The Lovely Gin and Tonic….
Happy G & T Day! In this version, pictured left, it is made with the colorful Jack’s Tonique, made local, in Quebec, by Joel Beaupre and Mathieu Guillemette. It has a crisp, unique bitter taste but rich and delicious. My tastebuds quickly accustomed to the unusual flavour and I, soon, realized I downed it quite easily.
An official Gin Day will arrive later in the year when I will explore Gin’s exact origins.
Today will be dedicated strictly to G & T.
Compare this robust colored version with the clean and clear one that is most commonly made with carbonated tonic water.
With a little help, we can spread the word of more flavourful and healthier Tonics, such as Jack’s, to use instead. You only use an ounce or 2 max per drink so the 500ml bottle will last quite awhile. Mix that with 1 1/2 ounces of gin and top it with club soda and it will be a beautiful rich, golden color, as above.
Quinine – Pro or Con?
One of the ingredients in the final product of tonic water/syrup is cinchona bark. By boiling this bark, quinine is created. There are health benefits to this, however, too much of it can be hard on the system. It has been known to treat leg cramps, lupus (an autoimmune disease) and arthritis.
Quinine can help to relax muscles and ease muscle spasms. Originally, quinine was administered as an anti-malarial drug in the 17th Century.
On the other hand, a large build up of quinine can be serious with side effects ranging from headache to vomiting. People have been hospitalized with symptoms lasting a few weeks. Keep in mind, they didn’t have just a couple of gin an tonics on a Friday night. They overdosed on it.
From what I’ve discovered, it’s easier to overdose on it if you’re trying to make your own at home. In many of the cases, cinchona bark powder, and too much of it, was used. The powder is harder to filter so you end up with more grains in your actual drink. Leave this to the professionals. Today’s tonic water has very little quinine.
The Food and Drug Act banned quinine treatments in 2010 due to it’s serious side effects. Now there are restrictions on the amount of quinine allowed in tonic. If a doctor had prescribed it, the recommended dosage might have been 500-1000 mg.
In the carbonated drinks, do not exceed 2.48 mg of quinine per ounce of liquid. Therefore, if a gin and tonic is 1.5 oz of gin and 4.5 oz of Schweppes tonic water, you’re looking at 11.16 mg of quinine.
Now that I was concerned about the quinine content in homemade tonics, I emailed Jack’s Tonique to inquire.
Joel Beaupre promptly responded to assure me the levels were safe.
“The amount of quinine in our artisan tonic slighty fluctuates from batch to batch as we steep it from a natural bark that contains the quinine. Too many variables are involved to give a definite number. That being said, we use very little bark and have a low level of quinine compared to the big brands!” -Joel Beaupre
I can’t wait to try their new Ginger Beer! The only sweetener they use in their soda is pure Quebec honey. Again…..healthy!
Who Made the First Gin & Tonic?
Now I have THAT out of my system, we can get on to Britain, home of the Gin & Tonic.
Gin originates from London and word spread to the British Army of tonic’s benefits. In the 17th Century, quinine was used to combat malaria. A British officer realized alcohol, gin in particular, would help the bitter tonic to go down easier. Little did they realize it would save hundreds of lives.
However, the tonic had already been discovered. In the 1630’s an Augustinian Monk found a tree with possible remedies, in the forests of the Andes Mountains. He published a notice regarding the treatment, burying it in a work on the Augustinian Order.
“A tree grows which they call the fever tree, in the country of Loxa, whose bark of the color of cinnamon, made into powder amounting to the weight of two small silver coins and given as a beverage, cures the fevers and tertiana; it has produced miraculous results in Lima.
-Antonio de Calancha, Monk of the Augustinian Order
The bark from this tree, known as cinchona, or Jesuit’s Bark, was boiled to gain the medicinal properties of what is now called quinine. Some cinchona tree species grow to about 18 feet and span 1 to 2 feet in diameter.
Juniper Berries, The Super Food
Gin is produced from these berries which combat bacteria and can be treated for rheumatism, arthritis and cystitis. It can help with bloating and water retention and improves digestion since it increases saliva and digestive enzymes.
If crushed, it can be used topically on wounds as an antiseptic.
However, excessive use of the berries could lead to kidney irritation.
Today’s tonic contains artificial sweetener so it is much more pleasant to drink.
Any establishment in Ottawa will serve up a Gin and Tonic but if you’re looking to try the homemade tonic before you purchase the full bottle, visit the following and make sure you ask the server to make it with Jack’s Tonique.
12 restaurants in Ottawa serve it with Jack’s including the following:
Ei8hteen – 18 York Street
Two Six Ate – 268 Preston St.
The Soca Kitchen – 93 Holland Ave.
Erlings Variety – 22 Strathcona (at Bank St)
When you’re ready to purchase a bottle of the tonic, choose from 14 different establishments including:
North of 7 Distillery – 1733 St. Laurent Blvd.
The Red Apron – 564 Gladstone St.
Viens Avec Moi – 1338 Wellington
Thyme & Again – 1255 Wellington St.
The relatively new company, Jack’s Tonique, has launched their products from its origins in Quebec to as far east as New Brunswick and to western Canada, with much of the concentration in Montreal and Ottawa.
I discovered another tonic and have yet to find an establishment that uses these Split Tree tonic in their drinks. But you can still purchase the bottle at these locations, as well as Thyme & Again.
Everything in Moderation! Cheers!
Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on April 9, 2017