Jenever (also spelt genever) is the ancestor of gin. Jenever”s name derives from the Dutch word for juniper, as one of the main ingredients of jenever is the juniper berry. Researchers believe that jenever was invented by Dutch alchemist Sylvius de Bouve, who originally sold this spirit as a medicine.
Some historians also believe that British solders in the Netherlands drank jenever before going into battle, giving rise to the expression “Dutch courage” as a reference to jenever.
The History of Jenever
Jenever gin was originally made by distilling malt wine so that it reached 50 percent alcohol by volume. The resulting brew wasn”t very pleasant to drink because distilling techniques were relatively unrefined and relied on pot stills. To make its flavor more pleasant, jenever makers began to flavor the alcohol with various herbs and spices. The juniper berry, one of these additives, proved to be the most popular choice.
Since the grain used in jenever didn”t require ripening, manufacturers could quickly produce this alcohol, and jenever quickly spread through Europe and to the expanding British Empire. While it started out as a medicinal drink, it was soon being used for other purposes, resulting in grave concern about drunkenness.
Strict regulation of the manufacturing process resulted in the clear, dry spirit known as English gin. There are several other styles of gin, originating in different locations. However, jenever (Dutch gin) is one of the most popular varieties.
Today, jenever is distilled from a mash of malted grain, similar to the grain used for whisky production.
The two main types of jenever are categorized according to the distillation process used:
- Oude (old) jenever, produced using the original methods, is usually pale yellow in color.
- Jonge (young) jenever, the second type of jenever, has more grain and may include sugar-based alcohol.
In addition to different distillation methods, several blends of jenever are available, each with a different combination of berry flavorings.
Jenever is quite sweet tasting and may be aged in casks for up to three years. Under European Union regulations, only the brew made in the Netherlands and Flanders is can officially be called jenever.
How To Drink Jenever
Jenever is usually stored in the fridge or freezer and is enjoyed very cold out of frosted glasses. The U.S. is one of the largest markets for gin in the world. Although English gin accounts for most of the market, jenever drinks are rapidly catching on.
While most people enjoy drinking jenever straight as a shot, it can also be an ingredient in many delightful cocktails. Here are a few jenever drinks to try.
- 1 oz. Jenever
- 3 oz. lemon or lemon-lime soda (the more bitter, the better).
Combine both ingredients in a rocks glass filled ice and enjoy.
- 1/2 oz. vermouth
- 2 oz. jenever
- olive or cocktail onion for garnish.
- Pour vermouth into a chilled martini glass, swirl it and dump it out. The vermouth is only meant to coat the glass.
- Shake the jenever in a cocktail shaker with ice.
- Strain into the martini glass.
- Garnish with an olive or cocktail onion.
Dutch Trade Winds
- 1/2 oz. orange curacao
- 1/2 oz. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. sugar syrup (simple syrup)
- 2 oz. jenever.
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add all the ingredients, shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.