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A Foolproof Guide to Pairing Gin and Tonics Perfectly, Explained by a Gin Researcher!

“I think the gin and tonic is probably the most overrated yet underrated drink out there!”

Those are not the words one usually expects to hear from Atlas Bar’s own Gin Researcher and Beverage Director, Yana Keller, given her bar’s reputation as the ultimate go-to spot for gin and tonic lovers. But, Yana elaborates: “It’s overrated because most of the time people aren’t really pairing their gins with the right tonic for that bottle, so what you get can be quite underwhelming or discordant. But if you’re able to nail the gin and tonic pairings, man, that’s when you can really maximize the flavours!” 

Atlas Bar in Singapore is famously home to the world’s largest collection of gins, each stored in the multi-storied, glimmering Atlas Gin Tower. The bar takes their gin so seriously that they even have their own in-house Gin Researcher to research, collect and catalogue (in Dewey Decimal system no less) the hundreds of gins in their collection.

After years of interacting with patrons who have frequently sought advice on which gins to select and which tonics to pair them with, Yana finally developed the Atlas Bar Gin and Tonic Wheel - her own foolproof guide for anyone looking to curate the perfect gin and tonic combo. Here’s how you can steal her method to become a gin and tonic expert yourself! 

First Things First… What Makes a Good Gin & Tonic?

For Yana, a good gin and tonic incorporates complementary flavours to build layers into the drink. Similar to cooking, when garnishes are added as a way to add nuance and contrast, the tonic should also help to enhance the botanicals in the gin. 

“I always encourage people to pair their gins with a tonic that is on the opposite spectrum of flavour,” Yana explains. “So for example, if you have a citrusy gin, I wouldn’t recommend pairing it with a tonics like Yuzu Tonics or Indian Tonics that has a lot of citrus characters. Rather, something more savoury might work. Another example is if you’re drinking a fruity gin, rather than adding more fruit to it, you can think about adding a bit of spice to enhance the other botanicals in the gin. I might add a ginger ale instead of tonic water to a fruity gin.”

3 Steps to Curating Your Perfect Gin and Tonic… 

Atlas Gin and Tonic Wheel Cheatsheet

Save this cheatsheet!

Taste can be subjective, and if you’re wondering how the heck you can build contrast and complexity into your gin and tonic everytime, save this cheat sheet and reference it as a guideline. Here’s how you use it!

Step 1: Decide What’s Your Desired Flavor Profile of the Moment: Ask yourself what you’re craving at the moment! Today, are you looking for a Gin & Tonic that is…:

  • Citrusy
  • Fruity and tart
  • Floral
  • Savoury and herbaceous

Step 2: Select a Gin within one of the Flavour Groupings that falls under your desired Flavour Profile: Once you’ve selected a desired flavour profile in Step 1, look into the innermost circle of the wheel to find the corresponding list of gin flavour groupings. For example, if you’re looking for a floral G&T, you should select a gin that falls within either the citrus, floral, luscious or fruity flavour grouping. A good way to find different gin options that would fall under each flavour grouping is to reference the Atlas Gin Bible here, which sorts and categorizes a wide array of different gins under their respective flavour groupings.

Step 3: Select a Complementary Tonic: Finally, to find a tonic that complements your gin of choice, select from the tonic options that are in the corresponding quadrant. If you wanted a Savoury and Herbaceous gin and tonic, for example, the Tonic Wheel recommends a more herbal tonic such as a grapefruit & rosemary tonic or a Mediterranean tonic. 

What If I Already Have A Gin in Mind, and I’m Just Looking for a Tonic to Pair With?

Alternatively, if you already have a specific gin expression you want to use, you should first determine the broad flavour grouping it falls under (either by referencing official tasting notes, online reviews, or doing a quick Ctrl-F on the Atlas Gin Bible!). You can then identify which tonics to pair it with, keeping in mind your desired overall G&T flavour profile.  

The Method in Action:

To test out the Atlas Gin & Tonic wheel, I wanted to build myself a Fruity and Tart G&T today. Based on that, I filtered down the possible gins that I should pick from to those that were either Spiced, Citrus, Luscious or Floral.

I decided to use a gin that leans towards the Spice profile for added contrast, then flipped through the Atlas Gin menu to find gins that classified under this category. I eventually chose Elephant Gin, a German gin that uniquely uses African spices such as pimento berries, devil’s claw and buchu. I then chose a Rhubarb tonic to pair with the spiced Elephant Gin. As garnish, I added a lemon peel twist and some black pepper for added spice and tartness.

The result? An absolutely refreshing G&T that was so drinkable - subtly sweet and fruity from the rhubarb tonic, but still with a nice contrast of spice and citrus to keep things interesting! 


Happy sipping!