Gin is, without doubt, one of the most popular spirits at the bar, but most people are surprised to learn about its origins. For example, did you know that gin is simply flavoured vodka, made with the pine-flavoured juniper berry which gives gin its distinct taste?
Read on for seven other things you may not know about gin.
1. Its ingredients are endless.
Juniper is the main ingredient in gin, but there are countless other botanicals which go into making this age-old classic. The four core ones are juniper, coriander, angelica and orris root, yet brands have also been known to use orange peel, lemon peel, cardamom, cinnamon, grains of paradise, cubeb berries, nutmeg and a range of other nuts and spices.
2. It even has its own day.
The second Saturday of June is officially World Gin Day – and has been since 2009. It’s the perfect opportunity to whip up a gin cocktail or two… as if an excuse were needed!
3. ‘Gin and tonic’ started in India.
Quinine, once the main ingredient in tonic water, was originally used by the British East India Company to prevent malaria in troops. Since the taste was less than favourable, soldiers added gin to make it more palatable, thus creating the G&T.
Gin can also be used for other medicinal purposes – it was mixed with lime cordial by Royal Navy soldiers to help ward off scurvy.
4. Gordon’s gin is to thank for the lime.
Depending on where you go and the type of gin you’re served, the typical G&T garnish might vary. The standard, however, is a slice of fresh lime – which used to be lemon, until Gordon’s decided that this clashed with its green bottle, during one of its marketing campaigns.
5. Gin palaces were a thing since 1830.
The very first gin palaces opened in 1830 as a way of escape from the poverty in which many people found themselves. As the name suggests, they were luxuriously designed and incredibly popular, so much so that, by 1850, they had grown to 5,000 in number.
6. Gin actually originates from Holland.
Contrary to what you may have heard about gin hailing from England, its origin story says differently. English soldiers actually discovered the stuff when fighting the Thirty Years’ War, in 17th-century Holland, noticing how Dutch soldiers drank it to boost their morale before heading out to fight (hence the term ‘Dutch courage’).
It was a long time later when the English finally perfected their own version – 150 years, to be exact.
7. Gin is the well-to-do drink of choice.
Rumour has it that the Queen Mother used to enjoy a prelunch glass of gin and Dubonnet – and the drink was long enjoyed by blue-eyed singing sensation Frank Sinatra.
If it’s good enough for the rich and famous, it’s good enough for us.
Love gin? Explore Wetherspoon’s range in our gin palace.