Welcome to a tongue-in-cheek, but sometimes super serious column documenting adventures with spirits and cocktails when out and about or from the comfort of my own home. Let's discover new things together!
International Gin and Tonic Day is April 9, and you know what that means -- a whole lotta drinking. But first, here are quick facts about the components of this cocktail.
Gin is a spirit that is distilled from the juniper berries. There are plenty of varieties of juniper; some are trees and some are shrubs, but for the purpose of this article, it's the berries that are the important part. It's the method of distillation and the choice of botanicals that creates the distinct flavor of each label. So I guess you will have to sample a variety of gins to see which one you like best.
Gin was first sold in pharmacies in 17th century Holland as a cure for medical issues like gout, gallstones and stomach problems. It's not clear if this actually worked, but a delicious spirit was discovered along the way.
Tonic has a medical history as well. In the 19th century, British officials stationed in places where malaria was prevalent were using quinine to prevent the disease. However, quinine is very bitter so they mixed it with soda and sugar and tonic was created. Today's tonic only contains a little bit of quinine though, just enough for a slight bitter flavor.
The gin and tonic cocktail was founded by the army British East India Company, because why not mix alcohol with your daily malaria prevention?
The garnishes for quality gin and tonics are meant to compliment the botanicals in the gin that's being used. For example, Beefeater Gin uses lemons Seville oranges in its production so it's often garnished with a slice of orange or lemon. Hendrick's Gin, on the other hand, is flavored with the unique combination of cucumber and rose and it's often garnished with cucumber slices.
Hendrick's Gin is one of my favorite gins to keep at home because it's so refreshing. It's available at Total Wine for $57.99. Enjoy it this spring when you're out on the patio or as a pre-dinner cocktail, but really it's great any time of year, for any reason.
Hendrick's Gin and Tonic Recipe (Courtesy of Hendrick's Gin)
- 2 parts Hendrick's Gin
- 3 parts tonic water
- Cucumber slice
Pour Hendrick's Gin into a highball glass over ice cubes and fill with tonic water. Stir. Garnish with a slice of cucumber.