gin and tonics in glasses

If there is a simpler yet more satisfying cocktail than the gin and tonic, please tell us about it; we’re all ears. In this timeless rendition of the sipper, as assembled by chef and recipe developer Ting Dalton of Cook Simply, you will find just gin, tonic water, and some fresh lime juice. There’s really nothing more needed.

"There are so many different types of gins and different types of flavors and ingredients," Dalton says of the riffability of the drink, "but my favorite is always the classically refreshing gin and tonic with lime juice. It’s perfect as an aperitif before dinner or a refreshing drink whenever you fancy it." And while you should try this classic in the proportions Dalton lays out, don’t be afraid to go heavier on the tonic for a lower ABV version, heavier on the lime for more tang, or heavier on the gin for more kick and less sweetness.

Gather your ingredients for a classic gin and tonic

gin and tonic ingredients

All it takes to make this classic drink is gin, tonic water, a lime, and ice. There’s not much that can go wrong here. Just make sure your tonic water is effervescent; only tonic that is "fresh and fizzy" lends itself to a great gin and tonic.

No lime? No problem. "If you don’t have limes, you can use lemons, which work just as well," Dalton assures.

Assemble the cocktail

hand pouring gin into glass

Get your glasses, and fill them with a good handful of ice. "For extra cold gin and tonics, you can chill the glasses before making them," Dalton says. Squeeze the juice of two lime wedges into each glass, leaving the squeezed wedges in the glass atop the ice. Next, add gin to each glass, then pour tonic water into each, adding enough so that they are nearly topped up.

Then, using a stirrer, mix the gin and tonics well.

Garnish the glasses and serve

gin and tonics with metal straws

Stirred and ready? Great! Serve the drinks right away, with an extra lime wedge tucked over the edge of each glass for good measure. Once you’ve got this basic recipe down, feel free to experiment with different kinds of gins, garnishes, and more.

Where did the gin and tonic come from?

gin and tonics in glasses

While the actual origin story of the gin and tonic is lost to the ages, we at least have an idea of its early days. As the story goes, in the 19th century, British soldiers and colonialists who found themselves in faraway parts of the world also found themselves dealing with illnesses not known back in Great Britain, like malaria.

As quinine (derived from cinchona tree bark) was considered an effective but unpalatable treatment for malaria, it was regularly offered to Brits mixed with soda water and sugar — a rudimentary form of what we now know as tonic water. Adding gin (already a British favorite) and citrus came naturally, and soon enough a drink born out of necessity became a worldwide pleasure.

  • 2 cups ice
  • 2 ounces gin, divided
  • 5 ounces tonic water, divided
  • 1 lime, sliced into 6 wedges
  1. Fill 2 glasses with ice.
  2. Squeeze the juice of two lime wedges into each glass. Leave the squeezed wedges in the glasses atop the ice.
  3. Add 1 ounce gin to each glass, then pour half the tonic water (2 ½ ounces) into each.
  4. Stir drinks to combine ingredients.
  5. Add a fresh lime wedge to each glass. Serve straight away.