There’s only one real rule when you’re choosing a mixer for gin and it’s that it must get on well with juniper. The juniper berry is present in all gin and has a pine-like, resinous flavour that gives gin its taste. Although pairing well with juniper is the only hard and fast rule, there are other things you should take into account when choosing a gin mixer.
For example, which botanicals are used in the gin you’re drinking? You’ll want to pick a gin mixer that will enhance rather than clash with them. What type of gin are you drinking? What does the gin itself taste like? With complex flavours ranging from floral to spiced, not every gin bonds with every mixer on the market. You may have to conduct some taste tests to find your ideal combination! What a shame, eh?
Although gin can absolutely be sipped neat, you can have a lot of fun experimenting with different gin mixers. The classic combination is of course the gin and tonic. You can read about how gin got so popular in England for more information about how this iconic pairing came together.
The elderberry bush grows wild in the countryside throughout Europe and the UK. The bush produces tiny purplish black berries but it’s the cluster of honey-scented flowers, not the berries, that give elderflower liqueur its flavour. The scent of elderflower is wonderfully aromatic and conjures up visuals of a meadow in bloom.
To make this delicately flavoured combination, you can buy carbonated elderflower or make your own by combining elderflower cordial with sparkling water. The subtle flavours make gin mixed with elderflower a refreshing alcoholic drink for a hot day.
Did you know that gin and gingerbread is one of the first recorded alcohol and food pairings? It first appeared at the London Frost Fairs of the 1800s. You can learn more about gin and ginger’s love story in our blog post.
If you like a dry drink, ginger ale or ginger beer makes an ideal gin mixer. It works especially well with big-flavoured gins that you’d like to tone down a little. Because it’s spicy rather than floral, it can stand up to bold flavours often found in gin. Look for gins made with spices if you’d like to try gin and ginger.
Vermouth is made of wine fortified with alcohol, along with wormwood, herbs and sugar. It’s bottled at 14.5 to 22 % ABV.
The tale of gin and vermouth’s marriage is as old as time, with famous martini drinkers like James Bond making the classic cocktail a staple in bars all over the world. These days, there are lots of different vermouths on the market, so you can really experiment with this pairing. Technically, the aromatised wine shouldn’t be called a mixer because vermouth is alcoholic, but we just had to include vermouth in our list! It’s not a combination for the novice gin drinker though – be warned.
Gin and lime is another coupling that we can thank the boozy British navy for – so naturally, this mixer should be paired with Old Navy Strength gin! The backbone of a Gimlet and a Gin Rickey, limes have been mixed with gin ever since the days of scurvy, to provide a much-needed hit of vitamin C. These days, you should still try to use fresh limes wherever possible.
Lime can be very sharp, so go easy – most cocktails use a 2:1 or even 3:1 gin-to-lime ratio, and are often sweetened with simple syrup or liqueur. The most popular way to drink gin with lime is to top it up with soda water, creating a low calorie ‘healthy’ gin mixer.
Marketed in the 20th century as ‘the soft drink for adults’, the tang of bitter lemon isn’t as bitter as you might expect. Since gin pairs beautifully with citrus fruits, this is a no-brainer. It’s a refreshing alternative to tonic for those who don’t love the taste of gin’s classic bedfellow.
Just like tonic water, Bitter Lemon was created to ward off malaria in 19th century colonial Africa. Water, lemon juice and quinine were mixed into a drink that protected against the disease while cooling people down. These days, this concoction looks pretty cool under the UV lights in a nightclub – the colour makes it almost fluorescent!
One for the purists! The clean, slightly mineral taste of soda water gives a gin drink the fizz and energy many crave, without adding anything detectable to the taste. Soda water is the mixer to go for if you want to let a particularly beautiful gin shine. All this gin mixer needs is a slice of fresh lemon and you’re good to go.
We recommend opting for a high quality soda water made from spring water. Gin and soda water is another low calorie mixer for gin, so it’s perfect if you’re trying to cut down on sugar.
It’s a well-known fact that people who say they don’t like gin usually just don’t like the taste of tonic. If you have a sweet tooth, lemonade should be your go-to mixer for gin. The good news is you don’t have to stop at the manufacturers recipes – you can experiment with flavoured lemonades, homemade, cloudy lemonade or add fresh berries for a more complex flavour.
The rose-tinted flavour of pink lemonade complements floral gins, and we recommend always opting for a high quality lemonade mixer that will let the gin’s complex flavours shine through.
Grapefruit and lemon flavoured seltzers make excellent gin mixers. Unlike club soda, seltzer has no sweeteners or flavours added, so it’s a healthy gin mixer.
Grapefruit’s acidity and slight bitterness means it pairs especially well with any gin that has grapefruit among its botanical notes. It lends gin a tart sweetness that lets gin’s own citrus notes shine. If you’re keen to sample this gin mixer but you’re worried about the tartness, try salting the rim of your glass. The salt helps to tone down the grapefruit’s inherent bitterness.
Looking to get even more creative? Try red grapefruit juice, which is made with the ripest Spanish pink grapefruits and used to make a Paloma cocktail.
You’ve probably tried vodka cranberry, but have you thought of mixing this delightfully ruby-red juice with gin? Similar to grapefruit in its tartness, cranberry juice is another healthy mixer for gin. That’s providing you choose a brand of cranberry juice that doesn’t have a lot of added sugar, of course.
Fill a fishbowl gin glass with ice, a shot of Sing Gin and top up with good quality cranberry juice then garnish with lime for a truly refreshing drink.
Sorry, are we really suggesting you combine your two favourite things? Yes, we are! Cold-pressed coffee complements gin particularly well. Because coffee has an overpowering flavour, it can neutralise some of the flavours in gin. On the other hand, the botanicals in some gins can enhance coffee’s highlight notes.
Could we get anymore English right now? People in England love their tea almost as much as we love our gin, so it was only right we included Earl Grey on this list of gin mixers to try.
Cool a strong pot of Earl Grey in the fridge then use in a cocktail shaker as a secret ingredient. The famously floral brew will play with the botanical notes of any high quality craft gin, creating a truly special alcoholic iced tea. You can even sweeten the cocktail with honey and garnish with fresh mint or lavender for a more indulgent drink reminiscent of an English garden.
Whichever mixer you choose, it is always best to make sure that you serve the drink ice cold. At room temperature, many of the mixers and the flavours they possess will lack impact and could be actively off-putting, whereas the difference made by being a few degrees chillier will be tangible.
Another thing to keep in mind is that different gins work well with different mixers, as touched upon briefly above. If a gin has been carefully crafted with a bevy of exotic botanicals, choosing a less domineering mixer is ultimately the right choice. If a gin is more basic, you can stretch yourself and test the waters with more outlandish mixers without putting anything on the line.
As you’ll see, there are a variety of different styles to choose from. Some mixers have powerful flavours that mostly hide the subtleties of the gin that you’re using. Other mixers have more nuanced flavours, giving you the chance to experience more of the gin.
For that matter, using expensive gin or craft gin with a strong mixer is just a waste, as the nuances of the gin will be lost. If the gin is expensive or complex, try a mild mixer.
Don’t forget that you can also utilise ingredients like honey, jam and marmalade in your cocktail recipes, adding another layer of expertise to your drinks.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of common mixers for gin that are not tonic, along with a few of the less usual pairings that could give you pause for thought or even lead you to discover your new favourite drink.
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