There is more to gin and tonic than just alcohol and fizz. Andy Gaunt, the brand ambassador of Fever-Tree tonics, clues us in on what you need to know about the crisp summer classic.
What are the fundamentals of a great G&T?
Quality gin, good ice and a nice big wine goblet to capture all the aromatics. We don’t drink wine out of small tumblers, so why should we with a decent G&T? Also, if three quarters of your G&T is tonic, use a natural and well-carbonated tonic like Fever-Tree. Avoid artificial sweeteners or flavouring that will taint the quality of your gin and leave that sticky feeling in your mouth. So make sure your tonic has real quinine, good carbonation, natural sugars and a nice citrus balance.
How did it come about?
The combination of the humble G&T dates back to India in 1800s, where British soldiers combined different medicinal rations together in order to improve the taste – juniper spirit for stomach ailments, sweetened quinine water to ward off malaria, and citrus for scurvy. The soldiers began taking their rations at sunset instead, and eventually, this concoction grew into a social drink. In fact, according to Winston Churchill, the gin and tonic has “saved more Englishmen’s lives and minds, than all the doctors did.”
What do you know about London Dry gin?
Don’t be mistaken. London Dry gins do not have to come from London. It’s a style of gin, and it to be so, the base spirit must be distilled to 96 per cent ABV, and all flavours must be added through the distillation. Nothing should be added after, save for the water and sugar. Also, the reason why it is dry is due to the prominence of juniper.
What is it about tonic water and why does it go so well with gin?
As with many drinks, tonic water started life as a medicine. Real tonic water should be made with quinine – for centuries, it was the only natural remedy to malaria. Quinine is extracted from the ground up bark of the cinchona tree, and was once one of the most sought-after. It was expensive too, due to its scarcity and ability to hold off malaria (it kept the military healthy and fit for battle in the tropics). The nickname given to this prized tree, was “Fever-Tree”, where Fever-Tree mixers take their name from.
Is there a recipe that you can share?
Take 50ml of your favourite gin, fresh ice (four big cubes at least) and a curl of the rind of a lime (it’s the oils you want, not the flesh). In a large wine or highball glass, add the ice, pour in the gin and Fever-Tree’s Indian tonic. Add the curl of lime, running it around the rim of the glass before dropping it in. Make sure you are quick to garnish as you want that fizz to tickle your nose.
What other spirit and tonic combinations can you recommend?
A decent vodka, like Belvedere, can be matched with Fever-Tree’s Mediterranean Tonic. Garnish it with grapefruit, rosemary and lemon thyme to bring out that floral softness. You can also turn the bittersweet negroni into something quite refreshing. Try mixing a Campari or Aperol with tonic and a wedge of orange. A dangerously quaffable aperitif that you can keep on drinking through the evening. But if you love cognac, take a good measure of a Remy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish, 10ml of dry vermouth and top it up with Fever-Tree’s Indian tonic.
For more on Fever-Tree and the art of mixing, check this book out on Amazon