Since arriving in England in the 17th century — and causing a widespread public-health panic — gin has been one of the most important elements of mixology as the basis for some of the best-known cocktails and mixed drinks. These classics are still the choice of many, but bartenders have also created innovative new gin-based drinks.
Gin and Tonic
The gin and tonic is as simple as it is classic: A mixture of tonic water and gin, with a slice or wedge of lemon or lime. The ratio of gin to tonic water can vary; some recipes recommend an equal mixture, while in other cases the ratio might be 2 or even 3 parts tonic to 1 part gin. The gin and tonic — “G and T” for short — usually comes in a tall glass, although Spanish bartenders serve them in wide-mouthed balloon glasses.
This iconic cocktail is simplicity itself: Gin, a smaller amount of dry vermouth and a garnish, typically an olive, served chilled in a conical glass. As with any cocktail, ratios vary, but 4 parts gin to 1 part vermouth is typical. A dry martini has proportionally less vermouth, while a wet martini has more. A drinker who orders a martini with a twist wants lemon peel instead of an olive as a garnish. A martini with a cocktail onion as a garnish is a Gibson, and one without any vermouth at all — essentially a large, ice-cold glass of gin — is a Churchill, after the British prime minister’s favorite tipple.
A Tom Collins consists of dry gin, sugar, lemon juice and club soda, served in a tall glass over ice. The characteristic tall, thin glass is even known as a “Collins glass.” The same drink with lime juice is called a gin Rickey. A gin fizz is a similar drink, with many variations. For example, a Ramos gin fizz includes gin, soda water, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar, cream, orange flower water and an egg white.
Gin and fruit juice makes a classic combination; a mixture of gin, grapefruit juice and pineapple juice even inspired a 1993 rap hit, “Gin and Juice.” One of the best-known fruity gin drinks is the gimlet, which traditionally consists of gin and lime cordial, but can also be made with gin, lime juice and soda water. One variation even adds Darjeeling tea to give the mixture light, floral notes and an energizing hit of caffeine.
Changing the Formula
The gin lover looking for something a little different has a wide range of drinks to choose from. The Last Word is a lesser-known Prohibition-era cocktail that combines equal parts gin, Maraschino liqueur, Chartreuse and lime juice, while another classic, the Negroni, mixes equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. An unusual cocktail, the Vitamin C Brew, mixes a shot of gin and twice as much orange juice in a pint glass, then tops the glass off with beer, typically a light-bodied lager.
References and ResourcesDaily Telegraph: Revealed -- How to Make the Perfect Gin and Tonic
Esquire: Gin and Tonic
Esquire: How to Make a Martini
Huffington Post: How to Order a Martini Like a Pro
Esquire: Tom Collins Recipe
Difford's Guide: Ramos Gin Fizz
Slate: The Gimlet Eye
Daily Telegraph: Cocktail of the Week -- Darjeeling Gimlet
Daily Telegraph: The Best Gin Cocktails
Bon Appetit: Vitamin C Brew