If you are going to make a gin and tonic, you may as well make it right. What seems like a perfectly simple drink consisting of 2 ingredients and a garnish, deserves a little more attention. Of course, this is all a matter of my opinion but let me give you a bit of background.

The background

I come from a family of gin and tonic drinkers and the smell of it with slices of fresh lemon brings on a flood of childhood memories. I think of lazy Sunday lunches at my parent’s Johannesburg home. I think of running down to the bottom of the garden to pick lemons off the tree. I think of sneaking big gulps when they weren’t looking because it actually tastes delicious even to children.

My father taught me how to pour the perfect gin & tonic many years ago to ensure that if I ever made him a drink it would be just the way he liked it. These tips form the basis of where I am going on this.

Then a friend, who is very particular about his G & T poured me a drink and I immediately realised that there was such a thing as the ‘perfect gin and tonic’. He used Hendrick’s gin.

Having never tasted this delicious tipple before, it was love at first sip. Well actually it was love at first sniff because when you smell it, the infusion of coriander, juniper, citrus and rose petal hit you with full force, you know that this is something special.

He gave me a bottle because he bought a whole case and clearly wanted to share the love. (Thank you, Chris).

Anyway, I’m not here to advertise Hendrick’s gin, but check out their website it’s a total trip. They claim that their gin tastes different to other gins because of the rose petal and cucumber infusion, as well as the small-batch distillation process. The Wall Street Journal voted it the best gin in the world in 2003.

So with all of this in mind, I decided to write about how to make the perfect gin and tonic.

Oh, and it’s the best drink to drink when you are in the bush. The heat, refreshment, mosquitoes etc.

The elements in the mix:

1. The Gin

Choose your favourite gin or the best quality and best-tasting gin you can afford. It makes a big difference.

2. The tonic

Use a tonic that is ice-cold and freshly opened from the can or bottle. You want as much carbonation as possible, there is nothing worse than a flat G & T.

3. The ice

To make this drink perfect you need a lot of ice. The downside here is the drink gets watered down as the ice melts. To overcome this I did some experimenting. I made tonic water ice cubes. Makes sense right? It certainly intensifies the flavour, but the carbonation and sugar in the tonic creates a slightly fluffy, only 95% solid ice cube. I think this is cool, but perhaps freeze slightly less fizzy tonic to make the cubes, like the leftover bits at the bottom of the bottle a the end of the party.

 4. The citrus

Here you have 2 choices: lemon or lime. Both are awesome, but I now prefer lime. As does my friend who gave me the bottle of Hendrick’s. He has grown 2 lime trees in order to support his gin and tonic habit. If possible, pick the fruit off the tree just before serving. It’s these little things that add to the overall outcome.

The pouring.

Once you have all the above elements in place, use either a tall or short glass. I quite like a short fat glass because you use less tonic, thus the drink is less sweet and has a stronger gin flavour. If you are wanting a ‘thin’ gin, go for a tall glass.

My dad recommends pouring the drink as follows:

  • first, add the gin to the glass (desired quantity)
  • then add the tonic slowly so as not to lose too much of the fizz
  • leave a big space for the ice
  • gently drop as many ice cubes into the glass as possible, once again in an attempt not to lose too much fizz
  • gently squeeze a lemon or lime wedge over the drink and drop a second unsqueezed wedge or slice into the glass
  • using a swizzle stick or your finger, gently press down on the ice so as to lightly mix the citrus juice through the drink

And there you have it, my take on the perfect G & T.


PS ~ check out how to make the perfect Paloma cocktail

I look forward to connecting with you again in the future.



I can also be found enthusiastically pinning beautiful food images on Pinterest. 





  1. Hi, love the photos! I use (and drink) Hendricks all the time at work (bartender)and home and have discovered that mixing Hendricks and tonic with either cucumber OR rose petals adds a completely different dimension.
    Both enhance the rose and cucumber flavours that Hendricks is so famous for. 😀

    Just thought i’d pass that along to a fellow G&T drinker.

  2. Sam

    Hi Nicole, thank you so much for dropping by with your expert opinion, I am now wanting to try cucumber and rose petals too.
    I think they would look so beautiful in the glass.

