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Gin is a versatile spirit made from a grain mash of barley, corn or rye. Its unique flavor comes from a combination of juniper berries, herbs and spices, coriander, angelica and a number of other ingredients. Gin serves as the main ingredient in many classic cocktails, including the “gin and tonic” and the classic “dry martini.”

History of Gin

While the exact origins of gin are unknown, some have suggested possible beginnings for this alcohol. Some mixology experts point to 17th century Dutch professor Franciscus de la Boe as the “Father of Gin.” He developed an alcohol-based medicine with the added medical benefits of juniper berries. His creation was groundbreaking due to his use of cheap grains, instead of fruit, the standard base ingredient of most alcohol at the time.

Gin also has historical roots in battle. In Holland during the 1580s, British troops fighting against the Spanish in the Dutch War of Independence drank a juniper-flavored alcoholic beverage that they nicknamed “Dutch courage.”

The Dutch named the concoction “jenever,” after the Dutch word for “juniper.” As the drink became more popular, drinkers eventually adopted the shorter name “gin” for the liquor.

Gin continued to grow in popularity in the late 17th century England due to religious politics. When Dutch Protestant William of Orange assumed the throne, he established tax laws designed to hurt neighboring Catholic countries and aid the Protestants in Holland. He created high tariffs on French wines and spirits, but abolished taxes and licensing fees for Dutch imports, including gin. As a result, English consumption of gin increased dramatically.

Types of Gin

London dry gin, the most common form of gin, lends itself well to mixing and is the most popular gin in the U.K., the U.S. and Spain. Popular brands of London dry gin include:

  • Beefeater
  • Bombay Sapphire
  • Gordons
  • Seagrams
  • Tanqueray.

Other types of gin include:

  • Jenever Gin: This Dutch version of gin is made from a grain mash made of barley, rye and corn. There are two styles of Jenever gin: Oude (“old”), which has a golden tint and a sweet, aromatic flavor; and Jonge (“young”), which is drier and has a lighter body. Holland, Belgium and Germany are the main countries that currently manufacture Jenever.
  • Old Tom Gin: This is a slightly sweet gin that was popular in England in the 1700s. The name comes from a fixture common in 18th century English pubs — a black wooden cat. Customers would put a penny into the cat”s open mouth and receive a shot of gin from a small tube between the cat”s paws.
  • Plymouth Gin: This dry, full-bodied, clear, aromatic and somewhat fruity gin was originally created as a local gin in Plymouth, England. Modern Plymouth gin is only made by one company, Coates & Co. distillery in Plymouth. In addition to being the only distiller of this type of gin, Coates & Co. also owns the rights to the name “Plymouth Gin.”
  • Sloe gin: While not technically a type of gin, sloe gin is a red, gin-based liqueur flavored with sweet blackthorn plums. Because of its sweet flavor, people of all ages tend to enjoy sloe gin.

How Gin is Made

Most dry gin is efficiently distilled in column stills, contributing to the light, clean texture of this alcohol. Alternately, jenever gin is distilled in pot stills. While pot stills follow a slower process than column stills, they do create a lower-proof gin with more flavor.

Cheap compound gins are usually made by mixing the base spirit with juniper and plant extracts. Gins created for mass consumption are mixed like a compound gin but then redistilled. High-quality gins go through an additional distilling process where the oils from the berries are extracted and condensed, resulting in a more complex flavor.

Gin Drinks

Gin is a bar basic that is the base of many popular cocktails. Here are a few recipes for some of the most popular gin drinks.

Dry Martini

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1/8 to 1/4 oz. dry white vermouth
  • ice
  • olive or cocktail onion for garnish.

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker.
  2. Shake and strain into an ice-cold martini glass.
  3. Garnish with an olive or cocktail onion.

Gin and Tonic

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 5 oz. tonic water
  • 1 lime wedge.

Directions

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice cubes.
  2. Pour in the gin and tonic, stir to combine.
  3. Garnish with the lime wedge.

Gin and Juice

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 3 oz. orange juice
  • ice
  • 1 lime wedge.

Directions

  1. Combine gin and juices in a shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake well and strain mix into a highball glass filled with ice.
  3. Garnish with the lime wedge.

Gin Fizz

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. gin
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp. powdered sugar
  • soda water
  • ice.

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker.
  2. Shake well and strain into a highball glass filled with ice.
  3. Top off the glass with soda water and stir to combine.
 Posted on : May 26, 2014