The Gin and Tonic—there’s not a better drink during the dog days of summer (or fog days of summer, if you reside in SF). You’re probably familiar with the classic G&T, but you might not know its checkered past of medicinal uses and global domination.
Many gin experts (best job title ever) claim that gin was invited in 16th century Holland as a medical aid to increase blood circulation. Not surprisingly, gin’s pleasing flavor and pleasant side effects proved more popular for taste than its medicinal qualities. When Britain colonized India in the mid-1800’s, more and more Brits began to make their way over to the warmer climate. Between the heat, humidity, and onslaught of malaria, they turned to antimalarial, quinine-laced tonic water to mix with their gin, and a star was born.
Fast forward more than 150 years later, and the gin and tonic is still one of the most popular classic cocktails out there. We’ve come a long way from those first G&Ts in India. Now there are dozens of varieties to please any palate. In Spain, cocktail aficionados prefer their G&Ts served in a goblet with lots of ice and a variety of garnishes. They’ve even gone a step further and established Gin-Tonic bars, in which customers can pick their favorite gin, tonic, and garnish from a menu.
Across the pond in the US, house-made tonics have caught on as a part of the artisanal food trend. Famous cocktail writers and cult-favorite mixologists have concocted a variety of DIY recipes to try at home. Or, for the less crafty of us, noted cocktail establishments and top restaurants have raised the bar with their own in-house tonics.
When you’re looking for the perfect gin-based blend to start your cocktail off to a strong start, London dry gin is the way to go. Beefeater London Dry Gin is distilled of neutral spirits with herbaceous botanicals—including juniper, coriander, orange and lemon peels, angelica, almond and orris root, and licorice. This fabulously intense flavor mixes with a standard tonic and garnish of lemon to create the perfect G&T.
While the gin & tonic is steeped in history, customizable in these modern times, and one of the rare classic cocktails that has never gone out of style, it’s an unfussy, straight-forward drink that tastes best when kept simple. Follow the advice of an anonymous cocktail fan who once quipped, “A gentle stir and a big ol' hunk of lemon and head for the hammock.”