Last week we talked about different styles of gin and what they legally entail.
Click here to read last week’s story!
In today’s session we’re going to look at the history of the gin and tonic, the Bramble cocktail, and The Botanist gin.
THE NATION’S FAVOURITE
Is there a more popular mix than the gin and tonic? It’s the perfect balance of dry, sour, sweet, and satisfying carbonation.
We’ve come a long way since the ‘ice and a slice’ era. Gone are the days of watery, thin wafers of lemon and panda pop tonic. Now we see a great popularisation of the Spanish way of drinking. Big copas filled with ice, and a much less forgiving 2:1 ratio of tonic to gin.
There are now hundreds of gins and dozens of tonics to choose from.
But why do we choose tonic above all else to partner with this spirit?
The basis of tonic water, that gives that identifiable flavour, is quinine which comes from the bark of the cinchona tree (of which there are over 90 varieties). Before it was made into a commercial product, cinchona would be ground down and dissolved in wine. Historically, most ‘cure-alls’ would be served this way.
Quinine became so important because, during the Napoleonic wars, a British expedition to Walcheren in the Netherlands was struck down with Malaria. It was known that Tribes in Peru had used this bark as a medicine to cure the ‘bad air’. Hence why they called the tree, the ‘fever tree’ (yes just like the tonic!).
Now although, an American company had started producing quinine extract in pill form we had learned to cope with its bitter flavour in liquid form. It became a staple of the British army during their time in India and to combat the bitterness of the quinine they would add sugar and their ration of gin. The next step of commercialisation was never far away and sure enough by 1858 the first tonic water created by Erasmus Bond, followed some 20 years later by Jacob Schweppe. As the popularity of tonic water increased and the need as a medicinal compound lessened, the quinine dropped to levels where it only provided flavour.
Our gin this week is The Botanist, a much more contemporary style of gin that is created from the same whisky distillery who make Bruichladdich on the island of Islay. It was launched back in 2011 and is created on a still affectionally known as ‘ugly betty’. This still is one of only two Lomond stills and the team at Bruichladdich made it into this Frankenstein of apparatus. By attaching a vapour infusion chamber to it. In total, they use twenty-two locally foraged ingredients on top of a more familiar nine botanicals.
The cocktail we have chosen to pair it with is the Bramble. Created by Dick Bradsell in the mid-80s at Fred’s bar in Soho. It was his ode to a gin sling cocktail, another fruity sour, but with his addition of blackberry liqueur. To remind him of picking the fruit back home on the Isle of Wight. The ‘drizzling’ of the crème de mure was to simulate the pricking of a thumb on a bramble bush.
Botanicals: juniper, apple mint, Spearmint, Water mint, downy birch, chamomile, creeping thistle. Elder, gorse flower, heather flower, hawthorn flower, lady’s bedstraw, lemon balm. Meadowsweet, mugwort, red clover, white clover, sweet cicely, bog myrtle, tansy, thyme, wood sage, cassia bark, peppermint, angelica root, coriander seeds, cinnamon bark. Lemon peel, orange peel, liquorice root, orris root.
Make sure you share your creations with us!
And tune in to our Instagram every Friday at 5pm for our Gin Club Live!