a spanish take on gin and tonic

we were in spain again last month – madrid and valencia. the two cities are very different but there was one thing we encountered in both places – a love of gin.

i didn’t realise how passionate the spanish (in these two cities at least!) are about gin and tonic. most bars we went to had separate gin lists – 20+ different types seemed to be par for the course although in some places we saw as many as 40, listed with information about the country of origin, alcohol content etc. there was often a similarly large variety of tonic water available – some “plain” and others flavoured, such as with elderflower (the bar pictured above, la pureta in valencia, had 29 types on display).

often the menus suggested specific pairings of type of gin and types of tonic, with different garnishes – gin club in madrid suggested a grapefruit wedge with beefeater 24; cardamom, lemon and orange peel with seagram’s extra dry; cucumber and rose petals with hendrick’s.

the drinks were often served with a huge amount of ceremony and we saw people swill the gin around their glass (large balloon/wine glasses, filled with ice), smell the aromas, add their tonic and repeat before having a taste.

it was great fun rediscovering a drink that previously felt familiar and predictable. i was similarly entranced by the bar snacks, which were as likely to be fruity gummy sweets as salted almonds!