I am more than willing to listen to the argument that this is not a cocktail. It is just taking gin and mixing it with a certain quantity of tonic water and serving. But there is more to this absolutely British drink that just gin and a bitterly flavored carbonated beverage. Like the Grog that we explored on Day 1, this is a mixture brought together by need more than a desire for a fresh new libation.
At one point, the phrase "The sun never sets on the British Empire" was completely literal. The empire spanned the globe, encompassing every climate and environment Earth had to offer. Among those environments were ones that were not very friendly to people. Tropical environments were full of bugs and other animals that liked to bite and carry diseases. Malaria, like scurvy during their 17th and 18th century sea travels, was a huge issue in terms of attracting and keeping workers at a reasonable price. The British fought it tooth and nail, until it was discovered that the bark of the cinchona tree helped fight the disease. The only drawback: the extract was exceedingly bitter. When it was discovered in Peru, they added it to sweetened water to make it drinkable.
Tonic water became a medical treatment for workers in tropical areas to help fight off the effects of malaria. To reduce the sting of the medicine, enterprising Brits added their ration of gin to the tonic to make it all go down smoother. It was a success, and eventually was brought back to the United Kingdom as a cocktail, not a medical treatment. Tonic water was a staple of medicine until the 1940's, when better antimalarial treatments were developed. In the modern era, many bartenders early in the craft movement strayed away from commercial tonics and developed their own. There any now a wide array of craft tonics available, or ways to make tonic syrup to add to soda water. This all makes it healthy, right?
Gin and Tonic
1 part gin
2 parts tonic water
Garnish: Lime Wedge
Ice: Small Cubes
Build the gin and tonic in a highball glass over ice. Add the lime wedge for a garnish.
I love a good gin and tonic, but the tonic needs to have just the right carbonation and a little extra bite. I am not sure the Q Tonic has enough to mix it up with the gin, but on its own the flavor is there. Next time I am going to try out Fever Tree. The lime helped, and now I am confident that I will not contract scurvy OR malaria for the rest of the day. This is a doctor's visit I can get behind.