South American tree bark and a malaria drug – the story of tonic
14th May 2020
Just a few decades ago, gin and tonics were considered rather stodgy and boring, the drink of suburbanites at the golf club. Today, the century-old drink is hot again.
In part, that’s due to a boom in craft gin distilling—a ginaissance! But there’s also been a new wave of experimentation with gin’s life partner, tonic water.
This episode, we focus on the tonic side of the equation. Which genius came up with the idea of combining quinine, a malaria drug, with soda water and sugar in order to create this refreshing beverage?
How did the bark of a South American tree end up in everything from hair-restoring shampoo to cocktails? And is it true that the G&T began life as a pleasant way for the Anglo-Indian elite to take their anti-malarials?
This episode, we take a sip of tonic’s history with Kim Walker and Mark Nesbitt, authors of the new book Just the Tonic: A Natural History of Tonic Water.
Listen in for all that, plus beef-infused tonic wines, Aperol spritzes, and the gin & tonic’s true origin story. Cheers!
Gastropod is the award-winning podcast that looks at food through the lens of science and history. Co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley serve up a brand new episode every two weeks.
Each episode, we look at the hidden history and surprising science behind a different food and/or farming-related topic, from aquaculture to ancient feasts, from cutlery to chile peppers, and from microbes to Malbec.
We interview experts, visit labs, fields, and archaeological digs, and generally have lots of fun while discovering new ways to understand the world through food. We think these stories are fascinating, and we hope you will too.
Listen to more Gastropod episodes, and follow Cynthia and Nicola on Twitter.
Thumbnail Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash