How to Make a Gin and Tonic

For an easy-drinking, effortless cocktail, nothing beats a G&T. Learn how to make a gin and tonic with this classic recipe.

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A well-made gin and tonic is beautiful in its simplicity. It’s complex in flavor yet refreshing enough to cool you down during the dog days of summer. The standard gin and tonic recipe is easy to follow—and easy to build on if you’re feeling adventurous.

Love gin? So do we! Don’t miss our list of essential gin cocktails.

What Does a Gin and Tonic Taste Like?

A classic gin and tonic is bright and zesty. The flavor will vary depending on the style and brand of gin you use to make your G&T. Juniper, coriander and citrus are common flavors but you can also run into florals, fruits, herbs and spices of all sorts. Since there are no set standards for what can go into a gin to flavor it, many distillers create their own unique blend. You’ll just have to try a number of them until you find one you really like.

These vibrant flavors are balanced out by the bittersweet flavor of the tonic water. Add a slice of lime and you have the quintessential cocktail.

P.S. You should know how to make these classic cocktails by the time you turn 30.

What Is the Best Gin for a Gin and Tonic?

two glasses filled with ice surrounded by ingredients for a gin and tonic on a white countertop with a white brick backgroundTMB studio

London dry gin is the go-to style for a gin and tonic. Despite its name, London dry can come from anywhere in the world. While the exact flavors vary slightly, expect your classic London dry to have juniper, coriander and citrus notes. It’s clean and bright—exactly what you want in a gin and tonic. Beefeater, Plymouth and Bombay Sapphire are three common brands.

That said, you can certainly reach for any gin you want or have on hand. Just keep in mind some of the more delicate, subtle gins, that aren’t London Style, their flavors may be covered up by a strong tonic. And since a lot of those gins come with a heftier price tag, you may want to give that some thought before opening one of those bottles. Personally, I’d save those for a nice martini.

What Is the Best Tonic for a Gin and Tonic?

When it comes to tonic water, the choices used to be very limited. (Nope, tonic isn’t the same as seltzer water. Here’s the difference between tonic and seltzer.) For many years, the market was dominated by 2 or 3 major brands and that was it. Nowadays, there are numerous options with more options coming every day. There are even tonic syrups you can use, along with club soda, allowing you to add as little or as much tonic flavor as you’d like.

No matter what brand or style of tonic water you purchase, we prefer to use small bottles over the large ones. With large bottles, you usually end up with tonic water with little to no bubbles by the time you finish the bottle. We also like to pick brands that use real sugar or honey instead of corn syrup.

How to Make a Gin and Tonic

You don’t need any fancy bar equipment to craft the perfect G&T. As far as cocktails go, it’s one of the simplest to make. This recipe serves one, but it’s easy to to double, triple or more.


  • 2 oz. London dry gin
  • 4 oz. tonic water
  • 2 fresh lime wedges (or garnish of your choice)


Step 1: Chill your glass

Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Let it stand for a few minutes in order for the glass to get nice and cool.

Step 2: Build your cocktail

hands showing how to make a gin and tonic, pouring a shot glass of gin into a clear glass with ice on a marble countertop with limes and other bottles in the backgroundTMB studio

If your ice has melted significantly, go ahead and replace it with fresh ice. Once your glass has chilled, pour the gin over the ice.

This is the time when you’ll want to open your bottle of chilled tonic water to ensure you get the maximum number of bubbles. Bring the neck of the tonic water bottle as close to the ice cubes as possible before slowly filling the glass. Alternately, if you have one of those bar spoons with a twisted stem or handle, you can insert that into the glass and slowly pour the tonic water down the stem of the spoon. This is supposed to retain a lot more of those nose-tickling bubbles than pouring it directly into the glass.

Step 3: Garnish and sip

Crown your gin and tonic with fresh lime wedges or the garnish of your choice. Enjoy!

Is Gin and Tonic a Healthy Drink?

While any alcohol you consume should be in moderation, a gin and tonic is one of the healthier cocktails you can choose. And since it only has two main components (like these other classic cocktails), a gin and tonic doesn’t rack up the calories like more complex cocktails. Calorie counts vary depending on the brand of tonic water, expect a G&T to come in at about 190 calories. If you’re watching your calorie count, you can switch regular tonic for diet, or cut down to 1-1/2 ounces of gin.

Plus, juniper berry, the major flavor behind gin, boasts several important health benefits. These small blue-hued berries can aid digestion and reduce bloating. They are also rich in antioxidants, which may have immune boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.

That said, alcohol is alcohol and too much isn’t a good thing. You can have your gin and drink it too, just don’t go overboard.

Tips for Making a Gin and Tonic

What are some variations for a gin and tonic?

You can pick up a bottle of flavored tonic water to introduce another layer to your cocktail. If you’re using a flavored tonic, feel free to garnish with similar fruits or herbs that are in the tonic. You can also use club soda instead of tonic water to make a gin rickey.

Can I use pink gin to make a gin and tonic?

Yes! Pink gin is fruitier thanks to the addition of red fruits like strawberry, raspberry and currants. If you love juicy fruit flavors, swap pink gin for London dry. Look for pink gin from Beefeater, Gordon’s and others.

Can you save leftover tonic water?

You can, but using a freshly opened bottle of chilled tonic water yields best results.

Ready to take it up a notch? Here’s how to make the classic Aviation cocktail (a pre-Prohibition drink that’s making a huge comeback).

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James Schend
Formerly Taste of Home’s Deputy Editor, Culinary, James oversaw the Food Editor team, recipe contests and Bakeable, and managed all food content for Trusted Media Brands. He has also worked in the kitchen of Williams-Sonoma and at Southern Living. An honor graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, James has traveled the world searching for great food in all corners of life.