how to mess up a gin + tonic : rare tonic tasting

There is no drink I'm more passionate about than the gin + tonic. 

It's a simple enough drink, but I always have to supress laughter when someone says, "How can you mess it up?" Oh, person, let me count the ways. Starting with the most common.

1. You can put lemon in it. No, no, no! Okay, so there are plenty of feuding camps on this, but to my tastes, a lime is almost always the best choice. A broad swath of lime skin, with just a bit of innards to get a few drops of juice in your drink, is the way to go. Why not lemon? With the gins I tend to drink, lime tastes better. Sorry if you gin + tonic inventors didn't have limes back then, but there's no sense in turning your back on innovation.

2. You can use too much tonic. Hint: if you ever use an entire bottle of tonic, your have either used too much or you are drinking a Big Gulp size g+t. My preferred g:t ratio is 2:3. And err on the side of 1:1 if necessary.

3. You use boring gin. A blah gin makes a blah drink when there are only three ingredients. I like Hendrick's the best. Another great gin is G'Vine, from France and widely available here in San Sebastián. 

4. You do things in the wrong order. Okay, disclaimer time. I'm NOT a certified mixologist. But my preferred order of doing things is: ice cubes (3-4), gin, lime, tonic, shake lightly, drink. My very unscientific research has taught me that this cools more efficiently and the need to stir is reduced because the tonic fizzes like crazy upon pouring.

5. You use yucky tonic. Here's the kicker. Because good tonics are NOT widely available. Schweppe's is not good tonic. It's okay tonic, and you'll be able to tell the difference when you try a great one.

Which brings me to my point... a tasting of the world's rarest tonics. I was able to round these up here, to my surprise. Also to my surprise, the final verdict was, well, the same as the one I started out with.

boylan's tonic:: with gin? NO. by itself? maybe. sweetened, too much, with cane syrup. fuhgedaboutit.

abbondi::with gin? NO. by itself? even less so. as sweet, if not sweeter than Sprite, this Italian tonic is not for gin. not really sure what it's for.

fentimann's:: another NO for a g+t, but a fairly hearty yes for general refreshment purposes. This English tonic was spicier than its brethren, making for a pleasant (solo) sip. 

Q tonic:: feel sort of sorry for this guy. OVERRATED. This was the most expensive of the bunch, around 4 euros for ONE bottle. Price aside, it was not horrible, but for my tastes it is too sweet. perhaps it is the agave nectar that gives this one a different edge. props for the artisan tonic...but... 

1724:: a 'concept' tonic, promoted for its unique connection to the mountains of South America where quinine originated, this one's not bad. passable.

6 o'clock::this was my favorite of the tonics that were new to me, although one tonic did beat it out in this particular tasting. it was not too sweet, which i really like. the carbonation was perfect. a good tonic.

fever-tree::ah, Fever-tree. The darling of Imbibers Who Care worldwide, from Boucherie in New Orleans to Vinateria en Donostia. Only slightly sweet, citrusy, never overpowering. Just wonderful. Drink in gallons. 

This taste test, of course, does not include my personal favorite tonic-of-all-time, stirring's, since it's too rare for even me to get my hands on here. I used to have to buy it off a bartender at Bottega. Sea salt, champagne bubbles, yum. 

Until my return, I'm sticking with Fevertree en casa, continuing to order gin and tonics with half the bottle when out, and doing my best to ignore bartender glares.