Look, I’m not here to tell you how to drink a G&T. As long as you’re drinking a G&T you’re doing pretty well. If you have supermarket gin with post-mix tonic and a limp, oxidised slice of citrus, at least you still have a G&T. But, if you have a premium gin, with the finest botanicals sourced from the four corners of the world, with hand-crafted tonic from a boutique soda factory in the heart of the city, the least you can do is treat them with a garnish they deserve.
Here are the fundamentals:
Ice First up, use some decent ice, the bigger the better. Don’t skimp on the ice, either, pack as much into the glass as you can, the drink will chill quicker which means that it dilutes more slowly.
Tonic Once we’ve finished a gin and have left it alone for a month so the botanicals chill out and bond together, we match it with every tonic we can get our hands on. So far we have not repeated a pairing, which is not to say that we won’t - we try it with everything on the market and pick the best.
We’ve had some truly magical gin and tonic marriages. Our original pairing of Signature Dry Gin with P.S. Soda’s Bush Tonic (check PS40 out here) is still keeping the hordes happy here at Archie Rose HQ almost three years after its inception. The memorable yet fleeting pairing of the now sold out Horisumi – Winter and Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic with white grapefruit was stunning, the saline notes of this winter gin were softened, stroked and sedated by the sweetness of the tonic. When Horisumi – Summer came around we found a brilliant dance partner in the petite East Imperial Tonic with a sartorial slice of mango.
And Now for the Garnish
When choosing a garnish it is important to think about what, where and when you are drinking your gin.
Is it a hot afternoon, is it in the dead of winter? What happens to be seasonal? What will complement your drink? Is your gin delicate, floral and likely to be overshadowed by a tough customer like a lime, or would a cucumber slice suffice? Is your gin big, bombastic and ready to dance with a strong citrus? There is only one way to get to the bottom of these very important questions - extensive research.
A good garnish should not only change the drink, either in taste or smell, but also make everyone else in the room realise just how cool you are.
When looking for a fun new garnish, look beyond the usual citrus suspects. The only hard and fast rule really is choosing something that makes you happy. If it’s nibbling on some white peach while drinking a G&T, then do it.
Pear: When we made our Distiller’s Strength gin, which includes pear as a botanical, we naturally included a garnish of pear in our test line up, and it didn’t disappoint. So much so it’s become ‘the usual’ when I pull up a stool at the Archie Rose Bar: Distiller’s Strength gin, Fever-Tree Indian Tonic and three pear slices.
How to serve: slice your pear and wedge three slices into the ice in your G&T. In my case three sips in the pear is usually gone, so feel free to top up!
When Horisumi - Summer came around we were more than ready to bask in the joys of summer fruits. Our final lineup consisted of two melon slices, one peach and one mango. We then held a vox pop of sorts - basically a slight step up on bare-knuckle fighting, but with a lot more gin and marginally less fighting. Mango was the winner. It’s strong and sweet so once you drink a sip of gin and then suck on a slice of mango with a little juice running down your chin you will absolutely thank for me it.
How to serve: Slice a small cheek of mango, skin still on. Prop it skin side down in your drink so it floats.
I would never say a bad word about the mango, however...it is not the king of fruits. That title falls to the white peach.
White peach (king of fruits*): I pity those who don’t appreciate the white peach as the king - and queen - of fruits. Most enjoyable when taken slightly overripe from a tree in summer, it’s best eaten warm in the summer sun. But the peach it seems is also a fantastic candidate for distillation. I’ve even campaigned for the release of peach distillate as a stand alone product. If I get to heaven to be told there is no gin but there is all the peach distillate I can handle I will not be sad. As a garnish peach ticks all the right boxes: it adds to the aroma, the look and of course the taste of the drink. It doesn’t overpower the gin the same way too much mango can. Instead it will encourage and lift your G&T. What a guy.
How to serve: if, like me, you’re not only a boozehound but a lover of peach I suggest three slices of peach per G&T. However if you’re on a diet one will do the trick.
Pineapple: Ah! Pineapple. This is the guy that claims to be the king of fruit (but if you need to stake your claim you’re probably not the rightful king (if the timeless movie Stardust starring Michelle Pfeiffer will tell us anything it’s that the rightful king will always win). You may not know this but the humble pineapple is the official symbol of hospitality the world over. And for good reason. A pineapple is reliable. It is usually good to eat, is ripe for a satisfactory amount of time and has a jaunty bonnet. It is also a fun, surprising garnish for a G&T, “what’s this?” your guests will exclaim! “Why, a pineapple! How fun”, and soon they’ll all be talking about that time you served a pineapple on a gin and tonic. You’ll be famous.
How to serve: a cheeky little triangle will work wonders for both the appearance of your beverage and your hunger levels. Stick a little cabanossi on the other side and you’ll be infamous.
Blood Orange: You may not agree that the peach is the king of fruits, but no one can deny that the blood orange is the sexiest fruit. Anyone who thinks it is the lychee is a moron. Spikey little buggers. Anyway back to the blood orange. It has a pleasingly short season (let’s all pretend we live in some beautiful ancient world where seasonality still exists). Which means you should cherish it while you have it. You’ll miss it when it’s gone. Make marmalade, add the juice to a Negroni for responsible day time imbibing. And garnish your G&Ts with it.
How to serve: A wheel is pleasing, but so is a jaunty wedge. Sitting on the rim of the glass inviting the drinker to get involved and squeeze it into their drink, creating a beautiful, pink, gin.
Pomelo: Pomelo is an odd citrus. It can be large and cumbersome, it can lack in juice at the wrong time of season, but it also has brilliant, delicate nose. Consider it a more delicate, less potent grapefruit. For Horisumi - Winter, the white grapefruit was just the ticket, however for Horisumi - Autumn we needed something altogether more delicate. And that was when we reached for the pomelo.
How to serve: Pomelo has a very large pith, so cut a wedge, then run a knife along the flesh separating the pith and you’ll be left with a rather ugly citrus flesh that is not dissimilar to a hunk of human flesh. Drink with your eyes closed if you are faint of heart.
- opinions are the author’s own and do not reflect the opinions of Archie Rose as an organisation.