A crisp refreshing blend of botanical gin, Indian tonic water, with a hint of zesty lime, this classic gin and tonic is served in a tall glass over crushed ice.

Gin and Tonic in a clear glass with lime slices, another glass in the background, and a bottle of gin.

Often referred to as a G & T, a classic gin and tonic is a widely popular cocktail that is familiar to most people. There are lots of variations but today I’m going to talk about the classic G & T with simple ingredients: gin, tonic water, lime wedges, and ice. 

What’s tonic water? Tonic water has an interesting history. It contains quinine, a bitter substance that comes from the bark of the cinchona tree, which was originally used as a tonic to treat malaria. Quinine was eventually mixed with water and sugar to make it more palatable, and tonic water was born. Today’s tonic water is a carbonated soft drink with quinine, sweetened with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners. 

Overhead view of two G&T cocktails.

About this gin and tonic recipe:

You may be wondering what type of gin to buy. Faced with a huge array of gin at the grocery store, making a choice can be a little overwhelming. 

For a classic G & T, use a London Dry Gin, such as Tanqueray, which has a strong classic juniper berry flavor. Plymouth Gin is great, too, leaning more into the florals. Or try a new wave gin, such as Hendrick’s, for a more spa-like flavor with cucumber.

There are loads of other choices, especially now that local distilleries are becoming more popular. Small batch distillers may add local produce, herbs, or spices to gin for exciting flavor combinations. Many small distilleries have tasting rooms where you can try artisanal spirits before you make your purchase.

How about tonic? Try Indian tonic water, such as Fever Tree. It’s made with real sugar as opposed to corn syrup or other sweeteners, and it’s infused with additional botanicals. It’s pretty readily available in grocery stores. 

Buy small bottles of tonic that you can use up quickly. Flat tonic that has lost its carbonation is kind of awful. Don’t ruin your drink by using bad tonic.

What type of ice is best for a G & T? Any kind of ice is fine. Make sure it’s fresh ice and there’s lots of it. Try crushed or nugget ice for gin and tonics.

Two cocktails in a festive setting.

What kind of glass do you use for a gin and tonic?

The best gin and tonic is served in a tall highball glass (as pictured); otherwise known as a Tom Collins glass, holding eight to twelve ounces.

Only have a lowball glass, also called a rocks glass or old fashioned glass? Since a lowball glass is smaller, only four to six ounces, you’ll probably have to use less ice and halve the amount of gin and tonic. Basically, just make a smaller drink!

Maybe you’d like to try the new trend for a G & T: Serve it in a balloon glass, a stemmed glass with a large bowl, pretty similar to a red wine glass.

Straw or no straw? Totally up to you!

Gin being poured into a glass, a bottle of gin and a bottle of tonic pictured in the background.

What’s in a Gin & Tonic?

  • Gin
  • Tonic water
  • Lime wedges
  • Lots of ice 

Tonic water being poured into a glass with ice and lime.

How to make this classic G & T your own:

When you change anything in a “classic” gin and tonic, I’d say it’s no longer a classic. However, that being said, here’s a few variations:

  • Increase/decrease the amount of gin. If you prefer a drink with less alcohol, use more tonic water and less gin.
  • Substitute vodka for the gin to make a vodka tonic, if you prefer.
  • Use lemon wedges in place of lime, or don’t add citrus at all. Cucumber slices are commonly used instead of or with lime as a garnish.
  • If you like a lot of lime flavor, squeeze lime juice into the G & T or run a lime wedge on the rim of the glass. 

Two cocktail glasses being clinked together in a "cheers."

Storage and Make Ahead Tips

Since this is such a simple drink to prepare, make individual drinks right before serving. Make sure both the gin and tonic water are chilled and you have lots of ice.

Tip: Chill the glass for an extra cold drink.

Beautiful cocktails made with gin and tonic water and lime.

 

Cocktail hour

It’s five o’clock somewhere! If you’re looking for more cocktail ideas, try:

 

Overhead view of two cocktails with limes.

Beautiful cocktails made with gin and tonic water and lime.

Classic Gin and Tonic Recipe - tips to make the best!

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes

A crisp refreshing blend of botanical gin, Indian tonic water, with a hint of zesty lime, this classic gin and tonic is served in a tall glass over crushed ice.

Ingredients

  • Ice (see note)
  • 3 lime slices, divided
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 4 ounces Indian tonic water

Instructions

  1. Fill a tall glass about ¾ of the way with ice and add 2 lime slices to the glass.
  2. Pour in the gin and top with tonic water. 
  3. Garnish with an additional lime slice and serve with a straw, if desired.

Notes

  • We recommend crushed or nugget ice, but regular ice cubes are fine too, just make sure there’s a lot of it!
  • In place of gin, substitute vodka to make a vodka tonic.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 cocktail
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 230Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 20mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 6gSugar: 14gProtein: 1g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

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