09 October 2011

Gin & Tonic

The History You Never Knew:
Gin, derived from the Juniper Berry, has been a popular spirit in England for hundreds of years. James Bond later made it a martini staple. But prior to that, back in the 1800s when British colonization was on the rise, Gin found its footing in rather macabre roots. But first, let's talk about the recipe:

2 ounces of gin
Tonic water

  1. Pour the ingredients in a highball glass with ice cubes.
  2. Stir well.
  3. Garnish with the lime wedge.
Couldn't be easier. Or classier. And don't fuck with it. It's a classic and should be treated as such. Now here's where the fun history comes in. Gin is fairly easy to make, comparatively, and a favorite during prohibition. (It's what Miss Hannigan was brewing in the bathtub). But back when the British were colonizing India, the British East India Company stumbled upon this delightful little cocktail as an honest to God tonic. See, India, being the subtropic climate that it is, had this pesky little problem with Malaria. Quinine was, all the way up to the 1940s, the preferred method of treating Malaria. The presence of quinine is also what differentiates tonic water from regular old club soda or seltzer, though today's tonic water has quinine at much lower levels than in the 1800s. The elevated levels of quinine gave the tonic water a pretty bitter and unpotable taste. Gin, glorious liquor that it is, did quite a nice job of covering it up. And because the English cornered the market on Gin, it was readily available to the soldiers. Now you know why so many gins reference India and England in their names (think Bombay, Beefeater, etc.). So there you have it. Tonic water was actually good for you, Gin made the medicine go down and a little ice and lime made for quite a refreshing drink. India is hot after all, and conquering foreign lands is hard work. So cheers and drink to your health!

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