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Citronella at Fiola Mare 2.jpg
Citronella at Fiola Mare (Fiola Mare)

Keep cool with these 5 fragrant takes on the Gin & Tonic

In its simplest form--a couple of ounces of gin, a splash of (good quality) tonic water and a generous squeeze of lime served over ice--the G&T is already an amazing cocktail which deftly balances bitter, botanical and citrus.

But some local bars have upped their game, with infused gins, house made tonics and over-the-top garnishes. Oh, and not that you need to wait until then to partake in any of these refreshers, but June 10 just happens to be World Gin Day...So bottoms up!

The Drink: GTF
Where To Get It: Baba
The Price: $11
The Deets: The Balkan cocktail bar next to Ambar in Clarendon (whose name means “grandma” in Serbian) shows a Spanish reverence for the G&T, serving it in a large wine glass with lots of garnishes. “Cucumber gin brings extra freshness for hot summer days and elderflower tonic give floral element nice dry finish,” says mixology consultant Esteban Ordonez. If you can’t find Fever Tree’s flavored tonic, their regular version will work fine, too.

  • 2 oz. cucumber-infused gin (see Note)
  • 6 drops rosewater
  • Small bottle Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic Water
  • Edible seasoned flower petals, for garnish
  • Lime wheel, for garnish
  • Orange essence (in an atomizer, for garnish, optional)
  • Build the cocktail in a large balloon glass by layering the lime wheel, ice, gin, flower petals, ice, rosewater and orange essence. Pour a third of the bottle of tonic water, serving the rest next to the guest so they can add more tonic as desired.

For the cucumber-infused gin:
Pour a 750ml bottle of gin into a container with a tight fitting lid. Add 1 large sliced peeled cucumber. Seal, and store in a cool dark place, shaking a few times daily, for two days or until desired flavor is reached. Strain out solids, and pour gin back into the bottle.

The Drink: Cadiz
Where To Get It: Arroz
The Price: $13
The Deets: Mike Isabella’s latest concept is inspired by the traditions and flavors of southern Spain and Morocco. When beverage director Taha Ismail discovered Gin Mare--a savory spirit made in a small fishing town near Barcelona with botanicals including Turkish rosemary, Greek thyme and Italian basil--he knew he had to put it on the menu. “Originally tasting this gin, I thought ‘Dirty Martini,’” he admits. “The herbaceous character of the gin, the added salinity from the brine and the high quality sharp tonic, meld together for a balanced gin and tonic that keeps you wanting more.”

  • 1 1/2 oz. Gin Mare
  • 1/4 oz. olive brine
  • 3 oz. tonic (preferably Indi Botanical Tonic)
  • Thyme and rosemary wrapped in an opal basil leaf and inserted into a pitted Castelvetrano olive, for garnish
  • Add first three ingredients to a goblet, top with ice and stir. Garnish with the herb and olive.

The Drink: Garam Masala Gin + Tonic
Where To Get It: Indique
The Price: $11
The Deets: The practice of British officials stationed in India drinking Gin & Tonics was stirred by the fact that the bark from the cinchona tree--the ingredient that gives tonic its signature bitter flavor--could be used to prevent malaria. “Rather than knock back a bitter glass of tonic in the morning, why not enjoy it in the afternoon with a healthy gin ration?,” chef KN Vinod asks. Why not indeed. The Cleveland Park Indian restaurant’s ode to the effervescent cure-all starts with a tonic made in-house from cinchona, lemon, lime, whole cloves, whole cardamom, whole black pepper, whole cinnamon, cumin, coriander seed and star anise. It’s mixed with local Green Hat Spring/Summer Gin from New Columbia Distillers and club soda. “Spices provide so much variety to Indian cuisine,” Vinod says. “We continue to play with different permutations and combinations of spices in our cooking, and thought we should bring this same thinking to our beverages as well.”

The Drink: Citronella
Where To Get It: Fiola Mare
Price: $16
The Deets: Way more pleasantly fragrant than a mosquito-repelling candle on your backyard patio, this G&T riff from corporate beverage director Luca Giovannini starts with London Dry Gin that’s infused with lemongrass, grapefruit peels, rosemary and fresh flowers in a porthole infuser--which takes anywhere from thirty minutes to four hours to impart flavor, depending on how much is desired. It’s topped with club soda and a housemade tonic syrup made with cinchona bark, lemongrass, lemon and lime peels and lavender. “The dry botanical notes from the gin, a touch of lime juice and the bittersweet notes from the tonic make the Citronella one of summer’s best thirst quenchers,” Giovannini says.

The Drink: Frozen G&T
Where To Get It: Casa Luca
Price: $13
The Deets: Similar to Fiola Mare’s G&T, with infused gin and house made tonic, this version from Giovannini gets granita-fied by freezing it in a shallow pan, then scraping it with a fork and scooping it in a glass. “There’s nothing better than a frozen Gin and Tonic to cool you down on a hot summer day,” he points out. “Frozen drinks are synonymous with vacations, the beach, [so] this is a great cocktail to sip while you’re planning your summer getaway.”