Gin and tonic evolves as demand for premium grows
FRED and Ginger, Morecambe and Wise, Batman and Robin, Ant and Dec… there’s no shortage of enduring partnerships.
And, when it comes to drinks, gin and tonic has certainly gone the distance.
Thought to have originated in India in the early 1800s when British soldiers would mix medicinal quinine powder with water, sugar, lime and their gin ration to mask the powder’s bitter taste, gin and tonic has gone on to become one of the most popular spirit and mixer combinations.
According to figures from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), the UK consumed the equivalent of 1.32 billion G&Ts in the 12 months to September 2017.
And the popularity of the gin and tonic isn’t expected to wane any time soon.
What is changing, however, is the range of options available.
As the number of gins on the market has soared in recent years, so too has the number – and styles – of tonic.
Jen Draper, head of marketing at Franklin & Sons, said a ‘one size fits all’ approach to gin and tonic “simply doesn’t work”.
“Research has shown that 44% of consumers are more likely to choose premium mixer offerings in the on-trade, which highlights the fact that consumers are becoming more aware of what they are pairing with their spirits,” she said.
With consumer knowledge of mixers improving, there’s an opportunity for venues to establish a reputation for innovative serves and perfect pairings, said Draper.
Therefore, to make sure each style of gin is catered for, it’s essential outlets stock a range of different tonic waters.
“Juniper-forward gins, for example London Dry, require a good strong foundation with a balance of sweetness and bitterness, such as Franklin & Sons Natural Indian Tonic Water, taking the quinine from Ecuadorian cinchona bark and sugar from British sugar beet,” said Draper.
“Floral or citrus gins benefit from less sweetness, with half the sugar and no artificial sweeteners, the Franklin & Sons Natural Light Tonic Water protects the light botanicals of the spirit for a perfect pairing.
“For berry-based gins, such as sloe gin, there is almost certainly a requirement of something special to bring out the best in the spirit.
“The zesty and citrus nature of Franklin & Sons Sicilian Lemon Tonic creates an undeniable mouthfeel; the tonic balances sweetness of the berries with bitterness and essential citrus oils of the lemon.
“Just like a Michelin-starred chef wouldn’t use the finest ingredients and pour granulated gravy over the top of their creation, bartenders don’t want to spoil their premium spirits with sub-par mixers.”
Amy Burgess, trade communication manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), which launched the Schweppes 1783 range of premium mixers – comprising Crisp Tonic Water, Light Tonic Water, Golden Ginger Ale, Salty Lemon Tonic Water and Quenching Cucumber Tonic Water – last October, agreed that the rise of premium spirits has had a knock-on effect on the mixers category.
“We expect premiumisation to keep driving growth in the drinks market for years to come, as almost three quarters of consumers buy premium spirits when in a pub or bar and nearly half would rather order a premium spirit when buying a long mixed drink,” she said.
“The spirits market has been having a ‘ginaissance’ over the past few years, with gin bars popping up all over the country. New gins are launching regularly, from craft offerings to new flavours and variations of popular brands, leading to almost a quarter more gin being sold than last year.
“Needless to say, gin is the key spirit driving the premium trend and remains one of the top spirits in the on-trade. As a result, consumers are now thinking more carefully about the mixer they want to pair with their favourite gin.”
Serves can be simple and effective
Pink Gin & Tonic
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Schweppes Slimline Tonic Water
Maldon sea salt
Pour gin into a highball glass. Add cubed ice and top with Schweppes Slimline Tonic Water. Garnish with a slice of pink grapefruit and Maldon sea salt on the rim of the glass.
– supplied by CCEP.
50ml Martin Miller’s gin
Mandarine Napoleon Lime
Top with Franklin & Sons Indian Tonic.
– created by Hoxley & Porter, London, supplied by Franklin & Sons.
Sloe & Low
50ml sloe gin
200ml Britvic low cal tonic water
5ml lemon juice
Fill a wine glass with ice cubes followed by the gin, tonic and lemon juice. Add lemon wedges or circles to garnish.
– supplied by Britvic.