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For National Gin Day Consider the Tonic

June 8, 2017 – June 10 is National Gin Day and fortunately it falls on a Saturday this year.  There are dozens of excellent gins available, both imported and domestic and at all price points.  But since it is summer and long, cool drinks are in demand, we thought we’d revisit the classic Gin & Tonic.

Americans invented the martini but credit for the G&T as it is known in the English- speaking world, goes to the army of the British East India Company in India.

We’re talking about the early 19th century when Britain ruled India.  Malaria was prevalent and bitter tasting quinine was used to prevent and treat it.  To make this “tonic” more palatable, the British added sugar, water and lime.  The addition of a good slug of gin made the medicine go down much easier and thus was born Gin & Tonic.  The cocktail travelled back to England and other corners of the British Empire, as it was known, where it remains very popular today.  Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who died in 2002 at the age of 101, enjoyed her G&T every evening.

Since the drink is no longer imbibed to ward off malaria, the amount of quinine is greatly reduced and is no longer effective against the disease.  However, malaria isn’t a problem in the United States.  We can worry about Lyme disease instead.

So, what’s so interesting about some gin poured over ice and topped off with plenty of tonic?  It’s so simple, no talent required.  True, so we have to rely on the talent and expertise of the people making the two key ingredients.  Gin, which was invented by the Dutch, has endless styles and flavorings depending on the choice of botanicals and the craftsmanship of the distiller.  Experiment and find the style you like.

And tonic?  That’s basic, right?  We thought so until we came across a brand called Q Drinks.  This is really different and may take a little getting used to but once you do,  you’ll find it so refreshing you’ll be hooked.  And if calories and contents are important, then consider the following:

The two major brands of Tonic contain 140 and 110 calories respectively.  Q Drinks Tonic is just 45 calories.  The labels reveal all.  The popular brands, which are very sweet, are flavored with high fructose corn syrup whereas Q uses organic agave.  Total carbohydrates in the two big brands are 36 grams and 28 grams respectively while Q Drinks is just 13 grams.  The serving of the brand with the highest calories and carbs is actually an ounce smaller than the Q serving.

The following recipes will get you started.  On a hot day, just looking at the Infused Cucumber G&T will cool you off!  If pouring gin and adding tonic is too simple, try the Strawberry Rhubarb G&T.  The syrup will keep in the fridge and can be used for other drinks and desserts.

Infused Cucumber G&T

 1.5 Gin
4 parts Q Tonic
3 cucumber ribbons per drink

 

 

 

Method:

Lay cucumber ribbons against inside of a tall Collins glass end to end from bottom to top. 

Carefully add cube ice. Top with gin and tonic and garnish with lime. 

 

Spanish Style Spring G&T

1.5 parts Gin
4 parts Q Tonic or Q Indian Tonic
Seasonal Garnishes of your choice (we used peeled rhubarb, strawberry and basil)

 

 

 

Method:

Combine ingredients in a copa or burgundy-style red wine glass. Stir to combine and garnish freely. 

 

Strawberry Rhubarb G&T

1.5 parts Gin
3 parts Q Tonic
1.5 parts Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup
Fresh strawberries and basil for garnish

 

 

Method:

To make simple syrup, add 1 cup each of chopped fresh rhubarb and strawberries, 3/4 cup raw cane sugar and 1 cup water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes until fruit breaks down. Strain through a chinoise and chill. 

To make cocktail, add gin and simple syrup to a glass, add ice, top with Q Tonic and garnish with strawberries and basil. 

 

 

 

 

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