The Botanical History of the Gin & Tonic

Date:
Venue:
The Linnean Society of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BF, United Kingdom
Organiser: events@linnean.org
02074344479 ext 211

SPECIAL EVENT 18:00–20:00 Thursday 13 February 2020

Cinchona anglica from The quinology of the east Indian plantations by John Eliot Howard, (1869). Kew Gardens.
© The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Kim Walker and Prof Mark Nesbitt FLS, Kew botanists and authors of Just the tonic: A natural history of tonic water (Kew Publishing, 2019) explore the history of the popular effervescent mixer. They believe that tonic water has been the unjustly overshadowed partner in the famous gin and tonic. The cocktail is thought of as a quintessentially English drink, yet its origins lie in the cinchona trees of eastern slopes of the Andes and the malarial landscapes of Asia. In this richly illustrated talk, Kim and Mark cut through centuries of legends to reveal a history of botany, medicine, empire and drinking to discover how the tree came together with alcohol and soda to create the perfect gin and tonic.

Kim Walker trained as a medical herbalist, and now specialises in the history of plant medicines. She is currently working on a PhD on cinchona at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Royal Holloway, University of London.

Prof Mark Nesbitt FLS is curator of the Economic Botany Collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and his research centres on botany and empire in the 19th-century, and on the history and current day management of botanical collections.


Tickets include a Kew gin and tonic cocktail or mocktails following the lecture.

  • This event costs £5 and is for adults only.
  • Registration is essential.
  • Doors will open at 17:45. The event will start at 18:00

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