What's better than one bank holiday? Two! If you're planning to break out the gin to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, we've got the insider tips you need to wow your guests with the perfect gin and tonic.
From whether you need premium tonic to which glass to use and how much ice you need, we've quizzed the gin experts for the lowdown on how to make sure your gin sings and the party goes with a swing.
We've also, of course, put them to task blind-tasting 20 supermarket and big-brand gins to find the best bottles to buy. See our guide to the for the ones we recommend, including a brilliant buy for less than £20.
While a beautiful bottle might catch your eye when you're wandering the supermarket aisles, don’t be swayed by looks alone when choosing gin. Our taste test found that the best gins didn't always come with the fanciest wrapping.
When choosing a gin to suit you, look for additional flavour notes that appeal, for example citrus, or a particular herb. Juniper is essential for a spirit to be labelled gin, but it’s one part of an often complex mix of botanicals (herbs, spices and other plant-based ingredients) that help influence the flavour of the spirit.
If you want a sense of occasion or style, then balloon glasses – which have become popular in recent years – are a good choice. Just don't pick anything too heavy, or too big, otherwise you may need an extra shot of gin.
But with style comes a slight drop in suitability. Our experts warned that the way you typically hold a balloon glass, and the shape, can cause your drink to warm up faster. A hi-ball glass, packed with ice (see more below) is generally the best bet for an ice-cool and perfectly balanced G&T.
‘Run out of ice, run out of party,’ one expert warned. When it comes to ice, the mantra, is the more the merrier and the bigger the better.
Packing in plenty of ice might seem counterintuitive, but it actually means your G&T won’t get diluted by the ice melting too quickly, as it keeps things cooler overall and the ice therefore melts more slowly.
If you're partial to a G&T, it’s worth keeping your gin in the fridge so it's cooler to start with (along with the tonic) and the ice doesn’t have to work as hard. Our experts said if the ice is floating in your drink, you haven't got enough.
It's not just about ice, chilling tonic (and the gin) helps. The cooler the better, basically.
Our experts advised that cans of tonic are best for occasional drinkers to avoid it going flat or being wasted, whereas bottles are more suited to larger gatherings as you're more likely to finish them.
Don’t get too hung up on fancy tonics – particularly flavoured ones. Our experts warned you don't want the tonic to compete with the gin, especially if you've splashed out on a top gin.
They favoured Schweppes or any plain tonic water as a classic choice, but did single out Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water as a premium one worth paying for, saying it complemented citrussy gins nicely.
A slice of lemon or lime is a tried-and-tested classic, and pink grapefruit is a bright and zesty alternative if you want to up your gin garnish game – particularly if you are going for bigger balloon glasses.
Don't squeeze the citrus, though; rub it around the edge of the glass.
For added drama, try a sprig of fresh rosemary, basil or thyme to jazz up your drink. Cucumber divided our experts, but matching or complementing the core flavour notes can add another level to your G&T.
Don’t be tempted to add trendy bitty extras such as juniper berries or peppercorns – our experts aren't fans, saying they don't really add flavour, and aren't much fun to fish out or try and avoid while drinking.