Madrid Has Perfected The Gin & Tonic!

Filed Under: Travel

I just wrapped up an awesome long weekend in Madrid. It’s a gorgeous city with friendly people, and I actually quite prefer it to the other parts of Spain I’ve visited. Which sort of surprised me, since I wasn’t expecting that to be the case.

Of all the things I love about Madrid, I might just like their gin & tonic culture the most.

A bit of background, first. I love gin & tonic. It’s my mixed drink of choice. Up until now I’ve been perfectly happy with Hendrick’s gin and just about any type of tonic water. Heck, in the US I’m even impressed when I go to a bar or restaurant and am served cucumber with it.

But Madrid takes gin & tonic to a whole new level. Just about every place I’ve been has about a dozen choices of gin, and actually make them in a way better than I’ve seen anywhere else.

For one, every single bar and restaurant has had specific gin & tonic glasses, which I love. They’re sort of like wine glasses, except thicker and larger. I’m such a fan that I’m actually shipping some back to the US, given that they’re that awesome (hence my checked baggage situation from earlier).


But it’s not just the presentation, but actually how they’re served. In every single instance they’ve been mixed table-side, in creative ways I’ve never seen before. For example, yesterday the server first poured the gin in the glass table-side, and then poured the tonic water into it with great precision over a bar spoon, which apparently causes the tonic water to sink to the bottom and mix in better. Brilliant!


Ugh, I could have stayed in Madrid forever. I’m not someone who usually picks up things from my travels, given that I have nowhere to put them (after all, I live out of a carry-on so don’t really value material possessions). But I loved the gin & tonic glasses so much that I had to bring them back to the US, since based on a Google search I haven’t been able to find them for sale in the US (if I’m missing something, please let me know).

Bottom line

If you’re a gin & tonic lover like I am, you have to visit Madrid. It has taken a lot of self control to not go to a different place for a gin & tonic for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.

Anyone have a similar experience in Madrid, or love the gin & tonic glasses there as much as I do?

  1. Lucky,

    I can’t agree any more that the Spanish do Gin and Tonic right! I just wanted to say that if you go to Jose Andres’ restaurant Jaleo (in DC and Vegas) or The Bazaar at the SLS Beverly Hills, they make them just like they do in Spain. I was just at The Bazaar this past weekend and they were amazing…plus give his other drinks a try too!

  2. Someone after my heart…although I do prefer Tanqueray 10 to Hendricks in my G&Ts. Absolutely agree that Madrid is awesome…so much better than BCN. The food in San Sebastian, though…

  3. Glad to see this post with some details about the local food and drink. A great change from some of the more normal posts talking about CX, LH, SQ menus and which is better in F or J.

  4. I never knew Madrid was big on G&Ts. Thanks for the tip. I’ve done BCN more than MAD, but as a G&T fan your post moves MAD up on my list of re-visits.

  5. If you ever get the chance, try Greenhook Ginsmiths based out of Brooklyn, NY. The best gin out there…all of the blends.

  6. @jack – Yawn. Then go somewhere else. A diversity of readers requires a diversity of topics. You’d likely enjoy a newspaper that only covered badminton.

  7. yep going to have a G & T in less than a hour, after I leave work. Thought some bars in London do a pretty good job also.

  8. Lucky, since you have the good taste to like gin, check out Monkey 47 Schwarzwald gin sometime. It’s from Germany and it’s just amazing. Not widely available, so I order it from K&L Wines (but they have a location in LA in Hollywood). Check out the reviews from the K&L staff members at the link below:

  9. Ben, I didn’t know you were a G+T guy. Now that I do, just want to say that you should definitely try Old Raj gin if you haven’t already. Glad to hear you are having fun on your travels.

  10. I was in Madrid last week and I too noticed the attention paid to the gin & tonic. A delightful trend! Even at my favorite café in Chueca, they serve the gin & tonic with style and flair. (Almost makes me forget the ridiculous T4S.)

  11. If you’re ever in San Francisco, you should visit Aaxte. They have great tapas and 54 types of gin. It’s pretty amazing!

  12. Was in Madrid earlier this year thanks to Malaysian Airways business class. Absolutely loved it, and especially the Gin culture. We sampled a whole variety – each served with their own accompaniment and particular tonic. My new favourite is Bulldog London Dry, served with some berries. Sounds odd and sweet, but was actually delicious. I also loved the free pour – especially once I learnt you were meant to say ‘stop’. Stayed on the top floor of the Hotel de Letras – perfect location on the Grand via, but not too far from Chueca, and the three big art galleries: Prado Thyssen-Bornemisza and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.

