Why making a perfect Gin and Tonic is an art form best learned from professional mixologists

When arguing over the “Perfect Gin & Tonic” the gin lover in us enjoys having a row with our cocktail friends over the necessary ingredients that mix to perfection. Lime or lemon? Herbs to match the botanicals? Fever Tree or Fentiman’s? Juniper heavy or juniper light gin? Etc.

During these debates, few of us consider the process which can be just as an important element as ingredients. The differences in processes are considerable, particularly among mixologists. 

Here’s the 3-minute version, how most of us prepare a homely G&T:

  1. Pour ingredients (2 ounces gin, tonic water) into a highball glass
  2. Stir well
  3. add lime wedge as garnish

Now compare that with the following three processes from renowned food and drinks specialists to discover the real art behind truly amazing G&Ts:

Bartender, columnist and author of “Cosmopolitan: a Bartender’s Life”, Toby Cecchini took his preferred process from his father and shared it with the New York Times. The key to his approximately 10-minute process is letting the gin and the lime juice to become intimately involved before taking the next steps:

  1. Knead lime
  2. Cut limes in half and squeeze the juice out of them, setting the juice aside
  3. Cut the used lime rinds into julienne strips
  4. Put the gin and lime rinds into a large pitcher
  5. Muddle the rinds and the gin with a pestle for 2 minutes
  6. Add the squeezed lime juice
  7. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes
  8. Fill the pitcher with ice
  9. Pour the tonic into the pitcher slowly and at a slant
  10. Mix very gently (with a glass wand if available)
  11. Pour into chilled highball glass
  12. Garnish with lime rounds

Bombay Sapphire Senior Ambassador Sam Carter prefers to start and finish with the citrus ingredient, making sure to knead the lime enough at the start. But he warns against running the lime around the rim of the glass as a final step as the unmixed lime can be too much on the nose and palette:

  1. Roll lime 10 times with hand to get the juices flowing
  2. Cut lime in 8 wedges starting with one slice through the circumference
  3. Squeeze lime wedge in empty highball glass and drop the wedge in the glass after squeezing
  4. Take the bottle of gin from around the neck
  5. Pour 50ml of gin (a double measure) preferably through a barman’s pourer
  6. Fill up the highball glass with ice
  7. Stir with a long spoon
  8. Pour in 100ml of ice cold tonic water over the ice
  9. Let the tonic carbonation settle
  10. Stir drink to create consistent flavour
  11. (optional) add more ice in order to bring the liquid to about 1cm from the top of the highball glass
  12. Add an additional lime wedge without squeezing, resting it on top of the liquid
  13. (optional) add a clear straw

Then there’s Mr. Oliver. Jamie prepared the video below for World Gin Day this year and performed a couple of particular stunts including stirring the ice, pouring the tonic down the length of his twisted metal swizzle stick, and adding a squeezed mint leaf as a last step.

  1. 3/4 fil Spanish glass with ice
  2. stir ice with a swizzle stick
  3. roll the lime
  4. cut lime into wedges
  5. get rid of excess water in the glass caused by stirring the ice 
  6. squeeze a lime wedge over the ice
  7. pour 50ml of gin
  8. (first option) tip the glass and pour the tonic water on the side of the glass
  9. (second option) cover the top of the tonic bottle with the spoon or the swizzle stick and let it spill down length of the stick into the glass
  10. one very light turn of the concoction with the swizzle stick
  11. drop in one lime wedge
  12. shake the glass a bit before drinking