Gin has known many names: Mother’s Ruin, Kill-Grief, Dutch Courage, Bunter’s Tea — at one point it was even thought of as a cure-all tonic for most medical ailments. Through its existence, it’s been wildly popular, relegated to the back of the liquor cabinet and celebrated as a cult commodity. No matter your feelings on the juniper-heavy spirit, gin has an inarguable place in drinking history, not to mention the cocktail hall of fame. Without gin, there is no Martini. Without gin there is no Negroni. Without gin there is no Bramble. A world without gin is not a world we want to live in.
The History of Gin
Historians have yet to pinpoint the exact moment when a man or woman first decided to infuse a neutral spirit with juniper, but they are fairly sure it happened in either Holland or Belgium. While there is a written reference to gin’s predecessor, genever (or jenever), that dates to a 13th-century encyclopedia, the earliest known recipe for genever doesn’t appear until the 16th century. By the mid-17th century, however, genever was firmly established, with distilleries proliferating across Holland. The Dutch weren’t sipping Martinis at their leisure, mind you. They were drinking for their health. In its original form, genever was primarily sold in pharmacies as a cure for gallstones, stomach pains and gout.