1. Dutch courage, or depressant?
Ever heard of the term “Dutch courage,” or perhaps the notion that gin is a depressant? Whether or not it is in fact a “depressant” may be disputed by enthusiasts, but gin is well-known for it’s calming effects. During the Thirty Years War the Dutch army was apparently aware of this side-effect, as they were known to ration portions to their soldiers prior to battle to calm their nerves. It is said that the English army caught wind of this habit, and was amused to see the difference in the Dutch after having their servings.
2. Got scurvy?
English battle is also to thank for the gimlet. It is well known that limes were used to prevent scurvy amongst soldiers during the 1800s. What is less commonly discussed is the fact that English navy men were also given rations of gin each day. The gimlet was, in fact, invented by a navy doctor and enjoyed (not surprisingly) by everyone on board. The gin was believed to fortify, and the lime juice to keep scurvy at bay.
3. Gunpowder, please.
Along those lines, does the term “Navy strength” ring a bell? You may well have tried a Navy Strength variety of your favourite gin. Besides enjoying a good gimlet, the navy is said to have used gunpowder to ensure the gin they were receiving was high quality. The gin would be poured onto gunpowder, and the strength confirmed by seeing how well it lit. Now that’s some serious standards!
4. Your waistline will thank you
Diet cocktail please. If you’re watching your waistline but don’t want to give up the cocktails, try a gin and tonic or soda. Amongst the lowest caloric cocktails, a gin and soda will cost you only around 100 calories, and the popular gin and tonics around 120. If you can alternate with water while you’re at the bar, a night out won’t ruin your diet at all.
5. Juniper is loaded with antioxidants
Although technically a seed, as with its nearly identical twin the blueberry, juniper berries are loaded with antioxidants. The bitter seed is effective in fighting infection, aiding digestion, and relieving bloating. A glass of gin might be just what the doctor ordered!
TOP STAT: UK on-trade gin sales overtook whiskies & liqueurs for the first time in 2018!
6. The local chemist used to prescribe it…
The benefits of gin have been known from the beginning of its existence. While the exact origin is debated, we do know that it was widely available in European pharmacies in the 17th century, and used to treat ailments from kidney infections to stomach aches. Its popularly soon became so rapid that a gin shop could be found on every corner in England.
7. It’s one of the finer things in life…
Gin is truly for the refined palette. Despite its widespread production, gin’s essential ingredient, juniper berry, is grown wild, and very seldom cultivated. Similar to the way that truffles are collected, juniper berries must be foraged in the woods and hand picked.
8. Gin was almost endangered
Juniper is also a fragile species. For a number of years, up until quite recently, gin lovers across the UK were given a fright. It was reported that a widespread fungus was attacking juniper berries, and hikers and foragers were asked to report sightings of the trees to assess the damage. However, as of early 2017, experts report that millions of seeds have been “banked” and that the future of gin is secure.
9. One for the books…
The first-ever book of cocktail recipes, William Terrington’s Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks published in 1869, contained a gin cocktail using ginger syrup, bitters, and orange curacao as mixers. Sounds tasty!
10. Gin is to thank for Dr. Suess!
And last, but certainly not least, gin is responsible for the pen name of beloved children’s author Dr. Suess. Born Theodor Suess Geisel, as a young man the writer was editor of a campus newspaper during his years at Dartmouth University. He was fired from his role after being caught smuggling gin into his dorm room (it was 1925 and in the middle of the unfortunate years of US prohibition). Determined to continue writing, he submitted all of his articles using just the name “Suess,” and later added “Dr.” to the beginning.
AUTHOR - Janice Formichella
Janice Formichella is an American gin enthusiast living in Melbourne, Australia. She loves history, hiking, and an icy cold gin and soda with a wedge of cucumber.