On a recent visit to the elegant Deer Path Inn on he North Shore of Chicago, the bartender poured a thirsty customer the house’s signature take on the gin and tonic: two ounces of Langley’s No. 8 London dry gin, topped up with Fever Tree tonic water, stirred precisely three times, and garnished with a dehydrated orange.
Odd that it took a gin joint in Chicago to clue us in to this spirit made from 100% English grain and classic botanicals, using what is said to be the oldest working copper gin still in the United Kingdom, dating back to the early 1800s. The brand is a much newer invention, but its use of the historic Langley Distillery in the UK’s West Midlands, where gin has been distilled since 1920, has helped it gain a dedicated following.
The handsome bottle design doesn’t hurt either. Favored by the likes of the England’s Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club, in the past few years it has also become the premium pour in the VIP bars at the Badminton Horse Trials, London’s Polo in the Park, and the Henley Royal Regatta. Fitting enough as Winston Churchill once said that the gin and tonic has “saved more Englishmen’s lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the Empire.”
You don’t need a top-shelf gin in a fancy bottle to get the benefit of a G&T’s alleged medicinal properties. Frankly any brand of London dry will do; upgrading your tonic is probably a smarter move. But if splashing out on Langley’s makes you feel better, or like one of the toffs in their boating blazers even in the middle of February, by all means carry on.