Food & Drink

Write drunk; edit sober: Gin and tonic

The gin and tonic is one of summer’s most popular beverages. It is simple, light and refreshing and can be drunk all day or throughout the night. There was a time though, when the gin and tonic was not ingested solely for pleasure.

[related_content slugs=”write-drunk-edit-sober-the-old-fashioned,write-drunk-edit-sober-steelbach-cocktail,write-drunk-edit-sober-the-manhattan” description=”More Write drunk; edit sober” position=”right”]
Tonic water was first enjoyed in the early 1800s when British officers in the Indian army improved their anti-malaria medicine by mixing it with sugar, soda water and gin. The medicine was Peruvian quinine extract and was extremely hard to drink on its own. Instead of drinking the medicine with their troops at dawn, the officers figured out how to enjoy it at cocktail hour. The original gin and tonic was born, and it soon became the quintessential drink of the British Empire.
Now tonic water is made with synthetic quinine and will not ward off malaria. It is also usually sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. In most cases a can of tonic water contains a sugar content similar to that of a can of cola.

Since 2005 though, premium tonic water brands have increased in the marketplace, such as Fever Tree and Q Tonic. These brands place emphasis on using real quinine and natural sweeteners, as opposed to quinine flavoring and high fructose corn syrup. Often they are less unhealthy.

Tonic water will fluoresce under ultraviolet light owing to the presence of quinine. In fact, the sensitivity of quinine to UV is so strong that it can appear visibly fluorescent in direct sunlight. Next time you are near a black light, bring your gin and tonic close by and watch it glow blue.

Tonic syrups are available for those that want a lighter drink. Try just adding a splash at a time to your gin and soda.