Do not dismiss the gin and tonic, ladies and gentlemen. As Americans we’ve become accustomed to the English version of this simple cocktail. Its bullet-proof recipe of gin, tonic, and a squeeze of lime, served in a tall glass, make it a go-to at dive bars and bars with questionable drink-pouring skills. But most people overlook the Spanish gin-tonic (Spain doesn’t use the ampersand), which is basically the country’s national cocktail and the perfect summer libation.
Recently it popped up in a corner of the opening menu at Beelman’s Pub’s Downtown, which offered customers the choice between English and Spanish style gin and tonics. Unfortunately, the Spanish version—served in a crystal goblet—was recently axed from the menu due to customers overwhelming prefering the more familiar English version.
The Spanish style, unlike the English one, is a beautiful mix of gin, tonic, herbs, fruit and citrus peels displayed in a wide-rimmed glass to better showcase the aromas as well as the colorful ingredients. It’s refreshing and bright, transporting you to a café seat on Las Ramblas in the hot sun.
Chef José Andrés has been serving up a selection of gin-tonics in both his Las Vegas restaurant Jaleo in the Cosmopolitan and The Bazaar in Beverly Hills. The Bazaar’s “The Ultimate Gin & Tonic” actually lets diners choose their gin (Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Oxley or Hendrick’s) and tonic water (Fever Tree or Stirrings). The drink is then garnished with seasonal herbs and flowers.
The Chestnut Club, the new Santa Monica bar by Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix, features three gin and tonics variations of that are basically the only seasonal cocktails on its menu. This summer it has a G-T with kumquats and lime, one with Serrano chili , lime and lemon, and another with lavender and grapefruit. “It’s not like a flavoring,” said Livigni. “It’s just fresh and it’s more the nose of the thing. They’re really nice and refreshing.”
To help you keep cool during these dog days, Moix shared his recipe for his Brighton Racecourse, a summery concoction with grapefruit and lavender.
by Pablo Moix at the Chestnut Club
2 oz gin (London dry recommended, Chestnut Club uses Bombay Dry)
5 oz tonic water (bottled tonic or canned tonic recommended)
2 stems of lavender
1 grapefruit to peel
In a mixing glass hand-press the lavender stems then add gin to mixing glass. Dump contents into a wine glass or goblet. With a peeler peel two long grapefruit peels, express the oils and place in glass. Add tonic and gently stir. Garnish with a lavender blossom.