The Perfect Gin & Soda, I.M.H.O.

These days, I drink more Gin & Sodas than anything else. And I’ve got it down to a science.

It’s not really about quality ingredients. I have no doubt that a perfectly prepared gin & soda containing bathtub gin and no-name soda water is more palatable than a miserably prepared gin & soda made with Tanqueray No. TEN and a soda siphon.

It’s in the process, not the product.

Based on my experience this recipe is perfect for scorching mid-days by a cold pool in the tropics, frigid nights in the dead of winter with or without a fireplace, before a massage, during a massage, after a massage, while reading Hemingway; Dickens; Kerouac; Hunter S.; Ayn Rand; Foster Wallace; National Geographic or watching films; good or bad. While thinking about your failed career(s) or dreaming up some new ill-fated venture. While in the driver’s seat, passenger’s seat or back seat. It goes best with electric company or profound loneliness. With food or without. Morning, afternoon and/or night. In either hemisphere. On any continent.


The Glass: It must be a high ball. Low ball glasses are simply a waste of time unless you are drinking something neat or straight-up. If you can manage it, the glass should also be frosted. This feels quite refreshing on the lips and will prolong the lifespan of the drink. Mixing your next drink in the same sweaty glass should be avoided. The pace with which I drink these, this can become a challenge.

The Ice: Fill the high ball to the brim with the largest, freshest, clearest ice cubes you can find. Perfectly square ice cubes are a fine bonus, but not necessary. You should not be able to squeeze one more cube into the glass if you try. Yes, it’s a lot of ice but the goal here is to finish the drink before too much of the ice melts and waters down your beverage. If you’re planning on having a few, or sharing, make sure your ice is well stocked before beginning. Ice rationing is the leading cause of terrible gin & sodas.

There is no such thing as an undrinkable gin & soda, but there is such a thing as a perfect one.

The Gin: This is the easy part. I use Gordon’s London Dry because it is the cheapest bottle in the store in Panama. But you can use whichever brand you’d like. Just know that it won’t make a difference. Pour at least two ounces over the ice.

The Limes: Do not use lime wedges, bottled lime juice or cordial. Use the softest limes you can find. Roll them on a countertop. Cut them in half making a slice between the two nipple-ends. Using some kind of squeezing/juicing tool, juice about one lime for each drink you plan on having. As with the ice, make sure you’re well stocked. Add half an ounce of lime juice to the ice and gin.

The Soda: Your glass should be about half filled with liquid by now (or half empty if you’re drowning sorrows). Fill the rest of the glass up with club soda or soda water. Depending on your glass size it should take almost half a can. If you’re using an open two litre bottle of soda, ensure it’s well carbonated. When in doubt, throw it out.

Stir with anything long and thin. A skewer or chopstick will work. Or a thin knife. If you use a straw, use it only for stirring. Do not drink the beverage with a straw. Straws have no place in a cocktail.

Do not under any circumstances add herbs or spices, cucumbers or any other salad ingredient, berries, lime minute-aid, margarita mix of any kind, slush, sorbet, plastic ice cubes, or fruit juices or purées.

Drink responsibly, sometimes.