Matt and Friends Drink the Universe

Alcohology - "Gin and Tonic"

June 01, 2024 Matt and Friends Drink The Universe Episode 27
Alcohology - "Gin and Tonic"
Matt and Friends Drink the Universe
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Matt and Friends Drink the Universe
Alcohology - "Gin and Tonic"
Jun 01, 2024 Episode 27
Matt and Friends Drink The Universe

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Ever wondered how a bitter bark from the South American wilderness became a staple in your favorite cocktail? Uncover the incredible saga of tonic water in this episode of Alcohology as Siobhan and Matt take you on a journey from the depths of the Amazon to British colonial life. Hear about the cinchona tree's miraculous medicinal properties, the role of quinine in combating malaria, and how this led to the creation of tonic water. You'll also learn about its transformation from a life-saving remedy to a fizzy mixer that’s now a must-have in cocktail culture. Join us for a sparkling conversation, rich with history, science, and a dash of humor.

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Please visit www.mattandfriendsdtu.com for links to all of the places you can listen, our merch store, and more!

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Text us what you think about the podcast!

Ever wondered how a bitter bark from the South American wilderness became a staple in your favorite cocktail? Uncover the incredible saga of tonic water in this episode of Alcohology as Siobhan and Matt take you on a journey from the depths of the Amazon to British colonial life. Hear about the cinchona tree's miraculous medicinal properties, the role of quinine in combating malaria, and how this led to the creation of tonic water. You'll also learn about its transformation from a life-saving remedy to a fizzy mixer that’s now a must-have in cocktail culture. Join us for a sparkling conversation, rich with history, science, and a dash of humor.

Support the Show.

Please visit www.mattandfriendsdtu.com for links to all of the places you can listen, our merch store, and more!

Check out our sponsor,
Poppin's Travel Company, for all of your travel needs! Their highly qualified agents are ready to book your next big adventure or dream vacation!

We'd love to hear from you on social media! Like and follow us on
Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Threads and X.

Cheers, and thanks for listening!

Matt:

Welcome to Alcohology. I wonder why they call it a cocktail. Yes, I'd like to know more about the Venus Vinifera. I'm very interested in the terroir. We talking about two carbon, six hydrogen and one oxygen atom. We talking about ethyl alcohol this episode Gin and Tonic.

Siobhan:

Hi everyone. It's Siobhan here giving you a couple cool facts for this. Alchohology on tonic water, a marvel of modern infection control, troubled politics and cocktail connection. Winston Churchill once declared I might try to do a Winston Churchill voice.

Siobhan:

We'll see how this goes gin and tonic has saved more Englishman's lives and minds than all the doctors in the empire. Well, that may be. So I'm here to highlight the history of this tonic water, a vital player in the marriage of a gin and tonic. To understand tonic we need to head to South America and get to know the cinchona tree, famously known for containing quinine from the cinchona tree, a bitter but effective fever remedy, it was the only malaria treatment for 300 plus years before being replaced by synthetic options later on. Quinine stops the parasite who that can, who, this fun parasite guy, the parasite that controls malaria from being able to replicate or grow, which helps to fight off infection. Indigenous healers in South America around modern-day Ecuador discovered the cinchona bark's powers In the early 1600s. Jesuit missionaries learned of the bark's medicinal qualities from those healers and began exporting quantities of the bark back to Europe. Cincona was solidified in Western medicine later that century by an Englishman, robert Talbor, who steeped cincona bark in wine sounds good to me and gave it to patients over a prolonged period in a simple process that became known as the English remedy. With this treatment and then later the successful prevention methods against malaria in 1854, quinine and cinchona boomed in popularity for colonization efforts, especially of the British in West Africa, and the preservation of trade routes. The British and the Dutch purloined cinchona plants from South America to India and Java for these efforts. Quinine and cinchona bark was paired with fizzy water or through alcohol as a medication, as a delivery method to pair with the bitter taste.

