Gin, Tonic and Kaffir Leaves

I was recently sent a tasting hamper by the awfully nice people at Franklin and Sons, who make exceedingly good tonics. What’s more, in order to show off the versatility of their tonics they not only included three tonics from their wide range, they also provided tasting samples of three different gins. On top of which, they threw in a few jars containing botanicals and garnishes to help you create several simple but unique gin and tonics.

The first one out of the box sounded really intriguing. It combined an East India Company Gin with Franklin and Sons’ Natural Light Tonic Water, with a garnish of kaffir lime leaves, which looked so cute in their little jar.

I’d love to have tried the gin neat but we only had a small bottle and I was splitting it with my wife, too. (I’m generous to a fault.) Also, it would have spoiled the proportions. We did take a sniff, though. Fascinating. Plenty of citrus but lots of spices and juniper too, of course.


I was pleased to see they recommended a copa glass for this one. I love copa glasses. The Spanish definitely have the right idea (read my Spanish Gin and Tonic Cocktails post), as they use copa glasses a lot.

Fil the glass 2/3 full with ice cubes. Check. Pour in the gin and add the Franklin and Sons tonic. Check. Now what do we do with the kaffir lime leaves? Consult the recipe: ‘Garnish with kaffir lime leaves if you like that earthy flavour, which compliments the amchur and galangal used to distil the gin.’

Amchur? Over to Wikipedia: ‘Amchoor or aamchur, also referred to as mango powder, is a fruity spice powder made from dried unripe green mangoes and is used as a citrusy seasoning.’

Galangal? ‘Galangal is a common name for several tropical rhizomatous spices.’

Rhizomatous?? Oh, ginger.

I never thought of lime as being earthy, but these kaffir lime leaves did have an amazing earthy smell. They looked harmless enough, floating on top of the drink, but they did pack a pungent punch.

My wife’s first reaction was: ‘This is unlike any gin I’ve ever tasted before.’ I had to agree. I can see why they paired it with the light tonic, as there’s a lot going on in the gin and the kaffir leaves too. That earthiness was there in the taste as well. The leaves undercut the sweetness you often get with a simple G&T, and provide more bitter notes.

After our recent London Gin Masterclass we knew very well that all gins do not taste the same, and nor do all G&Ts, depending on the tonic you pair the gin with. We know that Franklin and Sons tonics have a neutral taste, letting the gin strut its stuff, and this East India Company gin had plenty to strut. It had a spiciness from the ginger and other botanicals, plenty of citrus from the amchur and bitter orange peel, and the result is, well, unlike any gin we’ve ever tasted. Now where can we get a bottle?

To find out more about Franklin and Sons range of tonics, visit the Franklin and Sons website.

To learn more about the gin, visit the East India Company’s gin website.