Elegant, and yet efficient as an ampersand, there’s a reason the Gin & Tonic (or if you prefer the cheekier G&T) remains one of the most beloved, most popular mixed drink of all time. A fact not lost on the indomitably engaged Winston Churchill, who once gushed that it saved “more Englishmen’s lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the Empire.”
The G: It’s Good For You.
With juniper berries as a core ingredient, the origin of “gin” can be traced back as far back as 70 A.D. when Pedanius Dioscorides, in his voluminous encyclopedia on herbal medicine, calls for the “use of juniper berries steeped in wine” to soothe chest congestion. From there, you’ll find juniper berries in all kinds of concoctions: in 11th century Italy with the Benedictine Monks ‘Compendium Solernita,’ in 16th century with the Dutch and a distilled malt-wine, “Genever” (Jenever) and so on until the 1700s when the British adapted the spirit to their taste and eventually shortened the name to “gin.”
The T: To Your Health
By the 1800s, British soldiers stationed in India began adding a dash of booze to “soften” their daily dose of the malaria tonic. When “quinine tonic” made it onto British ships carrying gin, British sailors paired both with lime juice for their anti-scurvy properties and that’s how combining Gin and Tonic made libation history.
G&T: The Drink
From humble beginnings, the Gin & Tonic became an instant classic—suddenly sophisticated, seamless, and sublime with a squeeze of lime. It was a sensation in the 1900s and by the post-war 1950s, the Gin & Tonic was an absolute smash. Made slightly stronger than intended – where once gin was added as a splash to make the quinine more palatable – the mid-century Gin & Tonic was mostly gin with a splash of tonic.
Like all well-made drinks, simple ingredients require finesse. And, when it comes to the Gin & Tonic, it should be served extremely cold, with a pitch-perfect balance of sweet and bitter, brightly carbonated, keeping the gin at the forefront and never ever buried under the tonic.
In the end, a good Gin & Tonic should appear effortless and entirely effervescent—after all, it is but two ingredients, three if you count the lime.