    Man was meant to have an afternoon siesta, take a drink in the evening, and eat around 9:30pm. Hope you found some of the rooftop pool/bars like La Terraza de Arriba

  13. Hendrick’s is an excellent gin, but it’s a shame if you turn around and mix it with “just about any type of tonic water.” What an easy way to ruin good gin. My personal favorite is Jack Rudy Tonic Syrup. It’s small craft – made in Charleston, SC – and stirred with gin and soda water. The quality of the tonic is just as important as the quality of the gin if you want a top shelf G & T.

  14. You must try Aviation gin. The St. Regis in Abu Dhabi makes a great G&T with Aviation, some whole spices and dehydrated fruit.

  15. Love a Hendricks G&T with Fever Tree or Q Tonic. And cucumber is an absolute must with Hendricks, while lime is fine with others.

  16. H&T

    becomes more gentle. florals, and sweeter. H is better with a lemonade and the sweet and corriander comes out.

    (don’t do H as a martini) that is a common mistake.

  17. I just moved Stateside after living in Madrid for two years, and the gin and tonics they serve are one of the things I miss most. Also, gin bottles are half price there compared to the US. 😉

  18. Physics-wise, I’m not sure about that claim that the tonic will sink. It should just follow the spoon to the surface without splattering as much, thanks to hydrogen bonding. Any physicists out there who can confirm?

  19. @Chris: right about the splattering, wrong about the H-bonding. The spoon is used to make sure the tonic pours and mixes gently in the glass (laminar flow), thereby preserving carbonation; pouring the tonic straight in the glass results in turbulent flow and corresponding loss of carbonation.

  20. Just wanted to reiterate the first comment by David: Go to any Jose Andres’ restaurant! Jaleo would be my recommendation.

  21. Sounds delicious! Hendricks is my all time favorite standby, but love to sample interesting / local varieties as well while traveling. You may want to check out 214 Bermondsey, City of London Distillery Bar, or Graphic next time you’re in London. Each of them stocks well over 200 different gins for enjoyment!

  22. I love g&t’s but you absolutely cannot mix it with “just about any type of tonic water”. You’re ruining the taste and flavor of the gin.

  23. Try Gin and Schweppes Bitter Lemon 🙂

    If in US, you may have to use some yuppy brand like Fever Tree as Schweppes Bitter Lemon is hard to find.

    Readily available in LH Senator lounges and all over the UK

  24. G&T is my favorite drink (there is NOTHING better on a hot summer afternoon, particularly to accompany long sun-soaked hours of conversation…) but I had no idea there was such a diversity of both gins and tonics. Thanks, commenters, I’ve learned something today!

  25. If it has not been mentioned the best gin out right now is from Spain . Gin Mare .

    It is only available through one distributor in the USA and is completely different (and better) than most of the gins out right now

  26. Another one for gin Mare from Spain although Sharish gin from Portugal is as good. G&T culture has grown a lot in Portugal and Spain.

  27. All great suggestions but I stick with the trust worthy Tanqueray and Schweppes. I’ve tried several of the tonics listed, while all good IMO Schweppes is still the best. I also like a sprig of mint mashed in the base of the glass for extra flavor.

  28. Ben, I do hope you’ll try all the previously mentioned gins, tonics and combinations – preferably on the same day / night. I’d love to see your post afterwards 😉

  29. Love everything about Spain especially their food, bars, people, art and the list goes on. But London is the home of the gin and tonic and now is also home to any number of boutique gins & distilleries. Gin is having a renaissance worldwide and is going the way of Vodka with its upswing in varieties, cultures and distilleries. Sydney and Melbourne along with Hong Kong and most bars through Asia have been riding the Gin wave for some time. And its not just the gin, as others have mentioned, the different tonics play a part. At high end places such as Per Se they make their own tonic on the spot – very special! Always been a gin girl so am delighted to embrace this trend!!

  30. Yet another recommendation for you: Try the gin bar at Traymore Hotel on South Beach with over 30 artisanal gins.

  31. Love a G&T, anyplace we can order these glasses (Amazon isn’t throwing anything up from my admittedly lazy searching)?

  32. the other thing about drinking g and ts in Madrid – or anywhere in Spain – is that the measures are huge. I think they just pour until you tell them to stop (something I keep forgetting to do)

  33. All of Spain is obsessed with Gin & Tonics, not just Madrid. You’ll have the same experience just about anywhere in Spain.

  34. I travel a lot for work but give me Spain or Portugal any time in summer for many reasons inc the g&t ! There’s nothing better drinking a refreshing g&t after a hard day’s work. I look forward to the tasting sessions after work when we all choose a different g&t cocktail in the large bowl glass full of ice with a different gin, tonic and extras ! Consensus of our tasting sessions is G’vine gin (floraison) mixed with fever tree Mediterranean tonic with slices of green grapes………mmmm

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