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The Rule To Remember When Garnishing A Gin And Tonic

garnished gin and tonic drinks
garnished gin and tonic drinks - Marian Weyo/Shutterstock

While tossing a single slice of lemon into a poured gin and tonic is not a terrible approach to garnishing, there's a better way if you're looking to take your boozy beverages up a notch. Besides being a pretty drink enhancement, the right garnish can completely change your drink. Even a classic gin and tonic can be elevated with a few juniper berries and herby sprigs. By playing into your senses of smell, taste, and sight, colorful twists of orange peel, zingy slices of lime, and toothpicks speared with olives and onions all have a place in cold glasses. A prudent bartender, however, will look to complement specific botanicals found in different kinds of gin with relevant garnishes to adorn each glass.

If you've gone through the trouble of matching gin with tonic, you might as well go the extra mile to pair garnishes with the drink you're holding. Before combining any gin with a tonic, sample the gin alone to detect its flavors. If you're unsure which botanicals or tasting notes you're picking up on, check the label for clues. Once you've identified some of the presented flavors and botanicals used, you can set about matching garnishes to either complement or elevate the finished drink.

Read more: The 40 Absolute Best Cocktails That Feature Only 2 Ingredients

A Leveled-Up Drinking Experience

gin and tonic with basil and cucumber
gin and tonic with basil and cucumber - Bfk92/Getty Images

If you notice gentle floral or punchy citrus notes in the gin you're slinging, you may want to slice up fruit like strawberries to add, pick a few lavender sprigs, or consider tossing blueberries into your drink to complement it. Don't be afraid to step outside the box of regular drink garnishes and think to pepper spicier gins with sprinkles of black or Sichuan peppercorns. Vanilla pods and frozen peaches can also bring out some of the softer, more delicate botanicals found in gin labels, while lemongrass, cilantro, basil leaves, and rosemary can help build brighter and fresher gulps to this easy cocktail. Of course, you can't go wrong adding a lime wedge to a classic gin, or popping a few raspberries into a drink mixed with a wild berry gin. And for certain gins, particular garnishes are an expected part of the taste experience, such as cucumber in a glass of Hendrick's and tonic, owing to the gin's flavorings including the long green fruit.


Though taking time to match unique tasting profiles of gin with intentionally selected garnishes may delay that first sip, the slight move can bring out subtle tasting notes, and your strategic bartending skills will have your cocktail party guests gushing with praise -- before asking you to make them another drink. And if they're still clamoring for more, have a look at our 13 ways to upgrade your gin and tonic, to keep them quiet.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.