The unofficial cocktail of summer, gin and tonic is in fashion year-round in Southwest Florida. The classic drink takes a crafty turn at the recently renovated Cielo where the bar manager has a recipe to impress your visiting cold-weather escapees.
Cocktail whiz Greg Baldia moved here from Kentucky, where he built quite the liquor-centric education, overseeing the bar programs at special events, including President Obama’s inaugural ball. For his audition at the Sanibel restaurant, he wowed his future employers with his Love & Tonic drink. “I wanted to show that craft cocktails can be accessible,” he says. “They don’t have to be over-complicated or fru-fru.”
The result? A many-layered quaff with herbal, sweet and floral tones. The name? “I worked on it for a couple weeks at home, and my fiancee said ‘You sure are putting a lot of love into this one.’ I said, ‘Yeah, it’s my love and tonic.’ It stuck. Good names just happen.”
Though he makes his own infused spirit at Cielo’s (blending the gin with cucumber and thyme) and mixes the tonic serum by hand with seltzer, lemongrass, cinchona bark tincture, cardamom, lavender, citrus peels and rose petals, he shares a simpler version here for at-home barkeeps.
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