Siobhan:

Original tonics were best defined as a preparation given to promote a feeling of well-being. Pitt's aerated tonic water was the first patent for tonic water in 1858 by Erasmus Bond, soon followed by introduction in 1870 of quote Indian quinine tonic by the Schweppes Company. Military tradition was to add lime and lemons to this, as you guessed it, to prevent scurvy. The first known reference to a tonic water cocktail came in 1863 in Hong Kong, where it was paired with ginger brandy. I would try that. The first known record of the gin and tonic actually comes from the Oriental Sporting Magazine in 1868, where horse race watching party goers called for the cocktail in Lucknow, India. The call for these G&Ts returned to the US after soldiers returning from World War II had a taste for the combination and from here tonic has come in and out of the limelight. See what I did there no scurvy here.

Siobhan:

Some quick facts about the tonic water you're likely to find on shelves and consume today. The cinchona tree still exists in South America and is actually the national tree of Peru and it's on the country's flag. Quinine in tonic water will actually fluoresce in UV light. What you're going to find on the shelves has far less quinine than the original version of tonic water being given to treat and help malaria. It also likely includes sweetener or sugar.

Siobhan:

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration limits the quinine content in tonic water to 83 milligrams per liter and most commercial versions actually only have about 20 to 60 milligrams, while the actual daily therapeutic dose of quinine is in the range of about 2100 milligrams a day for malaria prevention for an average adult. So if you can't do the math yourself, I've done it for you. To obtain that required amount of quinine, you would need to consume about 70 liters of tonic water. I don't know about you, but challenge accepted for that many GMTs per day. Also a severe side effect if you actually consume too much quinine or cinchona is a condition called cinchonism, which mirrors malaria in people and also has a really fun addition of making everything taste like bark. Good times.

Matt:

Now that Siobhan has brought the tonic, let's talk about the gin. The origins of gin can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when early distillers in Europe began creating medicinal spirits flavored with juniper. These were believed to have therapeutic properties. I still believe that today. The precursor to modern gin, geneva, was created in the Netherlands. It was originally used for medicinal purposes and widely consumed for its supposed health benefits. In the 17th century, the popularity of Geneva spread to England, particularly during the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when William of Orange, a Dutchman, took the English throne. English soldiers and citizens adopted the Dutch drink and it began to be produced domestically as gin.

Matt:

The invention of the column, still also known as the continuous still by Aeneas Caufe in the 1830s, revolutionized gin production. The technology allowed for the creation of purer, more consistent spirits. This led to the creation of London dry gin. In case you're wondering, the legal requirements to make gin a London dry gin are that the base spirit must be distilled at at least 96% alcohol. Juniper berries must be the predominant botanical. Only natural botanicals are allowed. No artificial flavors or colors can be added post-distillation and minimal sweetening is allowed, but not exceeding 0.1 grams of sugar per liter. I'm not sure how that will make anything sweeter. The final product must also be bottled at no less than 37.5% alcohol by volume. The birth of the gin and tonic can be attributed to British soldiers. British soldiers in India began mixing their daily ration of gin with quinine tonic water. This was to stave off malaria. The addition of the gin helped to mask the bitterness of the quinine, making the drink more enjoyable.

Siobhan:

So now, knowing all of this, the next time you ask for a G&T, ask for the good gin and the good tonic. This podcast is a production of Unfiltered Studios. If you would like to know more about joining Unfiltered Studios, please visit our website at unfpodcom for more information.

Matt:

Matt, friends Drink the Universe is proudly sponsored by the Poppins Travel Company. Please visit our sponsor at poppinstravelcompanycom. If you enjoyed this short and want to spend more time with us, please check out our full-length episodes wherever you get your podcasts from. For more information about Matt and Friends Drink the Universe, please visit us at mattandfriendsdtucom. That's mattandfriendsdtucom.

Tonic
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