In Spain, the gin and tonic -- or the "gin tonic," as the Spaniards abbreviate it -- is sipped with reverence. Bars in Madrid and Barcelona are devoted to the bracing, bittersweet cocktail, and unlike many of the thoughtlessly slapped together versions encountered in New York, the ones they meticulously craft are considered works of art.
Caitlin Doonan, beverage director of Toro -- the loud, fashionable Chelsea edition of big-shot Boston chef Ken Oringer's original -- took this beloved booze ritual to heart when peppering the tapas restaurant's drink menu with several G&Ts that "celebrate the spirit's different botanicals," she explains.
One of the concoctions is the earthy Atencion Gratuita with Bols Genever and Fever Tree Bitter Lemon Tonic, topped off with lavender bitters. Sweet vermouth adds a layer of depth while bright lemon-mint notes come courtesy of aromatic thyme syrup. "The awesome thing about thyme is that it's so forceful, it's easy to infuse," Doonan points out. "This drink is like a Basque herb garden."
1 ½ oz. Bols Genever
½ oz. Vya Sweet Vermouth
½ oz. thyme syrup
2 dashes lavender bitters
Fever Tree Bitter Lemon Tonic
Shake ingredients over ice and pour over ice. Top with tonic and garnish with a lavender sprig and lime wedge.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
4 fresh thyme sprigs
Combine sugar, water and thyme in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir frequently until sugar dissolves. Let cool to room temperature and strain.