Listen Live
Black America Web Featured Video

Gin tonic with ice and rosemary in a glass on a stone on the table

Of all the adult beverages I cover on this page, few have caused division quite to the level that gin has. For National Gin and Tonic Day, I’ll break down all I’ve learned about the classic cocktail while featuring a quartet of Black-owned gin brands that deserve attention.

I’ve shared this before on these pages, but my gin journey started via a now-closed [insert sad face emoji] bar in Washington, D.C. known as Wisdom. Erik Holzherr, the owner, was a patient bartender who graciously shared his deep knowledge of gin and taught me the nuances of enjoying the spirit on its own, mixed, and in my preferred method of a Martini.

As this website exists as part of a larger Black-owned network, it’s proper that we feature gin brands that are also Black-owned. Before we get into that, however, let’s get into the history of the Gin and Tonic below.

According to several sources, the cocktail was initially created by officers in the Presidency armies, a military arm of the East India Company that worked within the Indian subcontinent. As malaria ravaged European troops, Dr. George Cleghorn of Scotland studied how quinine could help limit the spread of the deadly disease.

As anyone who has ever tasted quinine in tonic water, it has a particular flavor that is hard to mistake or mask so the military officer added water, sugar, lime, and gin to help the quinine go down easily. This was when European military officers received rations of distilled spirits as part of their service. Currently, quinine isn’t as potent as it was back in the 19th Century. You can get a really good breakdown of the Gin and Tonic’s history here.

The Old G

Of the Black-owned gin brands I’m featuring today, I’ve only tried The Old G, and true to my nature, I experienced the brand first by having a Gin and Tonic. In my mixture, I used two ounces of The Old G, the juice of a lime, and a can of Q Mixer‘s tonic water. The tonic water complements the herbal and floral complexities of gin, and The Old G’s use of balanced botanicals in the London Dry style shines. It is, to me, one of the best drinks to enjoy during a warm day or evening gathering. Peep my interview with the founders here.

National Gin and Tonic Day Black Owned Brands

Next up is Rally Gin, a Black and woman-owned spirits brand out of Kansas City, Mo. This is an award-winning brand founded by childhood friends during the heights of the pandemic in 2020 and are now forging ahead with getting their product into more hands. Again, I haven’t tried this brand but I love their story and can’t wait to pour myself a glass.

National Gin and Tonic Day Black Owned Brands

Also founded in 2020 is Common Ground Spirits, the brainchild of founders Julian Peebles and Tory Brown. A quick scan of the brand’s Instagram page shows the founders getting truly hands-on and making their botanical blend and I love that approach. I find that I’m more interested in a company when the love for the product they’re selling has their genuine investment beyond finances. Again, I haven’t tried this one yet but I will soon do so and report back. The company also has a bourbon hitting shelves this year so salute to them.

National Gin and Tonic Day Black Owned Brands

Last but not least, we’ve got Tall Cotton Gin from Delta Dirt Distillery and I want to say I’ve met the team behind this brand at last year’s Black Owned Wine and Spirits Festival in Washington, D.C. The brand prides itself on its farm-to-bottle philosophy and I’m totally into a truly homegrown experience. As the grandson of a winemaker and farmer, I am beaming with pride that Black families are handing down traditions and getting their products out to the market. I’ll be checking out a bottle of this brand soon too.

I do want to be fair in saying I enjoy several other gin brands and I’m thankful to all the agencies and brands I’ve worked with in the past. Stay tuned to these pages and I’ll be mentioning more of them in my adult beverages and cocktail coverage.

For now, go enjoy yourself a G and T for National Gin and Tonic Day. Cheers!

Photo: Getty/Various

Celebrate National Gin and Tonic Day With These Black-Owned Brands  was originally published on