Home' Bars and Clubs : BAC MayJun 2016 Contents SCHWEPPERVESCENCE
The first commercial tonic water was produced in
the mid-1800s, and in 1870 it was in fact Schweppes
-- creators of the first ever fizzy soda water -- that
created sparkling tonic water as we know it today.
While medicinal tonic water originally contained only
carbonated water and a large amount of quinine, what
you will find commercially available today has been
adapted for taste rather than medical effect. Hence,
there is a small amount of quinine for flavour, and a
fair amount of sugar to balance its bitterness.
For Forsyth there is a simple way to match gins and
tonics, so he let us in on the two tips he sticks to:
• Keep classic gins with classic tonics
• Keep savoury gins with savoury tonics
"For instance Bombay Sapphire and Fever-Tree
original are a wonderful match," he says. "The crisp
citrus and the effervescence of the tonic perfectly
highlights the bright pine and juniper notes of
For everything else, play it by taste-bud, if you will.
QUININE & THE
Quinine originates from the bark of the
cinchona tree, which is found in the
Peruvian Andes. There are plenty of
legendary tales about how its use was
discovered, however just one states
that a South American native was
suffering from malaria when he took
a drink from a pool of water that had
been contaminated by a cinchona tree.
It miraculously cured his fever and the
bark became a medicinal staple.
Regardless of the truth, the first
documented use of the bark from the
"fever tree", as it was known, being used to treat malaria dates all the way back to
the 1630s in Peru. Once the Spanish discovered that the native population was onto
something they began to export the cinchona bark to Europe in the 1640s, where it
quickly became a favoured treatment for malaria.
There are urban legend-style accounts that state up until then the European
malaria remedy regularly included the throwing of the patient head-first into a bush
in the hopes they would get out quickly enough to leave their fever behind. Very
successful as you can imagine.
Eventually it became clear to physicians that the cinchona bark would not only
to treat malaria, but also prevent it, which saw it being distributed to all European
colonial forces in the tropics as part of their daily rations.
Quinine continued to be used for its antimalarial properties until the 1920s, when
other drugs with fewer side effects took its place. But it wasn't until some genius
added quinine to their gin that its true calling was found.
all tonic waters or syrups and all gins play well together, with
some tonics not displaying the botanical profile in some gins
to best advantage.
"A fierce, punchy London dry gin should match an Indian
tonic well, as they both tend to be a bitter style, where a
softer gin might fall flat and be almost invisible," says Brew.
"Lighter flavoured gins require a less bitter, less cloying, and
lower in sugar tonics."
According to Forsyth, the Australian market is in its
infancy in terms of the potential of tonics compared to what
he has seen on the international stage.
"The craft mixer industry is absolutely booming at the
moment. It is working hand in hand with premium gin
brands creating accessible yet unique and interesting drink
choices for consumers," he says. "This obviously creates an
opportunity for bartenders to now find the perfect tonics to
match with their favourite gin brands, something unheard of
ten years ago."
But it's easy to get carried away with tonic and its
potential and forget about the gin your serving.
"For us it is important that the tonic complements and
enhances the gin rather than overpowering the delicate
balance of flavours," says Betts.
It's a concept that Brew agrees with, adding that tonic
waters and syrups can bring their own slew of flavours to
"Nowadays many tonics contain botanicals too, so
contrast is the key," she say. "For example a lime driven gin,
with a limey zesty tonic could be overbearing. Perhaps a lime
driven tonic with a floral gin would balance the flavours."
GIN & TONIC
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