The history of gin and tonic

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A firm favourite, the classic gin and tonic has been a staple amongst British cocktails since the 1800s. As it’s the 10th anniversary of International Gin and Tonic Day today, here’s a look back at the history of this iconic drink.

The drink was first introduced by British officers serving in India. With malaria rife, Scottish doctor George Cleghorn discovered that one of the components of tonic water was quinine, a substance very effective in the treatment of the disease.

However, the taste of tonic water in those days was not to everyone’s liking, and so began the habit of adding sugar, lemon or lime, and eventually gin, to the drink. The gin and tonic was born, and it soon became one of our most popular drinks.

In 2011, fans of the cocktail began celebrating in earnest, and the first International Gin and Tonic Day was held on October 19th. The date was chosen in memory of Mary Edith Keyburn, a life-long fan of the drink who famously had a gin and tonic by her bedside as she passed away on October 19th, 2010, aged 95.

Gin lovers now take part all over the world, getting out their best engraved crystal glasses and sharing their favourite recipes online. Contemporary twists are added to classic ingredients, and new and ever inventive flavours are being introduced all the time. Some like to add sweetness to this classic cocktail, whereas others like to bring out the bitterness of the drink.

James Bond famously ordered a gin and tonic flavoured with the juice of a whole lime and Angostura bitters as he overlooked Kingston Harbour, so why not follow in his footsteps and give it a try?

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