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Elderflower Gin and Tonic - Consumatorium

Elderflower Gin and Tonic

Elderflower Gin and TonicA few weeks ago, Dave posted a link to an article on our Facebook page entitled, How to (Seriously) Upgrade Your Gin and Tonic. It’s a great article and you should check it out if you haven’t already. It got me thinking. I love G&Ts. They are a go-to summer drink for me both at home and when I visit a restaurant or bar. Let’s face it, even ignorant bartenders usually get the mixology pretty close. There are only two ingredients, they’re both mentioned in the name of the drink and only one even need be measured – the Gin. It’s just a great, easy, refreshing summer drink.

Like many people, the term Gin & Tonic has meant Tanqueray and Tonic to me for as long as I can remember. The tonic part being whatever I found at the grocery store – usually Canada Dry or Schweppes. The article got me thinking about how I’m stuck in a rut and with all the new Gins and tonic waters available, and maybe that I should try some new variations and, perhaps, even stretch myself to, dare I say? A third ingredient. [audience gasps in horror . . . ]

In an unspeakably bold move, I chose to try out the additional ingredients path first. Life is short, right? Since there is plenty of bitter available from good tonic waters, I went the sweet route and tried a few obvious ones. Cointreau, Limoncello and St. Germain. The Cointreau was ho-hum and the Limoncello was sorta overpowering but the St. Germain was just right. The Elderflower Liqueur works very well with the bitter of the tonic and the aromatic flavor of the Gin.  I tried it with several Gins and liked the effect with Plymouth Gin and Bombay Sapphire the best. Tanqueray was too complicated and Hendrick’s too mild.

Then I mixed the Gin and St. Germain with each of the following tonic waters:

Why is this important? Well, first of all, all of these tonic waters taste different. They have varying amounts of quinine, which changes their taste and antimalarial efficacy, just in case that was your goal in drinking G&Ts. Second, they have different quantities of sugar in them – the quantity next to the name, above. If you use the same amount of St. Germain with each of, say, Canada Dry and Q Tonic Water, you get very different tasting results. If it’s just right for the Q Tonic, it’ll be a little too sweet with the Canada Dry.

Elderflower Gin & Tonic

Elderflower Gin and Tonic Recipe

Collins Glass
  • 1-1/2 oz Gin (I preferred Plymouth Gin)
  • 3/4 oz Elderflower Liqueur (I used St. Germain)
  • 4 oz Tonic Water (I like Q Tonic Water best)
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Add Gin and Elderflower Liqueur to the Collins glass. Add ice to fill about 2/3rds of the glass, then top off with the Tonic Water. It’s a good idea to give a bit of a stir to the ingredients with a bar spoon, but not vigorous enough to flush the bubbles out of the tonic. Garnish drink with a lime wedge.

The Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water makes an excellent drink, probably more like the classic that the British Raj drank on the Indian Subcontinent a century ago. I find it a bit too bitter, though. The Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water is better, IMO. The Q Tonic is basic, has small bubbles that seem to last forever. It adds the bitter flavor without taking over the drink. I like the fact that it’s lower in sugar as well.

Why You’ll Like the Elderflower Gin and Tonic

The addition of St. Germain adds a touch of sweetness and flavor to the drink that is absurdly complimentary. Like they should have always been together. Of course, a Gin and Tonic is highly customizeable. Make it the way you like. Experiment with various Gins and Tonics. Definitely try it with St. Germain, though. It somehow feels like an upscale and tastier version of the original. 

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About Will Herman (103 Posts)

I don't know what it takes to become a professional mixologist, but I'm going to night school at my own home bar to achieve that status. For now, I'm an amateur cocktail creator who enjoys learning about new drinks and rediscovering the classics.


  1. I wonder: have you tried fever tree’s elderflower tonic yet?

    • A2H, yes, we have tried few drinks with it including gin and tonics! Unfortunately, while we like the tonic, itself, we don’t think it makes a particularly good G&T. The compromise in the bitter tonic taste and the sweeter elderflower taste just don’t seem to balance well. That’s why we like using the liqueur and tonic separately. If your taste tests are different, please post! We love to hear what others have discovered.

  2. I’ve been enjoying Elderflower G&T’s for a while now and may have found the perfect gin for this simple concoction. It’s a barrel aged gin called Rusty Blade. Its slightly warmer/richer flavor plays well with the St. Germain — and, since the aging makes it look like “brown goods,” I feel better about drinking it all winter long. 🙂


  3. Christopher Earle says

    Would a Tanqueray, Bombay, or Bombay Sapphire mix well with this? The traditional Bombay is very junniper floral so it might be the best choice of the three?

    • Christopher, sure thing. Plymouth is our go-to gin, but the London Dry gins will work as well. The Tanqueray will, of course, have its strong unique taste. The proportions will work out great. The Bombay (and Sapphire) are a little lighter, so you may want to increase the gin or decrease the elderflower just a bit.


  4. Jeff Stouffer says

    Made one of these. Independently. With Q. GOOOOD!

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