31 May Ginformation #3: Gin & Tonic, and the importance of good tonic water
If you follow our social media accounts (if not, why aren’t you?), you’d know that we’ve covered this subject before in our Wholly Molly Facts series. Still, it’s an important part of gin knowledge and history, so let’s get deeper into the subject.
The invention of the Gin And Tonic is widely credited to British soldiers stationed in India during the 1700s. Malaria was rife in India at the time, so these soldiers were given quinine, a drug commonly used to treat or prevent malaria. Quinine is made from the bark of the cinchona tree, which is native to central and South America, and also found ins some Caribbean islands as well as Africa.
Now, quinine on its own tastes terrible, so, in order to make the medicine easier to swallow, the soldiers made their own version of tonic water by mixing the quinine with water, sugar and lime. And since the soldiers were also given a regular gin ration while on duty, it made sense to add a measure of gin into the mixture. And that’s how the gin and tonic was created!
These days, there are far better ways to treat or prevent Malaria, but somehow, tonic water containing quinine has persevered, and is now a popular mixer for beverages. And yes, tonic waters today still contain quinine.
Spanish gin tonics have also become hugely popular. These are usually served in a balloon glass, with bartenders tailoring the garnish to the botanicals of the gin. This helps enhance the aroma and flavours of the gin and in some instances, the tonic water as well.
The rise of the Spanish gin tonic is often attributed to The Best of Gastronomy summits organised by journalist Rafael García Santos held in San Sebastián between 1999 and 2009. These summits used to bring together elite chefs to exchange ideas. After the day activities, Santos and the chefs would go to a certain bar in the city for gin and tonics, and by and by, people started assuming that off duty chefs preferred gin and tonics as their off-duty beverage.
Now, having a good gin in your gin and tonic is a given, but the tonic water also plays a huge part. You might have the best gin in the world, but adding a low-quality tonic water to it would just kill all the flavours in the gin.
Fortunately, Wholly Spirits is the exclusive Malaysian distributor of East Imperial tonic waters, which we like to call ‘the champagne of tonic waters. They are available at Wholly Spirits Retail. For inquiries, drop us a PM or Whatsapp us at 0125805813. Our opening hours are 12pm-9pm daily.
Here is a breakdown of the different tonic waters under the brand.
East Imperial Tonic Water:
Previously known as Burma Tonic Water, East Imperial Tonic Water was created with a bold distinctive taste to recreate the century old tradition of Long Pink Gins made famous at the Pegu Club in Rangoon, Burma.
Crafted in the most elegant way, this tonic water captures the contemporary taste of tonic with added citric acid and a higher sugar level. Burma Tonic Water has double the natural cane sugar of East Imperial Old World Tonic and has the highest quinine levels available in the market. This is rounded out with top notes of Thai lemongrass and manao lime to perfectly balance a few dashes of bitters.
We recommend East Imperial Tonic Water with the more traditional citrus driven and London dry style gins.
East Imperial Old World Tonic Water
This is the champagne of tonic waters, a true tonic water with only a trace of natural citric acid and less than half the sugar of other tonic water brands.
This really is the authentic representation of what tonic water tasted like at the turn of the century. As was the case with original Indian tonic water, East Imperial is now the only tonic water sourcing all the key ingredients from Asia.
We recommend pairing it with the more creative artisanal gins such as Eiling Lim Pandan Predator or Napue Gin, as the Old World tonic water helps draw out the more subtle flavours that would otherwise be masked by other tonic waters.
East Imperial Grapefruit Tonic
The pomelo is a fruit that Malaysians should be familiar with. Take the juicy citrus flavours the pomelo and blended it with Ruby Red Grapefruit, and voila! You have the Grapefruit Tonic, which is a tonic that delivers the ultimate citrus balance. We recommend pairing Grapefruit Tonic with traditional London dry gins and citrus-forward spirits.
East Imperial Yuzu Tonic
Yuzu is an aromatic sweet citrus fruit with distinct zesty flavour, found during the cooler months in Northern Asia, particularly Japan. Often described as a hybrid between a mandarin and a Meyer lemon, the Yuzu Tonic brings a touch of the exotic to any mixed drink. We recommend pairing Yuzu Tonic with traditional London dry gins and citrus-forward spirits.
East Imperial Royal Botanic Tonic
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew embodies over 250 years of exploration, discovery and the pioneering spirit. Kew played an important role in the story of quinine, transporting cinchona tree seedlings from South America to India. This use of this vital medicinal plant eventually led to the greatest cocktail of all time, the humble G&T.
This unique tonic water was created to introduce a subtle brightness to your glass with the refreshing notes of elderflower, combined with the tart taste of ruby red grapefruit and bitterness of sustainably sourced quinine from the highlands of Batavia in Java.
East Imperial also makes other premium mixers, such as:
- East Imperial Superior Soda Water
- East Imperial Grapefruit Soda
- East Imperial Mombasa Ginger Beer
- East Imperial Thai Dry Ginger Ale