Gin and tonics have been substantially a British drink for the longest time. As a staple among the list of amazing cocktails out there, gin and tonics have a high bitterness to it, but it dies down with lime and sugar to make it palatable for most people. Whether you order it at a bar or make it at home, gin and tonics deserve their day to be celebrated.
The cocktail idea began during the reign of the British East India Company in India during the 1700s. Malaria had been roaming around in India and became a problem. To treat malaria, George Cleghorn, a Scottish doctor, discovered that quinine, a flavor component of tonic water, could be used to treat malaria. However, not many liked the taste.
- The name gin is a shortened form of the older English word genever, related to the French word genièvre and the Dutch word jenever. All ultimately derive from Juniperus, the Latin for juniper.
- British officers in India in the early 1800’s began adding water, sugar, lime, and gin to the tonic water, and thus a gin and tonic was born. While tonic water isn’t used as an antimalarial treatment, tonic water contains less quinine and is sweeter.
- As for the gin component of the cocktail, gin is made explicitly with juniper berries and was sold in 17th century Holland as a cure for medical issues like gout, gallstones and stomach problems.
- Sloe gin – one of the all-time classics – is made by soaking the fruits of the blackthorn tree in sugar water for several months. Harvesters pick the sloes off the trees following the first frost of winter, usually in October or November, and then submerge them in spirits. They then leave them to steep, imparting their flavor to the rest of the gin over the following months.
- While gin may be the national spirit of England, the liquor originated in Holland. The English discovered genever while fighting the Dutch War of Independence in the 17th century and brought the spirit back with them. The London-style gin we’re familiar with now would be born 150 years later.
- Franciscus Sylvius, a Dutch physician, created genever as a medicine during the 16th century. His high-proof concoction was believed to improve circulation and other ailments. During the Dutch Independence War, it was given to soldiers and referred to as “Dutch Courage.”
- In the old days, sailing the open seas was not just for relaxing vacations. The threat of death by disease was prominent. The Royal Navy mixed gin with lime juice to prevent scurvy, the lack of vitamin C. This drink would soon be known as the Gimlet. Thank you, Royal Navy, thank you.
- Bathtub gin was made for a specific purpose and that purpose was not to be gentle on the palate. Drinking gin straight during Prohibition was sure to grow some hair on your chest, but it had to be terrible on the throat. In order to get the firewater down, the spirit was mixed with other ingredients, and thus the reason many, many classic cocktails are made with gin.
- First things first, what is gin made from? The creation of the spirit involves distilling fermented grain and a number of different botanicals – predominantly juniper, but also coriander, citrus peel, cinnamon, almond, or licorice.
- shot of gin has 110 calories, while the average glass of tonic has 55.
- Tonic water is more sugary than most people realize, though, and one G&T roughly equates to 14% of your recommended daily allowance.
- Nearly all juniper used to make gin is picked wild and it is rarely taken from cultivated sources, but it’s not actually a berry at all. Rather, it’s a type of seed cone.
- During the Thirty Years War, British soldiers fighting on Dutch land discovered Genever, (fun fact alert #2: it was nicknamed ‘Dutch courage’ because the fearless Dutch army all had a Gin ration they’d drink before going into battle) and brought it back to England.
- The Philippines is the world’s largest gin market. The spirits market comprises nearly 50 million cases and is dominated by domestically produced spirits (98%). The country drinks over 22 million cases of Ginebra San Miguel, and while this gin accounts for 43% of the gin market, most people outside the Philippines have never heard of it.
- Officers of the British Navy were paid a portion of their wages in gin. Alcohol onboard Naval ships were decreed to be a minimum of 57.7% ABV to ensure gunpowder stocks stayed flammable if contaminated by any leaky gin barrels. Never ones to be short changed, sailors would light a small amount of gin-soaked gunpowder, therefore obtaining ‘proof’ their ration had not been watered down by a scrimping Navy.