Revealed: how to make the perfect gin and tonic



Lime or lemon? A little tonic or a lot? A scientist has researched how to make the definitive G&T

We Britons all have our own ideas about what makes a great gin and tonic – whether it’s Gordon’s with a slice of lemon or Beefeater with a wedge of lime

Now, however, the question of how to make the drink perfectly has a concrete answer.

Drinks scientist Stuart Bale was commissioned by gin brand Gin Mare to analyse the science of the ideal G&T.

He concluded that the perfect tipple should be 14 per cent ABV (alcohol by volume), which is usually about to one part gin to two parts tonic, once dilution from ice has been taken into the equation – though the exact amount of tonic to use depends on the strength of the gin.

And, although most bars in Britain serve their G&Ts in tall glasses, he believes that a large, wide glass – like the balloon glasses the drink is often served in in Spain – is actually the best way to appreciate the flavour.

“Eighty per cent of what you taste comes through your nose. A lot of the aroma and flavour compounds are carried by the bubbles, so the bigger the surface area, the more bubbles you get coming to the surface,” he explains.

As for the lime versus lemon dilemma, Mr Bale sits strongly in the lemon camp: “Lime is very fashionable now, but most gins have lemon peel in the mix, so why would you put lime with it?” However, he admits that sometimes, a G&T tastes best with a garnish that contrasts the botanicals in the gin, rather than one which mirrors them exactly.

When Mr Bale was asked to find an idea garnish for Gin Mare, a Mediterranean gin with flavours of olive, basil and rosemary, he originally thought a sprig of rosemary would be the answer. But out of 120 garnishes he looked at, he found that a strip of mango peel and a grinding of black pepper worked the best. The drink was such a hit with the gin’s makers it is now being served at the Hixter restaurants in London.

“Mango has high levels of pinene, a flavour compound found in both juniper berries and Mediterranean herbs, so you can see why it works with this brand,” he says.

As for ice, he recommends plenty of it, because if the temperature of a drink is low, the carbon dioxiode molecules which create the bubbles find it harder to escape, meaning your drink will stay fizzier, and more aromatic for longer. “So keep your tonic in the fridge too,” he says.

Below are Mr Bale’s suggestions for how much tonic you will need with 11 major gin brands to create the perfect serve. Just make sure you ditch the lime.



G&T whizz: drinks scientist Stuart Bale with his mango and black pepper serve Photo: Paul Grover