A gin and tonic is a type of highball cocktail which – as its name suggests, is made with gin and tonic (i.e. carbonated) water. For the uninitiated, “highball” refers to mixed alcoholic drinks that are made of an alcoholic base and a non-alcoholic mixer, which usually comes in a larger proportion.
A gin and tonic drink is usually garnished with a wedge of lime.
What makes the cocktail such a hit is that the mixture of gin and tonic tastes different (it tastes so good) compared to the taste of the ingredients on their own. Apparently, the chemical structures of the ingredients have a similar molecular shape and attract each other, and this alters the taste.
The History of Gin and Tonic
The gin and tonic drink was concocted by the British East India Company in India. You see, malaria was a persistent problem in India and other tropical areas.
In the 1700s, George Cleghorn – a Scottish physician – discovered that quinine can be used to prevent and treat malaria. The quinine was ingested in tonic water but it tasted awful. Later in the early 19th century, British officers in India mixed water, lime, sugar, and gin with the quinine to make the drink more bearable, thus the cocktail was born.
Since gin and tonic are no longer used as an antimalarial, the tonic water we use today contains much less quinine, is usually sweetened, less bitter, and way more delicious.
Important: mixing the perfect gin and tonic cocktail relies mainly on balancing the bitterness of tonic water against the gin. It’s crucial that one ingredient shouldn’t taste too much more than the other. Here’s what we think is the ideal combination.