It’s no surprise that the Gin and Tonic is one of the most revered cocktails. It’s refreshing, simple to make, and easy to modify with syrups, spices, bitters and fruit. But when you’re not in the mood for a good old G&T, it’s easy to repurpose your gin into everything from Negronis to Gimlets. That tonic water, however, will most likely languish at the back of your fridge for weeks and end up going flat. But that doesn’t have to happen. Whether or not you’re in the mood to pair it with gin, tonic is one of the most versatile mixers on the market. Its quinine-infused effervescence can transform a surprising number of spirits into incredible, refreshing cocktails.
Still a skeptic? Here are five spirits to mix with tonic that could very well become your new go-to refresher.
Blanco Tequila & Tonic
Already an incredibly versatile spirit that can be sipped neat and mixed into cocktails, blanco tequila pairs beautifully with tonic’s bitter qualities. The sweet and vegetal notes often found in the unaged agave spirit not only shine through when mixed with tonic, but also lift and lighten the flavor of the quinine. A proportion of one part tequila to two parts tonic is lovely, and while it really doesn’t need anything else, a hearty squeeze of lime or orange will add a welcome burst of fresh acidity—or you could just use a lemon or lime infused tonic from the get-go.
Amaro & Tonic
Pairing a bitter mixer with a bitter amaro might sound counterintuitive, but the combination works wonders—and after you’ve tried it, you’ll probably be wondering where it’s been all your life. It’s common practice in Italy to use a bittersweet amari—like Averna and Cynar—to mix with tonic. A heavy liqueur benefits from its effervescent texture to create a drink that’s uplifting and packed with flavor. In this case at least, more is more.
Dark Rum & Tonic
If your biggest gripe with the Gin and Tonic is that it’s too bitter or too botanical, swapping out that London Dry for a rich dark rum flecked with sweetness might be the answer. Many dark rums (aka black rums) have a rich, powerful flavor—think notes of brown sugar, baking spices, and vanilla. It complements tonic’s bitterness beautifully, particularly with a squeeze of zesty lime.
Bourbon & Tonic
If you balk at the idea of topping a glass of bourbon with a splash (or two) of tonic, this combination might not be for you—but it never hurts to try, right? The key is using a bourbon that’s got enough backbone to stand up to mixers and also won’t break the bank. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic mid-range bourbons that meet that mark. Mix with tonic (and a touch of lemon if you feel so inclined) for a crisp, soothing treat perfect for summertime.
Flavored Vodka & Tonic
Sure, everyone’s heard of a Vodka-Tonic, but oftentimes these simple drinks fall short on flavor. So if you’re a fan of vodka and want to make this combo work well for you, either: add something for aroma and flavor, like fresh herbs, citrus or some cracked peppercorns (trust us, it’s delicious); or opt for a vodka that has a little more going on. Of course, we wouldn’t recommend that you reach for a flavor like strawberry shortcake to mix with tonic. A vodka infused with subtle and natural flavors, however, makes a pretty darn delicious drink, whether you go for a hint of hot pepper or a whisper of garden herb.
Ready to find the perfect spirit to mix with tonic?