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La curiosa historia médica del gin-tonic
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La curiosa historia médica del gin-tonic

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La curiosa historia médica del gin-tonic

La quinina, principal componente de la tónica, se popularizó como cura para la malaria durante el siglo XIX

Desde hace unos pocos años, el gin tonic parece vivir una segunda época de popularidad. Cada vez es más frecuente encontrar nuevas marcas de tónicas y ginebra en el mercado y son muchos los bares que se especializan en servir todo tipo de variantes de este combinado.

En nuestro habitual recorrido por lo más curioso de la blogosfera, hoy destacamos un artículo del blog «Recuerdos de Pandora», que nos descubre que, a diferencia de lo que ocurrió con otros cócteles, el nacimiento del gin tonic es el fruto de la búsqueda de una cura para la malaria unida a un intento por enmascarar el mal sabor de la quinina.

Todo comenzó en Perú en 1632, cuando la condesa de Chinchón, esposa del virrey Luis Jerónimo de Cabrera, enfermó de malaria y consiguió salvarse gracias a la corteza de la cinchona. La aristócrata española se convirtió en la primera europea en superar la enfermedad. Pronto, el uso de esta corteza se extendió por el Viejo Continente.

En 1817, los científicos franceses Pierre Joseph Pelletier y Joseph Bienaimé Caventou lograron aislar y extraer el principio activo de la corteza de la cinchona, la quinina. Producido en forma de pastillas, este principio activo comenzó a ser distribuido en las colonias europeas en África y Asia, donde la malaria causaba grandes estragos.

Sin embargo, su sabor extremadamente amargo convertía su consumo en un auténtico martirio. Los oficiales británicos destinados en India comenzaron a disolver las pastillas de quinina en agua, añadiéndole zumo de lima, azúcar y ginebra. Mientras hacían algo más placentero su consumo, habían inventado el precursor del gin tonic.

Pronto las multinacionales vieron en esta mezcla un gran negocio y comenzaron a comercializar agua carbonatada con quinina, producto que pasó a conocerse como tónica.

Con el paso de los años, el uso terapéutico de la tónica ha desaparecido. Su consumo recreativo junto a la ginebra, en cambio, es cada vez más popular. Hoy en día, el gin tonic goza de una excelente salud, a pesar de que la mayor parte de las tónicas que se encuentran en el mercado han sustituido la quinina por emuladores de sabor y edulcorantes. ABC

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