Welcome to my wonderful world of Gin & Tonic. It was, when I was fourteen, the one drink I knew that I did not like. A Tumbler glass containing a few ice cubes, a slice of lime and two peculiarly unappetising liquids, namely Schweppes tonic water and Gordon’s Gin. In unconcerned quantities these liquids were poured into a glass and I tried as hard as I could to swallow it, get it over with and hope that I didn’t then throw it back up.
Since 1986 everything has changed, I have changed certainly, as I will not turn away even a Gordon’s and Schweppes these days, but much more than that, gin has changed and tonic has changed, and they have changed very much for the better. Thanks to the new gin revival that seems to have accelerated considerably in the last few years, you can now find, with minimal effort, dozens of different Gins. A little harder searching and that number will vastly multiply. Specialist gin bars, gin clubs and a whole range of printed material on the subject of gin is out there if you care to find it. And I care to find it. For me though, the biggest change to elevate even the humble Gordon’s London Dry Gin, has been the availability of decent tonic water. I am writing these words, not because of Tanqueray, or Bombay Sapphire or even Monkey 47, I am writing them because of Fever Tree – because that has been the biggest influence on my consumption. These days I only mix with a good quality tonic water, be it Fever Tree, Fentimans or another. I have read that some still prefer the traditional Schweppes, but I’ve not managed to find an actual person willing to agree. Do your own research of course, as we all have a different pallet, but as far as I’m concerned, if you just take one thing away from reading these words, it is that you put a decent tonic water with your gin.
So I write these pages as my journey through gin makes its way through London, Minorca, The Netherlands, America, Spain and Italy. From Dirty Martinis to the humble G’n’T, and all places in between. “And what, pray tell, is the Ginger Line?” I hear you ask. It is the London Overground, the nick-name for the line that links Clapham and Brockley to Hoxton and Highbury. Gone are the days when it just linked New Cross to Whitechapel, it has grown, like the Gin trade, since the turn of millennium, into something rather cool, and it runs right past my door.