(Still) summertime cocktails: the gussied-up gintonic.

Spanish-style gintonic

Don’t let the passing of Labor Day fool you: summer is most definitely still in session through most of September and we’re about to experience the warmest temperatures we’ve had all season this week, so I have no problem promoting a refreshing, summertime beverage despite it being past the acceptable date to wear white. Besides, in just over a week we’re going to Spain, and specifically going back to Barcelona and Caldetas/Caldes d’Estrac, and while I am naturally planning many ways to eat our faces off I’m also really looking forward to indulging in a few gintonics while we’re there too. Unlike here where at most places a G&T is simply some gin, tonic water from a beverage gun and maybe a wedge or wheel of lime, but in Spain it is most definitely a cocktail

Typically served in wine goblets instead of highballs, they also tend to be made with the little single-serving bottles of tonic water rather than stuff from the aforementioned beverage gun, and good, bottled tonic water is something special. As Danny Castellano noted in the episode “The Desert” of The Mindy Project, “tonic water’s tonic water, okay? It’s refreshing, it’s crisp. It’s the tiniest bit sweet.” A good gintonic lets that part of tonic water shine, and the addition of juniper berries and wheels of lemon and lime just make the tonic all the more flavorful.

If you need further proof that the Spanish gintonic surpasses all other versions of the drink, just see the delightful standoff that took place some time ago between Mario Batali and José Andrés on Twitter:

I think José Andrés won the gintonic-off.

This is a recipe for a very simple but highly flavorful version of the G&T, and it’s worth finding a container of juniper berries in addition to a little four-pack of good tonic water (Fever Tree is delicious) to while away the remaining weeks of summer, and to embrace those rare and overly-warm autumn days. As it always does, winter is coming–let’s all take a step back to enjoy the warmth.

Gintonic, Spanish-style

makes 1 cocktail, adapted slightly from Made in Spain by José Andrés

  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 200 mL bottle Fever Tree tonic water, either Indian or Mediterranean style (Michael prefers Indian-style, while I love the  Mediterranean)
  • 1-2 leaves lemon verbena (optional but awesome)
  • 3-4 juniper berries, slightly crushed
  • 1 lemon wheel
  • 1 lime wheel

In a large goblet or wine glass, combine gin with tonic water and ice and add garnishes as desired. Serve immediately.

For added effect, aerate the tonic water by pouring down the spiraled handle of a bar spoon or from a great height.

  1. Brianne said:

    Yessss. I found the most delicious gin, like, EVER this summer at a local distillery. I feel like I’m bastardizing it with drugstore bottled tonic. I mean, it’s still good, but there’s a wee twinge every time I mix the two, you know? I feel like the solution–find good tonic, silly!–should have been more obvious to me. Thanks for the pro tip! I’m so excited that your big trip is just around the corner!!

    • It seems so simple a change! Not all tonic waters–even premium ones–are alike so you may have to do some trial and error to get the right one. Fevertree is really really good and there are three varieties: Mediterranean, Indian, and then naturally low-sugar Indian-style.

  2. biz319 said:

    It looks delicious – but for some reason I’ve never been a gin fan – maybe because I did too many gin poppers in high school – have you ever heard of that?

    Half a shot of gin, pour in Mountain Dew, put your hand over the shot, shake it and drink it. It tasted just like Mountain Dew, but after a few you were f’ckd up.

    • Oh, that sounds kind of horrible, but that’s because I loathe Mountain Dew. You should try this with a proper tonic water, as I think you might have your mind changed!

  3. shannon said:

    As soon as i saw that photo, i knew those were my beloved juniper berries floating their lives away in there! That looks delicious: gintonics have always been “my drink,” (if i had a drink), and just like very simple salads and baked goods, the quality of the ingredients is everything. I’m writing down the Fever Tree brand for the next time we make them…i sometimes get lazy with the tonic water, and i know better.

    • Oh, we do too, not out of laziness but just a desire to avoid buying tons of tiny bottles of tonic. 🙂

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