“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine,” a memorable quote from the classic American film, Casablanca. Yet, how many of us stopped to wonder about the romanticised good old drink called gin? There is a fine line between getting drunk and drinking, and this is precisely the reason why the art of drinking can be claimed to be a unique interest. In this field of interest there exists a shining example, globally recognised, the joy of a hot summer day, gin and tonic. How much do you know about this good old classic drink, right off the bars from every city in the world?
The elixir of life
Also known as Britain’s favourite drink, gin and tonic has been ruling the bars in one way or the other since a long time. History has it that gin was invented by Dr. Sylvius de Bouve in the 16th century, in Leiden, Holland. Originally it was used as a medical treatment to aid circulation. In India after the British rule began and the British populace began to infiltrate into the country, they found solace in this jolly old combination. Gin and tonic was the remedy of choice for the Britons suffering from diseases prone to the tropical climate, such as malaria. Soon it found its way into the lives of Indians as well, and today it holds a hallowed space in the bar menus around the country. Gin is typically known as the gentleman’s drink, and today perhaps the best variety of it is the London Dry, which is aromatic and floral. The botanical base that is used to make gin contains essential oils, and this is what gives gin its flavour.
Your typical gin and tonic is garnished with a lime wedge, which is ideally slightly squeezed before being placed. Although in the United States a popular variant is the use of lemon instead of lime, and this lead to the invention of Evans, which means a gin and tonic with lime and lemon both. It is interesting to know that popular gin brands such as Bombay Sapphire and Gordon’s recommend the use of lime with their gin. A Spanish variant of gin and tonic is served in a balloon glass along with quite a few garnishes in accordance to the consumer’s preference and the flavour of the gin.
Tonic as the preferred second
Tonic is of course the second limb of this incredibly popular drink, and it has quite an interesting history as well. The tonic water was used for its medicinal quality to fight against malaria. This as we have already mentioned earlier was the basis of the drink gin and tonic. Tonic water has quinine content that makes it a prophylactic against malaria, and was a popular choice for Britons in India during the pre-independent days. Of course in the modern times most tonic waters contain very little or no amount of quinine, as the drink has transformed into a popular choice for people around the world. The most common tonic water brand known as Schweppes was originally in the business of carbonated mineral water in the late eighteenth century. It was begun by a man named Johann Jacob Schweppe, and has today found a place with its tonic water, alongside major gin brands.
Gin has been romanticised time and again throughout pop culture; whether it is James Bond drinking his martini that consists of it, or Billy Joel’s lyrics of Piano Man, wherein the old man sitting next to him, “is making love to his tonic and gin.” Also, it is interesting to know that F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ian Fleming both drank gin. It is safe to say that the next time you head to a party, just go for this timeless classic, and watch the heads turn. Gin and tonic? Well, now that’s a gentleman.