Updated June 13, 2022. Pure. Classic. Clean. These are just a few words to describe what truly makes a stellar gin and tonic.
The best gin and tonics are the super simple ones. All you really need is a great gin, a good tonic water, and a touch of bitters that complement the flavor you like most in gin. And of course, there are various personal preferences for the flavors that the individual ordering the drink likes.
However, the trick is really getting those basic ingredients right, says Michael Burgess, co-owner of Vienna’s Hawk & Griffin. “Only using high-end gins and finding a tonic water that will add a slightly different level to the way in which the gin presents itself is what truly makes a difference.” Having excellent bartenders who know how to put them together in the glass is important, too, Burgess adds.
So while the drink may be simple, finding somewhere that serves a good one can be hard. Here’s where you’re bound to find a great gin & tonic in and around NoVA.
While relatively new, opening its doors last June, Hawk & Griffin is a British pub located in Vienna. This pub not only offers a gin & tonic, they take it one step further by having an entire menu devoted to them! Some popular ones include the Highclere Castle Gin (made with lavender and linden flower and inspired by the herb garden at the castle where Downton Abbey was filmed) and Monkey 47, an interesting mix of 47 different botanicals with a sweet floral aroma. With approximately 20 different versions of the classic drink to choose from, you are bound to find a favorite here. 435 Maple Ave. W., Vienna
Named after the city famed for the Running of the Bulls, Pamplona is a Spanish tapas-and-sangria restaurant in Arlington. While the lemongrass-flavored gin & tonic is always popular, Pamplona switches up the flavor a few times a year and is currently serving the Arga 13 on the menu. This take on the classic gin & tonic features Tanqueray Rangpur, Aperol, tonic water, lemon, and mint. 3100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington
Located in Reston Town Center, Barcelona Wine Bar is a tapas bar that features an evolving menu inspired by Spanish culture and featuring specialties from Spain and the Mediterranean. While a wine bar may not be the first place you think of when you think “gin & tonic,” this bar offer five takes on the classic drink including fruit, leaf, and flower. 12023 Town Square St., Reston
If you’re looking for an experience to go along with your drink, a trip to the Alex at the Graham in Georgetown just might be worth the trip. The Alex is a craft-cocktail cellar and speakeasy that offers a drink with a unique name and presentation: the Bathtub Gin & Tonic. This fun drink features house-steeped gin, tonic, flora, and lime, and it’s served in a mini-bathtub. 1075 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, Washington, DC
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