If you order a Gin & Tonic in Spain, don't be surprised when the waiter brings you a bouquet of herbs over a floating fruit salad in a balloon vase. Embrace it. Much like what sangria is with wine, the GT is more a gin ceremony than a mixed drink — complete with fruit, herbs, spices, and ample garnish.
“Gin & Tonic has probably always been the favorite gin drink for Spanish people,” says Giusepe Santamaria, himself a Spaniard as well as the Campari Brand Ambassador for Spain. But the drink is more of a style than a recipe, and no two are the same. Most bartenders have what they call their own "perfect serve," which refers to their specific combination of tonic, herbs, fruit, and garnishes chosen to complement the selected gin based on the gin's flavor profile. We've found that it's hard to overdo it.
Rules of the Spanish Gin & Tonic
1. Use a giant glass. The ‘balloon glass’ is preferred, but a large red wine glass would suffice. The most basic version includes two shots of chilled gin poured into the glass then garnished with fresh mint leaves and a lime wheel and top with tonic. But few Spaniards stick to this simple version of the drink…
2. Add fruits and vegetables. Think of this as a gin sangria, and toss in lemons, grapefruit, lime, orange, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, or cucumbers.
3. Make ample use of herbs and roots. Beyond mint, try ginger, anise, basil, or licorice.
4. Experiment with spices. Popular additions include cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cilantro, red pepper flakes, curry powder, and lemon zest.
5. Don't be embarrassed by the garnishes. From herb bunches to flowers, carved fruit to small branches, this is meant to be a somewhat flamboyant drink.