Spain is famous for its love of gin tonic--and no, I didn't forget the "and" in "gin & tonic." The Spanish simply forget the "and" and go straight for the tonic. It seems only fitting that since I am both visiting Spain and love a good G&T that I should learn more about Spain's obsession with the drink--and how to make a perfect one! So here's what I've learned so far:
1. They like their ice cubes big. Bigger ice cubes mean the drink won't melt into tastelessness in the blink of an eye and the drink will stay cooler longer.
2. Choose good gin. This should be a no-brainer. The quality of a drink is dependent on its ingredients. I use to order G&Ts at bars because they are hard to mess up--but now I realize you really can taste the difference between a cheap well gin and a solid one. I recommend the inexpensive New Amsterdam gin for those of you who like a more citrus forward gin reminiscent of vodka. If you are looking to splurge a little, Hendrick's gin offers a wonderful botanical element to your drink.
3. Use quality tonic water. This means avoiding tonic water with fake sugar--another seemingly obvious rule, but one that is often overlooked. Real sugar preserves the taste and frankly, is actually safer for you to drink than artificial sweeteners. A good, but more expensive brand is Fever-tree, which doesn't have any artificial sweeteners or preservatives. For a less expensive option, try Hansen's Natural Tonic, sweetened with natural sugar cane and containing no preservatives.
4. Don't over think the garnishes, according to the Spanish. Lime is always the best option. While they like to add a little flair to the gin tonics with interesting flavors like lavender, they suggest that you shouldn't overload your drink with too many garnishes. It's a drink, not a salad!
5. Keep it simple. Sure there are lots of fun twists on this classic drink, including my Grape-Lime G&T. Just don't get so caught up on the flavor riffs that you lose sight of the basic flavor profile of a good drink: the bright flavor of the lime, the floral kick of the gin, and the bitter tang of the tonic's quinine.
Most of all, take some time to sit in the sun and enjoy your drink!
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