Curious gin facts and its debaucherous history

Curious gin facts and its debaucherous history

8
min
Gin, Knowledge

There is no doubting that we all feel a bit wiser after a few liquid libations. But when it comes to gin facts, its rich debaucherous history provides plenty of fuel to keep stoking those barstool conversations.

Nothing makes enjoying a laboriously crafted cocktail more interesting than knowing a bit more about the history from which it sprang. Every spirit has its own story to tell, but the story of gin reads something like a Shakespearean comedy–by that it’s full of highs and lows and leaves you with a rich aftertaste.

The beauty of Oak Barrel Gin

As with Shakespeare, the full history of gin would take more words than we can fit into this article. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take away some of the epic historical gin facts that you can recount during your next cocktail outing.

Medicinal before Recreational

Long before the thousands of possible gin cocktails that we now have, juniper-based alcoholic tonics can be traced back to 1269. However, at that point, these “Gin tonics were used mainly as medicinal aids and distributed mostly by local chemists and apothecaries. Gin was often used as a treatment of ailments such as gout and dyspepsia.


The Royal Navy was known to have mixed gin with lime cordial to stop scurvy—which later went on to be the foundation of the Gimlet. Gin was also mixed with Angostura bitters to presumably settle the stomach at sea. Tonic water with quinine was anti-malarial, giving them a great excuse to drink more gin and tonics.

It wasn’t until the late 17th Century, led by its popularity with the British that Gin became more known as a recreational drink rather than a tonic or medicinal treatment.

The Great Gin Panic

Otherwise known as the Gin Craze, this was a period of 18th Century English history, where the production and availability of Gin became far more accessible to the poor and oppressed.


Over around a 40-year span, the reign of Madame Geneva–as gin was often colloquially referred to–led to massive widespread alcoholism, public drunkenness, and moral decay. 


In fact, between the years of 1729-1751, the problem was so detrimental to the fabric of English society that parliament enacted five separate Acts to control the production, distribution and consumption of gin.


Dutch courage

You might have heard the turn of phrase Dutch Courage—defined by Wikipedia as the “courage gained from intoxication with alcohol.”


What you might not know about this term is that depending on the story is that its origins are disputed.  Some say that it was either a colloquialism used by the British to poke fun of Dutch soldiers during the Anglo-Dutch Wars. The term was a way of referring to the Dutch as cowardly and needed to drink heavily before they were brave enough to fight.

Juniper: The background behind Gin's essential botanical

The other interpretation implies that the “Dutch” in Dutch Courage refers to the alcohol Jeniver—the precursor to modern Gin—which British soldiers would often drink during or before a battle to calm the nerves.

Bathtub Gin & Prohibition

If a pair of suspenders, a man-bun and a handlebar moustache ever approach you to try their new handcrafted “Bathtub Gin,” we strongly recommend that you abstain.


Whiskey and moonshine may steal the spotlight when it comes to illegal imbibing during prohibition. But gin was also popular due to how easy it was to create. Often made in bathtubs, this type of gin was created by mixing cheap grain alcohol with flavourings like dried juniper and citrus peel. A rule of thumb from that time was "gin should be aged for the time it takes to carry it from the bathtub to the living room." Given knowledge of that fact, bathtub gin was about as clean as it sounds, and the even further lack of regulations led to many illnesses and even deaths.

Popeye was a Gimlet man

Even though some reports are showing a resurgence of Scurvy, it will be highly unlikely that it will ever become even remotely close to how widespread it was among many seafaring folk just a few centuries ago. 


A severe lack of Vitamin C causes scurvy, and contemporary cases can have all sorts of origins. However, historical cases were often due to the lack of vitamin C to sailors on long sea voyages.


In 1747, a Scottish doctor by the name of James Lind, began conducting scientific experiments and clinical trials into the prevention of scurvy. From that point, it became common for navies to have provisions of citrus. These provisions were eventually replaced by citrus cordials and required by law that all naval vessels have stockpiles.


The invention of the Gimlet was a fortunate accident, due in part to naval officers mixing the ship’s citrus cordials with their gin. The ‘Four parts gin, one part Lime cordial’ tradition hasn’t changed since then.


James Bond had it all wrong

Despite what the iconic International Man of Mystery, James Bond, coined first in his debut film Dr No, a real Martini is made with Gin.


Before the 1950s, it was common knowledge the Martini was a gin drink. However, in 1953 Smirnoff decided to hijack this iconic cocktail with their own version and a wildly successful campaign, “Vodka leaves you breathless.” By the time the three-martini lunch era rolled around in the 1960s, the Martini was an optional Vodka or Gin cocktail.


However, in 1962 the introduction of famous British spy’s “shaken, not stirred” vodka Martini helped hijack the cocktail from its Gin-based origins.


Curious gin facts and its debaucherous history

8
min
Gin, Knowledge

There is no doubting that we all feel a bit wiser after a few liquid libations. But when it comes to gin facts, its rich debaucherous history provides plenty of fuel to keep stoking those barstool conversations.

Nothing makes enjoying a laboriously crafted cocktail more interesting than knowing a bit more about the history from which it sprang. Every spirit has its own story to tell, but the story of gin reads something like a Shakespearean comedy–by that it’s full of highs and lows and leaves you with a rich aftertaste.

Curious gin facts and its debaucherous history

8
min
Gin, Knowledge

There is no doubting that we all feel a bit wiser after a few liquid libations. But when it comes to gin facts, its rich debaucherous history provides plenty of fuel to keep stoking those barstool conversations.

Nothing makes enjoying a laboriously crafted cocktail more interesting than knowing a bit more about the history from which it sprang. Every spirit has its own story to tell, but the story of gin reads something like a Shakespearean comedy–by that it’s full of highs and lows and leaves you with a rich aftertaste.

The beauty of Oak Barrel Gin