If one had to pick the official cocktail of summer, the gin and tonic would win. This classic drink is simple and great as is, but it’s also ripe for customization, and I’m not talking about spinning chrome drink coasters.
There are some great new brands of tonic popping up, usually naturally sweetened with agave nectar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. Q Tonic claims handpicked quinine from the Peruvian Andes, while Fever-Tree boasts all-natural ingredients with high carbonation. Some of these tonics are half the size and at least twice the price of familiar brands, but I like them well enough. People usually describe them as less sweet and softer than standard tonic, though a similar effect can be achieved by pouring half tonic, half soda, sometimes called a “sonic.”
You should only pour cold tonic (it helps preserve the bubbles), and refrigerating the gin and glassware will keep the drink from watering down too fast. I love the addition of orange bitters (skip the brown original varieties) to the drink, or small dashes of Campari, Aperol, Pimms, or Green Chartreuse.
Really, I have nothing against your neighbors, the Joneses, but I like you beating them to the punch—or tonic, as the case may be.