Colonial G&T

Delve into the past with this short, intentionally un-carbonated version of a G&T.

The Colonial G&T isn’t just us messing around with one of the all time greats; it’s a way to explore the history of this fantastic drink.

This ventures way, way back to Gin and Tonic’s first date – prior to the days of mass carbonation, happy hours and ‘just the one’ Wednesdays.

1 serving
  • 50 ml Gin
  • 15 ml Tonic Syrup
  • 10 ml Fresh lime juice
  1. Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake hard and fast.
  2. Strain into a rocks glass with ice and garnish with lemon.

We all know what a good old G&T can do for the soul. It parts the clouds, stops the rain, let’s in the sun in and sets your shoulders on a dancing trajectory. It is equal to tea as the national drink of Britain and is a cocktail that far exceeds the sum of its parts.

This version may seem as riff on the iconic concoction, but it may well be the original. After all, the history of the G&T is murky at best and has its origins in medicine, tonic wines, the Colonial Empire and a cultural shift in drinking for recreation and pleasure rather than for medicinal use. Thankfully for us though, this cocktail is so Old School it's gone full circle and feels decidedly modern. 

What Gin works well in a Colonial G&T?

Tonic syrups are, unsurprisingly, really bitter. Picking earthy gins that accentuate that finish don't fair well in this cocktail. Instead, plump for loud, citrus forward gins to liven up the journey.

Top Tips:

Stir rather than shake this drink if you prefer a less zesty and more bitter drink. It's also a good drink to pre-batch and keep in the fridge if you are having guests around and serving it up as a digestif.

colonial gin and tonic cocktail drink
colonial gin and tonic cocktail drink


Gin and Tonic was allegedly, originally made as a concoction created to administer quinine to the troops, but the drink was not quite the one we’re accustomed to today. Initially it was most likely administered as a pill to be washed down with the daily ration of spirit (or made into syrup and mixed in). Quinine was absolutely offensive to taste. And let’s not get too carried away with praise for the saviour of this situation – while the quinine cordials were foul, the gins and other spirits of the era had very little to celebrate either.

As part of an event held in London to discuss the past, present and future of the Gin and Tonic, the folks at Martin Miller’s Gin thought of a way to create a modern interpretation that would fit today’s palate. They used a tonic reduction comprised of: 1l Fever-Tree tonic, 6 crushed juniper berries, 6 black peppercorns, 12 coriander seeds, 1 whole zest of lemon, half a pink grapefruit zest and two green cardamom pods.

The spices were given a hell of a bruising via pestle and mortar, then added to a pan with the citrus peel, where the zest was gently pressed to extract the oils. Tonic water was added and the liquid heated until it had reduced by half. The mixture was then sieved and left to cool.

As much of a faff as this is to make, it makes for an utterly delightful, tongue-bruisingly complex drink and really brings to life the history of the cocktail. Short and more intense, it’s ideal for those who like the flavours in a G&T’s but don’t want to drink something carbonated.

Luckily for you, dear readers, tonic syrup is now readily available to buy on both sides of the Atlantic. Bermondsey Tonic Water selling their version in the UK, Jack Rudy catering to the US market and ¾ Ounce Tonic taking pride of place in Canada. For an enjoyable history lesson with the the home made reduction, grab a bottle and get cracking!

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Martin Miller's Gin
Martin Miller's Gin
Warner's Harrington Dry Gin
Warner's Harrington Dry Gin
Sipsmith London Dry Gin
Sipsmith London Dry Gin