The Birth of Gin
Gin is known for being a colorless, grain-based liquor that is flavored with botanicals, herbs, and primarily juniper berries (thus that "tastes like a pine tree" flavor). The Latin word for juniper is "Juniperus", meaning "youth giving". Juniper was once used as an archaic medicinal remedy. The Dutch word for juniper is jenever... or genever.
Holland invented Gin, or as they call it "Genever". See what I did there? A Dutch doctor named Francis Sylvius created Genever as a medicine to treat bad circulation. Alcohol is a blood thinner so Dr. Sylvius wasn't wrong.
Some stupid people started mispronouncing "Genever" as "Geneva" and started a mix up making people think it originated in Switzerland. That's a misconception.
Although Gin is the national spirit of England, it was first made in Holland and was brought back during the Dutch War for Independence in the 17th century. The Dutch were using it as a medicine and a "tool" for soldiers to stay calm in battle. It was often called "Dutch Courage" because ya know... you get drunk and do courageous stuff? The London Dry style was created 150 years after its discovery by the English.
In 1688 England was quarreling with France. The English Parliament banned the import of French Brandy (among other things) to show the French who's boss. The people of England began to build up their liquor production to make up for the loss of Brandy.
When Gin is called "Dry", like London Dry, it's due to when the states first started making Gin they made it a lot sweeter than the Gins that are made now. In order to distinguish the higher proof and unsweetened style, they called it "dry".
Bath Tub Gin and Prohibition
Whenever you hear prohibition, the spirits that come to mind are Moonshine and Whiskey. Gin, however, was also a widespread underground spirit. If you are already making Moonshine, It's pretty easy to add a couple of things and make Bath Tub Gin.
Bath Tub Gin was fermented and distilled directly out of a Bath Tub. They'd add Juniper berries to flavor it but, a lot of people got sick from it and even died.
This part is speculation: I'd bet that they were adding whole branches of juniper into the fermentation process. Wood alcohol (aka Methanol) can make someone very sick, and cause death. Antifreeze uses methanol and it's especially dangerous because of its naturally sweet flavor.
The Dutch called it Genever. It was nicknamed "Dutch Courage". Genever also had a really nasty name attached to it... "Mother's Ruin".
They say it was called that because it was cheap, prominent in whore houses, and used to induce labor in a way to cause an abortion.
Ya... Kinda messed up.
The Gin Gimlet is a simple, but classic cocktail. The Vodka Gimlet came around much later. British Royal Navy sailors drank gimlets to prevent scurvy due to its lime juice content. Plenty of Vitamin-C means No Scurvy!
Classic Gimlet Recipe:
- Fill Rocks Glass with Ice
- 2oz of London Dry Gin
- Fill with Lime Juice
- Garnish with a lime
Some people now put Lemon/Lime Soda in it to cut the tart, improve mouth feel, and add sweetness.
G and T
Another simple and classic cocktail: The "G and T". British brought Gin to India, as they tended to bring it everywhere they went back then. India provided the quinine, or "Tonic Water". The two combined would make a cocktail that has lasted over a century. "Indian Tonic Water", or best known as "Gin and Tonic" was created to combat malaria. Pretty sure the Gin just helped the Tonic Water go down more smoothly while the quinine in the Tonic fought off malaria.
The Classic Gin and Tonic:
- Fill Rocks or Collins Glass with Ice.
- 1.5 oz of London Dry Gin
- Fill with Tonic Water
- Garnish with Lime Slice.
I have seen people cut the Tonic Water with Soda Water or Lime Juice. Tonic can be an intense flavor that many people just don't like. I suggest at least trying it, personally.