Genever And Tonic – Modern Version Of A Classic Cocktail

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A Variation On The Classic Gin And Tonic

This variation of the classic Gin and Tonic uses two older style ingredients to create a vision of what an 1800s gin and tonic would have been like if it existed then. The older style genever gin adds a bit of aged flavor along with the traditional juniper and herbal notes. The tonic syrup brings an earthy and citrusy, almost tamarind like flavor not found in normal tonic water. If you like gin and tonics this one is definitely worth a try.

How Does The Genever and Tonic Taste

The genever and tonic hits all the notes of a classic gin and tonic, but it brings many new flavors too. The tonic syrup adds an earthiness and citrus flavor that pairs well with the more aged herbal flavors of the genever. This is a fantastic tasting cocktail that manages to both flavorful and refreshing with an almost tamarind like quality to it.

History Of The Use Of Tonic Syrup and Quinine

The clarified tonic water used today dates back to the 1870s when Schweppes figured out how to precisely extract quinine, clarify it and bottle it as the product we know today. Discover by the native peoples of Peru, the bark of the Cinchona tree had many medicinal properties one of which was preventing illness from mosquito bites and other physical ailments. The invading Spanish navy observed this and brought back Cinchona to be studied. The Cinchona bark was found to help with nerve pains, fevers, asthma, and they realized the illness it prevented from the mosquito bites was malaria. The ground up and infused cinchona bark tasted terrible, and to counter the poor taste spices, citrus peels and sugar were added to make a kind of quinine julap. Often the syrup would be administered with wine and eventually led to a market of quinine wines called quinquina. Dubonnet, Lillet, and Cocchi Americano are aperitifs we still use to day that started out as quinquinas with Dubonnet and Cocchi Americano still containing quinine to this day.

It was know for a very long time that quinine helped treat and prevent malaria but the process of extraction was too crude and not some thing that could be done on a scale massive enough to support large European armies. The 1820s saw a massive improvement in the extraction process and in the 1850s Erasmus Bond began selling the first carbonated quinine water. By this point the English had already successfully invaded India (present day India and Pakistan) but Africa’s environment was still too difficult to crack. In the 1870s Schweppes perfected the process and began selling a clarified “Indian Quinine Water” that could be produced on a massive scale. This was the invention many European militaries were waiting for.

At the start of 1880s the major European empires were able to penetrate Africa beyond its coast, dividing up is peoples and land for their personal profit and they could only have done it with quinine. The Gin and Tonic as we know it today was probably not being made around this time. If the tonic water was being mixed with gin it was most likely because of availability and not soldiers specifically looking to make this cocktail.

Creation Of The Gin And Tonic

The gin and tonic as we know it today was most likely invented in British occupied India around the 1920s to 1930s. If a genever and tonic was ever made it was most likely made between the 1870s and 1900. Dry gin didn’t start to become a common mixing spirit till the early 1900s just as genever and Old Tom gin started to fade. Cocktail books from the 1890s and back make no mention of it. In fact no cocktail books mention a Gin and Tonic cocktail till the 1940s. The earliest reference I can find to a gin and tonic are in the 1946 The Roving Bartender and The Stork Club Bar book. The Roving Bartender by Bill Kelly describes it as “A favorite drink in the tropics”. After that it’s common in cocktail books but every minor and major cocktail book prior to those two makes no mention of the drink. The simplest and most likely reason is it didn’t exist yet. Ideas and recipes take time to travel so placing its creation around the 1920s to 30s lines up.


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Genever And Tonic – Modern Version Of A Classic Cocktail

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Learn how to make a vintage style gin and tonic


  • 1/2 oz Lemon Juice

  • 1/2 oz Tonic Syrup

  • 2 oz Genever

  • 5 oz Soda Water


  • Combine all ingredients except for the soda water in a glass with ice
  • Stir the ingredients together to both chill and mix them
  • Top off with the soda water
  • Garnish with a lemon slice


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