Retro Cocktail for August: Gin & Tonic
A well-made Gin & Tonic, also known as a G&T, is a near perfect drink. It’s simple, elegant, delicious, and refreshing, especially on a hot summer’s day. And this hearkens back to its storied past.
It’s the 19th century, the Golden Age of England’s imperialism when “the sun never sets on the British Empire.” We set sail for India, the British Raj, the all-powerful East India Company in charge. In India’s dripping tropical climate, the soldiers of the Crown are susceptible to malaria. Quinine, it’s discovered, can treat and prevent the disease, although by itself, as a salt, it’s too bitter to be ingested orally,
and the other way, well, let’s not go there… So the soldiers are given quinine in tonic water to make it palatable. But still, its overarching bitterness persists. It’s then that an imaginative and resourceful British officer takes part of his ration of gin and mixes it with the quinine-
infused tonic water. “Not bad,” he says. And after adding lime and a little sugar, he expresses in inimitable British fashion, “Quite!” And in one fell swoop, not only has malaria been kept at bay, but a new drink, the “Gin & Tonic”, is born. Back to the 21st century. With more effective treatments for malaria, the amount of quinine in tonic water has been greatly reduced. Consequently, today’s tonic waters are much less bitter, and some are even sweetened. But nevertheless, the Gin & Tonic can still be a perfect balance between bitter, sour, and sweet. And in England to this day, it evokes a nostalgia for a time that is no more, when Great Britain ruled the world.
PERFECT GIN & TONIC 1½ parts Hendrick’s Gin
Fever-Tree Tonic Water
2 slices fresh Lime
1 slice fresh Cucumber
splash of Key West Lime Juice (Nellie & Joe’s brand) Muddle one of the lime slices in the bottom of a 12 ounce tumbler until the juice and the oils have been expressed. Discard the lime slice. Pour in the gin and stir. Fill with ice cubes. Pour in Tonic Water. Stir. Add more ice if necessary. Add the splash of Key West Lime Juice and gently stir. Place the other lime slice on the inside of the glass, with the cucumber slice on the opposite side. "Quite!"