonic
Shiso Gin & Tonic

The modern movement of gin inspired award-winning mixologist Antonio Lai to create the first gin-focused bar in Hong Kong. Origin uses inventive methods and techniques to enhance the overall gin drinking experience. The lengthy menu features an extensive list of gin-based cocktails, gin tasting flights and even signature slow-cooked and redistilled gins. Alex Ko, beverage development manager of Origin, lets fragrant shiso shine in this original Gin & Tonic.

Shiso Gin & Tonic

  • 2 oz. (45 ml) Redistilled Shiso Gin (see below)*

  • 4 oz. (100 ml) Fever-Tree Indian Tonic

  • Garnish: shiso leaf and slice of radish

Pour ingredients over ice in a tall Collins glass or large wine glass; stir. Garnish with shiso leaf and a slice of radish.

*Redistilled Shiso Gin

  • 3-4 Tbsp. (50 g) fresh shiso leaves

  • 3.25 cups (750 ml) Tanqueray London Dry Gin

*Place shiso and gin in a blender and blitz until the shiso is finely minced. Place mixture into a distillation flask of a rotary evaporator; run at 200mbar and a water bath temperature at 137°F (57°C). Note: you will need to slowly decrease the pressure to avoid foaming, Run the rotary evaporator for approximately 1 hour, or until you collect approx. 14 to 17 oz. (400 to 500 ml) of distillate. Alcohol content of the distillate should be in the region of 50% ABV., which can be checked with a refractometer. Add distilled water to bring ABV. down to 40 percent.

Bathtub Gin, New York City

Signature Gin & Tonic
Signature Gin & Tonic

This speakeasy-style gin joint in Chelsea—located behind an unassuming coffee shop door—offers a wide selection of unique gins crafted with interesting flavor profiles. Bathtub Gin’s seasonally rotating Gin & Tonic menu is a major draw, pairing premium spirits with aromatic tonics and botanicals in several variations of the libation. This signature G&T, created by beverage director Brendan Bartley, accentuates the botanicals in the floral and fruit-forward Nolet’s Silver Gin to give drinkers an enhanced experience of flavors.

Signature Gin & Tonic

  • 1.5 oz. Nolet’s Gin

  • 3 oz. Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic

  • Garnish: dried peach, fresh raspberry, juniper berries

Add ingredients to a large brandy snifter glass; top with ice. Lightly stir. Garnish with a dried peach slice, a fresh raspberry and three juniper berries.

Mr. Fogg’s House of Botanicals, London

An herbal-themed spinoff of the award-winning London cocktail chain, Mr Fogg’s House of Botanicals is a flower-filled hideaway in Fitzrovia. Here, crafty in-house botanists play with exotic flavors and ingredients to create tasty tipplers that excite the mind and senses. Massimo Serpelloni, bar manager at Mr Fogg’s, created this G&T using Bombay Bramble gin (which is infused with raspberries and blackberries) and a touch of bitter aperitif. “It’s brought together sumptuously with the floral and jammy notes of Franklin & Sons Rhubarb Tonic Water with Hibiscus, and is gently lifted with a refreshing splash of fresh lemon juice,” Serpelloni says.

Country Mile

Add all ingredients (except tonic) into a wine glass or highball over ice. Stir just enough to mix together, then top up with tonic. Give it a quick stir. Finish with a lemon peel, expressing the oil into the drink.

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