The ‘Infamous Liquor’
Glorious gin has quite a colourful past, and there’s no other liquor quite so quintessentially British.
Lord Byron declared that gin was his muse, and when T.S. Eliot was asked about his inspiration, his reply was apparently ‘Gin and drugs, dear lady, gin and drugs.’
Winston Churchill claimed that Gin & Tonics have ‘saved more Englishman’s lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the Empire’, and who are we to argue?
Of all the Gin Joints in all the World (The History of Gin)…
The drink of both kings and commoners alike, from Old Tom to London Dry, the spirit we love began with a Dutch juniper-flavoured spirit in the 1600s, a strong tasting medicinal drink used for the treatment of kidney disorders.
Originally called ‘Genever’ (the French word for Juniper) it was eventually renamed by English soldiers fighting on the continent.
Early London gin is said to have been very similar to American moonshine, with the spirit we know today taking years to master.
Eat. Sleep. Gin. Repeat. (What Makes Gin… Gin)
The aromatic scent of all the botanicals and herbs found in gin, and it’s clean, refreshing taste makes it a favourite for cocktails and it pairs well with many ingredients.
Juniper (actually not a berry, but a pinecone) grows wild in Britain, particularly in the Lake District and on the rugged heaths of Scotland, and it’s what gives gin its distinctive taste and smell.
Modern gin makers use a host of ingredients to make their spirits stand out from the crowd, from simple lemon and orange peel, and exotic cinnamon, liquorice and coriander, to cucumber and rose petals.
Angelica is also used in most gins to add a distinctly earthy quality.
Gin and Bear it (Gin Trivia)
• Did you know that, despite the name, bathtub gin wasn’t always made in a bathtub? Instead, it was made at home illegally, often in precarious conditions.
• Gin shops in the UK used to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until 1839 and the first Sunday Closing law.
• The bar at The Feathers Hotel in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, has over 170 different bottles of gin available.
• London Dry in doesn’t have to be made in London, it just has to be made of the right natural ingredients.
• Sloe gin is a gin that’s been infused with sloe berries, a type of blackthorn fruit that gives it a sweet, almond-like flavour.
• Of all the great Victorian gin-makers, Beefeater is the only one to hang on in London since it was found in 1863. It makes 2.6 million 12-bottle cases of gin per year.
• In Spain, they’ve been known to add frozen rocks to their G & Ts instead of ice to help bring out the mineral flavours and prevent the drink from becoming watered down.
• The Queen Mother had a special fondness for gin and often carried a flask of it in her handbag.
Gin O’Clock (Gin Based Cocktails).
When life hands you lemons (or limes) make gin & tonics! The classic G & T originated in India and was invented by the British East India Company to help ward off malaria. Any excuse for a cocktail…
1 part Gin
2 parts Tonic Water
Lime or lemon wedge
Add a fair amount of ice to a highball glass and squeeze in the juice of a lime or lemon wedge. Add the gin and tonic and stir.
A cocktail for serious drinkers, the zesty Negroni definitely packs a punch.
1 part gin
1 part vermouth
1 part Campari
Orange to garnish
Fill a short rocks glass with ice, then layer the three spirits starting with the gin, then vermouth, and finishing with the Campari. Give it a quick stir and garnish with a slice of orange.
The embodiment of sophistication in a glass.
1 part vermouth
5 part gin
Ice (for mixing)
Green olive or lemon peel for garnish
Add a generous amount of ice and the vermouth to your shaker glass. Add the gin and stir for about half a minute. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass and garnish.