Interesting facts about quinine in drinks

For hundreds of years quinine have been take as an antidote to fevers. Legends claim, that the first type of quinine water was used in the British colonies of India in the 17th century. As it has a very bitter taste the British would mix the quinine with a small amount of gin and lemon juice to make it more palatable to drink. Overtime they got used to the taste of this drink. The original idea of tonic water is thought to have come from this.

Tonic water was granted an English patent in 1858, then in 1953 Schweppes brought tonic water to the USA. It is still to this day a popular mixer in both British and American culture.

As tonic water contains quinine, some people wonder whether they could just drink lots of tonic water instead of taking quinine tablets for the treatment of malaria. This would not really be possible because in 6 fluid ounces if tonic water there is approximately 20 mg of quinine. The recommended dose to treat malaria is 2/3 tablets of 350mg of quinine per day. Form this you can see that you would have to drink vast amounts of tonic water to obtain enough quinine to treat malaria.

Something a lot of people notice is, in night clubs gin and tonic can glow a pale blue colour under the UV lights. This is due to the quinine in the tonic water being excited by the UV light.

If the mouse is moved over the picture on the left it is possible to see the effect of UV light on tonic water.

It isn't only tonic water, which we drink that contains quinine; it is also used to flavour vermouth along with a selection of other herbs. Vermouth contains quinine in even smaller concentrations that tonic water, Martinis don't glow under UV lights!