It is impossible to find a more quintessential pairing across any spirit category. Made with gin and tonic water, poured over ice and garnished with a slice or wedge of lime or lemon, it makes for a very simple drink so choosing the quality ingredients is important. The amount of gin varies according to taste but we suggest a healthy ratio of gin-to-tonic is 1 part gin to 2 parts tonic.
The history of the G&T begins with the East India Company and British colonial India, when the British troops would mix their medicinal quinine tonic (which contained a large amount of quinine causing it to have a very bitter taste) with gin to make it more palatable.
It wasn’t the first time quinine was used to treat malaria as there are reports of its usage in 1631 when malaria was endemic to the swamps and marshes surrounding the city of Rome (with large scale use of quinine as a prophylaxis starting around 1850). However, the rise of the G&T as a drink can be clearly traced back to when the early days of Queen Victoria and expatriates returning from the Indian colonies, now with a taste for the concoction.
It’s impossible to say whether the addition of lime to the G&T was to help fight off the scurvy commonly found in those on the front line or whether this has been post rationalsed to fit in with the drinks origin (more likely the latter as the Gimlet stakes its place for the medicinal concoction originating from anti scurvy campaigns), but either way a splendid addition and now an essential element of the cocktail.
Choosing the right tonic is as vital as choosing your preferred gin, as it is usually two thirds of the drink. One of the main causes for people to have a life long aversion to the G&T is because of poor quality tonic, warm mixers, wrong ratios etc… Thankfully, since 2005 there has been an increase in premium tonic water in the market place, with a greater emphasis on using real quinine as opposed to artificial flavoring. We’ll be covering these separately in another post due shortly.
Brands too have engaged with the iconic drink in a much more proactive way and have created signature serves to match their botanicals, infusions and even personalities. For example, Hendrick’s insist on serving their G&T with a slice of cucumber to fit with its infusion of rose and cucumber essences. Apart from genuinely bringing out the flavour inherent in the gin, the alternative garnish has worked very well and has served as a unique selling point as no matter where you are, if someone is walking around with a cucumber in a clear drink its most likely to be Hendrick’s and tonic, thus consistently re-enforcing its brand message. Although not an intentional brand alignment with regards to the gin and tonic drink, the apothecary style bottle is a nice reminder of the concoction’s medicinal origin too.