When it comes to summer in Atlanta, there are few drinks as refreshing as a gin and tonic. It conjures up images of crisp white dresses and linen pants, croquet on the lawn and lazy weekend afternoons on the porch out of reach of the sun’s harshest rays. Delightfully herbal and bitter, ice cold, always carbonated and with a twist of tart lime, the humble G&T is finally seeing a healthy revival on the American drinks scene. From classics to riffs that might make the toes of the faithful followers of this British highball curl, we’ve found five gin and tonics in Atlanta well worth sipping.
Don’t let the name fool you. South City Kitchen-Vinings has created an exceptionally smooth and bright G&T using the Austrian pot-stilled gin Reisetbauer Blue and the UK’s own Fever Tree Tonic. This gin isn’t your typical juniper-heavy mixture of botanicals but rather a beautiful balance of floral, citrus and herbal components that make it pleasant to sip even neat. Nothing Fancy is deceptively soft with a hint of bitterness, making it the perfect gin and tonic for first-timers wary of the cocktail’s sometimes unpalatable reputation.
South City Kitchen-Vinings, 1675 Cumberland Pkwy. SE, Smyrna. 770-435-0700, vinings.southcitykitchen.com.
Seville Orange G&T
Spain’s recent infatuation with the gin and tonic has given rise to beautiful fruit-forward riffs that highlight the country’s citrus and grape-growing regions. Cooks and Soldiers stays true to its Spanish roots, giving the G&T a place of honor at the top of its cocktail list with three choices: classic, lemon or Seville orange. The Seville is the truest of the Spanish-style G&Ts using house tonic, Greylock London dry gin and a hat tip to the motherland with Seville orange juice. The drink is slightly sweet and sparkly with hints of bright orange notes. It’s a solid choice for those looking for a cocktail that lies somewhere between wine and sangria.
Cooks and Soldiers, 691 14th St. NW, Atlanta. 404-996-2623, cooksandsoldiers.com.
Bar Margot’s house gin and tonic is a swanky lounge sipper using fizzy lime cordial, nutty and rich Amontillado sherry, and mellow yet herbaceous Ford’s London-style gin. This thoughtfully curated rendition has just enough piney notes to satisfy the hardcore G&T fan while allowing those seeking complexity the satisfaction of knowing that the basic components are intact and only enhanced by the sherry and cordial. Garnished with Thai basil, the Gin Margot is classy and sassy without going overboard.
Bar Margot, Four Seasons Hotel, 75 14th St. NE, Atlanta. 404-881-5913, barmargotatl.com.
Listed under the “Soda” category at Amer, this G&T gets tiki-ed by adding Denizen aged white rum, pineapple and the rhum-based creole shrubb (an orange liqueur) to the classic ingredients of Broker’s London dry gin and Fever Tree tonic. Bar manager Shanna Mayo says she wanted to “church up” the humble imbibe with a bit of Caribbean bling. The crystal clear concoction likens itself to the classic at first glance but once you start sipping, this gin and tonic transforms from wallflower to showstopper with the continuous interplay of bittersweet and tart moments on the palate.
Amer, 299 N. Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-600-5895, ameratlanta.com.
Long Bottom Stretch
Ticonderoga Club recognized the need for a house gin and tonic to pair with its seafood-heavy dishes when they transitioned their cocktail menu from cold to warm weather drinks. The Long Bottom Stretch gives club-goers a wickedly clever G&T that neither bores nor strays too far from its roots. This refreshing riff is a souped-up version of the classic, playing up the juniper and tart components with lime cordial and the gin-like flavors of Benedictine. A bit of salt tones down the sweetness of the cordial and any excess bitter notes from the combination of the gin and herbal liqueur. The result is a beautifully balanced cocktail for sipping on a hot Atlanta evening.
Ticonderoga Club, Krog Street Market, 99 Krog St. NE, Atlanta. 404-458-4534, ticonderogaclub.com.