The Sipsmith Blog

Around the World in Eighty Gins: Indian Gin

in Articles February 25, 2013
Indian gin

The 5th largest gin-drinking nation in the world, India’s obsession with gin has been gathering momentum since the 19th century. We’re diving into the story behind Indian gin.


Why India?

There’s something so wonderfully natural about the combination of a sun-drenched summer day and an ice-cold, refreshing gin and tonic. And, well, apart from the obvious cooling benefits of the cocktail, we like to believe that this has something to do with the hot Indian climate in which the G&T was born. The refreshing nature of it makes it the perfect accompaniment to a fiery curry and is regularly served in some of the best Indian restaurants in India.


You might be surprised to discover that in the creation of this iconic long drink in the early 19th Century, it was the tonic water that took centre stage – the gin was added to the tonic, not the other way around, as we would think of it today. The tonic water’s quinine extract was the ‘main event’ as it were, and soldiers of the army of the British East India Company drank it in the hope that it would shield them from malaria while stationed in India. Up until recently, Indian gin consumption has been on the wane, with only just over 1% of the spirits market (whisky is the most popular spirit in the country). However, in recent years, there have been signs of a comeback.

How do they drink it?

Blue Riband is by far and away the most popular of the Indian gin brands – selling in excess of a million cases a year they tend to control the market. While the popularity of the traditional gin and tonic has fallen, partially because of negative colonial stereotypes, gin is still drunk as part of a cocktail in upmarket bars or simply with lime and soda in the simpler joints. One of our favourite cocktails and a sure flavour of the exotic sub-continent is a Sipsmith with muddled cucumber, green chilli and coriander, all over ice. Unbelievably refreshing and just a little bit spikey.

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