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The Best Gin for Gin and Tonic

The Best Gin for Gin and Tonic

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction: The gin and tonic rose to prominence in India at the height of British Imperialism to encourage English colonizers to consume quinine, an antimalarial derived from the bark of the cinchona tree. To make the bitter compound palatable, the story goes, the Brits combined their daily supplement with sugar and water, in a mix that the Schweppes company would eventually go on to label “Indian Tonic Water.” Obviously, the addition of gin helped the medicine go down in a far more delightful way. 

Nearly two centuries later, this bright and zesty classic remains a staple at home bars and cocktail dens around the globe. Sales of the drink’s two main ingredients are still in the hundreds of millions. 

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In 2022, tonic water sales in the United States reached over $900 million, a figure expected to skyrocket to over $1,456 million by 2030, according to Data Bridge Market Research. In 2023, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States found that close to 9 million cases of gin were sold in the U.S., generating more than $1 billion in revenue for distillers.  

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As part of that growth, there have been an increased number of tonic waters designed especially to enliven the two-ingredient cocktail even further “with additional flavorings like yuzu or elderflower,” says Wine Enthusiast spirits reviewer Kara Newman. “I have seen tonics made specifically for G&Ts, some with botanicals to complement a specific gin.” 

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While the opposite isn’t true—Newman doesn’t know of gins made specifically for the two-ingredient cocktail—she notes that “a wide range of gins work well with tonic water, especially those with bright citrus, pine-like juniper or fresh herb notes.” 

It’s hard to go wrong (aside from “mixing barrel-aged gins with tonic water,” says Newman), but we figured it was time to make it even easier to do the G&T right. From classic London Dry gins that “are particularly harmonious” to “brisk and crisp” selections with lots of citrus, and even, a novelty pick that changes color when tonic is added, read on to learn all about the best gins for a gin and tonic. 

Best Overall Gin for a G&T: Tanqueray No. Ten Gin 

Tanqueray No. Ten Gin

More citrus-forward than the standard Tanqeray Dry bottling, this is gin-and-tonic perfection. The classic aroma features juniper and touches of mint, anise and coriander. The same is echoed on the palate, though it’s also bursting with grapefruit and lemon peel, finishing soft and herbaceous but perked up with a white peppercorn spark. The No. Ten also has a new art deco-inspired bottle, making it a particularly gift-worthy choice for summer party-goers. 96 Points — Kara Newman 

Total Wine

Best Citrus-Forward Gin for a G&T: Gin de Las Californias Citrico  

This refreshing gin delivers on the citrus promised in its name, unfolding nuanced layers of bright lemon, tangerine and kumquat on nose and palate. Grapefruit peel and coriander perfume the exhale. Made with a sugar cane base. Best Buy. 95 Points— Kara Newman 

Total Wine

Best Craft Gin for a Gin and Tonic: Fort Hamilton New World Dry Gin 

Fort Hamilton New World Dry Gin

Made with a corn base and distilled with “cannonball” watermelon and cucumber, this gin is ideal for mixing into summery highballs. The cucumber and melon aroma is fresh and inviting and delivers on the palate with mild melon flavor and a long, cucumber-y exhale accented with cayenne and white pepper glow. 92 Points — Kara Newman 

Delancey Wine

Best Budget Gin for a Gin and Tonic: Constant Reader Gin 

Best Splurge Gin for a Gin and Tonic: Procera Gin 

Procera Gin

Distilled in Kenya and made from fresh (not dried) juniper plus a dozen other botanicals from Africa, this gin has a delicate floral aroma and clean, brisk palate. Mild coriander, lavender and lemon peel make an ideal backdrop for Martinis and more. 95 Points — Kara Newman 

Hurley Wine & Liquor Market

Best Novelty Gin for a Gin and Tonic: Empress 1908 Gin 

Empress 1908 Gin

This gin is vivid indigo-blue, thanks to an infusion of butterfly pea blossoms, and transforms to an attractive pink hue as tonic or citrus are added. The aroma is relatively neutral and the palate is mild and malty, with hints of coriander, orris root and white pepper. But it’s really all about the eye-popping blue color and all the party tricks that can be performed with this gin. 90 Points — Kara Newman 

Total Wine

Most Versatile Gin for a Gin and Tonic: Boatyard Double Gin   

Best Flavored Gin for a Gin and Tonic: Four Pillars Fresh Yuzu Gin  

Four Pillars Fresh Yuzu Gin

Mild lemongrass and pine aromas lead the nose. The palate treads lightly with mild lemon and lime. Fleeting lemon-sugar sweetness winds into a fiery pink peppercorn exhale. Botanicals include yuzu, ginger, turmeric and sencha genmaicha (Japanese green tea with roasted brown rice). 93 Points — Kara Newman 


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