For many people, summer begins when they start wearing white. For others, it’s when the good tomatoes and sweet summer corn show up on farmers’ market stalls. And for the vast majority, it’s when they need to crank up the AC on that first sweltering 90-degree day of the year.
As for me, I know I’m ready for the heat when I start to crave a cool, crisp gin and tonic—preferably at an al fresco lunch; preferably with a platter of fritto misto.
While I absolutely love the classic G&T, I still remember a “fancy” rendition my personal bartender (a.k.a. my husband) once served me: It used Malfy Con Arancia and Thomas Henry cherry blossom tonic—garnished with rosemary sprigs and some leftover dehydrated citrus wheels we happened to have on hand. I found it so delightful I’ve asked him to experiment with more tonics, syrups, garnishes, and of course, different gins. And we’re still working our way through on our list, including the 16 recipes below from some of the best the best bartenders in the industry.
Best Gin and Tonic Recipes For The Summer
GTC&A (GIN, TONIC, CELERY, AND ALOE)
“One of my favorite cocktails is a gin and tonic with celery bitters. The vegetal notes of the bitters really bring out all of the herbaceousness of the gin. Perfect for spring and summer days.” —Jessica Everett, cofounder of Esters Maui, Wailuku, HI
1.5 oz. gin
0.5 oz. dry vermouth
0.25 oz. Chareau aloe liqueur
0.5 oz. lemon juice
0.5 oz. 1:1 honey syrup
3 dashes celery bitters
3 oz. tonic
Method: Combine all ingredients with ice in a large wine glass. Garnish with 3 juniper berries, a sprig of thyme, and a lemon wheel. Enjoy.
THE BOTANIST BLACK CHERRY & TONIC
“The Botanist gin is the ideal spirit for creating unique and flavorful G&T adaptations. Made with 22 hand-foraged botanicals from the Isle of Islay, the Botanist boasts a complex, yet delicate aromatic flavor profile that perfectly balances with a high-quality tonic water. Its botanicals include herbs like mint, chamomile, thistle, and heather—as well as classic gin ingredients like juniper, coriander, and angelica root.” —Jason Cousins, national brand ambassador of The Botanist
1.5 oz. The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
0.5 oz. black cherry syrup*
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup black cherries, de-stemmed, pitted, and halved
0.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
4 oz. premium tonic
Lemon peel and black cherry to garnish
*Black cherry syrup: Combine sugar, water, and fresh black cherries in a shallow pan and place on stovetop over low to medium heat. Heat and stir to dissolve sugar. Simmer for 10–15 minutes or until cherries start to break down. Strain mixture through a fine mesh cone or cheesecloth. Bottle syrup and store in refrigerator for up to 10 days.
Method: Combine Botanist, black cherry syrup, and lemon juice in a highball glass. Fill with ice and top with premium tonic. Gently stir to incorporate. Garnish with a lemon peel and a black cherry.
GUNPOWDER CHILLI SERVE
“I love that the foundation of the gin and tonic can—and does—remain the same: a beautiful pour of complex Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin and premium tonic. I feel that the complexity of the gin allows for so much creativity when further developing your G&T profile. With this version, you’re able to pull some of that great earthy spice found predominantly in the finish of the gin. It’s also complemented by the citrus notes and complexity that comes from the caraway seed and star anise. Personally, I love to mix up the garnishes, from pink peppercorns to green leafy herbs to candied fruits and more—just to have a new experience with the gin interacting with the tonic. I believe that playing around with the garnish and the flavor profiles can create a wholly new connection to such a classic and foundational cocktail.” —Diana Novak, national director of craft spirits education at Palm Bay International
40 ml. Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin
140 ml. chilled premium tonic
Whole fresh red chilli pepper
Thick slice of fresh ripe mango
Method: Stir and serve ingredients over ice. Top with premium tonic water. Garnish with red chile pepper and a slice of fresh mango. Served over cubed ice.
EMPRESS & TONIC
“A match made in heaven—and it also happens to be our signature drink! Tart, refreshing, and effortlessly delicious, the Empress and Tonic is an elevated take on a classic favorite.” —Phil Lecours, master distiller at Victoria Distillers
2 oz. Empress 1908 Gin
3 oz. premium tonic water
1 grapefruit slide
Method: Build on ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a grapefruit slice.
“Countless cocktails poured in the ’80s and ’90s have come and gone, but some are still called for from time to time. The Bramble, for example, is one of those cocktails: It’s made its way into the pantheon of classics bartenders know and riff off of. At Valerie, we have a gin-focused cocktail program with a list of house-crafted gin and tonic creations. I wanted to curate a refreshing Bramble variation while leaving the additional sugars behind—and Brockmans gin was the perfect base. Because of the berry-forward notes of the gin, there’s no reason to add any additional blackberry liqueurs. Q Spectacular tonic is my go-to tonic when I want the guest to truly be able to experience the botanicals of the gin. Carbonated at higher pressure than other tonics (with less botanicals) allows the botanicals in Brockmans to shine.” —Marshall Minaya, beverage director at Valerie, New York, NY
1 ½ oz. Brockmans Gin
¼ oz. Giffard Crème de Cacao
¼ oz. lemon juice
Q Spectacular Tonic
Lemon wheels, garnish
Method: Add gin, cacao, and lemon to a goblet. Fill with ice. Garnish with 2 lemon wheels and 3 blackberries. Pour ingredients, stir, and serve with approximately 6 oz. of tonic.
