In recent history, the Gin and Tonic has somehow made its way back into the realm of ‘acceptable’ at cocktail bars and parties. I’m here to clarify—the Gin and Tonic is the best worst drink at the bar. Why do I say this? Because it’s reliable, cheap, but is still, at the end of the day, a basic well drink. It’s the only drink that you can condense into two letters, yell at a bartender over a chaotic club, and they’ll be like, ‘gotcha.’ It has its purposes.
I know some people who try to spice things up by adding cucumber or strawberries to the mix, but honestly, they need to settle down. My boss has a single gin that he designates as ‘his’ gin for ‘his’ gin-tonics, and there’s nothing worse. (kidding)
Learning some tricks for your ordering game is imperative for clambering up that social ladder, because 1. The bartender may not know it, and then you have something to yammer about while they google how to make one. 2. People stare at you in awe. 3. The only genuine reason: there’s nothing satisfying about having that bedrock drink for every night you go out, especially when it’s a G & T.
So, here are four alternate gin cocktails, barring any occasion that comes up.
Out of the four, the Gin Rickey is the mysterious one. The one that rings a bell somewhere far off, but no, your friends have never tried it. It’s best reserved for that hipster pub that prides itself on its cocktails. They may serve truffle mac and cheese and have an actual fireplace. With a tart taste from muddled lime, and a refreshing finish, the Gin Rickey is just a nuance away from your old pal the G & T.
1 1/2 ounces of Gin 1 lime
Club soda Simple syrup to taste
With a highball glass of ice, begin by adding Gin. Juice the lime, add and drop in the peels. Top off with Club Soda. Add simple syrup and stir to taste.
The Gimlet is the regal one, reserved for upscale cocktail houses where you probably won’t see me. It’s exotic, great for catching up with friends that are visiting town, and emphasizing how much you’ve changed since moving to the big city. Served in a true cocktail glass, this emerald of a drink leaves no mystery to why it was Betty Draper’s go-to. The taste is strong, and tart, best had in small sips.
2 ounces gin 1/2 ounce lime juice
1 lime wedge
The eldest of the four, the Tom Collins is considered one of the original cocktails. This means that unless you have an experienced vet behind the bar, it’ll turn out nearly unpalatable. So save this for a bar that you trust. It’s also suited for your friend who uses the verb ‘imbibe.’ You can pontificate your pretensions to each other. The drink can vary from sweet, to sour, to strong depending on how your bartender makes it.
2 ounces gin 3 ounces club soda
1 ounce lemon juice 1 teaspoon sugar
1 maraschino cherry 1 orange wedge
In an iced shaker, add gin, lemon juice, and sugar. Shake, and strain into a collins glass 3/4 full of ice cubes. Top of with club soda and stir. Drop the cherry and garnish with the orange.
Gin and champagne. This drink was created for after-works when you’ve accomplished something big, and find it superfluous to go home before reconvening to celebrate. Try that coveted Midtown bar, and splurge. Your french friend will deny it’s of their descent, that is until they’ve tried it. This drink is the smoothest of the four, and is by far the most festive.
1 1/2 ounces of Gin 2 teaspoons of sugar
1 1/2 ounces of lemon juice 4 ounces of chilled champagne
Orange slice for garnish
Shake Gin, sugar and lemon juice and pour into a Collins glass.
Top off the glass with champagne, stir and garnish.