It is common to drink tequila shots, vodka chilled, or whiskey with ice or a splash of water. Very few people drink gin neat.
Gin is meant to be mixed. Juniper and botanicals come to life in cocktails and add complexity. This is why many cocktails call for gin.
The simplest and most common gin cocktail is the GIN & TONIC, a cocktail with a RICH (literally) history. Adding gin to tonic water originated in India in 1825. A concern for the health of British soldiers, colonial administrators, and families living in India required the British to consume rations of quinine in the form of Indian tonic water. Quinine was used to fight the deadly disease malaria. Of course, the British added gin to the tonic liquid.
There is more to the story of tonic water and the British in India. The control of quinine was key to the expansion of European colonial powers during the nineteenth century in Asia and Africa. By mid-century, the quinine-producing areas of South America became independent republics. In 1860, South America exported around two million pounds of cinchona bark (cinchona is a source for quinine). The British and the Dutch smuggled the plant’s seeds back to Europe, created hybrid strains, and transferred cinchona to plantations in Asian colonies. By century’s end, the Dutch controlled most of the cinchona trade.
Without a reliable, cheap source of quinine, European dominance during the nineteenth century would have been less likely in malaria-prone areas in Asia and Africa.
Most tonic waters today contain only minimal amounts of quinine. Recently, a number of premium tonic syrups containing quinine have hit the market.
New World Gin & Tonic
1.5 oz. St. Augustine Distillery New World Gin
.5 oz. Strong Tonic Syrup
3 oz. Soda Water
Serve on the rocks in a rocks glass.
Garnish with 2-3 drops of Bittermens Orange Creme Citrate