Tanqueray and Tonic. Really?

Categories: Booze

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John Kiely
Gin drinkers, for the most part, are a particular crew. We'll find a gin, perhaps the first one we try, and stake a position, like Coke and Pepsi drinkers. I was no different when I made Bombay Sapphire my house gin. There's nothing distinctive about Sapphire, but as the label declares--a cleaner, crisper, more balanced taste--the gin lends itself to a gamut of drinks, which is why you'll find it in many bars.

Often I see "Tanqueray and Tonic" in magazines and recently on a huge billboard near the Galleria. Among the drink's many enthusiasts is my sister. I suspect they are suckers for advertising.

A blind taste test might seem in order here, but that won't satisfy my question: Is Tanqueray good enough to sway me from my usual gin and tonic habits? Instead, I set up a simple head-to-head competition, using not one, but two different tonics. And for the fun of it, I tossed in Plymouth, which I recently discovered makes a delightful Pink Gin.

First, I sampled the gins straight up. Bombay Sapphire tastes of juniper, and the other botanicals make it dry and astringent. Tanqueray is stronger with the juniper, but more full-bodied and smooth. I didn't know juniper could taste that good. Plymouth is citrusy with a cardamom heat, easy on the juniper, and smooth. Plymouth is what vodka wishes it was.

Then I mixed the gin and tonics: two ounces gin, two ounces tonic, cubes of ice, with a fat wedge of lime. For each gin I used Q-Tonic, a favorite of mine, and with three separate drinks I used Fever-Tree, which was new to me.

Plymouth and Q had a washed-out taste, like a failed soda pop. Plymouth and Fever-Tree mixed more distinctly, but was too citrusy.

With Bombay Sapphire and Q, the astringency came through, as did the quinine and a general gin flavor. This is a gin and tonic that I surmised would be hard to beat. I followed with Sapphire and Fever-Tree. The taste was less astringent, with a bitter taste, and for lack of a better term, it "jangled" my tongue.

Tanqueray and Q brought out the juniper, but the other gin botanicals and tonic ingredients interfered with each other. Sapphire had Tanq on the ropes, until I mixed the Tanqueray with Fever-Tree. It was a knockout. The juniper complemented the quinine, orange oil, and whatever else Fever-Tree puts in there. Sorry, but the ads are old now, it's "Tanqueray and Fever" for the win.



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27 comments
Grtherrien
Grtherrien

Have you tried Oxley Gin? The only place I have found it is Spec's on Smith St, I think it is the best clear spirit I have ever had!

Guest
Guest

Certainly worth a consideration, as Texans are already putting out premier spirits in their categories--Tito's Vodka, Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whiskey, Pura Vida Tequila come to mind..

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

I was in Madrid last month and my bartender made me the most refreshing gin & tonic I've had, ever. He used Citadelle Gin (french) and tonic from a small bottle, I believe it was Schweppes. Then he cut a huge sliver of lemon rind and rubbed it against the entire rim of the cup before dropping the lemon rind in the drink. It was perfection.I came back to Houston and ordered a gin & tonic with Bombay Sapphire because they didn't have Citadelle (the options were Tanqueray, Beefeaters and Bombay Sapphire). The bartender here made it with tonic from the soda gun, then dropped a wedge of lime in it. Not even in the same ballpark. So now my go-to is Citadelle gin.  But I'm curious, does anyone have an opinion on Bluecoat gin? 

Ted Stickles
Ted Stickles

I'd just like to say that I FUCKING OCCASIONALLY ENJOY GIN AND TONIC and my girlfriend hates it.

Fejsplace
Fejsplace

I started drinking Tanqueray back in the mid 70's and spent many a night on the higher end of a buzz from it. I have tried the Bombay Sapphire and never really cared for the taste.  You are right about one thing, the different tonic waters will affect the taste of the overall drink. When  I go to a bar, have never gone as far as specifying a brand of tonic water to go with my gin though. I guess I wouldn't be considered a "purest" gin drinker because of that and because I happen to prefer mine with a wedge of lemon instead of lime.To be truthful my first choice is a Beefeater and tonic. That for me is what makes my eyes roll back in my head!

second hand circle
second hand circle

Tanqueary and fever Tree is also my preference. Very refreshing. And honestly, there's really not much difference between Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire (or regular Bombay, for that matter). Being said, genuine Brits will drink Tanqueray long before Bombay, if choosing between these two.

If someone insists that Bombay is the best, they probably also believe Grey Goose is good vodka. Fools.

