I have — and it was delicious.

By Sara Tane
January 14, 2021
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Everybody knows their go-to well drink order — everyone has that liquor and carbonated mixer combo over ice that just hits the spot. Well, for the sake of honest and transparent journalism, my go-to well drink is not a gin & tonic (it's a vodka soda with lime. Sue me — I'm basic). Of course, if a gin & tonic is in front of me, I'll happily drink it (as long as it's my first alcoholic beverage of the hour and I'm drinking it alongside an 8 ounce glass of water — always drink responsibly!)

All of that said, imbibing during the winter can be tricky. Ice cold cocktails don't satisfy a thirsty palate quite like they do on a hot summer day. The answer to this temperature dilemma is simple — bundle up and drink a hot cocktail, instead. If a gin and tonic is your beverage of choice, there's a genius way to turn this traditionally iced concoction into a warm, cozy wintertime cocktail.

The problem with turning these mixed drinks into warm cocktails is the carbonation factor. Warming up a carbonated beverage is asking for trouble — it can change the flavor profile of the mixer and it loses its signature fizz. Instead of warming up tonic water (which I do not recommend at all), the answer to a warm G&T lies in one key ingredient: tonic syrup. 

When I whipped up my Hot G&T, I followed this simple recipe from Thrillist. To be clear, I am not the mastermind behind this cocktail. Drinks historian and Sipsmith gin master distiller, Jared Brown, is the genius behind this Gin Twist-adjacent cocktail. A classic gin twist is made up of gin, hot water, lemon and sugar, so to differentiate this Hot G&T, Brown decided to add tonic syrup. It's fruity, citrusy notes play off the woodsy, floral notes of gin for a well-balanced, delicious cocktail (and no carbonated tonic water needed).

Tonic syrup is by far the greatest gift that this experience of whipping up a hot gin & tonic has given me. While you could make your own at home, I scooped up a bottle of Lost Identity Citrus Tonic Syrup at my local liquor store. (There are also plenty of other tonic syrup options available online if you don't see a bottle at your go-to package store.)  This is definitely an ingredient that I will keep near and dear for many cocktails to come. It was the ideal balance of sweet, bright, floral, and citrusy, and alongside gin, fresh citrus, and hot water, it made for a delicious cold weather sipper.

Buy It: Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Classic Tonic Syrup ($16.99, amazon.com)

My issue with a lot of classically warm alcoholic beverages is that they're so rich. Boozy hot chocolate, Irish coffee, boozy apple cider, mulled wine — all of these drinks are delicious but they can also be quite the sugar bomb. What I particularly enjoyed about the Hot G&T was its lightness and simplicity. No need to worry about a sharp sugar migraine the next day because most of this drink is hot water. (It is basically a cleanse!) For me, I've always wanted to get excited about hot toddies, but whiskey just… isn't my thing. What can I say? I'm a clear liquor kind of girl. That's why a Hot G&T is a great solution for a person like me — in need of a hot, boozy drink for the winter but not terribly excited about a super rich cocktail or anything involving dark liquor. But the biggest learning here? Tonic syrup deserves a space on your bar cart, ASAP.