Cocktails David T. Smith Gin

How to lengthen your favourite classic gin cocktails

Stretch out your sipping with these longer takers on classic gin cocktails.

The warmer months of the year, whether it’s a scorcher of a summer or an ambient autumn, are a lovely time to drink gin al fresco. But when the temperature rises, some of us may prefer a longer drink over the more alcohol-heavy classic gin cocktails such as the Martini or the Negroni. 

The Gin & Tonic and the Gin Collins immediately come to mind, but is there a way to make the other classic gin cocktails longer, lighter and more refreshing? Let’s have a go….

The Gimlet

The Gimlet, long associated with the Royal Navy, is a firm favourite for many. A simple mix of gin and lime juice or lime cordial, this is a great contender for lengthening.

Long Gimlet with Fresh Lime (or a Gin Rickey)

  • 30ml dry gin
  • 2 quarters of a lime
  • 100ml sparkling water
  • 1tsp sugar (or to taste)

Add gin to the glass and squeeze in the two lime quarters. Add sugar and stir or muddle to dissolve it. Add ice and top up with sparkling water.

This drink is bright and zesty; the acidity of the lime complements the sharp effervescence of the bubbles. 

Some readers may have noticed that a long Gimlet made with fresh lime juice is essentially a Gin Rickey and you’d be right, so here’s a recipe that uses lime cordial.

Lime Cordial Gimlet

  • 30ml dry gin
  • 15ml lime cordial
  • 80ml classic tonic water

Add the gin and cordial to a glass. Add ice and top up with tonic water. Garnish with a twist of lime peel.

When using lime cordial, the drink seems to work better with tonic water than sparkling water; the tonic brings out more bright citrus flavours, resulting in a tangy, tart concoction with a refreshing, dry finish.


Whether you’re James Bond or Humphrey Bogart, people know when you’re drinking a Martini because of the drink’s distinctive look and choice of glass. However, those cocktails are Martinis that are served “straight-up” – there is an alternative and it used to be very popular. 

Martini-on-the-Rocks is a Martini served over ice and is described by historian and author Robert Simonson as the “lazy person’s Martini.” It gained immense popularity in the USA in the early 1950s and persisted for a couple of decades. It was developed at a time when people were changing the way they drank Martinis; there was a trend towards increasingly drier versions (with a higher ratio of gin to vermouth) and some drinkers were switching to vodka instead of gin. Despite the drink’s success it is largely forgotten today, but it continues to have a dedicated following among older drinkers.

Ice is an essential part of this retro serve. Why? Dilution. Don’t be tempted to use ice spheres or oversized cubes for this drink; you want to use smaller ice cubes to encourage some dilution.

  • 50ml dry gin
  • 10ml dry vermouth
  • Garnish: olives, lemon peel, or none!

Add the ingredients to a large tumbler and fill with ice. Gently stir, or just cradle the glass and lightly agitate it.

Simonson suggests that the drink should only be garnished with olives, which can simply be dropped in, and that the effort of a twist is against the drink’s leisurely approach to mixing. This makes perfect sense, although the added citrus does work well. The laziest option is to just leave it ungarnished and that works pretty well, too.

The Martini-on-the-Rocks is a far more leisurely drink with a high-pitched, yet soft, tinkle of ice as you drink. The dilution helps to reduce the alcoholic potency of the cocktail – crucial on a hot day. The ice helps to keep the drink colder for longer, which allows the drink to be sipped without risk of becoming tepid; after all, what could be worse than a lukewarm Martini? 

Big Bubbly Bramble Lemonade

The Bramble was created by Dick Bradsell in London in the 1980s and combines the flavours of gin, blackberries and lemon with a balanced sweetness. As a result, lengthening the drink with lemonade seems like an obvious choice.

A Bramble is an easy gin cocktail to lengthen with lemonade
  • 20ml dry gin
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • 15ml sugar syrup
  • 100ml sparkling lemonade/lemon-lime soda
  • 15ml Crème de Mûre

Add gin, lemon and sugar to a glass and gently stir. Add ice and lemonade. Pour the Crème de Mûre down the inside of the glass so that it sinks to the bottom. Garnish with a blackberry and lemon skewer. 

For a simpler alternative, the new Bombay Bramble has the additional fruit flavours of raspberry and blackberry built into the gin. 

  • 30ml Bombay Bramble
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 100ml sparkling lemonade/lemon-lime soda
  • 15ml sugar syrup (or to taste)

Add all the ingredients to an ice-filled glass and top up with lemonade. Garnish with three raspberries and a mint sprig.

Negroni Fizz

This drink combines elements from two classic Italian cocktails: the Negroni and the Americano. The bitter and herbal notes of Campari and vermouth are rising to the appetite and have enough intensity and complexity to stand up to lengthening with sparkling water. In addition to being a way to enjoy the Negroni on a hot sunny day, this is also a great introduction to the Negroni for those who typically find it too bitter.

  • 15ml gin
  • 15ml red vermouth
  • 15ml Campari
  • (or 45ml of your favourite bottled Negroni)
  • 3 dashes orange bitters
  • 100ml sparkling water
  • Garnish: two orange wedges

Fill a balloon glass with ice and add all of the ingredients other than the water. Gently stir (a clean chopstick works rather well for this) and then top up with sparkling water. Garnish with a wedge or two of orange and, for a slightly sweeter drink, squeeze the wedges first.

The drink is long and refreshing, but with the distinctive bitter-sweetness of a Negroni. The orange adds a delicious, jammy sweetness. For a tarter drink, perhaps try garnishing with pink grapefruit.

Bee’s Knees for Tea

The Bee’s Knees is a cocktail that has been growing in popularity recently, but was originally created in Paris during Prohibition. The drink is thought to have been invented by “Mrs JJ Brown of Denver and Paris”, also known as the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” after she survived the sinking of the Titanic. It’s a bit like a Sour or a White Lady. The main difference is the source of sweetness: honey. This does means that you can adjust the drink depending on what type of honey you use: heather honey can add rich floral notes; orange blossom adds a citrus zing; lavender brings a herbal character; and borage honey (my personal favourite) adds a light, nuanced sweetness with a touch of toffee.

For the drink mix (serves 4):

  • 100ml dry gin
  • 40ml lemon juice
  • 4 tsp honey

Add the ingredients to a mixing jug and stir until dissolved.

For the iced tea (makes around 600ml):

Carefully half-fill a heatproof jug (ideally 1 litre in size) with boiling water and add your tea of choice (one tea bag or equivalent). Earl Grey can work well, but English Breakfast is always a safe bet. Allow the tea to brew, as per instructions, and then remove the bag/leaves. Slowly add ice to chill the tea. 

Those with a sweeter tooth can add honey to taste after the tea has brewed. Make sure to do this whilst the tea is hot, to ensure that it dissolves evenly.

To put it all together:

Add 30-50ml of the Bee’s Knees mix to a tall glass, add 150ml of iced tea and additional ice. Garnish with lemon and fresh mint and (if you have any) a sprig of lavender.

Find some inspiration for alcohol-free and low-alcohol cocktails here.

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