History of Gin

The history of gin is linked to the Juniper plant. In ancient history Pliny the Elder and Aristotle thought the Juniper berry a cure for all illness and disease.

The official birthplace of gin is Holland. Gin began life as Jenever, the Dutch word for Juniper and it was from Holland, centuries later, that British soldiers who had used the drink to give them ’Dutch courage’ before battle, brought an adulterated version back to England. Gin proved cheap to produce, and once sugar was added to help the flavour consumption rose dramatically. Suddenly, one in four buildings in London was a gin house. The slogan ’drunk for a penny, dead drunk for two, clean straw for nothing ‘ illustrates the enthusiasm of people towards gin. During the period, now known as ‘the Gin Craze’, Parliament passed eight Gin Acts and taxed gin out of the pocket of the ordinary man.

By the mid-nineteenth century gin had become a respectable drink in British high society, and it began to be served in gentleman’s clubs. In the British Empire, out in the Tropics, gin was used to disguise the taste of the quinine in tonic water which was used to help combat malaria. The invention of the cocktail in America took gin consumption again to new heights and the Prohibition Era only added to its glamorous appeal. The origin of gin as a medical treatment has been largely forgotten and gin has gone on to become the embodiment of sophistication in the dry Martini.

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