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Gin and tonic might just be the perfect pairing
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Gin and tonic might just be the perfect pairing

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Gin was the best-selling white spirit last year, so we take a look at why gin and tonic pair so well together.

It’s the perfect marriage of libations. The two are simply meant to be together.

Gin became widespread after the William of Orange-led 1688 Glorious Revolution and subsequent import restrictions on French brandy. By 1726, gin production surged and London had 1,500 working stills and the age of the “Gin Craze” was born.

The Gin Act in 1751, plus a greater demand for tea and bad harvests made the spirit expensive, putting an end to the craze. Over time, production came back and gin is a favored drink in London and England.

The tale of how gin and tonic came together is in interesting as the drink itself. The incredibly popular drink was born of necessity in the 19th century when the British Army was stationed in India and took to drinking quinine in their tonic water to prevent malaria. To mask the bitterness, they added gin along with lime, sugar and water (or some similar version) and the G&T was born.

Gin is one of the least likely cocktails to give you a pounding headache, unless you go overboard (to be called gin in the U.S. it must be a minimum of 80 proof). The light drink is refreshing, and diabetics can indulge once in awhile when using no sugar-tonic. It plays well with seltzer and tonic, and mixes nicely with stronger flavors like ginger (but why do that to gin?).

Gin is the king of simplicity, is one reason it is a favorite. The standard gin ratio is 1:3 gin to tonic, stirred gently so as not to affect the carbonated tonic water, and garnished with lime or, my preference, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Gin is one of the broadest categories of spirits that revolve around juniper as a common ingredient. Other botanicals, such as coriander, angelica root, orris root and dried citrus peel, are often added. Citrus is often a must along, and sometimes cool cucumbers are added. But juniper is required in every style of gin.

Gin drinks are legion and legendary. A few fun ones to try are the Gin Gimlet, named after Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Desmond Gimlette, who is said to have spiked his lime juice with gin to improve the flavor. Longtime favorite Tom Collins is essentially a gin lemonade made with gin, lemon juice, syrup and soda water.

The number of distilleries pumping out gin is as numerous as the concoctions you can make with it. From local North Carolina gins at Sutler’s Gin (Winston-Salem’s first legal distillery and hometown favorite) and Conniption in Durham, to national brands of Tanqueray and higher-end, small batch Hendricks (and many other brands), there is a gin for every taste. Each with its own unique style.

Celebrities are not immune to feeling the “gin love” as demonstrated by actor Ryan Reynolds’ involvement in Aviation Gin.

Stories aside, all I know is that a G&T is my favorite drink for the above reasons. It is cool, light and refreshing. You make it is as dangerous (or not) as you want.

Sometimes after a long day, it is the cure for what ails. And, if a G&T is good enough for “Big” on “Sex and the City,” it’s good enough for me.

Recently, customers participated in a gin-tasting event at Black Mountain Chocolate.

“Cocktail Labs are a natural extension of BMC's focus on fun experiences and education,” says Brent Peters, who owns Black Mountain with his wife, Millie. “We have offered similar classes in the sources and crafting of fine chocolate, so it was natural to add cocktails when we added our bar. People enjoy learning where their food and beverages come from and how they are made. And we love to share that experience.”

Note: Some of the gin history came from distiller.com.

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