Summer calls for tall, refreshing cocktails, and none fits the bill so perfectly as a gin & tonic. Between the crisp, astringent aromatics of gin and the anti-malarial and muscle-relaxing properties of quinine (the bitter flavoring agent of fizzy tonic water), this is a drink engineered to soothe the fevered brow of an overheated drinker. In other words, it’s the quintessential hot-weather drink. And while its very simplicity makes the G&T easy to tinker with – dare I say improve? – both the liquor and the mixer have such unique flavor profiles that they retain their identity, no matter how far the tinkering goes.
We ran a story on infusing liquors in this space last week (“Infuse your booze: Even cheap bastards can get cocktail-snob cred with this simple project”) so I thought I’d give it a try. Somehow gin always makes me think of the Far East – British empire-builders sipping G&T’s on a veranda in Singapore, Rangoon, Hong Kong or Jaipur – so I decided to go with an Asian flavor combo and settled on lemongrass as my infusing agent. (Lemongrass stalks can be bought cheaply at any Asian grocery in town.) Ginger goes well with lemongrass, so I turned to my old standby Domaine de Canton to add an extra layer of depth.
I love all my Remixes (I have to say that, right?), but this one has already attained instant-classic status; I know I’ll be drinking it all summer. Crisp and fresh, it goes as well with a green papaya salad as it does with a steak off the grill … or just a bathing suit and sandy feet.
3 ounces gin
4 ounces tonic water
Fill a rocks or highball glass with ice. Add gin. Top with tonic water. Garnish with lime wedge.
2 ounces lemongrass-infused gin
1 ounce Domaine de Canton liqueur
4 ounces tonic water
1 Key lime (optional)
First, infuse the gin: Cut off both ends and peel off the outside layer of four stalks of lemongrass, then cut in half lengthwise. Place in a clean bottle (cut into shorter lengths if necessary) with two cups of gin; an aromatic but not-too-junipery blend like Bombay Sapphire works well here. Allow to infuse for three to five days in a dark cupboard. The gin should have a faint yellow hue and lemony aroma.
Fill a rocks or highball glass with ice. Add infused gin and ginger liqueur. Top with tonic water and stir gently. A garnish isn’t necessary, but a paper-thin slice of Key lime looks nice in the glass.