Saturday, June 29, 2013

Weekend Cooking...A Tonic for the Blazing Heat of Summer

They say that 2013 is the Year of the Gin and Tonic.
The they in this case is the New York Times, so it must be true, right? Well, about this, maybe.
So if this is the year of the G&T, I must be part of it.
This is important enough to do a little gin and tonic study, followed by the required taste test.
Of course, I do this only for you, my dear readers, so I can share the results of my study.
I do it only as a scientific experiment, of course. ;-)
No thanks are required.
But still appreciated!

So, where does this drink, the G&T,  come from, the mixing of quinine tonic water and gin?
Funny you should ask...and of course...our friends at Wikipedia have an answer...
"Quinine is an effective muscle relaxant, long used by the Quechua, who are indigenous to Peru, to halt shivering due to low temperatures. The Peruvians would mix the ground bark of cinchona trees with sweetened water to offset the bark's bitter taste, thus producing tonic water...

Quinine has been used in unextracted form by Europeans since at least the early 17th century. It was first used to treat malaria in Rome in 1631. In the years that followed, cinchona bark, known as Jesuit's bark or Peruvian bark, became one of the most valuable commodities shipped from Peru to Europe. When King Charles II was cured of malaria at the end of the 17th Century with quinine, it became popular in London. It remained the antimalarial drug of choice until the 1940s, when other drugs took over...

Quinine is a flavour component of tonic water and bitter lemon. On the soda gun behind many bars, tonic water is designated by the letter "Q" representing quinine. According to tradition, the bitter taste of antimalarial quinine tonic led British colonials in India to mix it with gin, thus creating the gin and tonic cocktail, which is still popular today in many parts of the world, especially the UK, United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand."
It is certainly a popular summer drink, refreshing on a hot summer day. And usually it is a simple affair. Grab a glass, filled with ice. Pour in some gin, some tonic water, perhaps a slice of lime. Stir and drink. Which is fine, but could it be better?

First, there is the gin. I will admit I had no gin, so a short trip to the liquor store was in order, where I faced a large selection of gins. Not as many as the vodka selection, which was HUGE, but still a lot. So I went with one I had never heard of but had a rating of 95 from some wine magazine. We will skip why wine magazines are rating gins..But feel free to use your favorite gin if you have one. If not, I would not buy the cheapest, or the most expensive, just one in the middle and go from there.

Iris flavored..really

Saffron Infused Gin...I think not.

But then there is the tonic water, which some folks think could be replaced with something better. In this case, a small batch quinine syrup. Cane sugar to replace the high fructose corn syrup, all the spices and color of the cinchona bark and the ability to add as much or as little as you like, topped off with bubbly water. So I had to get my hands (yes, Amazon carries it) on a bottle of Tomr's Tonic.
"I worked on this recipe for quite a while until I hit on the perfect batch," says Tomr's creator Tom Richter. His blend of cinchona, sugar and organic herbs, spices and citrus is vibrant and bright. Mixed with gin and sparkling water, it's sublime. The light orange-amber color may come as a surprise initially, but one sip and you'll likely be converted. "A lot of first-time customers say, 'I don't really like gin and tonics, but I really like this drink," says Richter. In addition, he says cinchona grown in different parts of the world impart distinctly different flavor profiles, opening up the possibility of terroir-influenced G&Ts."
I had to look up terrior, a term, it seems, usually related to wine. "Terroir is the set of special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place, interacting with the plant's genetics, express in agricultural products such as wine, coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, heritage wheat, cannabis, and tea. The concept has also crossed to other products such as cheeses." And tonic syrup!

That quote is from an article about the Gin and Tonic at AskMen and they also give what they think is the perfect G&T recipe.

A cute little cocktail book recently reviewed by BethFish


The Perfect Gin and Tonic

2 oz. London Dry or Plymouth Gin
1 oz. Tomr's Tonic (or your own tonic syrup)
Perrier or Pellegrino (lime-flavored works nicely)
2 dashes bitters (lemon, Angostura or Hella Bitter Citrus)
Fresh lime wedge

The Tomr's G&T

1 oz. Tomr's Tonic
2 oz. Gin
3 oz. Club soda

Fill a highball glass with ice. 
Add tonic, gin and club soda. 
Like that New Amsterdam bottle!

So,  how did that taste test go.?
I had no bitters...and forgot them at the liquor I could not make the 'perfect' one. I really should have done this at the Bro's. He has a very well stocked assortment of alcohol related materials. But I did make a traditional Tonic water and gin one and the Tomr's/gin/bubbly water version, both with some lime.

Of course, they look different. I must say, I like the clear one but it really makes no difference.
As to taste...well, they are both good, but different. If I had to pick, I would definately go with the Tomr's. It is quite tasty, much, much more interesting than the tonic water, but it is still the gin that stands out. I do like that juniper berry taste.
If you are a fan of the G&T, I really think you have to give this a try!

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. Isn't that the cutest book?? Anyway, I am a fan of the summer G&T or (don't shoot me) a vodka and tonic. I need to see if I can get the Tomr's Tonic around here.

  2. while I do not get the vodka 'thing', to each their own. whatever you like.

    But gin is better. :-)

  3. I love a gin and tonic in the summer. When I make them at home I like to use key limes. I think they look kinda cute, a different. I'd never heard of tonic syrup, but I will have to give it a try!

  4. I haven't tried gin and tonic, but this looks like fun. I love the idea of carefully crafted tonic.

    Joy's Book Blog

  5. The drinks look great! When I first saw the photo of all the gin, I thought it was our liquor shelves.

  6. Not a gin and tonic fan, but thoroughly enjoyed your post -- and of course your taste testing on our behalf :).

    That is definitely an adorable looking book too.

  7. For me, bad experience with gin :-) so I am more of a vodka or rum girl. Now, my husband looooves his Sapphire gin. As a matter of fact, tonight he will make me a vodka collins and he'll have his with gin, as the recipe calls for.
    Love your photos!

  8. I haven't drunk gin for years! I'm more of a cognac girl.

    1. funny, I think of cognac as a winter drink and gin as a summer drink.

  9. The things you do for your readers! Since my guys opened their store, I've been sticking to beer, but I do plan to check that book out!

  10. I have never been a gin fan but I'm interested to try a G&T now. Might make a gin fan :)

  11. I'm not familiar with Tomr's Tonic but I do thing G&Ts are refreshing summer drinks.

  12. I don't think I've ever had a gin & tonic apart from sips of my dad's as a kid. I should give one a try.

  13. I have never had Gin and Tonic but my mother-in-law drinks tonic for her severe leg cramps. She said it is hard to get quinine now so I might have to direct her to this tonic! thanks.

  14. I adore Gin and Tonics and on vacation was able to sample a more organic, natural tonic water that was deliciously crisp with out the sugary undertones. I'll have to try your recipes.

  15. I... I don't know that I've ever had gin. Slightly disgraceful, isn't it!? This is what I get for growing up in a dry household and maintaining square status throughout college. I shall order a G&T the next time I'm out in honor of 2013!

    1. see, I grew up in a bar! but if the NYT says so, I think we need to celebrate the G&T!

  16. Thanks to you I enjoyed this new Gin and Tonic yesterday and loved it!! Very smooth!! Great Summer drink!


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