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The Book of Gin

F this beguiling spirit once believed to cause a new kind of drunkenness” In the eighteenth century gin craze debauchery and class conflict inspired Hogarth’s satirical masterpieces Gin Lane” and Beer Street” In the nineteenth century gin was drunk by Napoleonic War naval heroes at lavish gin palaces and by homesick colonials who mixed it with their bitter anti malarial tonic. This book read like a college final paper There are endless references throughout the book The last 15 pages of the book make up the referencesresources I felt like the author was throwing them in just to stretch the book to an acceptable length While I did learn some interesting tidbits about gin and its history this book was too cluttered and tedious to really enjoy

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Gin has been a drink of kings infused with crushed pearls and rose petals and a drink of the poor flavored with turpentine and sulfuric acid Born in alchemists’ stills and monastery kitchens its earliest incarnations were juniper flavored medicines used to prevent plague ease the pains of childbirth even to treat a lack of courageIn The Book of Gin Richard Barnett traces the life o. Its a good book just the parts about genever is not treu Genever is the grandfather of gin but the book said that a Dutch chemist and alchemist named Sylvius de Bouve first sold genever as a medicine in the late 16th centuryThe problem with this theory is that Dr Sylvius was born in the 17th century and that during his fourteen year tenure as a professor at the University of Leyden his research included distilling medicines with juniper berry oil but none of his research papers contain any reference to genever The dates also don t add up Dr Sylvius certainly wasn t the first to distill with juniper or call a concoction genever as proven by written references to genever in 13th century Bruges Flanders Der Naturen Bloeme and 16th century Antwerp Flanders Een Constelijck Distileerboec The latter contains the first printed genever recipeAdditionally in 1606 the Dutch had already levied taxes on genever and similar liuors which were sold as alcoholic drinks suggesting that genever had stopped being seen as a medicinal remedy many years before Dr Sylvius was even born Genever s prevalence can also be observed in Massinger s 1623 play The Duke of Milan which references geneva Geneva was the Anglicized name for genever which British soldiers had brought back with them upon returning from battle in the Low Countries in 1587 and again during the early 1600s Dr Sylvius would have been just nine years old when Massinger s play opened So while the legend of Dr Sylvius s medicine may be myth than fact it has become the tale most people know Genever originated in Flanders Belgium

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S In the early twentieth century the illicit cocktail culture of prohibition made gin often dangerous bathtub gin fashionable again And today with the growth of smallbatch distilling gin has once again made a comebackWide ranging impeccably researched and packed with illuminating stories The Book of Gin is lively and fascinating an indispensible history of a complex and notorious dri. My favorite drink is an ice cold gin martini so when I came upon this book about gin I just had to read itLet me start off by saying I d give the first half of this book three stars and the last half five I found the beginning while containing uantities of historical information about gin to be repetitive dull and long winded There are some interesting facts about gin here including its early use in medicine an ongoing battle between beer and gin a class issue of gin verses wine and a love hate battle with government forces but they are lost among the verbiageThis book gets much interesting when it reaches the history of gin from the 1900 s Here we have information about the prohibition forces both in the US and Britain the resurgence of gin in speakeasies the development of the cocktail party how martinis became popular the waning of interest in gin in the 1980s and the resurgence in the past few decadesPersonally I have a long history with gin As a child of the sixties martinis felt way too bourgeois and so I chose as my dance partner Jack and Ginger sweet Kentucky Bourbon mixed with sour tang of ginger ale Then President Carter came along and attacked the three martini lunch As many sons do I had a long love hate relationship with my father and he drank gin martinis Fortunately through years of hard work I overcame all of this so that now I not only drink martinis with great enjoyment but have begun infusing my own gin creationsMany people think of martinis as British thanks largely to the James Bond movies Barnett counters by citing Barnaby Conrad who described the martini as an embodiment of American history at its most magnificently diverse Dutch and English gin mixed with French vermouth and served with Mediterranean olives German Jewish pickled onions or Caribbean lemons While British Dry Gin is currently popular gin s original homeland was the Netherlands Here in the 1500s Jenever gin was used medicinally and by the 1600s developed into a popular drink Perhaps oversimplified gin is a spirit such as vodka with the addition of juniper berries Juniper was long used medicinally as was alcohol so putting the two together in retrospect seems an obvious ideaIn its modern history along with juniper gin reuires the addition of botanicals such as coriander angelica root licorice orange peel cardamom and many others With the emergence of micro distilleries I have tasted gins with only fresh apple added to the juniper up to gins with over twenty different botanicals 1988 saw the appearance of Bombay Sapphire which has become my personal commercial favorite However when given the opportunity during my travels I will try each and every secret recipe small local distilleries come up with According to Barnett now is the best time in the last five centuries to be drinking gin I couldn t agree with him


10 thoughts on “The Book of Gin

  1. says:

    At times the writing is a bit academic for my taste but this is a fascinating book chock full of wonderful stories and anecdotes about gin cocktails and cocktail culture

  2. says:

    Ahhh so excited Read the first chapter on BART today looks like great writing about a small slice of history one that i fin

  3. says:

    Its a good book just the parts about genever is not treu Genever is the grandfather of gin but the book said that a Dutch chemist and

  4. says:

    I've read a good number of books on the history of booze both general and spirit specific and this is a pretty good entry in the field First off if you're expecting this to be a scientific tome about distilling then you need to pass it by and perhaps pay a tad attention to the back cover and dust jacket copy Like most other books in this genre this is basically a whirlwind social history with one particular p

  5. says:

    This book read like a college final paper There are endless references throughout the book The last 15 pages of the book make up the reference

  6. says:

    This is an amazingly insightful and intelligent book While I love the drink of Gin I didn't realize that there was such a rich and va

  7. says:

    I was hoping to have a scientific based description of distilling and the role Gin played throughout it's long history But the book

  8. says:

    I did it SEVEN renewals later I finished it I am not going to try to read non parenting non fiction again This b

  9. says:

    My favorite drink is an ice cold gin martini so when I came upon this book about gin I just had to read itLet me start off b

  10. says:

    A fantastic book on the history of gin Well worth a read if you love gin It's a detailed accurate of the history of gin No

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