I didn’t always like gin. I used to think all gin tasted like drinking a Yankee candle. Ew. But as my cocktail obsession developed and I became a grown up, I branched out to explore more spirits beyond my safer standbys like whiskey and rum. My newfound love affair with gin started with Negronis, a phase in which I am still very much enrapt. But something else I’ve come to love is a well made gin & tonic. In fact, I’m basically obsessed nowadays. That's thanks to dexterous cocktail programs that source high-quality spirits and tonics, mixing and matching with great success.
Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago has a new gin & tonic menu at its downstairs bar. Various gins, tonics, and mixers lend themselves to several cocktails that show the incredibly delicious versatility of the almighty tipple. There’s a Singapore Sling made with Bombay London Dry Gin, Cherry Heering, Benedictine, fresh lime, and angostura; a Corpse Reviver outfitted with Plymouth Gin, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, Cocchi Americano, Pernod, and fresh lemon; and an Aviation featuring Aviation Gin, fresh lemon juice, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, and Rothman & Winter Violette liqueur. For each cocktail, the menu lists a recommended tonic pairing. And I very much appreciate the classic G&T glass, which is basically the size of a huge soup bowl on a stem.
I had another recent G&T excursion at bom bolla in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. These ones go down real easy, making it dangerously easy to slurp down several during the course of a meal. For each version, of which there are many, the bar pours two full ounces of the gin of your choosing, accented with a house tonic and various heady garnishes. I especially liked the Xoriguer Mahón, a Spanish gin, which gets mixed with Indian tonic and bedecked with a thick sliver of spicy ginger.