Putting the ‘T’ in G&T

This month's box featured the refreshing and tasty tonic of Franklin & Sons. What started as a small family confectioner's shop in 1886 has evolved into a booming business of marvellous tonics and mixers. Although a gin-lover's favourite, most of us don't know much about our constant cocktail companion. With a little inspiration from Franklin & Sons, we've put together some interesting facts that'll ginform you about the 'T' in your next G&T.

Craft your own gin and tonic, sit back and enjoy some fun facts about this booze's bubbly best buddy.

For something that began life as a way to make medicine palatable, the gin and tonic has done pretty well for itself over the 200 or so years since its birth. It first appeared among British colonial soldiers in India who, seeking a way to disguise the bitter taste of the quinine they drank to stave off malaria, added gin, sugar, water and lime to create something fairly delicious.

For centuries a distinctively British tipple, the G&T has more recently been embraced elsewhere, nowhere more so than in Siderit’s home country of Spain, which has transformed the gin tonic into an art form. Indeed, it’s from there that the current trend has emerged for serving the drink in large balloon glasses, with specially paired tonic waters and botanical garnishes.

While it’s understandable that the gin tends to bag all the attention and glory when it comes to G&Ts, the importance of quality tonic water can’t be underestimated – which is precisely why we’ve made sure to provide a delicious example in August's box this month.

What else is there to gin's perfect partner? Here's four fun facts you about tonic you never knew:

1. Not all tonics are created equal

Something of which all gin fans are painfully aware is that the wrong tonic can ruin a wonderful drink. Thankfully though, the days are long gone when all we had to choose from was a limited range of sweet, artificial concoctions that overpowered the spirits they were mixed with. The boom in interest in craft spirits has prompted a parallel boom in delicious craft mixers to accompany and enhance our favourite tipples.

The Franklin & Sons in August's box this month is an exemplar of this new generation of tonics. Made with all-natural ingredients, including cinchona bark extract from Ecuador and spring water from Staffordshire, it’s designed to show off rather than mask the flavour of what its paired with. A deliciously light and refreshingly crisp, clear drink that is also subtly bitter, it carries the taste of gin beautifully across the palate.

2. Tonic is more than just a mixer

While it’s not unsurprising that our favourite use for tonic water is in a lovely G&T, it is in fact rapidly growing in popularity as a drink in its own right. Indeed, it was the fastest growing soft drink category in the UK in 2015, something in no small part helped by the growth in craft spirits.

It is also, thought, surely a reflection of the diversity of delicious new tonic options available. For example, even we have to admit that Franklin & Sons Sicilian Lemon Tonic makes a particularly spectacular summer cooler, even without a drop of gin (although we do still think that the signature Franklin’s 1886 cocktail, which combines it with sloe gin, is even better…).

3. It glows in the dark

While a nightclub might not be your first venue of choice to enjoy a sophisticated G&T, if you ever have sampled one in such an establishment, you may have noticed that your drink glowed a magical bright blue colour under the UV lights. But why? Well, here comes the science bit!

It’s all down to the quinine in tonic water, a fluorescent alkaloid which absorbs the light energy of ultraviolet light and then emits it with a longer wavelength than the radiation initially acquired. This discrepancy is what makes the drink appear to shine. Got it? No, us neither really, but hey – isn’t it pretty?!

4. It’s the perfect blank canvas

The clean, fresh and slightly bitter flavour of a good tonic like Franklin & Sons is the perfect partner to show off gin’s aromatic qualities, and this classic combination itself forms the foundation for countless recipe permutations. From fruit, to herbs and spices, to liqueurs – there really are few limits when it comes to additions and garnishes for this most iconic of drinks.

Indeed, as the accompanying innovative recipe from Franklin & Sons proves, it need not necessarily be a ‘drink’ at all. What else do you need this August, other than a gin and tonic ice lolly? Another gin and tonic ice lolly perhaps?!

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