Just the Tonic: A Transatlantic Story of Sickness, Pleasure and the Gin & Tonic

April 29, 2021
1:00 PM
Location: Virtual Lecture Series
Newport, RI 02840

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Thursday, April 29, 1 p.m. EDT
Mark Nesbitt, Senior Research Leader at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and curator of Kew’s Economic Botany Collection
Kim Walker, PhD student at Kew and Royal Holloway, University of London

Quinine has a remarkable double history as one of the few effective treatments for malaria, and as the crucial ingredient of a much-loved soda, tonic water. As so often, the histories of food and medicine are closely intertwined, and this talk draws on new research in both. This copiously illustrated talk will explore the global history of quinine, from its source in the cloud forests of the High Andes, to Europe and India, and its return to the Americas in the form of the gin and tonic. We will end the talk by demonstrating the perfect G&T and a non-alcoholic cocktail. (US registrants must be 21 or older to partake in the perfect G&T.)

Mark Nesbitt and Kim Walker
Mark Nesbitt is a Senior Research Leader at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and curator of Kew’s Economic Botany Collection. His research interests span human uses of plants from prehistory to the current day, and the repurposing of colonial collections to serve contemporary needs. Recent projects include research into Polynesian barkcloth with Pacific communities, a study of Kew’s global connections in the 19th century, and a collaboration with indigenous colleagues in the Rio Negro, Brazilian Amazon.

Kim Walker is a PhD student at Kew and Royal Holloway, University of London. She is a medical herbalist, forager, environmental educator, and author of three books, including the Handmade Apothecary: Healing Herbal Remedies (with Vicky Chown, Sterling Ethos, 2017). She is active on the student council of the Society for Economic Botany and the committee of the Herbal History Research Network. Mark and Kim are the co-authors of Just the Tonic: A Natural History of Tonic Water (University of Chicago, 2019), awarded the Fortnum & Mason Prize for best debut drinks book, 2020.

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Just the Tonic: A Transatlantic Story of Sickness, Pleasure and the Gin & Tonic