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When Did the Gin craze start?

Tom Freer shares his knowledge of Gin!

Alcoholism was widespread amongst the poor in the 1700s. The rise of the ‘gin craze’ became infamous. Gin was cheap & plentiful and for many people offered a quick release from everyday life. By the 1730s, over 6,000 houses in London were openly selling gin to the general public. The drink was available everywhere, from street markets, grocers to barbers.

William Hogarth’s Gin Lane print shows all the chaos and misery of a drunken society. The print was intended to show the devastating effects of the drink. The slogan in Hogarth’s gin shop reads “drunk for a penny, dead drunk for twopence, clean straw for nothing” His print was published in February 1751 in support of the gin act. This act introduced the licensing of merchants selling raw spirits in an attempt to cut down on consumption.

So where are we now?

Gin has definitely bounced back and shows no sign of slowing down. In 2020 the number of registered distilleries in the UK hit 563. With this number of distilleries in the UK you are bound to find something you like. Distillers are using unique and interesting ingredients, but not forgetting about juniper. The word gin itself comes from the Dutch genever, jenever, means juniper.

What is Gin you are asking?

The easy way to think about gin is it is vodka with added flavours. The flavours used are called botanicals. A few botanicals used are: Juniper, coriander seed, angelica root and orange peel. In its simplest form the spirit has to be at least 37.5% and it has to taste junipery.

My favourite G&T

· No.3 London Dry Gin (from the freezer)

· Tonic water

· Pink grapefruit

· 1 sprig of rosemary

Build over ice, Garnish with rosemary and a slice of pink grapefruit.


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