Remember when the main gin garnish debate was whether lemon or lime was the better option?
How far we’ve come since then. Today – influenced in part by garnish-heavy Spanish G&T culture – it’s become the fashion to top up your tipple with all manner of culinary and botanical ingredients. From herbs and spices to fruit and vegetables, seemingly nothing’s off-limits for the adventurous home bartender who is looking for creative gin cocktail recipes.
Grab a Copa de Balon glass (whilst we opt for a highball glass for the perfect G&T, a wide goblet Copa de Balon glass gives your unusual garnishes room to infuse), a bottle of our London Dry Gin and some chilled, premium tonic water, and read up on these unusual gin and tonic garnishes. It’s the fastest way to give your G&T a personality of its own.
Lavender is so much more than your auntie’s preferred soap scent. In moderation, lavender is warm and wildly aromatic – the perfect choice if you like your gin and tonic on the floral side. Take it one step further with edible flowers for a visually impressive garnish.
Powerful, robust rosemary adds a deliciously savoury note to any G&T. Thanks to the herb’s piney flavour profile, it also plays very well alongside the juniper. Find our Botanical G&T recipe here for a delightful twist on the classic G&T.
3. CINNAMON STICKS
The sweet spice of cinnamon is a potent flavour addition to your G&T, so be sure you’re using a gin that can hold its own, such as our London Dry Gin. Just don’t be tempted to use your cinnamon as a swizzle stick – you don’t want your G&T becoming under-carbonated after a few idle stirs.
Peppercorns are commonly seen in Spanish G&Ts, bobbing amidst the ice cubes. A kitchen essential; you can opt for a black peppercorns for a savoury kick (paired with strawberries for a summery twist); or opt for the numbing heat of Sichuan peppercorns for a truly unusual gin and tonic garnish.
5. STAR ANISE
Not only is star anise an incredibly versatile spice – it works well in both sweet and savoury contexts, and has a bit of a menthol kick to it – but it’s also one of the prettiest. Throw a few in your glass for a G&T that’s pretty as a picture.
Some detractors have accused Spanish-style G&Ts of looking like salads, and the addition of tomatoes won’t do anything to convince them otherwise. But, when paired with a few basil leaves (slapped against the back of your hand to release aroma), nothing is more summery. The perfect accompaniment to a summer salad, sipped al fresco.
7. LEMON THYME
If you’re a sipper who’s always come down on the lemon side in the great garnish debate, then consider adding a few sprigs of lemon thyme to your G&T. The end result should be equal parts lemony and herbaceous.
8. VANILLA PODS
Save this one for a special occasion. Vanilla works well with gins that have luscious, buttery mouthfeels – and adds both sweetness and sophistication to a G&T.
After a G&T that’s lightly sweet, delicate, and floral? Apple should be your garnish of choice, arranged in a delicate fan. Be sure to spritz with a bit of lemon juice to prevent it from browning. A fanned apple also makes a perfect garnish in your Gin & (Apple) Juice, found on page 185 of SIP, our Gin Cocktail Book.
Add a touch of exoticism to your G&T with a few lemongrass stalks (strip away the tough exterior layers to reveal the tender and fragrant core). Complement with a handful of coriander for an extra dose of freshness.
11. PINK GRAPEFRUIT
Grapefruit may be the most delicious citrus fruit of all in a G&T (after lime, of course): you’ve got sweetness, acidity, and a hint of bitterness that perfectly plays off your tonic.
Strawberry isn’t just a delicious gin garnish on its own – it also plays well with a number of other ingredients, from basil and pepper to elderflower and mint. Choose your own combination – there are no wrong answers.
13. JUNIPER BERRIES
If you’re a true juniper obsessive, then why not add even more to your G&T? A small handful of juniper berries is your secret weapon. Add to a V.J.O.P. and Tonic for a serious juniper hit.
Gin and tonic garnishes don’t get much more British than rhubarb (paired with London Dry Gin, naturally). Fruity, with a touch of tartness, it’s a natural in a G&T. Take a vegetable peeler to your rhubarb stalk for beautiful crimson ribbons that you can swirl along the inside of your glass, like in a London Calling cocktail.
15. FROZEN PEACHES
What about a garnish that also doubles as a cooling agent (and which won’t lead to over-dilution)? We love swapping out a bit of ice for frozen peach wedges in our summery G&Ts.
Let us know your favourite gin garnish by tagging us in your cocktail recreations on social media @sipsmith. Looking for more ginny cocktail inspiration? Find more below.