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10 things you probably didn’t know about gin

Sure, it goes well with tonic, but our favourite spirit also has a long and interesting history. Here’s 10 of our favourite, lesser-known gin facts…

  1. Plenty of folks believe gin originally came from Holland. But genever, a malted spirit with juniper that was sold in pharmacies, is the Dutch version. Gin, a much purer distillate, was first made in England in the late 1600s.
  1. Sailors in the Royal Navy were given a daily ration of gin up until as recently as 1970. It was for medicinal purposes, of course, mixed with lime juice to prevent scurvy. In fact, its place on sailing ships is one of the reasons why gin is so popular all around the world.
  1. Much of the “bathtub gin” made in the USA during Prohibition was dangerous thanks to the inclusion of methanol. Those 13 years from 1920 to 1933 also saw the creation of some much-loved classic cocktails – the Gin Ricky, Bee’s Knees and Southside Fizz are just a few – developed to mask the taste of the low-quality hooch.
  1. The best way to taste gins for comparison is at room temperature mixed with an equal measure of water.
  1. The juniper berry, the only botanical that must appear in gin for it to be called that, isn’t actually a berry, but a tiny seed cone.
  1. We hate to say it, but James Bond was wrong; martinis are always best stirred – shaking with ice dilutes the gin. The fictional spy never drank a classic martini, anyway, instead preferring to sip on a Vesper, which blends gin, vodka and vermouth all topped with a lemon twist.
  1. If you thought the Bloody Mary was the original hair-of-the-dog hangover cure you’d be wrong. Years before, New Yorkers would drink gin and tomato juice to fix their morning-after blues.
  1. Before the 1990s, when martinis became fashionable, the glass they were served in was simply called a cocktail glass.
  1. Tonic was originally created as a carrier for quinine, a powder made from cinchona bark that helped fight malaria. The gin was added to make it more palatable.
  1. We celebrate this great spirit every year on World Gin Day, which falls on the second Saturday in June.

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