Gin-Tonic (or Gin and Tonic, as you prefer) is a cocktail which has gained in popularity in the last years and has become the undeniable number-one in the world of cocktails.
The origin of this drink dates of long time ago: the first Gin-Tonic was made in India at the end of the 19th century. English soldiers and settlers had to protect from the malaria epidemic that was devastating the country and one of the main arms against it was quinine. But there was a problem with quinine, since it has an extremely bitter flavour.
It was about 1825 when English officers in India found the way to make their daily dose of quinine more bearable: they dissolved quinine tablets in water and added sugar, lime juice and gin.
In this way and without knowing it, English officers became the fathers of nowadays’ Gin-Tonic.
In order to make a good Gin-Tonic, there are no secrets. There are only three basic features: the glass, the gin and the tonic.
The glass should be wide, allowing adding abundant ice cubes. It must be cold so that the ice does not melt and the perfect proportion of tonic and gin is kept.
But the basis of a good Gin-Tonic is, obviously, a good gin. Gin is an eau de vie obtained by distilling non-malted barley, adding juniper berries and other flavouring substances known as botanicals. It is thanks to the mix of different botanicals that the personality of each gin is finally defined.
One of the most commonly used botanicals is citrus zest (lemon, lime, orange or mandarin), which provide unique aromas and flavours. Gins such as Mombasa Club Gin, Martin Miller’s Gin or Mascaró 9 are good examples in which citrus are used among their botanicals.
Cucumber is another ingredient which provides abundant aromas and a very special flavour. The best example of the use of cucumber among its botanicals is found in Hendrick’s, the well-known Scottish gin.
There are also good Spanish gins like Gin Mare made with Mediterranean plants such as thyme, rosemary or basil as its main botanicals.
Liquorice root is another botanical frequently used in premium gins such as Bulldog. It shows an intense and bitter flavour and helps highlighting the different nuances of gin.
Almonds are also common among botanicals used in the production of gin. They provide a subtle aromatic sweetness and some toasted notes to gins as Bombay Sapphire or Raffles.
An example of a gin’s personality provided by its botanicals is found in the French gin Saffron Gin, which has an intense orangish yellow colour provoked by the use of saffron as its main botanical.
Once we have a very cold glass, full of ice cubes and after choosing our gin, we just have to add a tonic which goes well with the selected gin. Nowadays, we can find infinity of tonics in the market, such as the classic Schweppes, with its renewed versions with pink pepper, ginger, cardamom, orange blossom and lavender. There is also Fever Tree, made with quinine and natural plants, or Blue Tonic by Kas which has some notes of citrus reminiscent of mandarin and orange.
We can add some seasoning to highlight, or make a contrast if preferred, with the selected gin’s botanicals. Lemon zest, a slice of cucumber or some grains of black pepper can be a good final touch for the perfect Gin Tonic.
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