The layers of a humble gin and tonic

The layers of a humble gin and tonic

The gin and tonic is an undeniable classic cocktail and one of the simplest to prepare. However, the history of this ubiquitous tipple is a little more complicated.

Medicinal potion

According to lore, this modest drink was invented as a tactic to get British soldiers and other officials to take their quinine, a key ingredient to help fight malaria, a deadly disease back then. Digging into the invention of this effortless mix of gin and tonic water reveals very different origin stories, with the English people being the only link between the two.

The introduction of gin

The name “gin” is derived from the Flemish “genever” and was discovered by English soldiers in 1580 during the Dutch War of Independence in Holland. They nicknamed it ”Dutch Courage”. However, another origin narrative traces the drink to a Dutch physician, Sylvius de Bouve, who discovered a highly alcoholic medicinal concoction called jenever. This liquid was rumoured to improve circulation and cure various other ailments. It’s possible that the good doctor’s invention found favour with the English soldiers in Holland, who took credit and the drink to England.

On British soil, the masses immediately took to the drink and started to produce it at an extremely low cost, leading to a boom in gin consumption, so much so that Parliament passed a law imposing a tax on the drink. This resulted in riots erupting in 1743 in response to the increase in the cost of gin.

The addition of tonic

The quintessential ingredient of tonic water is quinine, an anti-malarial alkaloid extracted from the cinchona tree’s bark. Initially, it was being to treat shivers during a common cold. However, during the 1850s, the English started to settle in India with their families, and of course, their favourite alcoholic drink, gin. Soon the increased malaria infection, particularly among soldiers, became a huge health concern. The problem with taking quinine to fight the disease was its incredibly bitter taste. Enter gin. Adding the drink to tonic water reduced the bitterness.

As a result, quinine played a significant part in the global dominance of European power. Moreover, manufacturing tonic water to supply to their colonies at risk of malarial fever and other conditions ensured their sustained government of the colonies.

The recent revival of gin and tonic

Gin has increased in popularity due to three factors: the craft spirits movement, gin’s versatility, and its affordability. Craft distilleries tapped into the science of macerating botanicals creatively to deliver unique flavours enjoyed around the world. Not to be left behind, tonic water makers started to experiment with aromatics and flavours that compliment the new gins.

G&T serves at The Book Club in Shoreditch

Discover some of the finest gins when you order a G&T from The Book Club in Shoreditch.

  • Portobello – This gin has a strong juniper base and mid-palate with fresh citrus. Infused botanicals include lemon, bitter orange, coriander, liquorice, and nutmeg.
  • Edinburgh – An unmistakable London Dry from the magical city of Edinburgh and infused with 14 botanicals.
  • Bulldog – Experience 12 distinctive botanicals selected from around the world macerated in grain neutral spirit before distilling.
  • Plymouth – Enjoy the rich and smooth taste of a balanced blend of seven hand-selected botanicals.
  • Beefeater London – The quintessential and authentic London dry gin with big juniper and citrus notes.
  • Beefeater Pink – Discover the vibrant pink gin made with the original Beefeater London Dry Recipe and natural strawberry flavouring.
  • Beefeater Blood Orange – Take a true London dry gin, add a squeeze of hand-selected blood oranges, and enjoy a zesty tipple.
  • Hendrick’s – An unusual gin created from eleven fine botanicals and imbued with infusions of rose and cucumber.

G&T Social Club

Every Thursday, we celebrate the upcoming weekend with £5 double G&Ts all night. The G&T Social Club is simply another reason to celebrate and enjoy life by doing the things you love to do most.

No need to book. Just drop in, say hi, and enjoy yourself.

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