People either love gin or absolutely despise it. Gin’s split in approval rating may be due to its defining, potent juniper berry character (that pine cone or "Christmas tree" flavor), which is undeniably an acquired taste.Though gin's ancestor, Holland's genever, is meant to be sipped by itself, modern international gin is rarely if ever taken straight — but it comes alive in cocktails. The complexity of the natural botanicals in contains — juniper is only one of the many flavorings involved in most recipes — expresses unique notes when mixed with tonic water (itself often flavored with botanicals), vermouth, citrus, even flavors like cucumber or lavender.
This beguiling beverage has a spirited history: it was used for medicinal purposes in the 1600s, gave courage to Dutch soldiers on the battlefield, and engendered social chaos in London, as the low-grade stuff was cheap enough for the poor to overindulge in. During Prohibition in America, gin, or something like it, was illegally reproduced as homemade hooch. We’re thankful that gin — along with whiskey, vodka, and other spirits — survived they years of temperance so that we can enjoy them today.
Whether you're an enthusiast or new to the gin game, take a look at these surprising facts about this complex and historically rebellious spirit.