Stranded on a desert island with one cocktail for the rest of your life -- In walks the G&T
What makes a great cocktail? Is it the quality of the ingredients? Is it the difficulty of execution? Is it the freshness of the garnish?
Over the last decade or two, the phrase "craft cocktail" has soared in popularity and has come to mean things like complex, expensive, and even snooty. Most restaurants and bars have picked up on the trend.
It must have become clear to them that customers were looking for an elevated cocktail experience. Or, it may have become clear that they could charge $18 for something that should rightfully cost less than $8. My instinct is it's more of the second one.
When did a cocktail become worth $18? Or $15? Or even $10? Also, when did we all become so brazenly wealthy that we now look at the cocktail menu first and trust that Mister Mooostache behind the bar can be trusted to knock our cocktail umbrellas over with his mixology skills and justify the doubling of our dinner tab over a couple of drinks?
If it's not clear by now, I am mostly against the craft cocktail craze. Yes I've ordered a few, and yes I've been wowed by 1 or 2, but not to the extent of $18. Ever. I just can't wrap my head around it.
Nope, I ain't buyin' it. There are too many variables involved in making a complex cocktail to give me the faith that it will be worth the order. That's why I stick to the best (and one of the simplest) cocktail of all time -- all the time.
*In walks the well-dressed, slightly tipsy G&T, or gin and tonic*
There isn't a cocktail on the planet with a better simplicity to enjoyment ratio. The classic gin and tonic (and not the $18 version with homemade tonic and hand chiseled ice cubes), has three to four ingredients only. Gin, tonic water, ice and lime or olive to garnish -- these are the only things that should be in your gin and tonic, it wasn't just a clever name. You can even skip the garnish if you really want to simplify things.
Additionally, there is no good or bad ratio of the ingredients when making a G&T. Some cocktail recipes warn that you only use a splash of this or a dash of that or you risk ruining the whole thing.
In my vast experience with this fine beverage, I've found that it's almost impossible to make a really bad gin and tonic (I have had some less good ones). I've had cheap gin and I've had expensive gin. I've had Walmart tonic water and I've had Fever Tree (the best, IMO) tonic water. I've used lime and I've used green olives. I've used 3 ice cubes and I've used 20. I've used 1 ounce of gin and 6 ounces of tonic, and I've gone ahead and reversed that ratio.
All of the ingredients can mostly be swapped, flip-flopped, or even chopped, and you'll still end up with a decent cocktail. There really isn't a more versatile drink, and this is great for people like me who tend to be low on one ingredient and short on another.
By now I can hear a fair amount of readers saying "yeah but gin tastes like pine needles" or "I don't like tonic water, it's too sweet" and any of these objections can be verified with a bad mix.
I know, I just said there's no bad mix, but that's because I have already developed a love for even the lowliest of G&T recipes. But yes, I have had some that weren't very good. I can appreciate them now, because I love the cocktail, but I certainly have a preference for how I'd like mine to be made.
And that's what I want you to try next time you're out for a cocktail. Be bold and order a gin and tonic, but do it the *more* right way.
What you need to do is go to a decent place. I'm talking somewhere that has at least a medium shelf of booze. From there, we can make this work.
Start with the gin and tonic when you first sit down, don't work your way into it. If you've ever had a light beer first and switched to a dark beer right after, you know that it can mess with the flavors, making both taste a little funny.
So order the gin and tonic right away. The most universally acceptable version, in my weathered opinion, is to go for a Tanqueray gin with Fever Tree tonic. Not everywhere will have this, but the most negotiable would be the tonic. If they don't have Fever Tree, just take whatever they have. But make sure to order a good gin. Tanqueray works great, as does Beefeater, Bombay, or even Hendricks. Avoid Seagram's, Gilbey's, or anything that comes in a plastic bottle.
Don't order a double, because too much gin too fast will probably turn you off. Just get a single, short cocktail on the rocks and choose a garnish. I personally like a little olive juice and a couple green olives in mine. It gives a little savory flair to the drink and is very satisfying.
If you're not an olive person, go for a wedge or two of lime. Squeeze them into the cocktail and stir it up. Also, make sure there's lots of ice in your drink. This cocktail needs to be very cold to be best enjoyed.
And that's it. Once it's sitting in front of you, allow it to bask in the glory of its own simplicity for a few seconds. Then take a small sip and keep it in your mouth for another few seconds before putting it down the hatch. Taste the flavors of the herbs in the gin. Let the tonic bubbles dance on your tastebuds. Really try to enjoy the mix of flavors happening with so few ingredients.
Literally goes with everything...
Some of you still won't like this drink, even after all I've said, and that's ok. I don't really care for tequila most of the time. It's just a preference. But now I can at least rest easy knowing I did everything I could to help the world become a better place. A simpler place. A place where you can usually get two G&T's for the price of one smoking purple haze of a drink with a dried lime on top.
Cheers my friends.