Celebrate International Gin and Tonic day with, what else, a G&T

It’s International Gin and Tonic Day and Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador Ajay Nayyar is whipping up his version of the classic cocktail for us.

Gin and Tonic or G&T is a classic highball cocktail made with gin and tonic water poured over a large amount of ice. It really is as simple as that, so anyone can make this cocktail easily. The large amount of ice makes G&T a low alcohol content drink aka a low-ABV drink, which is very trendy right now. A low-ABV cocktail is also ideal as a daytime drink. 

Of course, the ratio of gin to tonic can vary greatly according to preference and the presence of other mixers and flavourings. However, most recipes suggest  a ratio between 1:1 and 1:3. The drink is usually garnished with a slice of lime. The ice has a dulling effect on the gin, giving the drink a pleasant and refreshing mouthfeel. 

A bartender adds tonic water to a glass in preparation for making a gin and tonic.
A bartender adds tonic water to a glass in preparation for a G&T. Image: Shutterstock

Gin and tonic was first mixed in India, by the army of the British East India Company. Malaria was a persistent problem in the tropics and quinine, a traditional cure for the disease, was consumed in tonic water. However, quinine is extremely bitter. To make it more palatable, British officers in the early 19th century started adding sugar, lime and gin to the water and quinine mixture. And, thus, gin and tonic was born. Of course, the tonic water of today has much less quinine and is sweetened; therefore, it is considerably less bitter. 

Gin and tonic is a universally popular drink, especially in the summer, and the Queen is known to be partial to it. Douglas Adams in his futuristic novel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, ponders the trans-galactic appeal of G&T: “85% of all known worlds in the Galaxy, be they primitive or highly advanced, have invented a drink called jynnan tonnyx, or gee-N’N-T’N-ix, or jinond-o-nicks, or any one of a thousand or more variations on the same phonetic theme. The drinks themselves are not the same, and vary between the Sivolvian ‘chinanto/mnigs’ which is ordinary water served at slightly above room temperature, and the Gagrakackan ‘tzjin-anthony-ks’ which kills cows at a hundred paces; and in fact the one common factor between all of them, beyond the fact that the names sound the same, is that they were all invented and named before the worlds concerned made contact with any other worlds.”

International Gin and Tonic Day, which is observed on October 19 every year, has origins almost as interesting as the cocktail itself. The story goes that it was founded in honour of gin lover Mary Edith Keyburn, who passed away at the age 95 on October 19, 2010 in a hospital in the US—with her beloved G&T in a teacup by her bedside. Her family had smuggled the G&T into the hospital in a water bottle and served it in the teacup—hidden in plain sight. 

Mary Edith’s friends established the day in her memory, describing her as “a remarkable woman who loved to have the occasional tipple of gin and tonic.” The International Gin and Tonic Day Facebook page was established in 2012. Over the following years, the day’s popularity has spread from the East Coast of the US to the rest of the world. The Facebook page has a simple wish for all G&T lovers out there: “We hope that you’ll have a tipple on October 19th and that we can all make as gracious an exit from this life as Edith did.” 

Varieties of gin and tonic
Variations on the classic gin and tonic. Left to right: with grapefruit, cucumber slices and orange. Image: Shutterstock

Gin and tonic

Ingredients

  • Gin
  • Tonic water
  • Ice
  • Rosemary sprig
  • Slice of grapefruit
  • Copa glass for serving

Method

  • Fill the copa glass with lots of ice
  • Pour 45ml of gin into it
  • Top up with tonic water
  • Add some burnt rosemary for an interesting flavour
  • Garnish with a slice of grapefruit

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