Gin & Tonic
Certain drinks are irrevocably associated with certain cities or countries. The Singapore Sling and Manhattan are obvious. Cuba has its Daiquiri, Puerto Rico the Piña Colada. Dublin’s drink is Guinness, Rio has the caipirinha, and for the best Gin and Tonic, you would naturally look towards… Spain!
Spain makes the best G&T, served in the perfect glass and garnished with citrus peel and fresh spices like star anise or grated nutmeg. Many bars and restaurants now offer an entire menu dedicated to the “Gintonic” as it is known. It is not unusual for these establishments to have up to 80 different gins on the shelves, sourced from all around the world. The British may have invented the drink, but the Spanish have elevated it to an art form.
In the beginning, it was all just medicine. Hoping to ward off malaria, British troops in India in the early 1800s took to drinking water mixed with the ground-up, quinine-laden bark of the cinchona tree. To make this intensely bitter concoction more palatable, the men added sugar, then fancied things up with soda water. Before long, they were adding gin. The troops brought their delicious new cocktail-hour discovery back home to England with them, but the Gin and Tonic didn’t really take off until the 1930s when commercially bottled tonic waters first hit the shelves.
The classic choice for a Gin and Tonic remains a London dry-style gin. This crisp, bold, junipery category includes the brands Tanqueray, Beefeater, Seagram’s, and Gordon’s, to name a famous few but with so many varieties on offer, it would be churlish not to try a few of the lesser known but more exotic brands as well. Ice, slice and a berry or two for you?