Skip the gin: 5 other drinks to pair with tonic

While SA can’t resist a good ol’ G&T, maybe it’s time to pair your tonic with a different spirit

07 March 2019 - 10:52
Tonic is called the ketchup of the bar, time to get another sauce to pair it with.
Tonic is called the ketchup of the bar, time to get another sauce to pair it with.
Image: 123RF/Dmitry Moiseenko

If you are fond of a tipple while socialising, you have probably partaken in the massive local gin craze. There are myriad festivals and frivolities dedicated to the worship of the liquor, spawning a market of over 135 gins produced by 65 companies (and counting), now worth roughly R1.3bn. That’s a lot of hangovers.

But as much as it’s been fun jollying up what was once grandma’s favourite post-nap bracer, isn’t it time to move on? Nothing permanent - think of it as a booze mistress; a weekend special to liven up your Friday night routine.

We’ve had all sorts of beverages lay claim to being “the next big thing”. Rum had a moment, now there are whispers about brandy. We’re not convinced. Until there is a serious contender, here is a list of spirits that go splendidly with tonic.

Splash out and get into the mix.
Splash out and get into the mix.
Image: 123RF/liligraphie


Think of this as a local interpretation of mezcal - your tonic’s new best friend. It is ridiculously smooth and, curiously, has a hint of chocolate among the smoky-honey flavours, thanks to burning the heart of the agave in a fire pit. It’s sexy; get into it.


This is Aperol if it stopped wearing orange rave colours and made out with an artichoke. It might sound like the title of an art film but Cynar is a bittersweet liqueur, made predominantly of spices and artichokes. It has been an Italian staple since its introduction in 1952. Make it a permanent fixture in your home.


Another firm favourite across the Mediterranean, the Spanish take on vermouth and tonic is enough to bring a fiesta to your taste buds. Rosso or Bianco, it’s up to you, but it is advisable to throw a slice of orange and an olive into the mix for absolute perfección. And tapas on the side, of course.

Spice up your home bar with something a little different.
Spice up your home bar with something a little different.
Image: Supplied


There is practically nothing Pimm’s can do wrong. It is the jolliest of sundowners and it’s the kind of drink that is even better when shared, so best grab a jug and some strawberries and invite your friends over. The Queen would approve.


Since we are weaning you off grandma’s gin, we’ll allow you grandpa’s dessert wine. Sure, we are legally not allowed to call it sherry any more but you’ll still get the taste when you pair this dry chenin and colombard-based fortified wine with berries and tonic, like they do in London Town.