Ice and a slice? That’s the traditional bartender’s query when you order a gin and tonic, but it’s 2021 and gin garnishes are much more exciting these days. While a zesty slice of lemon or lime does undeniably give our favourite cocktail a refreshing kick, there’s so much more fun to be had when it comes to choosing garnishes for gin.
Garnishes in alcoholic drinks and cocktails serve an important purpose. The finishing touch to every mixologist’s creation, they’re added to bring a certain aroma, flavour or artistic flair to the drink.
The most common garnishes for cocktails are citrus fruits – either a wedge, slice or wheel.
Another popular technique mixologists use to garnish drinks involves separating the peel of a citrus fruit from the pith to create a ‘twist’, where the oils from the rind flavours and scents the drink itself.
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The battle of the citrus fruits is a much debated one in the gin making industry. The choice between lemon and lime is of course down to personal preference, but a good rule of thumb to remember is that lemon’s sweetness complements classic dry gins, while tart lime provides a pleasant contrast to sweeter gins.
Some of the modern flavoured gins work better with lime because they have fruit syrup or other sweeteners added, so they need that sharpness to balance out the sugar.
Gin and tonic is a classic combination, with the first mention we can find in historic literature dated 1868.
Long before gin got the nickname Mother’s Ruin, gin was taken to aid digestion and it was mixed with tonic water because the quinine helped prevent malaria. Citrus was added to provide a dose of vitamin C, in an effort to fight scurvy. And so the practice of adding lemon or lime to gin and tonic was born – but the cocktails served back then wouldn’t have looked much like the pleasingly fizzy vessel that’s placed before us in bars today. Instead, it was most likely an unappetisingly murky colour!
Still, the healing properties of the gin and tonic helped our favourite tipple go from strength to strength, and eventually the Spanish Tonica was invented. You might recognise this one from trendier bars and it might even be your preferred way to sip a G&T at home. Poured into a goldfish bowl style glass loaded with ice (essential for those long Spanish summers), this refreshing drink is always crowned with an aromatic gin garnish. The garnish used will usually depend on the specific gin and tonic pairing, and is chosen to complement the mixture’s flavours.
There are so many types of gin available in shops, bars, online and elsewhere today. If you’re struggling to work out which garnish to add to your gin cocktail, you need to first determine which type of gin you’re drinking.
London Dry Gins are best complemented by a sweet citrus fruit like lime, lemons, grapefruit or orange – either fresh or dehydrated.
Gins that are already flavoured with citrus work well with fresh herbs such as coriander, basil, thyme or rosemary. All of these herbs are actually used as botanicals in gin production, so they make a great addition to your drink.
If the gin you’ve chosen has floral hints, try adding a refreshing kick with cucumber, edible flowers, citrus peel or berries.
Like your gin with a bit of heat? Gins with spicy notes tend to taste even better when you add more spice! Experiment with cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, orange, peppercorns or fresh peppers.
Savoury Gins can be delicious with other savoury flavours like olives, thyme, rosemary, tomato slices and basil.
Peppermint or spearmint brings a refreshing coolness to gin cocktails. Mint leaves are often used as botanicals in gin making, and they add an aromatic leafiness.
Key lime is used in gin production, so it makes sense that lime is the go-to garnish for many gin lovers. As we’ve already mentioned, lime works best in London Dry Gins.
You’re probably used to using this aromatic Mediterranean herb when cooking, but did you know that rosemary is a popular gin garnish? Its slightly floral flavour complements gin’s resinous juniper notes.
It’s one of the most popular gin botanicals, so of course lemon is also the thing many bartenders reach for when making a gin and tonic. The tart citrus flavour is used in gin cocktails like Aviation and White Lady.
The zesty sweetness of grapefruit and its bitter undertones make a perfect match for gin and tonic. A wedge of grapefruit brings exotic flavours to your favourite drink.
Sing Gin is made with grapes, so why not add more of that flavour to the mix? Frozen grapes allow you to cool your gin and tonic down without diluting it.
Pink or black peppercorns are often used in gin production to lengthen the finish and bring a peppery warmth to the final product. They make a pretty garnish and the red peppercorns have a hint of menthol flavour.
This uncommon gin garnish adds a fragrant floral note with a hint of pine resin, making your drink so delicious, you’ll go to sleep with a smile on your face.
Widely used in perfume and cooking, rose petals add a delicate floral sweetness to gin. They also look very romantic!
Gin and ginger is a pairing that’s been around for years. If you’re keen to experiment with garnishing your drink with ginger, try a pickled slice for a more complex flavour.
Order a bottle of Sing Gin and start experimenting with different gin garnishes now.
What’s your favourite gin garnish? Have we mentioned it here? Let us know – and bookmark this guide to the tastiest garnishes for gin and come back to it on your next cocktail night!
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