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Gin

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Gin is a spirit whose predominant flavor is derived from juniper berries (Juniperus communis). The name gin is derived from either the French genièvre or the Dutch jenever, which both mean "juniper".

Left: A selection of Gin offered at a liquor store in USA.

Juniper berries were recognized from ancient times as possessing medicinal properties. By the 11th century, Italian monks were flavoring crudely distilled spirits with juniper berries. During the bubonic plague, this drink was used, although ineffectively, as a remedy. As the science of distillation advanced from the middle ages into the renaissance period, juniper was one of many the botanicals employed by virtue of its perfume, flavor, and medicinal properties.

The Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius is credited with the invention of gin. By the mid 1600s, numerous small Dutch distillers had popularized the re-distillation of malt spirit or wine with juniper, anise, caraway, coriander, etc., which were sold in pharmacies and used to treat such medical problems as kidney ailments, lumbago, stomach ailments, gallstones, and gout. It was found in Holland by English troops who were fighting against the Spanish in the Eighty years war and where the term Dutch courage came from. Gin emerged in England in varying forms as of the early 17th century

In tropical British colonies, gin was used to mask the bitter flavor of quinine, which was the only effective anti-malarial compound. The quinine was dissolved in carbonated water to form tonic water, the resulting mix becoming the origin of today's popular gin and tonic combination, although modern tonic water contains only a trace of quinine as a flavoring.

Whereas several different styles of gin have existed since its origins, gin is broadly differentiated into two basic legal categories. Distilled gin is crafted in the traditional manner, by re-distilling neutral spirit of agricultural origin with juniper berries and other botanicals. Compound gin is made by simply flavoring neutral spirit with essences and/or other 'natural flavorings' without re-distillation, and is not as highly regarded. The minimum bottled alcoholic strength for gin is 37.5% ABV in the E.U., 40% ABV in the U.S.

There are several distinct styles of gin, with the most common style today being London dry gin, a type of distilled gin. In addition to the predominant juniper content, London dry gin is usually distilled in the presence of accenting citrus botanicals such as lemon and bitter orange peel, as well as a subtle combination of other spices, including any of anise, angelica root and seed, orris root, licorice root, cinnamon, cubeb, savory, lime peel, grapefruit peel, dragon eye, saffron, baobab, frankincense, coriander, nutmeg and cassia bark. London dry gin may not contain added sugar or colorants, water being the only permitted additive.

Gin is a popular base spirit for many classic mixed drinks, including the martini, traditionally made with gin and dry vermouth. Other gin-based drinks include:

  • Allen - Gin with lemon juice and Maraschino liqueur
  • Dead Baby Boy - gin and tonic water, garnished with an olive tied to a sugar cube with string or a toothpick, and served in a highball glass
  • Gimlet - gin and lime juice
  • Gin and Juice - gin and orange juice
  • Gin and Tonic - gin and tonic water
  • Gin Fizz- gin, lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water, served in a highball glass with two ice cubes
  • Gin and L&P - gin and Lemon & Paeroa. Popular in New Zealand
  • Gin Rickey - gin, lime juice and carbonated water
  • London Mule, the gin version of a Moscow Mule
  • Negroni
  • Pimm's Cup
  • Pink Gin
  • Singapore Sling
  • Tom Collins - gin, lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water
  • White Lady

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