Few things beat lazing around on a long summer evening with a drink in hand. My go-to tipple at this time of year is an ice-cold gin and tonic, and I love experimenting with different ways to jazz it up. So, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite concoctions…
Lemon and rosemary
For a simple twist on the classic G&T, just add a slice of lemon and a sprig of rosemary to create something that’s zingy and deliciously herby at the same time. Fresh thyme and basil work well, too.
Cucumber and elderflower
This combination is cooling and refreshing, with a delicate sweetness. Pour some elderflower syrup or cordial concentrate over the gin (a bit of trial and error is required when it comes to the amount, but start with 50ml per glass and add a dash more at the end if needed), then top with tonic water and a few slices of cucumber. If elderflower is in season and you want to have a go at making your own syrup, fellow blogger LapinBlu has a great recipe.
Lemon and lavender
This is fragrant, floral and a little bit special. Just add freshly squeezed lemon juice (around half a lemon per glass should do it), fill up with soda water (the quinine in tonic is a little too bitter for this one) and garnish with a sprig of fresh, washed lavender. The results are perfect for elegant summer parties, and definitely worthy of a posh glass!
If you find the above too sour, try adding a drop or two of honey (dissolve it in some warm water to make it easy to stir in). And if you want to create a stronger lavender note, pour some gin into an air-tight glass jar, add some lavender flowers, and leave it to infuse for a couple of weeks before using.
Some of my other tried and tested additions to gin and tonic include:
- Fresh chilli and coriander leaves. It sounds odd, but it’s delicious – and not fiery-hot as you’d expect.
- Mango. Its sweetness is supposed to offset the gin’s botanicals, and it really does work well. Some people suggest adding a sprinkling of black pepper for an extra kick, but I’ve never tried this myself.
- Summer berries (strawberries, blueberries, whatever you have to hand). They quickly infuse the gin with a lovely fruitiness – perfect on a hot summer’s day.
Whatever you put with your G&T, it’s worth getting the basics right by using good-quality gin and tonic water. Hendrick’s and Fever Tree are my failsafe choices, but I also love Six O’Clock gin and tonic water – the name is so evocative, and the gin has lovely notes of citrus and elderflower. Best of all, it’s distilled just outside Bristol!
Photography by Abi Dare