BOOK LONDON HOTELS


Gin and Tonic, London

More British food legends

The gin and tonic is a most magical elixir. Though it might fall short in being able to raise the dead it would certainly afford them a degree of comfort. Ginís medicinal thrall dates back to the days of William Of Orange , when British citizens may well have needed a stiff libation to swallow the fact their king was a Dutchman. Back then, fresh off the boat from Holland where it was first distilled, gin was filed beside leeches as a medicine of some power. In the days of Dickens gin was oft used as an expectorant. Added to a glass of hot water and inhaled the vapours recalled the poorly to life Ė whatever was left over to drink was a suitable escape route from slum housing, smog and the general choleric miasma of newly industrialised Britain. Indeed, inhaling gin vapour in such a manner is highly recommended these days, try it to expel a hangover, cold or just for the fun of it. As convivial experiences go, itís right up there. Ginís clarity belies its complex flavour notes, all manner of tastes and scents which make it so hard to pin down. A white grain spirit, flavoured, scented and supernaturally transformed by juniper berries, citrus peel, anise, angelica root and a whole host of botanicals, gin is anything but ordinary. But, until 1858, it wasnít really sexy Ė not like it is today, when it is as kind on the eye as it its on the palate. A tall Collins glass, packed with ice and garnished with a fat wedge of lime: there are few better drinks for toasting the summer. Of course, when gin was fizzed and lifted by tonic for the very first time, Britain was basking in the perennial sunshine of her Empire. The sun never set on the British Empire so it was crucial it had something to cool it down. As the sun fell towards the horizon in India, the mosquitoes would sharpen their appetites and members of the East India Company had to be on their guard against malaria. So, not only washing away the thirst worked up on horseback as the rigours of the daily chukka took their toll, the gin and tonic was used as an measure against malaria. Tonic water Ė still known to this day as Indian tonic water Ė contained quinine, no friend of the mosquito, but a bosom buddy to gin. The volume of gin consumed in India may have fell in the last century, but back home in Blighty, by way of Holland and India and quaffed under the summer sun, the gin and tonic has never been more popular. Of course, remember to be generous with the gin, ice and lime, and give it just a splash of tonic for the fizz. Bottoms up.

Brit Quote:
A cricketer's life is a life of splendid freedom, healthy effort, endless variety, and delightful good fellowship - W G Grace
More Quotes

On this day:
Henry VIII ex-communicated - 1538, 1st Bowler Hats go on sale - 1849, The Wright Brothers take Flight - 1903, Mary Bell found Guilty - 1968, IRA bomb Harrods - 1983, Work begins on the Channel Tunnel - 1988, Ian Huntly found Guilty of Soham Murders - 2003
More dates from British history

click here to view all the British counties

County Pages

England:
Bath
Bedfordshire
Berkshire
Bristol
Buckinghamshire
Cambridgeshire
Cheshire
Cleveland/Teesside
Cornwall
County Durham
Cumbria
Derbyshire
Devon
Dorset
Essex
Gloucestershire
Greater Manchester
Hampshire
Herefordshire
Hertfordshire
Kent
Lancashire
Leicestershire
Lincolnshire
London
Merseyside
Norfolk
Northamptonshire
Northumberland
Nottinghamshire
Oxfordshire
Rutland
Shropshire
Somerset
Staffordshire
Suffolk
Surrey
Sussex
Tyne & Wear
Warwickshire
West Midlands
Wiltshire
Worcestershire
East Yorkshire
North Yorkshire
South Yorkshire
West Yorkshire
Scotland:
Angus & Dundee
Argyll
Ayrshire & Arran
Borders
Dumfries & Galloway
Edinburgh & the Lothians
Fife
Glasgow
Grampian
Highlands
Isle of Islay
Isle of Mull
Isle of Skye
Lanarkshire
Perthshire
Stirlingshire
Western Isles
Wales:
Anglesey
Mid Wales
North Wales
South Wales
West Wales
Ireland
Northern Ireland:
Belfast
County Antrim
County Armagh
County Down
County Fermanagh
County Londonderry
County Tyrone
Offshore:
Guernsey
Jersey
Isle of Man
Isle of Wight
Isles of Scilly
Orkneys
Shetland Isles