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Gin is a distilled alcoholic drink made from grains like barley or wheat. Herbs, aromatics, and botanicals are added to the mixture, fermented, and distilled.
Gin's origins can be found as far back as the Middle Ages. It gained popularity in the 1600s in Southern Italy, The Netherlands, and Belgium before traveling to Britain in the 1700s. Gin production boomed in England because it was legal to produce gin, and taxes on imported alcohol were high. Everyone was so crazy about gin that legislation had to be taken against it in the mid-17th century.
Gin's alcohol content has a minimum of 40% (80 proof) and can go up to 60% (180 proof).
Depending on the distillery's recipe, gin ingredients can range from cinnamon to different berries and even botanicals and flowers. Still, gin is unique from other distilled spirits in that the prominent flavor has to be juniper berries. The taste of juniper berries is similar to pine, so they have an earthy and peppery flavor.
Unlike what you might think, London Dry Gin doesn't need to be made in London. The reason why it's called a London Dry is simply that this technique originated in London. Its flavor profile is dry and predominantly juniper-forward. So, what makes a London Dry what it is is that the botanicals must be mixed in during distillation, and no artificial flavors or sweeteners are allowed to be added.
Try from Boozy: Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater
Old Tom Gin is said to be the predecessor of London Dry Gins, bridging the gap between that and classic Dutch-style or Genever Gins. Old Toms was formerly called "bathtub gins," as anyone in 18th century Britain could make it in their bathtub. Back then, it was sweetened with licorice and syrups to mask its homemade and harsh alcoholic taste. In fact, this style is so alcohol-heavy that it needs to be at least 37.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) for it to qualify as an Old Tom. Gins of this style are sweeter than London Dries, so this type of gin is usually used in cocktails due to that fact. This is even the preferred style of gin for the classic cocktail, Tom Collins.
Try from Boozy: Langley's Old Tom Gin
Other types of gin: Contemporary Style/New Western Style Gin, Japanese Gin, Reserve Gin, Sloe Gin, Barrel-aged Gin, Genever
The simplest (and arguably the best) way to enjoy gin is through the classic Gin and Tonic or G&T. You can play around with your flavor preferences as some people want equal parts gin and tonic, but tonic brand Fever-Tree suggests their tonic as ¾ths of the drink. You can add more botanicals, fruit, and aromatics like peppers, juniper berries, cardamom, rose, blueberries, or mulberries. Serve and garnish with lemon, lime, or orange.
For other cocktails, you can enjoy gin in a Martini, Negroni, and more!
The first tonic water was created in the early 1900s when Britain occupied India. Quinine, a bitter herb widely available in India and consumed by soldiers daily to prevent Malaria, was added to gin, lime, and sugar to dull down the bitterness – it was a tonic. By adding carbon dioxide to the drink, the first G&T was made!
Tonic water can change the flavors of a gin, so you can experiment with different types of the tonic with your gin of choice.
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