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The Sipsmith Blog

The Great Garnish Debate

in Articles February 18, 2013
Gin and Tonic Garnish

With the power to turn mild-mannered gin enthusiasts into enraged evangelical purists, the great gin and tonic garnish debate has been raging quietly (or not so quietly depending on the amount of gin consumed) for many years now…

Most people in the gin and tonic garnish debate can be pretty much divided into two camps – those who support the lemon, and those who defend the lime. In recent years though the list of potential garnishes has grown, and now faced with a seemingly endless array of options, creating the perfect Gin and Tonic is more complicated than it sounds…

But let’s start with the traditional, supremely British, lemon garnish – affectionately known as “ice and slice”. Favoured by many as a clean, fresh way in which to bring out the citrus flavours present in many gins, lemon, whether simply sliced or peeled into a long strip and curled around some ice cubes, is perhaps the most classic of accompaniments. Brands like Hoxton Gin advocate adding only lemon and ice to their gin and Fernando Angulo (founder of perfectgintonic.com) identifies himself as a staunch “defender of the lemon”.

You might think the leap from lemon to lime in the great gin and tonic garnish debate is not such a great distance, but in reality, it’s a whole lot bigger than it looks.

You might think the leap from lemon to lime in the great gin and tonic garnish debate is not such a great distance, but in reality, it’s a whole lot bigger than it looks. Served in most London bars as standard these days, a wedge or two of lime has become the top choice for many gin connoisseurs. In fact, some lime fans have even graduated to more sophisticated flourishes and now include kaffir lime leaves in their G&Ts instead. If you’re after a slightly fruitier citrus garnish, it’s worth trying out grapefruit – as suggested by Bar Chick as the ideal accompaniment for Tanqueray Malacca Gin, along with Fever Tree tonic.

When it comes to iconic Gin and Tonic garnishes it doesn’t get much more brand orientated than the Hendricks cucumber – “an iconic drink” according to The Gin Blog. But there’s more to this than just a clever marketing ploy as Hendricks Gin contains inherent cucumber flavourings that are brought to the fore with a slice or two of fresh cucumber as garnish. Similarly, apple has become a hallmark of Caorunn Gin, strawberries have become the preferred addition to Bloom Gin and coriander and fennel common serving suggestions for a Death’s Door Gin and Tonic.

Sipsmith Strawberry and Elderflower G&T

From here the debate only gets more and more diverse with a list of garnishes that includes everything from ginger, lemongrass and rosewater right through to cinnamon, star anise and cardamom pods.

From here the debate only gets more and more diverse with a list of garnishes that includes everything from ginger, lemongrass and rosewater right through to cinnamon, star anise and cardamom pods. Luckily we’ve got the will, and the inclination, to try out all of the above before falling off the fence…

Feature image courtesy of Shaiith

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