Any lover of a refreshing G&T will probably tell you about gin’s unique taste, satisfying ‘bitter’ bite, and efficacious qualities. They may mention its shady past, including ‘bathtub gin’ during the Prohibition era. But how much do you really know about your favourite weekend refresher?
When we savour the wonderful ‘bitter’ tones of a good G&T, its refreshingly fun nature masks its role as a serious player in history. Each G&T is actually toasting those early travellers who decided to splash a dose of ‘Indian quinine tonic’ into their gin as a medicinal aid during the British Raj era in India.
Juniper-flavoured medicinal tonics were found in Holland in the 1200s. Called ‘genever’ they
gave the name to the ‘gin’ that we know and love today. This Dutch tipple may also be responsible for the expression ‘Dutch courage’ as the drink may have fuelled British and Dutch soldiers going in to battle together during the ‘Thirty Years War’ of the mid-17th Century. The Brits liked the Dutch ‘genever’ and brought it back to England after the War.
The Benedictine Monks take our international history journey even further to the Middle Ages – as they took ancient distilling methods and used them to preserve plants for medicinal purposes. Fortunately for us, the Medieval Monks in Italy included juniper berries in their botanical bounty and search for the ‘water of life’ and their quest for medicinal tonic wines.
It’s interesting that, when gin first achieved huge popularity, it was due to small, independent brewers who were able to fill the demand after high taxes were introduced on wine. And, just like the Drunk Monk Distillery, the Medieval Monks only made small, specialist batches. Today gin is relishing in its revival spirit and blossoming as a tipple of choice at many bars, restaurants and even cafes. Thank heavens!