A kicked-up G&T

It’s just a gin and tonic, pretty much … but my own spin on it. We frequently drink G&Ts this way once the weather starts getting warm (and it’s starting right about now), and I never really gave this much thought until a bar manager from Asheville, NC wrote in recently. He found my recipe for our G&T variation on the recipe pages and liked it so much he’s putting it on his bar menu. (Wow, thanks!)

I didn’t do much to it, really, but it does make for a lovely drink. Sipping this made me think of sitting on the porch of the Columns Hotel, watching the streetcars go by, and inspired me to give this G&T its own name.

The St. Charles
(Chuck’s Gin ‘n Tonic, slightly kicked-up with a taste of New Orleans)

2 ounces gin.
1 ounce fresh lime juice.
4 healthy dashes Peychaud’s Bitters.
4-5 ounces tonic water, to taste.
Peel from one lime.

Remove the lime peel with a vegetable peeler, leaving most of the white pith behind. In a tall Collins glass, add the lime peel then the gin. Muddle the peel slightly in the gin to release the oils. Let that sit for a few minutes if you have time (proceed if not); then add the lime juice and bitters (don’t be shy with the bitters — big dashes, shake from the elbow). Fill with ice, then top with tonic water. Stir to mix, then garnish with a lime wedge and a swizzle stick.

We’ve long eschewed plain ol’ supermarket tonic water (Schweppes, Canada Dry, etc.) — too sweet, not bitter enough. Then there’s the abomination that’s “diet tonic water” — never ever ever use this. It’s horrid.

Any gin and tonic will reach a new height when one of the newer, high-quality tonic waters like Fever Tree, Q Tonic or Stirrings is used. If you want tonic water with some real kick to it, add a pinch (about 1/16 of a teaspoon or a bit less) of powdered quinine — it’s horribly bitter stuff in any significantly greater quantity. Or, if you’re really hardcore, make your own tonic water. It’ll take care of your malaria, too.