Scientist reveals the formula for the perfect gin and tonic with the best garnish, ice and glass
Do you consider yourself a master at making gin and tonic? The truth is, you may be focusing on the wrong things.
According to a food scientist, perfecting the country’s favorite cocktail isn’t just about the right proportion of ingredients, but also the shape of the glass, the temperature and what you ate for lunch.
Natalie Alibrandi, a food industry consultant from the UK, found that a crescent-shaped ice cube is essential to ensure it melts as slowly as possible so as not to dilute the drink.
A colder drink reduces the pungent aftertaste of the alcohol, she claims, and a cheese board pairs best with the taste of a classic London Dry gin.
A colder drink reduces the sharp aftertaste of the alcohol in a gin and tonic cocktail
Natalie Alibrandi (pictured), a food industry consultant, found that the type of glass, ice, garnish, and even when the drink is served can all make a big difference to the taste of a gin and tonic
The optimal ice shape in a gin and tonic is crescent, which holds its shape longer than a cube and melts more slowly so as not to dilute the cocktail as you drink it
THE RECIPE IN 10 STEPS FOR A PERFECT G&T
- cool your gin
- Chill a Copa de Balon glass
- Chill tonic water
- Make fresh crescent-shaped ice cubes
- Use small units of tonic water with a higher carbonation from a can or glass bottle
- Fill the chilled glass to the brim with fresh ice cubes
- Pour 50 ml of cooled London Dry Gin into the glass
- Pour 150 ml of chilled tonic water into the glass
- Garnish with a piece of lemongrass, dried mango and a sprig of pine tree
- Stir gently and enjoy within 30 minutes
A cold gin and tonic cocktail numbs the taste buds and provides a softer tasting alcohol instead of a sharp bite in the aftertaste
The ideal container for the drink is the Copa de Balon, or balloon gin glass, which has a spherical shape and a thin stem, Alibrandi claims in a study commissioned by distillery company Quintessential Brands.
The large volume can hold a lot of ice, while the handle is designed to keep warm hands away from the cup, so the ice doesn’t melt.
The balloon shape allows botanical aromas and vapors to be retained in the glass, for a more aromatic drinking experience for the palate and nose.
When it comes to tonic water, you can’t skimp on quality, according to Alibrandi.
She said: ‘A tonic water with a higher carbonation is best, so check the label.
“A carbonation level of 4.5 CO₂ is ideal, as a lower carbonation has lower CO₂ retention and loses the desired bubbles and mouthfeel over time.
‘By choosing tonic water with a carbon dioxide content of 4.5, it is stable for a long time, so you can enjoy your G&T for longer.’
Large plastic bottles do not retain the carbonation of the liquid as well as cans or glass bottles, and they tend to be more permeable to air.
The single use recyclable mini cans or glass bottles will produce the optimal drink as the more times the container is opened, the more bubbles are lost.
The tonic should be added slowly and never stirred more than twice or you risk losing the fizz too quickly.
The perfect drink even boils down to the ice, which must come from fresh water and be recently frozen to give the best flavor.
It’s also important that the ice melts slowly and doesn’t dilute the cocktail, so the more ice cubes the better.
The tonic should be slowly poured into the gin and the cocktail should never be stirred more than twice or you risk losing the fizz too quickly.
IDEAL G&T MEASUREMENTS
Glass content = 500 – 800 ml
Glass stem length = 9.5 – 12.5 cm
Glass edge diameter = 75 – 95 mm
Ice = 0.5 x 1.13 x 1.5 inches (Sickle-shaped)
Tonic carbonation = 4.5 CO₂
Tonic-to-Gin Ratio = 3:1
Gin temperature = -18ºC
Glass temperature = -4ºC
Tonic water temperature = 5ºC
Number of stirs = Maximum two
The shape of the ice is also essential – the larger its surface area, the faster it melts, as more of it is exposed to the warmer liquid.
While the most common ice shape is a cube or cube that is easily made in ice trays, it has a large surface-to-volume ratio and melts faster.
The optimal ice cream shape is crescent, which is much firmer, so holds its shape longer and melts more slowly.
It is also slimmer than rectangular ice cubes, which means there is more ice in the glass.
The temperature of the liquid is also significant and to prevent the ice from melting too quickly, it should be kept as cool as possible.
The gin is ideally kept in the freezer with the glass chilled and ice freshly frozen
A cold drink numbs the taste buds and creates a smoother tasting alcohol instead of a sharp bite in the aftertaste.
Gin contains terpenoid compounds that are responsible for its complex flavor profile.
Terpenes are the odor molecules found in plants that contribute to the unique aroma and flavor profiles of several ingredients, including gin.
Alibrandi found that the most common terpenes in London Dry Gin were best complemented by the unusual garnish combination of mango and pine – aside from the traditional lime wedge.
She said: ‘The optimal drinking weather is at 21ºC and above – not too hot to melt your drink, but warm enough for the G&T to be cooling and refreshing.
‘In order for a gin and tonic to be enjoyed, taking all variables into account, it must be consumed within 30 minutes.
“The carbonation level will have dropped by almost half after 30 minutes, while the ice is likely to melt within 15-20 minutes.”
THE BEST FOOD WITH A G&T
Floral or fruity gin – Citrus dessert
eg chamomile and lemon baked apples
Spiced gin – Savory dish
e.g. salmon or a herb-based pasta dish
London Dry gin – Cheese board
e.g. smoked Gouda
She adds that it’s also important not to drink your cocktail through a straw, as sipping from the glass adds more aroma and enhances the experience.
While many of us like to enjoy a G&T as our first drink to start an evening, Alibrandi says don’t skip lunch beforehand to enjoy it to the fullest.
She said: ‘A neutral palette is best for enjoying the complex flavors of a G&T and it should always be drunk responsibly for optimal enjoyment.
“You should not drink on an empty stomach because of the speed at which it passes through your stomach and enters the small intestine and be careful not to drink it too quickly.”
The perfect food to enjoy alongside your drink depends on the flavor profile of your gin of choice.
A floral or fruity gin goes well with citrus flavors as they enhance the refreshing notes and the terpenes in the gin.
Spiced gin usually contains the terpene Myrcene, which goes well with savory dishes as they enhance the herbal and citrus notes.
For a classic London dry gin, a strong, smoky cheese board offers the ultimate combination.
The contrasting flavors of the cheese and the gin work as an excellent combination and the bitterness of the tonic acts as a refreshing palette cleanser for maximum enjoyment.
Joanne Moore, Gin Master Distiller at Quintessential Brands, says: ‘A G&T is the number one alcoholic drink in the UK for a reason, but the way it’s served can really take it from tasty enough to excellent.
“We’ve been making gin since 1761 and we want consumers to get the most out of our award-winning gins.
“It was very interesting to see how this formula enhances the taste of our BLOOM, OPIHR and Greenall’s gins, so that all drinkers, whether they are novice aficionados or gin aficionados, can enjoy the best possible quality G&T in the comfort of their own house.’