If you’re a fan of fresh, citrus-filled cocktails during the summer months (or any time of year), there’s a decent chance you enjoy your fair share of gin and tonics. This simple drink of gin, tonic, and (usually) a squeeze of lime or a lime wedge is the epitome of summer in a glass. It’s cold, refreshing, lightly tart, tangy, and effervescent. The quinine in the tonic, the juniper and botanicals in the gin, and the citrus work together in perfect unison. What’s not to love? The only problem is that drinking it all summer long might get a little repetitive.
Luckily, there’s a ramped-up version of the classic cocktail called the Spanish gin tonic. You might be wondering why it has Spanish in its name. Well, this is because this cocktail was popularized in Spain. But you don’t have to visit Barcelona or Madrid to enjoy one. You can easily whip one up in the privacy of your own home.
Instead of simply gin, tonic, and lime, the Spanish gin tonic consists of additional botanicals, bitters, spices, fruits, and herbs. On top of that, instead of a highball or rocks glass, this version is served in a giant balloon glass. It’s highly adaptable and can include any number of ingredients, including lime or lemon wheels, rosemary, juniper berries, and other fruits and botanicals. The only limit is your imagination.
But while the various extra ingredients are important, so is the gin itself. Not just any gin will do. You have to start with a gin base that will work well with the included ingredients.
Xoriguer Mahon Gin
You might not have ever heard of Xoriguer Mahon Gin, but this gin produced on the Spanish island of Menorca is definitely one you should quickly become acquainted with. Especially if you prefer Spanish gin tonics. This copper pot distilled gin was made using locally sourced wine. It’s filled with herbs and botanicals, but the main ingredient (juniper) is hand-picked on the mountainous island. It’s a great choice for the cocktail as it’s filled with flavors like lemongrass, piney juniper, citrus peels, and wildflowers.
Hendrick’s Gin doesn’t have the history of some of the biggest gin names. Launched in 1999, it’s juniper-forward and has ingredients like coriander, orange peel, and orris root. But its main appeal is the liberal use of cucumbers and rose. These flavors, along with all of the other herbs and botanicals, are well-suited for this complex, flavorful cocktail. Use it as the base and add sliced cucumbers (along with other flavors). You’ll be glad you did.
St. George Botanivore Gin
There might be no more aptly named gin than St. George Botanivore. It starts as a classic London dry gin with a heavy dose of juniper berries. But there are also eighteen (yes, you read that right) other herbs and botanicals, including California bay leaf, angelica root, Seville orange peel, cardamom, bergamot, peppercorn, cinnamon, cilantro, coriander, fennel seed, and even Citra hops. The result is a pine, citrus, and spiced gin perfect for your favorite Spanish gin tonic recipe.
Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin
There are very few gins as well-known as Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin. This London dry gin is infused with juniper berries, Angelica root, bitter almond, cassia bark, coriander, licorice, orris, and cubeb, among other flavors. It’s well-known for its piney, earthy flavor profile featuring citrus zest and gentle spices. Its classic juniper-forward recipe is a great base for this summery classic cocktail.
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin
While it might be listed as an Irish gin, there might be no more worldly gin than Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin. It gets its complex flavor profile from herbs and botanicals that were found all over the world including juniper berries from Macedonia, meadowsweet from Drumshanbo, Ireland, Angelica root from Germany, caraway from India, orris root from Morocca, gunpowder tea from China, and many other ingredients. This results in a citrus and juniper-forward gin well-suited for mixing.
Sipsmith London Dry Gin
Another gin that hasn’t been around for too long but has still gained quite a following in recent years is Sipsmith. Its London dry gin was first released in 2009 but is already highly prized for its mixability. Flavored with juniper berries from Macedonia, Angelica root from France, licorice from Spain, cassia bark from China, cinnamon from Madagascar, lemon peel from Spain, and other herbs and botanicals, it’s a great base for a Spanish gin tonic.
A Spanish gin tonic calls for a Spanish gin. Nordes Gin is a premium gin from Galicia in the northern corner of the country. It’s a very herbal and fruity gin because of the use of The albariño grape and eleven herbs and juniper, botanicals including bay leaf, sage, peppermint, hibiscus, ginger, and more ingredients. The complex flavor profile stands up to even the boldest and most flavorful Spanish gin tonic additions.
The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
When it comes to complex gins, it’s very difficult to beat The Botanist Islay Dry Gin. This gin, from the folks who brought us Bruichladdich Scotch whisky, comes from the Scottish Inner Hebrides island of Islay. All twenty-two ingredients were hand foraged on the island. This includes chamomile, clover, elderflower, peppermint, apple mint, orris root, wood sage, thistle, thyme, and more.