  3. Sam

    Hi Kate, I cant remember exactly, but would think it was from the Milnerton flea market.

  4. Oops!!
    I almost drank the cup through the computer screen, so this drink refreshing and inviting. I loved the explanations of each item. Beautiful pictures. Kisses Gin

  5. i thought i liked hendricks best – but then i tried sipsmith, a fantastic gin made in hammersmith, london. if you can get it where you are, i highly recommend.

  6. I love Hendricks but prefer to drink it with a cucumber! You should try it:) It’s yummy!

  7. my english mum is a hardcore g&t drinker, is obsessed with hendricks and only drinks it with cucumber.

  8. Sam

    Hi Lou, yes it seems that cucumber is very popular with Hendrick’s and I must try this on my next one 🙂

  9. Sam

    Thank you Kiran, I’m glad you like and I hope I see you in these parts again.

  10. Sam

    Thanks Tina, seems that cucumber is a favourite garnish for Hendrick’s. I can picture beautiful long ribbons folded through my drink.

  11. Sam

    Hi S, have never heard of Sipsmith, but when next I’m in London I will check it out. I’m quite fascinated by gin now and want to get a full exposure to a variety of brands.

  12. Sam

    Hello Gina / Gin 🙂 *waves* – nice to see you again and ching ching

  13. Stunning photos! Such a pity I am at work…… 😉

  14. Sam

    Hi Louise, just keep thinking about it all day and then have one tonight #phuzathursday

  15. Can I add: rubbing the rim of the glass with the lemon or lime. yum scrum!

  16. Beautiful post Sam, the photos are absolutely stunning. I do love a good G & T — thanks for the great tips.

  17. To make this the perfect gnt a slice of cucumber is out of this world!!!!!

  18. I love the photos, but what caught my attention was the your LOVE of Gin as I do Love it as well. I have never tried Hendricks, but have been drinking a Gin by Ketel One Vodka called “NOLETS” it has the essence of Turkish Rose in the Gin and I must say I absolutely LOVE, LOVE this Gin. Please give it a try and let me know what you think. Again, beautiful pics!

  19. Sam

    HI Carole, so its seems that Cucumber is a favoured garnish and one which I will definitely re visit.

  20. Sam

    Hi Norma, I’ll keep an eye out for Nolets too, it sounds like they have also infused rose with it which must be wonderful.

  21. love this Sam! – A family friend of mine freezes lemons and then grates some zest into his G & T just before serving. The fragrance that it gives off is out-of-this-world amazing!!

  22. Beautiful photography and I, too, love Hendricks for special, and appreciate the original Bombay for “every day.” (Sappire is too bland, IMHO.) But a giant omission? Tonic water is key! Leave off any made with corn syrup, which is way heavier in calories and leaves an unpleasant coating in the mouth. Blech! Find a favorite among those produced with a little sugar or agave. The difference is striking, although it might take a few attempts to find your perfect flavor fit. Look for Fever Tree, Q, Stirling, Fentiman’s, the Whole Foods store brand (great value), White Rock (good value, but read the label because some WR is made with corn syrup).

    We’re lucky to have a key lime tree in the yard. When the fruit is ripe, the gin starts calling!

  23. Sam

    Hi Meg, unfortunately we don’t get all those tonic water brands in South Africa, we essentially have one main brand, Schwepps, which is nice enough.
    Great tips to add to this post, much appreciated.

  24. amazing pics sam … am so going to give hendricks a try

  25. Hi Sam,
    Just bought your book – can’t wait to start cooking from it! Am also a G&T fan – can you get Hendriks locally?

  26. Sam

    Hi Karin, excellent and thank you very much :-). Yes you can, although I am not to sure where my friend purchased it from. Let me know if you get stuck.

  27. Hendricks is the absolute best hands down….and I now take mine with cucumber garnish since its infused that way. Best drink ever!

