Some people from work invited me to the Dominion Tavern a week or two ago. I was persuaded to try the gin and tonic, as I was told that the tonic water was homemade.
I ordered one. The drink that came was orange in colour and looked vaguely like tang. In other words, it did not look like a gin and tonic. It tasted, however, unmistakeably like a gin and tonic - a rather good gin and tonic at that, and this comes from a guy who's not particularly enthusiastic about gin and tonics.
I was inspired to try this out myself. The active ingredient in tonic water, giving it its characteristic bitter taste, is a substance called quinine. Back in the day, quinine was used as a painkiller and malarial treatment. In the (rather large) quantities required for medicinal purposes, it was known for its strong, unpleasant bitterness, so people started mixing it with gin to make it more palatable. As time wore on people started consuming quinine less and less as a medicine and more and more as a flavouring agent, especially in the quantities used for modern day tonic water, which is many times less than required to receive any therapeutic benefit (you'd have to drink something like 8L of modern day tonic water to approach even just one dose of malarial treatment).Read more