There is a good reason why we turn to the Gin & Tonic when the weather hots up. We have for a very long time. In the 1700’s a Scottish doctor by the name of George Cleghorn discovered that quinine could be used to prevent and treat disease because it suppressed parasites in the system. This was of limited value in a place like Scotland, but for a young feller heading out into the sweltering, pestilent Empire it might prove useful. Quinine was added to soda water to make it into a “tonic” that was still bitter tasting. To this was added sugar, lime, and the daily gin ration because, well, wouldn’t you?
In sum: a Scotsman invented the Gin & Tonic.
Dr. Cleghorn’s finding were correct in theory. In practice even if you where half-in-the-bag from dawn till dusk you would, according to a 2004 study, reach “the lower level of therapeutic efficiency.”
Modern, commercial tonic is sweetened into a soft drink. You want to go old school – but as a lot of things, not too old school. We were warned repeatedly not to make our own tonic, so leaving that to the experts, settled on a classic tonic syrup made by the good people at the Jack Rudy Cocktail Company.
It is, more or less, a quinine concentrate in a simple syrup of pure cane sugar and some flavorful botanicals. A teaspoon into some gin on ice, a lime, and topped off with soda, and this, gentle reader, is what you need to be drinking with the mad dogs and Englishmen under the noonday sun. The quinine has a light, high bitterness that offsets the sweet, which, it turns out is exactly what is missing from modern G & Ts.
That, and it’s “made in the South” (read Lexington, KY and Charleston, SC) and we like that.