Before Schweppes has its way with it, quinine is a fine, brown powder that looks like cocoa and smells like what it is: extraordinarily bitter tree bark. Back when the sun never set on the British Empire, a Jesuit priest/apothecary meandering in South America came across some natives grinding up the bark of the cinchona tree to treat shivering brought on by the mountainous cold. Shivering is also a symptom of malaria, which was cramping the Brits' style in the tropics. In a propitious pharmacological coincidence, quinine acted as a prophylactic against the mosquito-transmitted scourge.
So quinine was mixed into a liquid; ahoy, tonic water, though at therapeutic levels it still tasted disgusting. To get the sailors to drink it, it was added to their daily gin ration, along with lime to ward off scurvy. A drink born of necessity, the gin and tonic was simply meant to taste less terrible than its parts.
Patrons at the Edgewater's Six Seven bar are unlikely to contract malaria or suffer from scurvy, though succumbing to seasickness is a possibility—the Sound, just barely below and beyond floor-to-ceiling windows, creates a nautical sensation of motion that can be unsettling to the landlubber. Were it a ship, the SS Six Seven would be noteworthy for its first-class, post-modern Twin Peaks style. Metal pillars masquerade as tree trunks growing hardware-jointed branches, the bar is made of glass-encased split logs, a bank of television screens shows a sylvan waterfall. It's what you'd hope for in a posh cruise liner. Aboard the SS Six Seven: no contagious outbreaks, no sudden dramatic listing to port due to navigational malfunction, and shore is always mere steps away.
Also aboard the SS Six Seven: the best damn gin and tonic on land or sea. The "star-tender" who created the cocktail menu for Thomas Keller's Per Se in Manhattan just revamped the drinks here, and even the utilitarian G&T did not escape his assiduous reimagining. A verbose gentleman with splendid purple spherical cufflinks, he is an evangelist of the scratch-cocktails movement: getting away from the bar gun, using all fresh ingredients, and balance, balance, balance. (Each drink at Six Seven will henceforth be tasted and corrected post-mix, pre-serve. If you feel upon its presentation that your beverage should be tarter or sweeter or higher octane, all you need do is ask. You are always right.) The gin and tonic: soda water, simple syrup, a dash of quinine powder, lime juice, and Tanqueray Ten gin. Think sparkling, idealized limeade meets old-friend gin; it's a tonic in the old-school sense, restorative, invigorating, refreshing. Elsewhere on the list: a weirdly wonderful Pisco sour/ginger/margarita mashup, a glass of cucumber/sake goodness, and a far-above-par cosmopolitan (though as the Ramones put it, "Tanqueray and tonic's my favorite drink/I don't like anything colored pink").