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Quinine and Gin and Tonics

Leslie Chisholm lchishol at uoguelph.ca
Wed Aug 3 22:02:54 EST 1994

Yes, the original purpose of tonic water was as an antimalarial treatment 
(hence the name "tonic"). When the British empire starting exploding out 
into some of the more disease ridden pieces of real estate, disease 
started to become a concern. The British in India knew that Quinine had 
antimalarial qualities but because of the bitter taste they watered it 
down into a tasty beverage form - tonic water. Adding gin to the mix was 
a logical progression on those hot summer evenings. Although more 
effective antimalarials have since been developed, gin and tonic has 
turned into a bit of an evening tradition for what's left of the old 
empire. Should you have the misfortune to end up with a dose of the 
disease in question there are certainly more effective ways of treating 
it...although a lot of gin and tonic will make you feel a lot better 
about the fevers.

Terry Wheeler, University of Guelph

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