Welcome to the G & H Cocktail Club! Every week we bring you an exciting recipe with a story curated by beloved bartender Mike Wolf.
Spanish Gin & Tonic
Like many people, I’ve been dreaming of faraway vacations on white-sand beaches, or a blue-tiled fishing village in Portugal, or anywhere in Spain…but as it looks like international travel could be on hold for a while longer, I think I’ll take a vacation in a glass and make a gin and tonic. But, not just any gin and tonic, I’m talking about the incredibly immersive, botanically-focused Spanish Gin & Tonic. In my book Garden to Glass, I speak of the mindset of infusing as you drink, which allows a garnish to become an integral part of the cocktail – infusing into the liquid while you sit and enjoy your slowly-morphing libation. The Spanish-style G & T is the perfect embodiment of this idea, as different botanicals are added according to the flavor profile of the gin, the season you find yourself in (winter is a good time to open the spice cabinet for some star anise and cinnamon), and what’s available in your garden.
Throughout the Basque region of Spain – a mecca of food and drink culture – the “gin tonic” is ever-present. There are a few rules to follow: use a glass with a wide mouth (a large wine glass is perfect) to fully experience the aroma of the drink and go easy on the gin. This is a drink to linger over, nibble a bite here and there, and bide your time while deciding what’s for dinner. If you’re used to adding 2 to 3 ounces of gin in your usual gin and tonic – a method I like to call “tough day” cocktailing, as in “it’s been a tough day, I need a stiff one” – try about half of that amount and focus on good quality tonic water, herbs from the garden and botanicals from the pantry, like spices and peppercorns. Traveling the world through the glass in your hand has never been so easy. As they say in Spain, hasta la pro’xima vez, until next time!
Spanish Gin & Tonic
1.5 oz. Bristow Gin (or any botanically bolstered small-batch gin)
1 Dash of Regan’s orange bitters (or any aromatic bitters you have around)
6 oz. Tonic water* (I like Q Tonic, Jack Rudy, and Nashville’s own, Peninsula Tonic)
5 Pink peppercorns
2 Lemon verbena leaves
1 Thin swath of lemon peel
1 Sprig of rosemary**
Combine ingredients in a large goblet-style glass, wine glass, or anything with a wide enough mouth that you’ll be able to enjoy the aromatics of this elegant, complex sipper. Notice how the drink changes as it warms up and the botanicals slowly infuse into the cocktail.
*Whether you’re just beginning to enjoy cocktails or are a seasoned home-bar veteran, it’s time to start thinking about upping your tonic water game. By sidestepping the standard Schweppes or Canada Dry, you can find a whole world of small-batch tonic waters in your local bottle shop or online. Q Tonic, Fever-Tree (which boasts up to 8 different tonic varieties), and popular regional varieties like Jack Rudy and Peninsula are just a few to be on the lookout for.
**Feel free to add any fresh herb you have the kitchen or garden. Some of the most common kitchen herbs (thyme, parsley, oregano, bay leaf) will add a pleasing boost of aroma to your cocktail.
Remember, making and drinking cocktails should be a pleasurable experience. If you don’t have the brands listed, don’t be detoured; try it this time with what you have on hand.
About Mike Wolf
Writer and cocktail innovator Mike Wolf has made a name for himself crafting thoughtful and equally delicious libations inspired by shifting seasons and southern terroir. From building the bar program at Husk alongside venerable chef Sean Brock, to opening the tiki bar, Chopper, to writing Garden to Glass: Grow Your Drinks from the Ground Up and now a second book, Lost Spring: How We Cocktailed Through Crisis, Wolf has maintained a down-to-earth sensibility rooted in his homegrown garden in Nashville, blooming with upwards of 30 different herbs and vegetables dedicated to very best cocktails.