SPANISH STYLE GIN & TONIC
“Gin and tonics seem to be growing more and more in popularity these days, so what we try to do is create something a little more towards the road less traveled. Riffing off of Spanish-style G&Ts, we’ve been able to create some truly unique flavors. For instance, by simply adding vermouth or a dry sherry, you can evolve your gin and tonic.” —Derek Tormes, bartender at Tropezón, Miami, FL
2 oz. Minke Irish Gin
0.25. oz. Spanish dry vermouth
2 dashes of grapefruit bitters
East Imperial Grapefruit Tonic
Method: Stir and serve ingredients over ice. Top with grapefruit tonic. Garnish with 5 pink peppercorns, grapefruit slice, and a sprig of rosemary.
COLOR-CHANGING GIN & TONIC
“The lustrous noir gin turns to a beautiful, romantic shade of lavender when mixed with tonic. The tonic elevates the botanical flavors of the gin, while the green apple cleanses the profile, making this cocktail highly refreshing and crisp.” —Matthew Argenti, U.S.A brand director at Scapegrace Distilling Company
2 oz. Scapegrace Black Gin
5 oz. tonic water
Green apple, garnish
Method: Fill the glass with ice. Add Scapegoat Black Gin, top with tonic water, garnish with green apple. Note: the drink will turn from black to magenta.
PEACOCK GIN & TONIC
“Our Peacock Gin and Tonic is the most Instagrammable gin and tonic you’ve ever seen. It’s reminiscent of the colors of the peacock, many of which freely roam our little Caribbean island. Wherever you are drinking it, the first sip transports you right here to St. Croix—with its notes of floral and citrus.” —Ashlyn Dumas, food & beverage director at The Peacock Room, St. Croix USVI
2 oz. Empress 1908 Gin
Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water
Sprig of rosemary
Dehydrated grapefruit wheel
Method: Add gin to a goblet with a big ice rock and top with Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water. To garnish, add a sprig of rosemary, dried juniper berries, and a slice of dehydrated grapefruit.
“Provence Breeze is a refreshing low-ABV gin and tonic filled with South of France flavors that bring me home. I would recommend serving this drink with an espelette pepper salt rim to add a touch of spiciness.” —Yann Bouvignies, head of mixology at Scarfes Bar, London, UK
45 ml. London Dry Gin
20 ml. Noilly Prat Dry
1 dash lavender bitter
60 ml. Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic
Cherry tomato, garnish
Pine needles, garnish
Espelette peppers, garnish
Method: In a highball glass filled with ice cubes, pour the gin, Noilly Prat, and bitter. Top with tonic. Gently stir to combine. Garnish with cherry tomato, pine needles, and espelette pepper salt.
BOOTH’S FINEST OLD G&T
“This G&T is both young and old, sweet and sour, refreshing and flavorful—all thanks to its simple but elevated ingredients. It begins with Booth’s Finest Old Gin, the original cask-aged gin and oldest gin brand still in existence today after being recently revived by the Sazerac Company. Instead of lemon or lime, I opted for verjus, which is the juice of grapes that have not yet reached maturity and thus very tart—nicely balancing the sweetness of the tonic. Orange blossom water is something we all keep in our kitchens here in London (it’s great for flavoring cakes and pastries); one drop brings an extra layer of flavors and tastes like ‘summer is coming.’ Lastly, garnish with some grapes, which recall flavors from the sherry casks used to mature Booth’s Gin as well as the verjus, while offering a crunchy bite to pair with the drink.” —Clément Ambrosi, head bartender at the Coburg Bar at The Connaught Hotel, London
50 ml. Booth’s finest Old Gin
10 ml. verjus (Fusion Napa Valley Blanc recommended)
1 dash orange blossom water
Method: Add the gin, verjus and orange blossom water to a highball glass full of ice. Top with tonic water and garnish with two grapes.
“This gin and tonic is a fun, flirty, and refreshingly palatable drink for the everyday classy lady but can also win over even the biggest gin hater. Tickled Pink takes me back to late summers in South Florida, filled with vibrant colors and a sweetness for life. In using Empress 1908 Indigo, the butterfly pea blossom permeates the gin with remarkably earthy tones that—when balanced with the sweet, traditional citrus notes of lycée and guava—comes to yield a rich and inviting hue that’ll leave you wanting more.” —Blair Mathieson, bar manager at LG’s Bar + Kitchen, Chicago, IL
2 oz. Empress 1908 Indigo Gin
1 oz. guava purée
1 oz. lycée purée
0.75 oz. lemon juice
Tonic water, topper
Method: Build in a mixer with ice and shake vigorously. Strain the chilled cocktail into a Gatsby glass or any Art Deco-style glassware. Top with tonic water and garnish with lemon flower slice.
