Another glass of gin and tonic please. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Another gin and tonic, please. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

We are now in the full throes of summer, and there is no better cocktail to conclude a summer’s day than a gin and tonic. It is simplicity itself. It can be made extra-special if you use an excellent gin and, more importantly, an excellent tonic. But an inexpensive gin and some diet Schweppes will do the trick if that and a lime is all you have or want.

This is a seasonal drink. The bitter and bubbles refresh, the gin eases, and the citrus brightens. I like to use both lime and lemon, because lemon makes just about anything better and the bright color makes the glass more inviting.

If you want to simply enjoy a cooling cocktail at the end of a hot day, then I encourage economy over quality. But if you want to serve a really good gin and tonic, I believe it’s the tonic that stands out, accented by the gin. A tweet that came too late recommended Fever-Tree tonic, which my local grocer carries, but I went with the Fentimans because I like their ginger beer (used in the Moscow Mule).

I tried Broker’s gin on the advice of many tweeters as being a good but economical choice. I may well be a cretin, but I didn’t taste a difference between it and the even less expensive Seagram’s. For a high-end G&T, I’d choose the very piney Tanqueray, which has an aromatic punch equal to the tonic. Plymouth or Hendrick’s, I fear, would be steamrolled by a good tonic. If you want to feature the gin, use a light tonic, and a 1:1 or 1:1.5 ratio rather than the standard to-taste ratio.

After shooting the photo, Donna said, “I feel like it’s just now summer, but it’s already almost August.” Busy schedules, work, travel—and suddenly, yes, it is gone. Pay attention to the air. It’s so good now where we are. Take some time to enjoy your summer. And stay cool with a gin and tonic that fits your style.

Gin and Tonic

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 4 ounces tonic (or to taste)
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
  • lime wedge
  1. Pour the ingredients in a glass with ice cubes.
  2. Stir well.
  3. Garnish with the lime wedge.

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© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.