GIN and tonic is one of the all-time classic bar calls, but the spirit isn’t the only side of the serve that has evolved in recent years.
There are now more tonics and garnishes on the market than ever before, and therefore more options open to venues that want to provide the perfect gin and tonic.
The garnishes and mixers a bar stocks “can make or break your gin and tonic”, according to Justin Horsman, marketing controller for Franklin & Sons at parent company Global Brands.
Taking a similar stance, Nathan Burrough, director at Bon Accord, the firm behind the recently launched 200ml tonic water serve, agreed saying “it’s a good idea to stock a variety of mixers with varied flavour profiles, that complement different spirits and garnishes”.
Fergus Franks, on-trade manager at Fever-Tree, reckons “flavoured tonic waters are a fantastic way for operators to switch up and refresh their G&T offering”.
Echoing this view, Horsman at Global Brands said flavoured gins “need something unexpected” from their tonic counterparts.
Flavoured tonic waters are a fantastic way for operators to switch up their G&T offer.
For example, he reckons that rhubarb-flavoured gin “requires a bit of spice to lift the tartness of the spirit”, while berry-based gins need a tonic water with “something special to bring out the best in the spirit”.
The mixer isn’t the only way to influence and enhance a gin’s flavour profile. Using the right garnish is another crucial factor in bringing out the best in any gin serve, said firms.
“Garnishes typically can both harmonise with a gin’s key flavours, or contrast and balance them,” said Horsman.
“For example, some gins include no citrus botanicals during distillation, in anticipation of being served with an orange or lemon garnish.”
Franks of Fever-Tree agreed and said garnishes are a vital component to any good gin and tonic.
“Garnishes can really improve the experience of a G&T and bring the full serve to life,” he said.
“For example, a citrus twist or fresh herb is often the best to complement, but not overpower, a great-tasting G&T.”
Operators should also keep an eye on the provenance and premium credentials of gin mixers when switching up their offer.
That was the view of Bon Accord’s Nathan Burrough, who reckons consumers are “increasingly interested in matching premium spirits with premium mixers”; and, where possible, to pair Scottish brands.
“If the pairing works flavour-wise, people intrinsically want to put two Scottish products together,” said Burrough.
Andrew Jackson, marketing director at Fentimans, agreed with the importance of pairing premium mixers with premium spirits.
He said: “It’s really important for operators to make sure they have mixers that will not only keep gin interesting, but that also appeal to their customers with people looking more and more for interesting flavours and premium products with provenance.
If the pairing works flavour-wise, people want to put two Scottish products together.
“Keeping ahead of the competition by stocking a varied range of mixers can be as important as having a large gin offering as customers like to try new variations of their favourite drinks.”
To further capitalise on the trend, operators can promote their offer to maximise interest and sales.
Jackson reckons operators “can decorate their back-bar imaginatively”, as well as collaborate with gin producers to create interesting serves.
Another wise step to take is to create a G&T menu, advised Franks of Fever-Tree, who said a menu can help engage customers “who need education and inspiration, particularly as there are such a dizzying array of gins out there”.