Gin is having a 'moment'. Hurrah!
Once the drink of scurvy-ridden sailors, gin has had made an almighty upmarket comeback of late. Once again, it's now nestled in the hands of cocktail connoisseurs the world over. Here are five misconceptions about our favourite tipple ...
1. Gin and tonics stop you getting malaria
It is said that back when the British Empire expanded east, medics drew anti-malarial compounds from the bark of the South American cinchona tree and mixed them with alcohol to create the first ever gin and tonic.
In those days the gin’s purpose was to help the tonic go down, but nowadays each complements the other. You'd need to drink 20 litres of our lily-livered modern tonic water to be protected from malaria, but that won’t stop us giving it a good go!
2. It makes you cry
It’s tempting to blame that time you sobbed in the stationery cupboard at the office Christmas party on the gin, but unfortunately there’s just no science to back it up. Alcohol is a depressant and no single drink has yet been found to cause more boozy boohoos than others.
If it makes you feel any better, scientists at the University of Washington have found a link between the psychological expectations of alcohol and their resulting effects, meaning bad rumours about gin could affect your mood.
3. It’s flavoured with juniper berries
In order to be called "gin" our poison of choice must be flavoured with juniper, but there are loads of other different botanicals that give this lovely liquid its flavour. Most gins are distilled with at least one jazzy ingredient. Hendrick’s, for example is flavoured with rose petals and cucumber while Beefeater uses nine different botanicals including coriander seed, liquorice root and tea.
4. Gin’s a British thing
Our eighteenth-century cousins might have gone potty for gin during the infamous "Gin Craze" depicted by William Hogarth (above) but we most certainly didn’t come up with the idea.
Dutch doctors in the mid-17th century are thought to have distilled the stuff as a medicine, a potion thought to have been drunk for "Dutch courage" by soldiers in as early as 1585. When Dutchman William of Orange turned up on the British throne at the end of the 17th century he brought his zest for gin with him.
5. Europeans drink the most gin
While you’ve probably never heard of a gin called Ginebra San Miguel, our friends over in the Philippines certainly have. In fact, they drink more than 22 million cases of the stuff per year. Of the 60 million cases of gin quaffed worldwide each year, they account for a whopping 43%. Who knew?!