5 Twists On The Classic To Try For International Gin And Tonic Day - Exclusive

"The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen's lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the Empire," said prime minister Winston Churchill – the first prime minister that Queen Elizabeth worked with – per the Independent. Seems like kind of an odd thing to say, but he was right. As the British worked to expand their empire in the 1800s, malaria was deadly, and they fought the disease with quinine. Made from the bark of the cinchona tree from South America, quinine was bitter tasting, so British army officers were said to have started blending it with gin, soda water, and sugar to make it more palatable, according to India Times News. Soldiers received a daily ration of a pint of wine or a third a pint of gin or rum as a way to boost morale, so the liquor in question was easy to come by, the National Army Museum notes. Such is the story of how the gin and tonic cocktail was created. Vance Henderson, U.S. National Ambassador for Hendrick's Gin, explained to The List that he thinks the drink has such longevity "because of its simplicity and crisp, clean taste."

In honor of the drink, October 19 is International Gin and Tonic Day. And for a twist on the classic tipple — which is 2 ounces of gin with 4 to 6 ounces of tonic with a lime garnish — here are five ways to change up your gin and tonic from the subtle to the elaborate.

Whale and Tonic

An understanding of how gin is made can help you really appreciate a refreshing gin and tonic. It's made from distilling a neutral grain spirit and then steeping it with botanicals; juniper berries are used to make all gins, but the different botanicals added by different gin makers creates different flavor profiles from gin to gin.

Gray Whale Gin gets their botanicals from California, along the migratory path of the gray whale, hence the name, and they include a not so often used botanical to make their gin — sea kelp. The List asked Gray Whale Gin co-founder Marsh Mokhtari for his recommendations for a twist on the classic gin and tonic. They call it The Whale & Tonic, and it's 2 ounces of Gray Whale Gin, 5 ounces high quality tonic — they recommend Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic water — served over ice and garnished with a lime wedge. The twist on the classic is to add fresh mint. Pro tip on the mint, slap the mint in your hands to help release the aromatics, per VinePair.

Gin and tonic with elderflower

To bring out floral flavors and add some sweetness in your gin and tonic, add 1 ounce of elderflower liqueur to 2 ounces of London Dry gin and 2 to 3 ounces of tonic water, per Garnish With Lemon. You can also make a mocktail option of the same drink by using non-alcoholic gin and elderflower cordial along with your tonic water.

Gin and tonics are typically made with a version of a London Dry gin, which is heavy on the juniper flavor and includes no artificial flavoring, Bon Appétit notes. Examples include Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray. Other types include Plymouth gin, which is more citrus-y, and Old Tom gin, which is sweeter and used in the classic Tom Collins cocktail.

Empress and Tonic

If you want to bring some vibrant color to your gin and tonic, use Empress 1908 Gin. Inspired by the Fairmont Empress in British Columbia Canada, the gin gets its iconic deep purplish-blue color from butterfly pea blossom and black tea. For the ideal Empress and Tonic, combine 2 ounces Empress 1908 gin and 3 ounces tonic water, and garnish with a grapefruit slice. Their recommendation is to use a copa glass filled with ice. 

A Copa glass, short for Copa de Balon glass, looks a bit like a red wine glass and its shape helps the gin breathe and open up while also keeping the aromas trapped, per Gin Observer. And since it has a stem, when you hold it, the heat from your hand won't make the ice melt faster.

Supersonic Gin & Tonic

Hendrick's Gin, made in Scotland, gets its unique flavor in part by infusing it with rose and cucumber. The Hendrick's Gin twist on the traditional is the Supersonic Gin & Tonic — it takes a few steps but it's sure to be memorable.

Start by making espresso and let it get cold. Make a batch of simple syrup, a 1:1 mix of sugar and water, per Liquor.com. In a highball glass over ice, mix together 2 parts each of Hendrick's Gin and of tonic water with 1 part each of cold espresso and simple syrup. Don't forget to gently stir and garnish. 

Vendome Spritz

One of the bonuses of a gin and tonic is that it's quick and easy to make, no cocktail shakers or advanced bartending skills. But if you do want to show off your cocktail making skills, the Vendome Spritz from the Atlas Bar in Singapore should do the trick. 

Make a batch of rich simple syrup, which is two parts sugar to one part water. Then bust out your cocktail shaker, and combine .5 ounce each of lime juice, grapefruit juice, and simple syrup along with 1.5 ounces of dry vermouth — they recommend Cinzano 1757 — .5 ounce of Nikka Coffey Gin, which is a Japanese gin that's more citrus-y than most others, and 1.5 ounces of London Essence Grapefruit & Rosemary Tonic, via Robb Report. Shake and strain into a glass over ice.