25 Gin and Tonic Facts to keep you going this Ginuary
You may be an avid gin and tonic drinker, but do you know your gin facts? To celebrate Ginuary we’ve pulled together 25 surprising Gin facts; there’s so much to know about this beguiling beverage.
1. Gin was born around 1689. The earliest known food pairing occurred in 1731: gingerbread. This became quite common and is still traditional in parts of England.
2. Gin is English – not Dutch. Genever, a malted spirit that is essentially light whisky with juniper. Gin was developed in London and is a unique and much purer spirit.
3. In 1721, Britain consumed 3.5 million gallons of gin.
4. London’s most popular drink in the winter of 1823 was the Hot Gin Twist.
5. The gin and tonic first gained popularity in the British colonies, as the quinine in the tonic water was found to be a potent deterrent to malaria-carrying mosquitoes. However, the bitterness of the quinine was unpalatable, so gin was added to make the drink taste better.
6. By 1726, London had 1,500 working stills.
7. Gin and tomato juice was the original hangover cure and extremely popular in NYC in 1928, years before the vodka-based Bloody Mary made its debut.
8. The best way to taste gins for comparison is at room temperature, diluted with an equal measure of water.
9. Nearly all juniper used in gin is picked wild. Almost none is cultivated.
11. The juniper berry is actually not a berry at all. They are actually tiny pinecones of the juniper shrub. The pinecones are so tightly clenched they look like small blue-purple berries.
12. London Dry Gin doesn’t need to be made in London – instead, it is a broad style guideline rather than a legal indicator.
13. The gin rickey was the most popular gin drink of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a simple drink: a highball glass of gin, ice, sparkling water and half a lime squeezed and dropped in. There is no sugar in a rickey.
14. Even though the cinchona bark from which quinine is derived is brown, the first tonic water was clear. This is because even the earliest tonic waters were made with quinine directly, not the bark.
15. Hogarth’s famous etching, Gin Lane, was not meant to show the evils of drinking, but the evils of drinking gin. It was one of a pair. The other was Beer Street and showed London as he envisioned it consuming beer instead of gin. Here the citizens were a perfect picture of health, as morbid obesity was considered healthy at the time.
16. The country with the world’s highest per-capita gin consumption is the Philippines, with an estimated 25 million cases consumed annually.
17. Dukes Bar in Mayfair’s Dukes Hotel is often cited as home of the best Martini in the world. Drinks are mixed on a tableside trolley, and the bar maintains a strict two-Martini limit.
18. The pipe at the top of a gin still is also known colloquially as the ‘swan’s neck’ – hence the swan illustration that you’ll find on Sipsmith’s labels.
19. At one time there was a working gin still in one out of every four habitable structures in London.
20. Until recently, Plymouth Gin was the sole gin style in the UK to boast geographical indication. However, that will soon disappear, as owner Pernod Ricard has withdraw
21. The “bathtub gin” that was made in the United States during Prohibition had dangerous – even lethal – physical effects due to the fact that it sometimes contained methanol. Sufferers were blinded or even poisoned.
22. While bartender Harry Craddock, who wrote the seminal Savoy Cocktail Book, is often credited as one of the early popularisers of the Martini, the source of the drink’s name is still a mystery.
23. Old Tom Gin originated in the 18th century, and is generally a rounder and sweeter style than London Dry Gin.
24. Gin must legally have a “predominant juniper flavour,” but there are no specifications or limits to how many other botanicals may be used, or the quantity of juniper berries that need to be added during the distilling process.
25. No gin and tonic of quality can be made without high-quality tonic as well, as the tonic makes up a significant proportion of the drink. Artisanal tonic makers like Fever-Tree are recommended.