Sipping a good Gin and Tonic is like finding a 20th-century oxford shirt in the closet and realizing that you can still wear it downtown tonight without looking out of step with the century we’re stuck in.
But that hasn’t stopped mixology-besotted bartenders from trying to make it better. You’ll find a few of them who can’t resist filling a glass with more and more flavor dimensions, creating a Gin and Tonic that’s such a complicated spectacle, you barely recognize it. The good news, though, is that plenty of fresh and successful variations are being dreamed up by bartenders and restaurateurs who don’t view the word “restraint” as an epithet.
For instance, Cata, a Spanish restaurant on the Lower East Side, offers a staggering array of gin and tonics: 25 at last count, although the list keeps growing and evolving. It’s drink menu includes a lavender Gin and Tonic, a licorice one, another with cilantro, another with star anise and another with the aromatic oil from a big orange peel. Each version uses a specific gin.
And Oceana prides itself in stocking not only gins from around the world, but four different shades of tonic: sweet, bitter, citrus and spicy. The Midtown restaurant makes its own tonic, although operators are divided as to whether it’s worth the trouble to do that.
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