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The Perfect Spanish Gin-Tonic Recipe

Lena is a foodie and home cook from the SF Bay Area with a passion for Spanish flavors and traditional cooking with a modern touch!

This classic cocktail is perfect for summer: crisp and refreshing!

This classic cocktail is perfect for summer: crisp and refreshing!

What Makes Spanish Gin and Tonic Different?

First of all, the Spanish call this cocktail a gin-tonic, with no need for that pesky "and." But besides the name, there are some key changes to the classic British beverage.

For one thing, where the Brits usually serve it in a highball glass, in Spain they use a copa de balon, or balloon glass, which serves to gather and retain the aroma of your ingredients. Fresh herbs and aromatics not only look beautiful, but they also release their essential oils into the drink, adding new flavor notes to an old favorite. It may be served with or without ice.

Ingredient Ideas

FruitHerbsOther

Lemon

Rosemary

Juniper berries

Lime

Thyme

Pink peppercorns

Orange

Lavender

White peppercorns

Grapefruit

Lemon verbena

Whole cloves

Kumquat

Bay / Laurel

Whole star anise

Cucumber

Mint

 

Chile pepper

Sage

 

Gin tonic with rosemary and chile

Gin tonic with rosemary and chile

Gin Tonic Recipe

Prep timeReady inYields

5 min

5 min

1 cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 oz dry gin
  • 5 oz tonic water
  • 2 slices citrus, cucumber, or chile
  • 1 stem aromatic herb
  • 2 dashes bitters, optional

Instructions

  1. If you want to serve your cocktail on the rocks, first add ice to your chilled glass.
  2. Add fruit wheels, strips of cucumber, or fresh chile. You can also use a couple whole, dried ingredients like star anise or juniper berries.
  3. Place your aromatic in the palm of one hand and slap it firmly with the other hand, then add it to the glass.
  4. Pour gin down the side of the glass or over the back of a spoon.
  5. Top with tonic water and a couple dashes of bitters, if desired.

How to Chill a Cocktail Glass

If you don't have room in your cupboards for a special Spanish gin tonic glass, that's totally understandable. You can use a wine glass instead, as an approximation, or simply opt for the highball glass—although with the latter, you do lose that nice nose that gathers in a more bulbous cup. You can compensate by rubbing herbs or citrus peel on the rim of the glass, or by adding a few dashes of bitters on top right before you serve.

Rosemary sprig and lime wheel in a gin and tonic

Rosemary sprig and lime wheel in a gin and tonic

What Is the Best Gin to Use?

Generally, you want a dry, London-style gin in this classic cocktail. These include Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Gordon's, and newer addition Q (or Quintessential). However, for a Spanish gin and tonic, which is all about aroma, you can also use more botanically-influenced brands like Hendrick's, which is infused with unique ingredients like rose petals and cucumber. If you're not sure, start with a London dry the first time and experiment from there.

Gin and Nut Allergies

An important note: Some gins are flavored with nuts and seeds, which may not be obvious from the label or packaging. Bombay Sapphire and Beefeater are two examples. If you or your loved ones are allergic to nuts, please take note, and choose a brand like Tanqueray instead.

A striking gin-tonic made with purple gin and juniper berries

A striking gin-tonic made with purple gin and juniper berries

Colored Liquor

Actress Margot Robbie made a splash when she Instagrammed a photo of herself drinking a gin and tonic made with purple gin, just before her wedding. The internet went crazy trying to figure out what it was: Ink Gin, a naturally-colored spirit distilled in New South Wales, Australia. You may not be able to find it where you live, but you can dye your own gin by infusing it for a couple of days.

Keep in mind that the color may not be as vibrant as a commercially-produced variety and that infusing the liquor will significantly change the flavor profile that you're starting with, which you will want to consider when deciding what to put in your gin tonic.

How to Infuse Gin

  1. Thoroughly wash a large glass jar or bottle with hot water and soap, and dry completely.
  2. Place ingredients in the bottom of the container.
  3. Pour gin over ingredients and seal the bottle.
  4. Turn over several times to mix, then refrigerate 3-5 days.
  5. Strain and serve.

What Ingredients Make What Color?

Desired ColorPossible Ingredients

Purple

Lilac, lavender, violets, purple sweet potato

Red

Beets, blackberries, cherries, plums, blood orange

Pink

Hibiscus, pomegranate, pink grapefruit, boysenberries

© 2017 Lena Durante

Comments

Lena Durante (author) from San Francisco Bay Area on May 09, 2017:

I did not know how many gin brands there are! That's incredible. I wonder if anyone has set out to taste-test them all. (I'm not volunteering.)

Glen Rix from UK on May 09, 2017:

I can't drink very much nowadays but a long G&T is my drink of choice on high days and holidays so I was drawn to this article like a moth to a flame. It had never occurred to me to add herbs, so thanks for the hint. Did you know that there are well over a hundred different brands of gin and that some of them are made on Minorca (not as bitter as English dry gin)?My personal preference is Bombay Sapphire. Here in the U.K. there is a trend to have a gin bar at parties nowadays.