Whether you are running a bar or entertaining some friends at home, you want your guests to have the best time possible. Of course, enjoying a few drinks can be a big part of that, but it is important for you as host to be able to help your guests to avoid overdoing it.
Gin's history links juniper spirits with every aspect of the human experience: tragedy, squalor, snobbery and valour. From its early manifestation in medieval juniper-based plague cures, it arrived on our shores during the thirty years war, when British soldiers would drink ‘Dutch Courage' before going into battle. Decades later, it faced the moral outrage of Hogarth's ‘Gin Lane' and went on to build a reputation as ‘Mother's Ruin', then became set in its ways as the tipple of choice in the golf clubs of Middle England before cutting through again in popularity as the burgeoning bar scene looked for the perfect base spirit.
The spirit we know today as gin derived from the juniper flavoured malt wine spirit born in Holland and was introduced to us by William of Orange when he took to the throne of England in 1688. He began to ban imported brandies and wines from France and, as whiskies were relatively unknown outside Scotland and Ireland, he began to encourage the production of genever in its local form made from grain alcohol that was soon to be corrupted to ‘gin'. Distilling of English gin then began around various docks throughout the country such as London, Plymouth, Bristol and Liverpool.
Gin and genever have a huge array of complexities in their style and flavour, making them key ingredients in creating great drinks. When the Golden Age of Cocktails kicked off in the latter part of the 19th century, gin and in particular genever quickly became classic ‘Cocktail' ingredients. Indeed, gin is heavily featured in the first ever printed bartenders guide, ‘The Bon-Vivants companion, 1862' written by Jerry ‘Professor' Thomas with many of the gin cocktails listed still being prevalent today; The Martinez, The Fancy Gin Cocktail, The Holland House, The Gin Daisy, The Gin Fix, The Gin Fizz, The Gin Crusta, The Gin Sling, and The Collins.
Gin as the chosen cocktail ingredient again made its mark during Prohibition America (1920-1933) when cocktail culture and gin drinks flourished on both sides of the Atlantic, spawning many classic recipes still popular today such as The White Lady, The Clover Club, The French ‘75, and The Negroni.