Gin is one of the most popular distillates of the western world, and was invented, unlike other liquors, as a medicine by Dr. F. de La Boe in the Netherlands. The good professor was trying to create a diuretic and knew about the water-extracting qualities of juniper berries and alcohol. He reasoned that if he combined both, the synergy would surpass the efficacy of each individually. Thus was created Genever (the French call it genievre) and the English, as usual, corrupted it to gin.
In the 16th century when gin was invented, doctors prescribed it in small doses as medicine. At the time England and the Netherlands had excellent trade relations and the Royal navy ships paid frequent visits to Dutch harbours, where English sailors “ discovered “ the “ power “ of gin. Quantities imbibed increased in short order, and soon Genever was available in London. English entrepreneurs were quick to realize the financial opportunities of the newly discovered potent beverage and thus zealously embarked upon its production. In the process they decided to tone down the juniper flavour and make it smoother. Over time,
“London dry gin“ was formulated. It was produced from barley, hops and juniper berries in sufficiently large quantities to reduce the cost. The low price and potency of gin encouraged excessive consumption, especially by the poor and destitute, creating huge social problems.
London gin is dry with barely perceptible botanicals, whereas Plymouth gin, produced only by one distiller (Coates) have more pronounced flavours. Dutch gin, popularly known as Genever display distinct juniper berry flavours, and more often than not is aged, which English gins are not.
Gin can be produced anywhere with alcohol and botanicals, which consist of, pending on the distiller, juniper berries, oris root, angelica, orange- and lemon peel, coriander seeds, fennel, caraway, almond and licorice. Every distillery has a different formula that appeals to a certain market segment. Alcohol is redistilled in combination with botanicals. On occasion, gin is distilled twice; it is then called Double Distilled. Some distillers pass alcohol steam over botanicals claiming a smoother product, and yet others just add botanicals to alcohol thus cutting costs and also lower quality.
Some distillers age gin for up to six months, but mostly it is bottled immediately after distillation. English gin must contain at least 35 per cent alcohol by volume and may go as high as 45. Dutch gin on the other hand can go as low as 30 per cent but mostly it is marketed at 40 per cent strength.
A well-made gin is crystal clear and displays a fine viscosity. It must smell pleasantly of juniper berries, and have smooth body with a clean finish.
True gin consumers like to mix a little tonic, others swear by martini cocktails, the strength of which varies according to preference. New gin cocktails are invented almost daily and marketed as novelties. Most disappear as quickly, some become classics as is the case with martini, gin gimlet, gin and tonic.
Gin being dry, has no unpleasant consequences like hangovers following a night of excess. Some brands are world famous and represented well in all alcohol-consuming countries. The following are old and well established brands – Beefeater, Beefeater 24, Gordon’s London Dry Gin, Polo Club, Tanqueray, Tanqueray No 10, Bombay Sapphire, Boodles, Borzoi, Plymouth (all from Britain), Genever, Hendrick’s Gin, (the Netherlands), and Victoria Gin from British Columbia in Canada. In the USA there are many popularly priced, local brands that compete with imported English products. Gin aficionados prefer English brands.
In Canada, Gordon’s is distilled under licence, H. Walker, Corby and others also market a number of brands.
Larrios, a Spanish distiller is well known in European markets.
Germans favour their version of gin called schnapps mostly used with beer as a chaser. It has a very faint juniper berry aroma and practically no botanicals.
German law prescribes that schnapps be produced from grain only.
Here are some of the new gin cocktails you may to try.
THE NEW AGE MARTINI
1 ½ OZ BEEFEATER GIN
3 OZ TART LEMONADE
1 TSP BLUE CURACAO
LEMON WHEEL AS A GARNISH
IN A COCKTAIL SHAKER FILLED WITH ICE ADD GIN, LEMONADE AND CURACAO. STIR WELL AND STRAIN INTO CHILLED COCKTAIL GLASS
GARNISH WITH LEMON WHEEL.
THE NAKED MARTINI
2 OZ TANQUERAY GIN
A SPLACH OF DRY VERMOUTH
GARNISH WITH ROSEMARY SPRIG
IN A COCKTAIL SHAKER FILLED WITH ICE, ADD GIN AND A SPLASH OF DRY VERMOUTH . STIR AND STRAIN INTO CHILLED COCKTAIL GLASS.
GARNISH WITH ROSEMARY SPRIG
THE FELICIA MARTINI
1 ½ OZ GORDON’S LONDON DRY GIN
2 OZ FRESH RASPBERRY JUICE
2 OZ LEMONADE
GARNISH LEMON WHEEL
IN A COCKTAIL SHAKER FILLED WITH ICE, ADD GIN, RASPBERRY JUICE AND LEMONADE. STIR AND STRAIN INTO CHILLED COCKTAIL GLASS. GARNISH WITH LEMON WHEEL
THE JONNY MARTINI
1 OZ TANQUERAY GIN
½ OZ SOUR APPLE LIQUEUR
2 OZ LIME JUICE
¼ OZ ORANGE LIQUEUR
GRANISH WITH GRANNY SMITH APPLE SLICES DIPPED IN ACIDULATED WATER TO PREVENT OXIDATION
IN A COCKTAIL SHAKER FILLED WITH ICE, ADD GIN, APPLE LIQUEUR, LIME JUICE AND ORANGE LIQUEUR. STIR AND STRAIN INTO CHILLED COCKTAIL GLASS. GARNISH WITH APPLE SLICES.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.