It's been a roller coaster of a week for quinine. After being touted as a potential coronavirus treatment - by a blockchain investor and a certain president, chloroquine (the synthetic form of quinine), became a hot topic on Fox News and began to trend in Silicon Valley. Now actual doctors have weighed in, with a small scale study revealing that it had little or no effect on the virus, and pointing out that concentrated doses of quinine can cause health problems of its own. Our takeaway: don’t drink quinquina wines or tonic water because of the fake news going around. Drink them because they taste good!
A quick background, courtesy of Haus Alpenz: “The beneficial properties of the cinchona tree were originally discovered by the Quechua, a people indigenous to Peru and Bolivia, who found it an effective muscle relaxant to calm shivering due to low temperatures. The Quechua would mix the ground bark of cinchona trees with sweetened water to offset the bark’s bitter taste, thus producing tonic water. Jesuit missionaries in the early 1600’s brought this back to Rome, where quinine in unextracted form came into use to treat malaria. Quinine was isolated and named in 1820 by French researchers, the name being derived from the original Quechua (Inca) word for the cinchona tree bark, quina or quina-quina, which means “bark of bark” or “holy bark”. Large-scale use of quinine as a malaria preventative started around 1850, consumed in tonics or aperitif wines. With other spices and wines selected to balance, many of these quinine aperitif wines became famous and sought out first as delicious and refreshing aperitif drinks.”
How to serve? Over lots of ice with a citrus peel. They also make great spritz bases - topped off with a bit of club soda, tonic water, or sparkling wine. For a stiffer cocktail, try mixing 50/50 with your favorite spirit, over ice or as a highball. Bonal pairs well with aged tequilas, Scotch, Cognacs, and apple brandies. Try Byrrh with high-proof gins, a young Armagnac, or a small drizzle of mezcal and squeeze of grapefruit. Mattei Blanc is wonderful with more delicate floral and herbal gins, blanco tequilas, and pisco. Combine Mattei Rouge with bourbon, a barrel-aged gin, and brandies of all sorts. À votre santé!