KINGS & ELDERS
“This cocktail takes the spices found in Hapusa and combines them with honey, ginger, and lime leaf. It’s herbaceous, refreshing, and has a nice bite from the ginger and tonic. It was inspired by my beautiful trip last year to the Indian Himalayas. There, I was exposed to so many amazing, aromatic flavors. Great gin and tonic needs to be refreshing and crushable, and the Indian spices lends itself to both features beautifully.” —Deke Dunne, bar director at Allegory, Washington, D.C.
1.5 oz. Hapusa
1 oz. honey-ginger lime leaf syrup*
1 cup water
2 cups honey
Handful makrut lime leaves
1 cup fresh ginger
0.25 oz. lime juice
3 oz. tonic
*Honey-Ginger Lime Leaf Syrup: Bring a cup of water, a handful of makrut lime leaves, two cups of honey, and a cup of sliced fresh ginger to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Stir regularly. Take the pan off the stove, cover it, and store in the fridge. The longer you let it sit the better. Strain your mixture, bottle, and refrigerate. This should be shelf stable for over a month. And you can reuse the ginger pieces to make candied ginger, so don’t throw them away.
Method: Add the gin, syrup, lime juice, and tonic to a Collins glass over ice. Stir to combine.
CASTLE & KEY GIN & TONIC
“I used to order gin and tonics because I knew it was a universally known cocktail. It wasn’t until I got into the food and beverage space myself that I realized how creative you could get with a G&T. Our Rise Seasonal Gin paired with Jack Rudy Classic Tonic Syrup is one of the most refreshing cocktails to make. The notes of lavender, chamomile, and juniper make you feel like you’re sipping a cocktail on a warm spring day planting your own garden.” —Victoria Haley, bartender and hospitality associate at Castle & Key
1.5 oz. Roots of Ruin Gin
0.5 oz. Jack Rudy Classic Tonic Syrup
3 oz. club soda
Method: Serve over ice and garnish with a lemon peel and dried juniper berries.
GLENDALOUGH ROSE GIN AND TONIC
“Gin is a versatile spirit and can be used to make a variety of delicious, flavorful cocktails. And the most popular gin cocktail is a gin and tonic. I love to make these with Glendalough’s gin and add a slice or wedge of any citrus fruit together with a sprig of fresh rosemary or mint, which helps to really enhance the flavors of the natural wild botanicals we use to produce the gin.” —Ciarán “Rowdy” Rooney, head distiller at Glendalough Distillery
2 oz. Glendalough Rose Gin
Lime wedge, garnish
Mint sprig, garnish
Method: Add rose gin to an ice-filled wine glass. Top with tonic water and garnish with a slice of lime and a fresh sprig of mint.
“Since our London Dry Gin is redistilled from our Old Tom Gin, but has a completely different flavor profile, I highly recommend experimenting with mixing the two birds together. One amazing but simple example is the Gin & Gin & Tonic, which adds a sweet punch to your regular G&T.” —Oskar Eriksson, founder of Himbrimi
2 oz. Himbrimi Winterbird London Dry Gin
2 oz. Himbrimi Old Tom Gin
2 oz. tonic water of your choice
Thyme sprigs, garnish
Rosemary sprigs, garnish
Method: Fill your glass to the top with large ice cubes. Pour over the Winterbird London Dry, followed by the Old Tom. Add tonic water. Stir well with a long-necked spoon. Garnish with angelica flower or lavender for added brightness. Tip: When mixing, always start by serving equal parts of the two gins followed by the tonic. Floral tonics like a Mediterranean tonic or an elderflower tonic complement the gins, but an Indian tonic works great as well—as long as it is not too sweet. Garnish with sprigs of thyme, rosemary, and lavender. Alternatively, if you can get it: some arctic thyme, angelica flowers, or angelica leaves.
ELIXIR OF LIFE: SPANISH GIN & TONIC
“I call my take on a gin and tonic the ‘Elixir of Life’ because many of the ingredients have complex medicinal properties, but also pack vibrant flavor. Just like the drink’s origins, where it was used to protect soldiers from illness in the 1700s, this cocktail blends pleasure and practicality…with a Spanish twist.” —Javier Arroyo, beverage manager at Tabu, Chicago, IL
1.5 oz. Nordes Galician gin
0.5 oz. Lillet Blanc
0.5 oz. Monin pink peppercorn syrup
1.5 oz. Q elderflower tonic
2 lime wedges
Pink peppercorns, garnish
Method: In a wine glass, squeeze 2 lime wedges, then add the pink peppercorn syrup, Lillet, gin, and ice. Top with the tonic. With a spoon, give a little stir and garnish.