Gin and tonic

Tonight, we organized a company-sponsored happy hour to say goodbye to one of our colleagues who was temporarily based out of the New York City office for the last year. He’s originally from the Bay Area, and he and his girlfriend spent the last year living here with his girlfriend finishing up her degree. The place we went to was a mid priced spot in the Nomad area of town, and with cocktails ranging from $14-18, I figured it would probably be safe to order a gin and tonic.

Boy, was I wrong.

For me, my liquor of choice, whenever anyone has asked me, has always been tequila. The problem with tequila (well, there are a lot of problems with tequila…) is that a) most people really hate it, b) even people who can handle alcohol well tend to not do so well when they have tequila-based drinks or a tequila shot; their bodies just do not react well, and this tends to result in the worst hangovers. And then c) there’s no go-to cheap/moderately priced well drink you can easily get with tequila. It’s not like rum and coke or vodka cranberry. What are you supposed to order — a tequila sunrise? Meh, I don’t think so.

Then last month, when we were exploring the Barossa Valley, one unexpected visit to a gin distillery had me hooked right away to gin — no, not crappy gin, but really good gin. But what I learned, and which some other Australians were trying to educate me on a few months at a dinner party, is that while you need to have good quality gin to have a good gin and tonic, the quality of the tonic may also be the maker or breaker of how good that G&T is. This really nice bartender/educator did a tasting with us, and he talked through gins and tonic waters, and he told us that his general rule is that if he’s at a bar and sees the bartender using a hose-dispenser to dispense “tonic,” it’s an immediate pass for him on the G&T. Given my reactions to this whole experience, Chris said that G&Ts could be my go-to drink. While I wanted that to be true, I had a feeling I would probably hate most gin and tonics at most places given how discerning one needs to be when picking out the two main components of this mixed drink.

And tonight, I ordered the gin and tonic… and it was hate at first taste. The second I had the sip in my mouth, I knew it was all wrong. The gin itself tasted fine, but the tonic was just the worst. It was nearly flat. And it had no taste at all. It was subtly sweet, but had zero character. I was mid-conversation when I drank this and really didn’t want to interrupt it to send this horrible drink back. So I sipped it until it was gone, and then got the drinks menu to order a cocktail off the list, which ended up being much, much better.

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