The iconic gin and tonic is an icon for a reason. The refreshing bubble of the tonic water, the juniper hinted flavour of the gin, and the splash of zingy lime just screams a summer drink while sitting out in the sun. But we aren’t here to just sit and drink gin and tonics all day (we wish!), we’re here to talk about one of the newest trends in health and nutrition: tonic water. Besides the importance of picking a good gin for a gin and tonic, the tonic water is really the secret star of the show and we’re about to tell you why.
But first, let’s investigate why tonic water is on the up and up in the first place.
Rise of gin drinking
Gin has been around for a very long time, with varying accounts showing that the Italians invented it in the 11th Century, to Holland inventing it for health reasons. Its popularity hasn’t really decreased significantly since then, and it’s steadily held its place for perfect summer beverages or a regular on the cocktail menu. But lately, we’ve seen gin take a prominent place in bars and locals, and even showing up as the prized cocktail for function venues and menu pairing.
The rise of gin drinking has been in part because of local distilleries popping up all over the globe. With a rise in all things craft, gin has also caught the boutique train and become highly sought after as of late. With lovely and subtle flavours of citrus and botanicals, gin has become a magnet for the young and old. Even some more interesting flavours like gourmet coffee beans have been infiltrating the gin world, creating things like espresso gin which is an excellent upgrade to the espresso martini and tastes delightfully of organic coffee beans.
Naturally with the increase in gin, we are simultaneously seeing a rise in tonic water, since tonic is a perfect and popular compliment to gin. Many pubs and distilleries are even creating their own tonics to perfectly suit their many types of gin available, which we’ll go into more below.
Now let’s look into why tonic water is so great, and what’s changed over the years for tonic to make it so popular.
Artisanal flavoured tonics
As we’ve already mentioned, carefully crafted and subtle flavoured gin is in high demand, and since we love our choices, so is a healthy amount of choices in our tonic water. Artisanal flavoured tonic water is the newest trend that we’ve seen lately. From flavours like elderflower to fresh roses, the botanical game is strong on tonics. Many distilleries are making their own tonics to go with their freshly distilled gin, and even offering a full menu of both to pick and choose from. Gin bars are increasing in popularity as well, and often offer multiple choices of gin, tonic water and your garnish to choose from.
The biggest push for fancy tonics is to be able to properly match your gin to your tonic. While some of us are after a tonic that doesn’t overpower our gin, others want a stronger flavour of citrus or a crisper bite to it. To choose a tonic that fits your gin, or vice versa, look into what the base flavour notes are of each ingredient. For example, a gin that boasts a floral flavour should be paired with tonics and garnishes that are sweeter, like fresh fruit. More traditional juniper flavoured gin could taste great with citrus, cucumbers or lime flavoured tonic and garnishes. Try one of these great new tonic options if you’re looking for something to spice up your game.
Make your own
Like how the soda stream has revolutionised sparkling water, making your own tonic water is changing the game as well. Our increased interest in health and wellness has caused an increase in making our own everything and knowing exactly what we’re ingesting. Making your own tonic water means you know what the ingredients are, and can pick and choose what works for you. The simplicity of making your own is attractive, plus the relatively cheap ingredients means you’ll save money if you drink it often. To try it out, here’s an excellent recipe to start with.
Substitute for sodas
We keep seeing more and more news about how terrible soda is for us, so naturally the market has turned to alternatives and substitutes for sodas. Here again, artisanal and interesting flavours for tonic water has become popular as they still have great flavours without as much sugar. It’s important to note that tonic water certainly still does contain sugar (you can find nutrition facts for tonic water here), but it is less than regular soda. Tonic water can also be purchased or made as a diet with a sugar supplement or no sugar at all.
Peruvian cinchona tree bark is likely not something you were expecting to find in your drinks, but it’s one of the primary things you taste in any tonic water. When you first drink tonic water, you’ll likely detect a hint of bitterness, which comes from this bark. One of the best health benefits of cinchona tree bark is that it contains quinine, which has significant antimalarial properties. While you likely need to intake more than just one tonic water to get the maximum benefits of Quinine, it can’t hurt. Some sources also say that Quinine can help with leg cramps, but remember to always work with a qualified physician before self treating.
Whatever your reason is for drinking tonic, we hope we’ve provided you with several reasons why you should take your tonic water drinking seriously, and how to up your tonic game. The amount of options available are only increasing, so get out to your nearest specialty gin distillery or pub and and find out what tonic water options are available!