Hendricks, Sipsmiths, Tanqueray, Monkey 47, Portobello Road; every self-respecting discerning drinker now has their gin of choice. Everyone has a different way to savour the Mother’s Ruin. The classic, nay – iconic way to enjoy this delightful spirit is with tonic in a highball glass garnished with slice of lime (or lemon if you fancy). This classic cocktail was introduced by the private army of the East India Company, the inclusion of tonic was important as it contained quinine and this could help combat the local scourge of Malaria. Also the flavour of the quinine complemented the greener notes of the gin (flavored with juniper), much as dry vermouth complements the gin in a classic martini. Its been a mainstay of British culture ever since.
Though as a plethora of Gins have hit the market and our taste buds have expanded and we’ve sampled more and more botanical mixes the humble partner in this classic cocktail has been overlooked. Like the growing varieties of gin out there tonics go beyond the usual Schweppes or Britvic. Below we profile some of the other options to combine with gin as you put your feet up and switch the wireless on at the end of a long day.
Founded in 2006, Q tonic was invented in New York and is bottled in Massachusetts. It uses Peruvian ‘handpicked’ quinine and is sweetened by agave nectar. They explain tonic water’s story had begun two centuries earlier than the British combination with gin. In 1638 it was brought back from Peru from the Inca’s by the Spanish. It has a savoury, pungent nose, sour palate with a bittersweet finish. Limited production runs mean only 500 cases are made at a time.
Thomas Henry Tonic Water
Thomas Henry was a Manchester pharmacist who perfected a means to inject carbon dioxide into water in 1773 – the date is embossed on the neck of the glass bottle. This brand is actually German and is based in Berlin. It contains no sweetener. It has a delicate, floral nose, light lemon notes on the palate, and a dry finish.
Fentimans Traditional Tonic Water
Fentimans started in 1905 when Thomas Fentiman botanically brewed ginger beer which he delivered door-to-door using a horse and cart for transport. All the drinks are ‘botanically brewed’ which refers to the process of putting botanicals into copper steam jacketed pans to infuse with herbs, sugar, brewer’s yeast and spring water, then allowed to ferment in wooden vats. The tonic has a bitter lemon taste with a soapy nose and a long dry finish. This tonic water is made from a fermented grain base and flavoured with lemongrass and purified chinchona bar, both from India.
Six o’Clock Indian Tonic Water
Produced near Bristol by a family business that specialises in fruit liqueurs made using fruit from their own farms, this tonic contains quinine and extracts of lemon and lime and is made without artificial sweeteners, preservatives or flavourings. Slight lemon notes, biscuity nose and the quinine comes through nicely on the finish.
John’s Premium Tonic Syrup
Handmade in small batches in Arizona, with 100% natural ingredients and an organic amber nectar. Incredibly botanical in flavour. The quinine strikes first with layered citrus notes that follow and a subtle sweet finish. Packaged as a syrup to eliminate high postage and product going flat, all you add is soda water. A truly premium tonic to be had with the best of gins.