  28. This look DEEELISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cant wait to try it!

  29. Thanks for the Tip with the tonic cubes. I don’t have any leftover-tonic because i just buy small bottles, but nice tip though!
    Best GT in my opinion is
    4cl Hendrick’s Gin
    1 small Bottle Fentiman’s Tonic
    1 Slice of cucumber or some slices of cucumber skin (natural cucumbers, otherwise it may have a chemical taste)
    1-2 pinches of fresh ground pepper

  30. Sam

    Thanks for the awesome tips Manny – cheers 🙂

  31. Hendricks is my favorite too. Using Fevertree Indian tonic kicks it up another notch.

  32. If you ever enter the Pacific Northwest, get your hands on a bottle of Aviation gin (https://aviationgin.com/). Made in my little town of Portland, OR. Maybe being from the area I am a bit biased, but this is THE BEST batch distilled gin I’ve ever encountered. No joke. A second close is Dry Fly Gin made in Spokane, WA. (https://www.dryflydistilling.com/gin/)
    Just wanted to share, as I am an avid G&T drinker myself, and thought this article was a lot of fun!
    Do you know much about tonics? I’d sure love to read about different brands, just because I think that can makes a world of difference all on its own.

  33. Sam

    Hi Cory sounds great, thanks for letting us know.

  34. Hi, Love your pictures. This is my favorite drink and always looking to make it even better. You have got it down pat. We freeze some lime slices and use this idea to cut down on a little ice. It works well and love the lime. Going to try cucumber and tonic cubes as well. Thanks again for all the tips.


  35. Sam

    Hi Marie – thanks for the comment and the frozen lime tip. love it!

  36. Just made a perfect G&T. I used fever tree tonic key limes and baby cucumbers! So deelish on this snowy afternoon in DC as I dream about summer!!

  37. Sam

    Awesome Candy. I have also been buying Fever Tree tonic lately as we can buy it in South Africa now. Really stunning. I also thnk G & T’s are fabulous all year round.


  38. Girl…you had me at hello! No seriously…I must commend you on sharing what I already know. Hendricks is the answer. Oh…what’s the question? Thee best in the world is right. Love??

  39. Sam

    Hey Luz, indeed. I love the stuff. made a new cocktail with it going up soon.

  40. I love Gin and nothing beats a cold G&T on a hot summer’s day imo. I’ve played around with flavors and such and found that my fav is with fresh grapefruit juice and cucumber.

  41. Sam

    I love grabefruit Rebecca so must try this next time. In my opinion it needs citrus.

  42. Try to use Thomas Henry Tonic waters like the Elderflower!

  43. Marvelous! What a delightful post. Many thanks from the untamed, rugged wilds of Western Australia? cheers dears

  44. Hi all Hendrick’s Gin adepts,
    early Summer this year we were in Porto and discovered a quality restaurant that had a very good score on their reviews list: a satisfied client wrote that they knew well how a Hendrick’s gin has to be served ! And… the only way to discover that was to drink it as an apero! It was served indeed with a lot of skill and love by the weighter at our tabel with a long cocktail spoon! A slice of cucumber was in the big glas and I remember , although I’m not sure, that there was also added some…..pepper! Now months later ( having switchen to Hendrick’s gin as apero) I scanned The internet but can’t find traces or confirmation of my strong believe that it was pepper. Can anyone help me?

  45. Sam, I highly agree with your statement that there is nothing worse than a Flat G&T!
    Can’t wait to try cucumber. Luckily I have one in my refrigerator just waiting!

  46. Thank you, great article, this is the gold standard recipe for gin and tonic

  47. Hey Sam. Great pics! G&T, simple but so delicious. Hendricks will be on the next shopping list. Curious, but have you ever tried a couple of mint leaves along with the lime?

  48. Sam

    Awesome cj, I have tried mint but not mint and lime. I feel it needs to citrus, but will give it a go.

  49. To Patrick, yes, black pepper!! We were in Spain recently and were introduced to Hendricks with cucumber and black pepper, served in a “goldfish bowl” type glass full of ice. I think they may have used sparkling water rather than tonic as it didn’t taste sweet. Absolutely delicious! “Normal” g&t seems so boring now!

  50. Sam

    HI Jane – wow I live the addition of black pepper, and I too have had a G & T served in a big fish bowl type glass. I must try with soda, but also love the less sweet tonics we can get now.

