Spirited Traveler: Why Madrid serves the best gin and tonic

Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:59am EDT
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(Kara Newman is the author of “Spice & Ice: 60 tongue-tingling cocktails,” available. The opinions expressed are her own.)

By Kara Newman

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Energetic Madrid is famed for its tapas culture, usually featuring wine and beer. But dig a little deeper and you'll find spirits also have their place at the communal table.

And no, we're not talking about touristy sangria.

Gin and tonics, shorthanded as "gin-tonic," is the mixed drink most often found in Madrid, explains Kathleen Berger, a professional opera singer and Arizona native living in Madrid. "For some reason," she explains, "all bars in Spain have between eight and 15 different brands of gin, even in the teeny pueblos."

Alexandre Gabriel, president of Cognac-Ferrand, whose portfolio includes Citadelle Gin, also points to the refreshing gin-tonic as the thing to drink. Since Spain is the number-one market for Citadelle, Gabriel travels there frequently.

"Only Spain knows how to make a gin and tonic," he insists.

However, the gin-tonic may be slightly different from the ones business travelers know from back home, Gabriel says. The tall Collins glass is replaced by a tumbler or large red-wine glass, and may be enhanced with fruit or spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.

Where to enjoy a Spanish-style gin-tonic? Berger recommends The Penthouse () in Hotel ME Reina Victoria Madrid, at Plaza Santa Ana. In addition to stunning views of central Madrid at night, look for upscale tapas and specialty cocktails.   Continued...