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Background & Heritage

Since the 17th century, cinchona bark and the quinine that it contains have been used as a treatment for malaria. It is said that British colonials used to drink quinine-rich tonic water and, in an attempt to improve its very bitter taste, often used to mix it with gin, thus giving rise to gin and tonic.

Bitter lemon is African in origin and was also mixed with quinine to prevent malaria. The quinine content in today’s bitter lemon is significantly lower and is therefore no longer an effective prevention against malaria.

Contrary to what its name suggests, ginger ale is not a type of ale – it has not undergone fermentation – but a drink made from plant extracts. Because it stimulates perspiration, ginger is often added to coffee and tea in hot countries.