  51. https://www.facebook.com/earthhouse.capetown

    hendricks with cucumber is best

  52. I just saw this on Pinterest and glad I did! I LOVE gin & tonics. (Hendrick’s is my go to or Tanqueray Rangpur is a close second.) I’ll have to try the tonic ice cubes along with the art of how to pour. Thanks for sharing!

  53. Missing very important info ————— ratio

  54. Sam

    Hi Alex – I think quantity is as per own taste, single or double tot. I like my gin a little thin with loads of tonic and ice.

  55. add a slice of cucumber to your gin and tonic, it taste so good!

  56. Can I also suggest …the Vietnamese variation if adding a sprig or two of coriander

  57. Sam

    Stephen that sounds too delicious too.

  58. That’s very similar to what I’d do except if I have time I’ll chill the glass, and rim the glass with the lime or lemon first, gives an extra kick with every sip. I’m also partial to a cucumber garnish.

  59. Sam

    HI, yes squeezing lime on hte rim does add major value and I have been doing that lately. I love the added citrus boost it giove the drink.

  60. Great comments…there is a real problem about getting good tonic in this land (Australia)

  61. Hey,

    I was recently in the Swiss air senator lounge in Zurich and the bartender made a Gin & Tonic with Hendricks, Cucumber & cracked black pepper and it was awesome!! i starter searching to see if anybody else came across a similar glad to have found this post

  62. Sam

    Hi Finkel, I love the idea of black pepper and will give that a try next time too.

  63. Am all for adding herbs and spices so cracked pepper is good….because I have lots of nasturtiums I often plunder them for gin drinks (both leaves and flowers have a real peppery taste). But my bestest insanity is to use a french/spring onion as a garnish and a straw…….Just love it….but then maybe I drink too much gin!

  64. Sam

    Ha ha Stephen that garnish is definitely quite far out but thanks for sharing it here. The most important thing is that you love it and rules are there to be broken. Cheers!

  65. emaliah82

    Luv luv luv your tips and tricks! I now make the best G&T 🙂 Whole Foods 365 tonic water is delish! It is sweetened with cane sugar vs HFCS. Makes a huge difference in taste!

  66. Sam

    Awesome Emaliah, I will try that when Im next in your neck of the woods. Sam

  67. I am a Hendrick’s Gin fan and have been for years but I will not make a gin and tonic with it. It is best sipped on ice or in a very dry martini. One part dry vermouth 8 parts gin

  68. Sam

    Love the 8 parts gin David 🙂 and I’m also a fan of the martini (vigorously shaken)

  69. Justin Low

    hi sam i love these pictures!! i was actually wondering what tonic water do you prefer or love to use with hendricks gin? i currently use Schweppes but thats cos its the most widely available.

    also do you think hendricks gin would make a good martini or should i use something like beefeater gin?

    thank you

  70. Sam

    HI Justin, Lately I’m using Fever Tree although I love that Schweppes is by far the fizziest. I love a fizzy texture with my G & T but it is quite sweet. It’s also the most ‘neutral’ in taste. A lot of the fancy tonics these days have so much flavour they can overshadow the gin. Gin is such a personal thing, I think you can make a martini out of anyone that you prefer. Things have really opened up in the world of drinks making and gin in particular. The rules should be made up by you and your personal preference.

  71. Justin Low

    thank you sam!!! ya lately i’ve been using fever tree with hendricks because its been recommend to me by so many bartenders but i have to try Schweppes too to see which one i like better. i usually use a 1:2 ratio of gin to tonic and its perfect

  72. Hey! Loving your posts. What are the measurements?

  73. Sam

    HI Alexa, really however strong you want to make it, there are no rules.

  74. viviwnfdiarycom

    We like Hendricks as well. Once we did our cocktail with butterfly pea tea. Here is our recipe if you are interested.

    Great work!

  75. Sam

    Thanks for your recipe – Butterfly pea tea is something i had never heard of 🙂

  76. Said some years ago that fresh spring onions work really well with G&T!!!
    Rather like organic straws.

  77. Sam

    How interesting Mary – I am shook re the spring onions

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