Fighting the Tropics


While I’m still slaving away on the cookbook, I’ve got the pleasure of bringing you a bit of alcohol history and a fabulous new reference by way of this guest post from my new friend, Woody Robinson. I mean really, how could I say no to a post about one of my favorite spirits?!


Last weekend I asked for a Gin and Tonic from a weathered bartender at a local pub. A simple request you may think. However, upon delivering my drink, the bartender barked in a raspy voice, “Fighting off the tropics eh?” While some may have ignored this odd comment, I decided to dig a bit deeper. I found out that Gin was mixed with quinine (an anti-malarial compound) and carbonated water during the 17th century in tropical British Colonies. Thus the Gin and Tonic was born!

While simply drinking is great fun, understanding the alcohol we consume makes the experience far more interesting and rewarding. For example, say you’re drinking some gin after a long day of work. Did you know that English soldiers were drinking the same thing while fighting Spanish troops in the Eighty Year War?

Unfortunately, finding a gin that caters to your specific tastes is often a difficult task. From traditional to modern blends with a broad spectrum of flavors, it’s easy to get lost at your local liquor store.

However, alcohol references can make finding your ‘gin of choice’ a snap. For example, FindTheBest teamed up with several gin directories to create a convenient database of the worlds greatest gins. With nearly 200 brands and useful filters to narrow your results, comparing gins has never been easier.

Learning the history of you favorite alcohol is an enlightening and satisfying process. While Gin and Tonics probably aren’t currently recommended by the FDA as an anti-malaria medication, they sure make for a good time after work!


Woody Robinson is a recent graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara, and is now a gin enthusiast working at FindTheBest and FindTheData. FindTheBest is an objective, socially curated comparison engine that allows you to find a topic, compare your options and decide what’s best for you.

No Malaria Here!


This post was brought to you by the letter Q, not exactly an easy one to match in the Alphahol so I went with a tried and true favorite: Tonic Water, which is flavored with (among other things) quinine.

Apparently, the Gin & Tonic habit began as a way for the British of the East India Company in the like to improve the flavor of the strongly flavored Tonic (what we get now has a far lower concentration than the original) which was used as a preventative against Malaria. Now, for those who don’t especially _like_ Gin, you might be thinking that Tonic must have been all sorts of bitter if Gin made it more palatable (which was exactly Todd’s thought). I’m not sure I’d like the full-strength stuff myself, but I’m quite the fan of what I’ve had so far.

When looking up things to serve with Tonic Water, other than Gin or Vodka, I came across all sorts of ______ Tonic–pretty much any spirit plus Tonic Water and there you go. Still, others got a bit more inventive. Take for instance:

Melon Tonic

1 oz Vodka (I used vanilla, of course)
1 oz Melon liqueur
1 oz Tonic water
dash Lemon juice

Stir together in a low-ball glass and sip.

Now, this one, to me, needed a bit more tonic water to balance out the cloyingly sweet melon (and I like melon drinks) but nonetheless tastes like a melted snow-cone with a kick. Definitely one to keep around. I also found a half-gin & [grapefruit] juice, half-tonic mixture that was okay (rather just have the Gin & Juice, personally) but the surprise favorite was this:


Tonic water
Squeeze of lime
Several dashes of bitters

Stir lime and bitters (use as much as you like, 3 dashes was recommended and seemed okay for a short glass) into tonic and sip on a hot day in place of a cool breeze.

When I say surprise, Todd even liked this one best out of the three we tried tonight and he’s not a tonic fan. Bitters kinda remind me of Worcestershire sauce (in a good way) and that slightly warm flavor added to the chilled Tonic and lime made for a very tasty drink. Might even be a good brunch alternative for a Bloody Mary for those (like me) who are sensitive to tomato juice in any sort of quantity.

Finally, I know I’ve mentioned this before but I have to again, it just wouldn’t be right not to. Fred and Friends makes wonderfully quirky kitchen gadgets and the Gin and Titonic ice cube molds are no exception. I actually found this, in person, at a local game shop last night and have since sunk an icy Titanic and -berg in both mixed drinks and juice. For the truly surreal experience, I’d suggest dunking them into a blue beverage, but in a nice Gin & Tonic it’s just as fun.