A couple of suggestions – for a gin of the same ilk, at a slightly lower price point, try Greenalls. Or jack up the citrus with Tanqueray Rangpur.

trisch
trisch

I've been drinking Tanqueray and tonic since long before I ever saw any ads for it anywhere. I grew up sneaking sips of it out of my parents' cocktails, and it's my hubby's g&t of choice. From time to time, I'll wander away to Bombay or some other gin, but I always end up back with Tanq.  I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with being a sucker for advertising and everything to do with my flavor memory and how I perceive a gin and tonic "should" taste.  That said, I may need to give this Fever Tree stuff a try.

Kghoutx
Kghoutx

bluecoat is excellent.  I was in specs once when they did a sampling.  Initially I refused to taste it (being a Brit gin snob) - big mistake - now my favourite gin and always with Q tonic and lemon

Guest
Guest

A few years back I compared Sapphire and supermarket Schweppes with Sapphire and Q-Tonic.  That's when I discovered that corn syrup wrecks cocktails.  European Schweppes uses sugar, as does locally available Schweppes Indian Tonic, which is why your Citadelle and tonic was indeed delightful.

mollusk
mollusk

In most bars (at least that I frequent) the tonic comes out of the soda gun anyway, and there is no other variety...one does well for the bartender to remember to give it a half squirt of water to clear out the Diet Coke or whatever was zapped out immediately before.

trisch
trisch

Beefeater and tonic with key lime makes for some pretty damn good summer sipping.

second hand circle
second hand circle

Upon second read, this post is pure nonsense. Someone liking Tanqueray and tonic has nothing to do with an advertising campaign. It's been a standby gin for generations.

It's akin to saying "My sister drinks Miller Lite. She must have been duped by the advertising, because my old favorite Bud Light is so much better." Or, "Why would my sister ever order sausage on her pizza instead of pepperoni? Is she insane? She must have been influenced by the new sausage campaign."

You act like Tanqueray is some obscure boutique brand gin. Per the analogy above, it's a commodity. It's a fucking run-of-the-mill solid quality gin that's been around for decades and decades, much like Bombay. It's the same shit! They both probably produce a gazillion gallons of their product annually.

And this part, your quote about Bombay Sapphire: "There's nothing distinctive about Sapphire, but as the label declares--a cleaner, crisper, more balanced taste--the gin lends itself to a gamut of drinks, which is why you'll find it in many bars."

YES RIGHT ON THE SHELF NEXT TO THE FUCKING GREEN BOTTLE OF TANQUERAY!!!! You act like this shit is from Mars. They're both $20 bottle of gin for christsakes!!!!

Guest
Guest

Fever-Tree Tonic, available at Spec's and Rice Epic, about $5 per 4-pack.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Thanks, Kghoutx!  Next gin purchase will be Bluecoat.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Europeans also have a lovely aqua blue tonic called Nordic Mist that isn't available here, either (I've been looking for it, and it's only available in Europe).  Looks like i'm going to have to pick up some Fever Tree or the Schweppes Indian and do a side by side with the Citadelle & Tanqueray to see which one I like better. I have a huge bottle of Tanqueray that is severely underutilised.

Fejsplace
Fejsplace

Yep that's true. In reality, after 2 or 3 or 4, you're not going to be able to tell the difference between the gin, the tonic, lemon or lime or even what kind of glass it's served in!!

second hand circle
second hand circle

and one more thing, again per this:

"There's nothing distinctive about Sapphire, but as the LABELDECLARES--a cleaner, crisper, more balanced taste--the gin lends itself to a gamut of drinks, which is why you'll find it in many bars."

It sounds like YOU were the one influenced by advertising.

CameronByars
CameronByars

Looks like they also make a ginger beer. Can't wait to try that!!

Maggie_Mae
Maggie_Mae

Oh, no!.  I'm having a flashback.

How many G&T's should I use as a remedy?  Science demands I try the various combinations of gins & tonics mentioned here.....

Guest
Guest

As I state in the post, I was wondering if Tanqueray was good enough in a G&T to overcome my taste bias.   It is.  I'd guess that Beefeaters would be a good choice for the same reason--a strong hit of juniper--and I've heard that Martin Miller's also mixes well with Fever-Tree, though a little more citrusy and 'spensive.

second hand circle
second hand circle

I do, but my point is that Tanqueray is a VERY common gin and you act like it's some obscure wacky idea that someone would prefer it to Bombay. It or Bombay is probably in 75% of liquor cabinets on the planet.

Guest
Guest

I thought you said you like Tanqueray and Fever.

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