Gin And Tonic Used To Cure Malaria In British East India Army?
Image Credit: Pixabay

For more than 200 years that British ruled India, plenty of English officials who were deployed in India during the reign, often wrote about the harsh time they had acclimatizing to the Indian weather, local produce and food. Much is spoken about the Anglo-Indian cuisine that successfully married Indian food and British styles of cooking, but often we look past the drinks that were designed in this period. The much-famed cocktail, Gin and Tonic that has become the life of the parties today was actually introduced during the British rule, by the army of the British East India company. And that’s not all, it started out as an antimalarial potion, legends say.

In tropical regions such as India, malaria was a common ailment during the 16th century. It is said that somewhere in the 1700s, Scottish Doctor George Cleghorn said that quinine was effective against Malaria, he studied its protective effects and claimed that the same can be used to prevent the onset of the parasitic disease. Quinine was originally added to tonic water, which made for a very bitter drink. The British officers in India supposedly revamped the drink in the early 19th century by mixing water, sugar, lime and gin to quinine to make it more palatable, and this is how gin and tonic was apparently born, and eventually, it became a go-to drink for plenty. 

Gin was one of the liquors that would be included in the ration given to soldiers in India. So not only was gin widely available, it also helped make the ‘antimalarial drink’ an appetising concoction. Nowadays, of course, the ratio of quinine in G&T has decreased considerably, the tonic water is also not as bitter.  

Nobody is drinking it to cure Malaria, now that there are better cures available. But studies conducted later concluded that quinine was not that effective against malaria after all. It was apparently quite impractical to mix it with tonic water, as the meagre amount of quinine in the concoction would barely make any difference.

Gin and Tonic Today  

Gin and Tonic is a highball cocktail that has found fans across the world now. Gin and tonic are poured on heaps of ice. Ice cools down the gin and makes it even more refreshing. The ratio of gin and tonic ranges from 1:1, to 1: 3, depending on the recipes and the mixers used. It is garnished with a lime wedge, which infuses even more freshness to the drink.  

A party favourite, Gin and Tonic is known by various names. In US, UK, Canada, it is often called G&T, in France and Germany, it could be called Gin Tonic, in Japan, it becomes jin tonikku, whereas in Belgium it is simply called ginto.  

If you want to make it right at home, follow this recipe and let us know how you liked it.