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All about gin
A short story of gin
Gin is the key ingredient in many classic cocktails, but you can also serve some aged varieties on their own. This iconic spirit hails from around the world and comes in endless varieties. Its name comes from the French name of the juniper berry, "genievre." Bartenders soon shortened the name to "gin." Not surprising, given that the spirit's main ingredient is the juniper berry.
When England allowed individuals to start making gin without a license, many members of the lower classes became drunkards and the government had to impose heavy taxes to discourage production and consumption of the spirit. Until the early 1900s, people rarely drank gin on its own, because it was clearly too strong.
However, it was a popular choice for sophisticated, upscale cocktails. Legend says that Queen Elizabeth II loves one part gin and two parts Dubonnet.
A quick look at the different types of gin
Producers can make gin with almost any neutral spirit, but they must infuse it with juniper berries, which give the liquor its distinctive pine aroma. There are several types of gin, and each one has a different flavor profile.
Despite its name, London Dry gin doesn't have to hail from London, UK. The only requirement for a spirit to get this designation is that juniper must be the main note. This is the reason why this spirit smells just like a Christmas tree.
In modern gin, however, other notes overpower the juniper aroma. Modern spirits feature notes of citrus, rose, lavender, cucumber or coriander. Plymouth gin must come from Plymouth, England, and it has a sweeter aroma than the London Dry type. Lastly, barrel-aged gin has a malty taste because it ages in oak barrels.
How to drink gin
Barrel-aged gin serves best on its own, but if you fancy mixing some cocktails, you can use all the other types. Why don't you craft your own Gin and Tonic, Martini, Negroni or Singapore Sling? For food pairings, choose smoked salmon, cucumber-based appetizers, strong cheeses, chocolate and the very British dish of fish and chips.