A drink that saved lives
Every famous drink has a great story behind it, and the gin & tonic is no exception. This is the story of the most renowned gin distributed by Pernod Ricard SA (BATS EU: RI).
Malaria was one of the most feared diseases for centuries; swamp mosquitoes were responsible for spreading the disease among the population. Its name comes from the Italian mal-aria, which means “bad air.” For decades, Latin American indigenous people have been grounding the bark of the cinchona tree to treat certain diseases. With this process, they were able to extract quinine which is the drug still used today by pharmaceutical companies to treat this disease.
In the 1820s, two chemists decided to use quinine powder to alleviate the fever caused by malaria and years later, two Englishmen introduced it as an infusion by diluting quinine with water to form a remedy, which prevails to this day, and which we know as “gin.” But let’s not jump the gun just yet; this is just the beginning of what would become a delicious medicine.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, in the Asian continent, English soldiers were fighting a war in India, and malaria was present. English soldiers took their ration of quinine to fight the disease until one of the soldiers had an interesting idea: to mix quinine with carbonated water and eventually lime, giving birth to the now popular “gin and tonic” that we know today.
When the soldiers returned to England, they were delighted with this drink, which became the most requested drink in all the taverns. Here began the history of one of the most famous gin brands in history: “Beefeater,” which has been around since the late 1800s, and today continues to be manufactured and distributed by Pernod Ricard SA (BATS EU: RI).
The origin of its name has its roots in a fascinating fact; the creator James Burrough began to distill his gin and decided to show it to the king at the time. James wanted to name it “Yeomen,” as it was a name everyone knew, but the king did not allow it because it was a royal name and told James that he must give it a different name.
But who are the Yeomen? The “Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress in the Tower of London” are the ceremonial protectors that safeguard the king, queen and the british crown since Victorian times. These were elite soldiers and received a large portion of meat in their daily rations, so they were known as beefeaters.
The soldiers were better known for this nickname rather than by the royal name Yeomen. This gave rise to the brand name of James’ gin: “Beefeater” and its iconic logo depicting a British Royal Guard on its bottle. In gin and tonic culture, there is an urban myth in which Winston Churchill supposedly said, “Gin and tonic has saved more English lives and souls than all the doctors in the Empire.”
Nowadays, it is a drink known worldwide and enjoyed by many even though it lost its medicinal properties because it’s been diluted, but even so, it still remains a great choice at a bar or restaurant.
The Beefeater brand by Pernod Ricard SA (BATS EU: RI) has become the world’s most-awarded gin, sold in more than 100 countries, and recognized today as the No. 1 gin in Spain and No. 3 in the United States, two markets, continents apart but that show a growing interest from its consumers as it becomes more prevalent in establishments and bartenders keep leaning towards creating new cocktail recipes using this classic drink.