Gin has made a bit of a comeback in recent years. From being drunk as Dutch Courage by British soldiers in the Thirty Years War, sold in chemists as a treatment for stomach complaints, gout and gallstones, it was known for being cheap and easy to produce although it didn’t necessarily taste good! It was a popular drink for the poor and for ladies of the night and as anyone could distill it, it became entirely reasonable to be paid in gin!
“Little nips of whiskey, little drops of gin. Make a lady wonder where on earth she’s bin” – Anon.
The 1736 Gin Act made gin ridiculously expensive and the minimum you could purchase was a staggering two gallons! Quite rightly, there was riots and the law was blatantly ignored. It’s estimated over ELEVEN MILLION GALLONS of gin were distilled at this time in London alone, equating to 14 gallons per adult male! Six years later, the Gin Act was repealed and a distillery policy was introduced which forms the basis of what is used today.
These days we all know of gin as Mother’s Ruin, but interestingly it was originally known as Mother’s Milk due to the low cost and easy availability. Once it was realised that the badly made booze caused men to become impotent and women to fail in their familial duties, it became ruin!
Gin has quickly become the drink of choice in recent years, partly down to the number of craft distillers who are mixing up the botanicals and giving their gins different flavour characteristics. Some say it’s shows like Mad Men that have made martinis cool again. Others are rediscovering gin as something entirely different from that first Gordons and Schweppes imbibed as a teenager going through your parents drink cupboard – put me off for a very long time! Whatever your reasons for drinking it, there’s a lot of gins and variations on a theme to try.
Pint Shop Oxford have a huge gin menu, with over 100 to try. To help you navigate your way through a gin jungle, they’re holding a gin evening where you can taste 5 different gins, learning to recognise the different flavours and feels as you’re guided by a gin expert. There will be nibbles as well, probably not gin themed! These event will be held on Thursday 3rd August in Pint Shop from 6.30 – 8.30pm and tickets are available now via Eventbrite for just £15 – at just three quid per drink you could say it’s a “bargin”
Finally, don’t forget we have our own Gin Garden at Bitten Street, with a range and assorted garnishes. Our next event is on Saturday 5th August at Oxford Castle from 11am to 3pm and we’ll have a special gin on offer that day!