The Classic (and Refreshing) Gin and Tonic Recipe

Published November 9, 2021



  1. In a highball glass, add ice and gin.
  2. Top off with tonic.
  3. Garnish with lime wedge.

Variations and Substitutions

The gin and tonic is a classic, two-ingredient manly cocktail, but there are still some options for swapping ingredients and making subtle riffs that don't change the spirit of the drink.

  • Experiment with the proportion of gin to tonic. Using more gin will yield a boozier sip while less gin will make it friendlier for an afternoon cocktail or brunch drink.
  • Sample different types of gin or homemade infused gins for a distinctly different flavor of cocktail; a London dry or Plymouth gin will taste different from Old Tom or genever.
  • Add a splash of lime juice for a slightly tarter taste.
  • A quarter-ounce of lemon juice will add a gentle yet tart citrus brightness.
  • Using Hendricks gin with a splash of rosewater or rosewater simple syrup topped off with tonic makes for an intense yet exquisite floral flavor.


The lime wedge is the predictable and easiest gin and tonic garnish, but you can still spice it up or stay traditional.

  • Opt for a lime wheel or slice instead of a wedge.
  • Use a lemon or orange for a similar citrus flavor but with brighter or juicier notes. This can be with a wheel, wedge, or slice.
  • A gin peel, ribbon, or coin adds a pop of color without overpowering with lime flavor.
  • The same can be done with a lemon or orange, as well.
  • Grapefruit also adds a complex flavor that complements the gin and tonic. You can use any of the above garnishes with a grapefruit.
  • Grapefruit, thyme, and basil sprigs all add an herbaceous note without overly changing the original flavors.
  • A dehydrated citrus wheel takes the gin and tonic from average to eye catching.

About the Gin and Tonic

Quinine was first used in the 1700s to treat malaria, but it wouldn't be until the early 1800s that gin appeared to help counter the bitter tonic that then contained higher levels of bitter quinine, a medicine used to treat and prevent illness. British officers began to add sugar, water, and lime to counter the quinine to offset these bitter notes, incidentally creating a cocktail that would continue for over 200 years. Today, tonic water is no longer used to treat malaria, as the levels of quinine would make no perceptible difference.

Gin and tonics are a year-round and every-bar type of libation. Although most notably enjoyed in the summertime, gin's juniper notes easily dress up any winter occasion, especially with a rosemary sprig garnish. While the modern gin and tonic may not cure you of any ailments, it can certainly soothe the soul.

Gin and Tonic: A Quiet Star

Perhaps not as popular as other two-ingredient cocktails, the gin and tonic is a staple in bars everywhere. Instead of ordering a vodka soda or whiskey ginger, step outside your comfort zone and sink your teeth into a classic gin and tonic.

The Classic (and Refreshing) Gin and Tonic Recipe