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Gin & Tonic
Food and drink opinion

Gin & Tonic

The British normally drink their gin and tonic before a meal as an aperitif. The Spanish, however, insist on having it as a digestif afterwards

AJ Linn

Malaga

Friday, 3 May 2024, 10:54

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The British normally drink their gin and tonic before a meal as an aperitif. The Spanish, however many times they are corrected, insist on having it as digestif after the meal, rather as if it were a coñac or a whisky. And while many Brits have remonstrated with our hosts along the lines of maintaining a stiff upper gin-and-tonic lip, it must be acknowledged that a post prandial G&T is a very refreshing drink indeed, particularly when drunk with lots of ice from those enormous balloon glasses favoured here. It has become quite a cult.

Winston Churchill has been quoted as saying the gin and tonic has saved more lives than all the doctors in the Empire, but the source is hazy. While the British were busy colonising modern-day India, Bangladesh and Pakistan under the British Raj, soldiers caught malaria. Their discovery of cinchona tree bark and its active ingredient, quinine, led the British to ship quinine powder to Indian colonies. There, it ensured that once-wilting soldiers could enforce British rule.

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Spain is allegedly one of the highest gin-consuming countries in the world, and every bar has a varied selection. True Malaga-ites will fly the Andalusian flag and ask for Larios, made locally and available in several formats, while internationalists may never waver from the purist's Bombay Blue. But the Spanish Gin Society (yes, there is one) recommends Gin Mare, distilled in a 13th-century chapel in a Catalan fishing village), Gin MG, describing itself as a London Dry and invented during the civil war, and the triple-distilled Master's.

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