Q. Why can’t you buy tonic water in Azerbaijan? A. Because you can’t!


I am not an alcoholic [as they say, an alcoholic is someone who has one more glass than you do] but I do enjoy a drink. In particular, I am fond of gin and tonic. It is after all the drink that made Britain Great, that helped the British rule an empire that stretched over a quarter of the earth’s surface and according to Douglas Adams in the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy “approximately 80% of the cultures in the galaxy have unique and separate drinks whose names are phonetic variants on Gin and Tonic“. Why then is it impossible to buy tonic water in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku?

Actually, that isn’t strictly true, I am sure that you can buy a G&T at a vastly inflated price over the counter at the Hyatt or sundry other expensive hotels but you can’t make one at home because you can’t buy tonic water in Baku!

I have asked my local supermarket manager who recently sold me a bottle of Blue Sapphire. “No”, he continued “there is no tonic water in the city”. Why I ask myself should this be true? Is it like the old joke? A man goes into a pub and asks for a pint of real ale. The landlord turns to him and says “sorry mate, people keep asking me but I tell them; there’s no demand!”  

Whatever the cause, I have descended to the depths of despair and currently have a glass of gin and Miranda at my elbow. I have even considered making my own tonic water but I am not sure where to get the vital ingredient, cinchona bark… I have checking it out on-line but unless I want to buy a container load from Brazil, it looks like I will have to wait until I travel to Thailand this Xmas to my chum Hugh Paxton who is never knowingly short of tonic or gin…  

How to make tonic water at home: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oXC1saGi4A


About stevehollier

Steve Hollier is the editor of AZ Magazine, an English language lifestyle magazine based in Baku, Azerbaijan. He began his career working for a firm of stockbrokers in the City of London then went on to attend the University of Essex where he was awarded an MA in Sociology in 1984. After a career in arts and cultural development work, he became a freelance arts consultant, writer and photographer.
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One Response to Q. Why can’t you buy tonic water in Azerbaijan? A. Because you can’t!

  1. Hugh Paxton says:

    Hollier, quit your whining! Life’s given you a lemon (and Sapphire gin) so skip making lemonade, the search for cinchona (AKA Jesuit’s bark because they jeolously guarded its discovery to give them an edge over the Franciscan missionaries ) and instead import gallons of tonic for resale at grossly inflated prices to the desperate!

    Goldmine, mate! goldmine!


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