The History And Creation Of The Gin And Tonic.
The gin and tonic as we know it today were most likely invented in British occupied India around the 1920s to 1930s. If a genever and tonic were ever made, it was most likely made between the 1870s and 1900. Dry gin didn’t become a familiar mixing spirit until the early 1900s, just as genever and Old Tom gin faded. Cocktail books from the 1890s and back make no mention of it. No cocktail books mention a Gin and Tonic cocktail till the 1940s. The earliest reference to a gin and tonic is in 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 significant cocktail book before those two makes no mention of the drink. The most straightforward 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.
History Of The Use Of Tonic Syrup And Quinine.
Today’s clarified tonic water dates back to the 1870s when Schweppes figured out how to extract quinine precisely, 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, and 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 today that started as quinquina, with Dubonnet and Cocchi Americano still containing quinine to this day.
It was known for a long time that quinine helped treat and prevent malaria, but the extraction process was too crude and not something that could be done on a scale massive enough to support large European armies. The 1820s saw an enormous improvement in the extraction process, and in the 1850s, Erasmus Bond began selling the first carbonated quinine water. 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 the 1880s, the major European empires could penetrate Africa beyond its coast, dividing up its peoples and land for their profit, and they could only have done it with quinine. The Gin and Tonic as we know them today were 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 explicitly looking to make this cocktail.
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