Once the drink Gran sipped in the corner at Christmas parties, gin has made a huge comeback with a variety of traditional and new drinking styles delighting the adventurous. Why not put the tonic away and try something different?
Gin often gets a bad name, but this broad category of spirit has an interesting history, and an enticing future.
It began as a medicine derived from juniper berries in the middle ages, and was made popular in Great Britain by Dutch ruler William of Orange in the 17th Century. The lack of rules around gin production lead to experimentation, home stills and ‘gin palaces’, and by the 19th century, was regularly consumed in the colonies with an anti-malarial ‘tonic’ – the gin was used to mask the taste of the active compound, quinine.
There are many different types of gin; starting with the original, ‘medicinal’ genever, a juniper-flavoured, pot distilled spirit. 'Gin' is a spirit that has juniper flavouring added, while distilled gin derives its flavour from the juniper berries used during the distilling process. Old Tom is a sweet gin with added sugar, while London Gin is extra dry, and was made possible in the 19th century by the invention of the column still. Sloe Gin is a liqueur made by infusing distilled gin with sloe berries.
This classic British spirit has long been served in a way that delights the stiff upper lip, but it seems done well gin really can be a tonic. Why not grab the cocktail shaker and try and few of our exciting recipes this weekend?