Growing up, we had a neighbor, John, who would come over for a drink on random afternoons. My dad started stocking Beefeater gin in the freezer to have on hand for him, because he loved his gin and tonics.
The first time I tasted gin, I was not a fan. Liquor that tasted like Pine-Sol? No thanks. But now I appreciate the juniper tang, and I love a good gin and tonic. It’s simple and refreshing on a hot day. It’s got that perfect balance of tart and sweet, of bubbles and booze… John would be proud.
Because of John’s penchant for London Dry gin like Beefeater, for a long time, I thought that was the only type of gin there was. But a couple years ago, I started hearing about other types of gin: Plymouth, Genever, Old Tom.
When my boyfriend moved in, he brought a bottle of Ransom Old Tom with him. I loved it.
I took advantage of his bottle for this recipe, because its slight sweetness helps balance the citrus of the blood orange.
But let me geek out a little bit over Ransom, the company that makes the gin I used in this recipe. Ransom is a local distillery (they’re located in McMinnville, Oregon), which is always cool. Even cooler? Ransom worked with a historian to make its award-winning Old Tom Gin as similar to the original 1800s recipe as possible. They age it in barrels and distill it with six botanicals: orange, angelica root, cardamom, juniper, coriander and lemon. Little wonder it works so perfectly with this recipe.
Fan-girling over – back to the recipe. I knew I wanted to use blood orange for its bright color and slightly tart flavor. The lime juice amps up the tartness and the simple syrup mellows it out, but you could leave out the lime juice and the syrup for a simpler cocktail.
The tonic water and angostura bitters are key. I couldn’t find any plain old tonic water at the store, so I got this fancy stuff that also has angostura bitters. It saved me a step (and cost me a pretty penny), but it worked just fine. Old-school Schweppes and a dash of bitters always do the job.
I happened to have leftover basil in my fridge, and the herb paired really nicely with the orange. Mint would also be a great garnish. Serve this in a coupe glass for a particularly Prohibition vibe. Cheers!
Blood Orange Gin and Tonic
- 1½ ounces Old Tom gin
- Juice of one medium blood orange about 1½ ounces
- Juice of half a lime
- ⅓ ounce simple syrup
- Tonic water
- Dash of angostura bitters
- Sprig of basil for garnish
- Measure gin and pour into a tumbler.
- Squeeze orange and lime juice into glass,
- Add simple syrup.*
- Add a couple of large ice cubes and give it a good stir.
- Fill glass with tonic water, followed by a couple drops of bitters.
- Stir once more and garnish with basil.