A conversation I had on Sunday inspired me to begin a little project I have been thinking about for a while—the Gin & Tonic Experiment. Perhaps one of the most well-known and well-beloved libations, the gin and tonic is simple to make, refreshing, and depending on which kind of gin and tonic you use, the level of flavor and complexity varies greatly.  My little project will play with and test out a variety of combinations.

A G&T, as the Brits call it, was first imbibed as a preventive measure against malaria in the 19th century.  The tonic water of two centuries ago contained much more quinine (which was believed to both prevent malaria and ward off mosquitoes who carried the disease) than our modern tonics.  Quinine can actually taste quite bitter so to make it more palatable gin was added.  Yes, the gin was added to make the tonic more drinkable.  Most modern tonic water contains very little quinine, and some brands add, in my opinion, too much sweetener, leading us far away from the original.  As a fan of bitterness and authenticity in ingredients, I am happy to have found some tonics that contain ample quinine that will hopefully make my gin and tonic more akin to what my predecessors drank.

I chose to begin the experiment with my favorite gin, Plymouth.  With its origins in the Black Friars distillery in Plymouth, England way back in 1793, this gin combines juniper (of course), angelica root, cardamom, coriander, lemon and orange peels, and orris (the root of the iris plant).  It is a bit drier than most London gins and has a subtler juniper flavor. I really like the aromatics, the smooth quality, and the almost fruity and spicy finish.

To the Plymouth, I added Fentimans Tonic in a 1:1 ratio (well,  maybe there was a smidge more tonic than gin).  Brewed in England using centuries old methods, this tonic combines quinine bark with lemongrass to create a wonderfully woody, bitter and herbal flavor.  This is no ordinary tonic water; even on its own it is really tasty.   I combined it with Plymouth gin in a tall glass full of ice, and a squeeze of lime and enjoyed one delicious gin & tonic  while puttering around the house.

With so many varieties of gin and tonics out there, I have feeling this is going to be a fun project. Cheers!

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