Scientist finds bro’s 200-year-old gin and tonic

200 year old booze

National Maritime Museum, Gdansk


A 200-year-old shipwreck booze found six-and-a-half fathoms under the sea off the Polish coast appears to be the world’s oldest gin and tonic. We’ve all mixed a drink in an unassuming bottle in order to take booze somewhere we shouldn’t, but unlike this one, your Gatorade and Vodka probably wouldn’t be drinkable after a week let alone 200 years.

The bottle has been recovered from the wreck, which rests on the bottom of the Gulf, at a depth of 12 meters, approx 4 km east of Gdynia Orłowo. The remains of the ship were discovered last year during a routine survey of the bottom.

The bottle recovered from the shipwreck was labeled Selters. That’s neither a clone army of Instagram butt aficionados nor the z-less generic word for bad tonic/soda waters like Schweppes would hope you believe. It’s an actual place in Germany that’s been famous for their mineral water for 1000s of years. This particular bottle is now believed to be the world’s oldest bottle of mineral water.

Of course it’s not just mineral water. No self respecting bro was chugging Selters on the poop deck of the SS Spring Break. Scientists discovered that the 200-year-old bottle contained booze and was about 14% ABV. While the shipwreck booze might not sound strong, it’s a pretty stiff drink to the tune of about a 2:1 ratio.

According to the laboratory staff, the alcohol may be a kind of genever gin (jenever) – traditional liquor of the Netherlands and Belgium. “Did someone really pour this drink into a soda bottle, or are we dealing with a different beverage? Experts will try to determine this in another series of analyses, which will be completed in early September” – said Bednarz.

Yes, that’s exactly what happened, and it’s probably why the ship wrecked, too.

200 year old gin and tonic

National Maritime Museum


Booze and boats are nothing new. You think that makeshift tiki bar on your white trash pontoon is an original idea? The main reason we’re all drinking gin is because the British navy took it with them everywhere as they dropped flags around the globe. It was safer to drink than water and remained quaffable longer than beer. It’s also why they use the term “Naval Strength” instead of just “over-proof” for gin that’s 114-proof.

Oh, and those $6 mini-pitchers of gin and tonic you’re drinking at Scorekeepers every weekend? You can thank Brit-India for that. They started adding tonic because quinine helped fight malaria. Quinine also happens to be the ingredient that makes some tonics taste delicious (Fever Tree) and others taste terrible (Canada Dry).

Booze: keeping sailors healthy (except for STDs and shipwrecks) for centuries.

Related shipwreck booze:

Whiskey frozen for 100+ years discovered

Shipwreck booze info via PAP, h/t Alison T

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