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Behind The Bar: Leela Cyd’s Gin Swizzle

by Kristina Gill

Last week’s recipe for Pickled Fig and Ricotta Tartines by photographer Leela Cyd is followed this week by her favorite pick-me-up cocktail, the Gin Swizzle. It is her take on the traditional one, which uses bitters. Leela says this is a perfect cocktail for any occasion, particularly because the ingredients required are always on hand. I’m inclined to agree because life has given me a bowl of about 25 lemons that I need to turn into something fantastic! — Kristina

About Leela: Leela Cyd is a photographer and storyteller based in Portland, Oregon. She shoots food, culture, interiors and people for media outlets such as Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, the New York Times and Kinfolk. Leela also authors her own award-winning blog, Tea Cup Tea, on tea, gatherings, travel, little snacks and friendship. She uses photography as a means to explore the world, connect with others, share stories and play with pretty vessels and tasty food. Leela co-hosts a photography workshop each year in Italy; this year it will be held in May in Florence. For more information on the workshop, visit Italian Fix.

See Leela’s recipe after the jump . . .

Gin Swizzle
Makes 1

  • 1 ounce lemon juice (or lime is nice, too)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3 ounces bubbly water
  • ice


In a pretty glass, stir together the lemon juice and sugar. Add gin, bubbly water and ice to the lemon/sugar mixture and adjust to taste (more gin, lemon or sugar, whichever you like!).

Why Leela Loves This Cocktail

I love my easy peasy version of the Gin Swizzle (tradition calls for bitters, but I’m not crazy about this ingredient) because I usually have all the ingredients on hand, and the cocktail always tastes refreshing, a little mischievous and elegant. I could see sipping this Swizzle lazing about on a golden brocade couch with characters from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel in between glasses of champagne while on a break from dancing. There’s a classic quality to the Swizzle, and it’s so immediate! I love how a great cocktail can signify both a special occasion and the polar opposite: pulling yourself out of a rather blaah day by indulging in some bubbles and booze.

Suggested For You


  • Looks amazing. I used to have a cocktail called a Gin Sling with Angustura bitter and sugar. It was the most amazing drink! Unfortunately it also was very easy to knock back, and very high in calories! I now enjoy mint tea instead. Much more healthy, but for those who like their fun Friday you should track down a Gin Sling. or just make Design Sponge’s excellent looking recipe!

  • I love the idea of a Gin Swizzle! I think I need one now!!! Amazing photography. Something I’d like to improve on is my photographic skills. Gin Swizzle….here I come…..

  • I might be crazy but is this not just a Tom Collins? I love them no matter what they are called!

  • as a fellow leela and gin cocktail enthusiast (and until recently i lived in portland – small world!), i’m excited to try this tonight with the meyer lemons i just got. now that i’m in warmer, sunnier austin, it’ll match our springy weather perfectly.

  • A Tom Collins does not have bitters and a Swizzle is a cocktail that is served on crushed ice. Lots of terms being used loosely here but it happens a lot. This is basically a Tom Collins… which is delicious. :)

  • I tend to default to cocktail historian David Wondrich and he only mentions bitters as seen in variations.

  • I used to make scratch Tom Collins’ all the time and this was my “recipe” in the 70s. Thanks for posting. I haven’t had one for about 30 years and I love gin. I think maybe I used white soda instead of sparkling water though. Definitely no bitters…those are for Old Fashioneds – a great Wisconsin highball/cocktail :)

  • Love the glasses and would also love to know what they are – so familiar but can’t remember where I saw them before… tks!

  • I’m interested in trying this, but why the vague “bubbly water”? What kind of “bubbly water”? Soda water? Tonic water? Seltzer? Sparkling mineral water, such as Perrier? These different waters would make a big difference to how the cocktail comes out. So, do tell, which “bubbly water” do you use?

  • “bubble water” – sorry to be vague. I honestly use whatever I have on hand and I like all the results — from club soda to perrier to sparkling water from trader joes. I guess i’m easy? they’re all good!

  • Oh my! This could knock my Negroni fixation right off the table. Bubbles, gin and lemon sounds clean and thirst quenching – will have to try with Meyer lemon too.

  • the glasses are from a cheapy home goods store in Paris, I’m sorry to say I cannot remember the name, it was rather boring and non-descript. they were hiding in there!